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Archive for the ‘CV Writing Tips’ Category

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CV writing tips for the UK and Ireland

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

Writing a CV for the UK or Ireland

If you are writing a CV for a position in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, here are a few tips:

Name and Contact Details:

  • Clearly state your name, postal address, telephone number (either mobile/cell or landline), and email address at the top of your CV. You may also add your customised LinkedIn URL.
  • Date of birth, place of birth, marital status, similar personal/family details, and passport number should not be used anywhere on a CV.
  • If there is a reason for the reader to doubt your permission to work in the UK/Ireland, indicate the documentation that allows you to work in the UK/Ireland, such as your nationality, type of visa, or immigration status.
  • Never use anything other than your name to start the CV. For instance, do not head it with Curriculum Vitae because applicant tracking systems may parse it as your name.
  • Do not use a photograph on your CV. Unlike some other European countries, such as Germany, Belgium, and France, it is not the norm in the UK and Ireland. Exceptions would be for roles in which the way you look is a job criterion (e.g., model or actor). However, the potential employer may find you online, so use a high quality professional photograph on your social networks, such as LinkedIn.

Summary Section:

  • Use a summary, personal profile, or profile statement after your contact details.  Be sure that the information in this section is also documented within the experience section so the potential employer can see your experience in context.

Experience Section:

  • Your work experience is the most important element. In the UK/Ireland, employers expect the reverse chronological format (most recent experience first). Start and finish dates should include both months and years. Explain large gaps in your experience, such as career breaks, education breaks, or gap years.

Interests Section:

  • The ‘Interests’ section is still used on some UK/Irish CVs. This section should be extremely brief for experienced candidates (if used at all) and should only include interests that reflect characteristics that match the job specifications. For students and recent graduates, this section can be much longer if used to highlight workplace skills, such as working within a team, writing, public speaking, taking instruction, and leadership – especially if they are not demonstrated in the experience section.

Languages:

  • Depending on the target job, language skills can be important for a job in the UK/Ireland. If used, they should be qualified using terms such as fluent, business, or conversational. Unless a job criterion, basic skills should not be mentioned.

Length and Paper Size:

  • CVs can be anywhere from 1 to 4 pages depending on the target job and job seeker’s relevant experience. The norm is 2 pages.
  • The page size is A4 for the UK and Ireland.

Spelling:

  • Set your proofing language as English (U.K.). As opposed to U.S. spelling, words like organise are spelt with ‘ise’ and many words like travelling use ‘ll’.

References:

  • References should not be part of the CV, but a separate document to be presented at the interview stage.

Resources:

Prospects: The UK’s official graduate careers website.

University of Kent – Careers and Employability Service.

Europass CV Template – English CV template for the UK.

Video (no sound) – Europass UK.

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5 Resume Don’ts for College Grads

Saturday, August 17, 2013 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips
graduate on computer looking for a job

College graduate on computer applying for jobs.

Two types of resumes or CVs are sent to employers — resumes that tell what you are and resumes that tell who you are. Resumes that tell what you are highlight irrelevant and unnecessary details. Expect those to find a nice home in an employer’s trash can. Resumes that tell who you are inspire creativity and engage. Expect those to find a nice home at the tile of the resume pile. Unfortunately, due to a lack of career experience, too many resumes fall into the former category. Go the extra mile and keep your resume out of human resource’s trash can by avoiding the following.

1. The Objective Statement

Lose it, plain and simple. The purpose of the objective statement is to introduce yourself to a potential employer and explain why you’re pursuing the job. By just submitting your resume, you’ve already explained it — “Here is my resume because I want you to hire me.” What you want to express in an objective statement can be spotlighted in the cover letter. Instead of reforming this useless piece of information from the resume, delete it.

2. More Accomplishments, Less Duties

As a college grad, listing a history of catchy job titles isn’t a shoo-in. Rather than waste space by explaining what a “Computer Lab Supervisor” actually does, use the experience section to boast your accomplishments, promotions you’ve earned, tasks that were above and beyond your job descriptions, volunteer service, and accolades. Use this space to tout what you did, not just that you did it. Also, don’t ignore scholarships from resume building. For example, through retailers like direct-ticket.net, DirecTV offers a $25,000 scholarship for college students. Acquiring a scholarship like that is a fine display of your work ethic and exemplifies ambition.

3. A Single Page

No college graduate needs a two-page resume. Unless your internship experience is exceptionally outstanding, everything your employer needs to know about you as a potential hire can be shown on one piece of paper. If you’re on the other side of the aisle and have trouble filling a complete page, focus on clean and fun designs that positively manipulate the vacant white space to make your resume pop out.

4. Emphasis On Dates

Long histories of experience and former jobs attract an employer’s eye, but it’s not expected from entry-level college graduates. Don’t begin each job description with the months and years you worked elsewhere. Place the dates in a column to the right of each job description to avoid distracting an employer from your strengths and what you can offer.

5. Custom Made

One size does not fit all. Every resume you email to a potential employer should be fine-tuned and tailored to meet the unique needs of the position. If creating a dozen or more resumes seems overwhelming, at least create one prototype for each type of job you apply. For example, if you earned a financial degree, customize one type of resume for a public accounting job and another resume for a private consulting firm.

Guest post by Lourdes Garcia, who is the first person in her family to graduate from college and she is now studying for her MBA. She hopes to make a splash in the business world and she loves writing advice about her climb to the top.

(Photo credit: flickr.com)

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How to Create a Perfect Resume

Friday, August 9, 2013 By: Debra Mills

How to develop the best possible resume

Resume writing should be taken seriously by anyone who is in dire need of a good job. According to professional resume writing experts at SolidEssay.com, a good resume normally wins the interest of any employer while a bad one attracts lots of criticism. So how do you develop a good resume?

Do your homework

Start by identifying all the standardized resume formats recommended by different companies around your locality. A good research platform, which you can rely on, is the Internet. Basically, there are many resume writing site, which offer excellent advice. Such sites usually have appropriate resume templates, which are easy to download and use.

Provide information

Once you identify the right format, write down the main points, which you believe will add value to your final document. According to analysts, many employers normally prefer interviewing candidates who present detailed resumes. Thus, when coming up with such a document, try as much as possible to always stick to the main points.

Be brief

Lengthy resumes normally discourage some employers from reading them. There is absolutely no reason as to why your resume should cover three sides of an A4 paper. Rather than helping you secure an interview, a lengthy resume will basically discourage different employers going through it and in the process, deciding whether you deserve the job or not.

When listing your work experience, use reverse chronological order.  In other words, list your most recent job first in the resume. By doing so, you will be able to simplify the work of your potential employer since he will not be forced to read to the bottom of the document to find out what you are doing at the moment.

On the same note, make sure that you provide enough evidence of your experience. Even though briefness is highlighted above, it is not sufficient to just provide a small list of all the companies you have worked for. Basically, you should provide specific examples of how you achieved success in any company you worked for in the past. Resume writing experts recommend using the PARS formula i.e., problem identification, action taken, results achieved and skills applied.

Use the right language

Spelling and grammar usually play a considerable role in determining whether one qualifies for an interview or not. According to analysts, the two usually help different employers know whether a candidate has good communication and writing skills or not. Thus, when and after developing such a document, spend some good amount of time proofreading either on your own or with your close friends or family members.

On the same note, never overlook the relevance of presenting an attractive resume. Poor alignment, spacing, use of bold and capitalized texts and general formatting can easily discourage a potential employer from reading your resume. Professional authors recommend the use of a HCE or simply Header Career Education structure. According to them, one should include his name, address and a working phone number in the Header section. In the Career section, the individual should provide detailed information about his skills and work experience in a reverse chronological order. Lastly, in the Education section, the individual should provide detailed information about his level of education.

Summarize your work

When developing your resume, do include an introductory and a career summary statement. Many hiring managers do not have time to match unspecified resumes to open positions. Thus, to encourage them to spend some time going through your resume, include an attractive introductory and summary statement. Some of the things which you should mention in your opening and closing summary statements include: your education background, your professional work experience and your desire to work with the company.

Author bio: At SolidEssay.com Jeff teaches students how to write different types of essays. Please go ahead and check out some tips on how to write an exemplification essay.

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What Does your CV Say About You?

Thursday, July 4, 2013 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

What Does your CV Say About You? 

The CV is your first opportunity to catch the attention of your potential employer. You have a short space of time to gain, maintain the interest of the reader and sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the position. You need to be able to highlight all of your personal attributes as well as the skills you will bring to the position you are applying for in just two pages. It isn’t always easy, but it can be done by including only the most relevant information and written in a way that will keep the attention of the employer and make them see you are the ideal person for the job.

Your CV: What to Include

There are some essential items you need to include within the CV, without them you will leave the reader feeling flat and your CV will simply be disregarded.

  • Name

It may seem obvious but so many people neglect to put their full name at the top of the CV.

  • Contact information

Make sure every means of contact is made available such as phone numbers, email addresses and home address.

  • Brief Bio

Summarising yourself in just a few points isn’t always easy but it is necessary. You need to give an overview of yourself and your skills for the employer to sum you up as a person and employee.

  • Qualifications

You don’t need to include every certificate you have ever gained; yet the most relevant qualifications to the job applying for are crucial.

  • Work Experience

The last three positions are the best to include; employers don’t need to know every single position held since you were a teenager. Also remember to explain any gaps in employment.

  • References

State that references are available upon request rather than listing the names of potential referees. This saves time and space.

The most common way to apply for positions is a job application online that determines the exact information you must provide. This short, condensed application is easy for you to complete and employers to read. It is a good stencil for the way in which you complete your CV. Keep it precise, and simple and most of all relevant.

What it says About You?

Tailor your CV to each position

Again this may be common sense, but it is a good idea to thoroughly read through the job advert to determine what is expected of you. If you write your CV to specifically appeal to the important elements within the job specification the employer will see how seriously you have researched the job and how you would fit into the position.

Short and Sweet

Keep your CV to a maximum of two pages, any longer and the reader will lose complete interest early on if they feel they have reams of information to read through. The information you include needs to be relevant to the position you are applying for, such as the qualifications and work experience, which you possess.

Font, Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

Make sure your CV looks as professional as possible, starting by typing it rather than handwriting it. A legible font is the most important thing to consider, keep it simple and easy to read. Things such as spelling and grammar mistakes are inexcusable as the computer does the hard work for you. Good spelling also shows you are serious, conscientious and passionate.

Sell Yourself

A reader typically loses interest in your CV after between 10 – 30 seconds so you need to really sell yourself before they put your CV to one side. Explain why you are a good candidate, better than the competition and give a strong impression of yourself without having to physically meet the person.

~DF~

 

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A CV Devotee’s Guide to Getting a Job

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

CV Guide to Getting a JobImagine that you’re the person tasked with dredging through the slush pile of CVs (curricula vitae). How many seconds will you spend looking at each one? What will grab your attention?

Beyond the CV

A single sheet of paper highlighting your career history will only go so far at getting you the job. Meaningful connections and relationships must be formed for your CV to attract the most eyes. These days, the primary concern is networking; connecting with other business professionals grants you an “in” at companies or may lead you to further career opportunities. The to-be CEO of Ernst & Young, Mark Weinberger, understands this. While he worked in the nation’s capital, Weinberger regularly conversated with members of Congress that brought him from his first government job to Chief of Staff of the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, according to the Washington Post.

With relentless determination and networking finesse, he ascended the political ladder. Your CV is important, but it’s only one tool in your arsenal to land the job.

Tailored for Position

If you’re sending out identical CVs to employers, no wonder nobody is calling you back. Before applying, research the company and position, and tailor your CV to match the culture of the company. You’ll want to apply the same technique to your cover letter, as well. You’re sending cover letters with your CV, aren’t you? Also, incorporate keywords pertaining to the job description. CVs are regularly scanned into digital databases, and search queries are enacted to target those specific keywords.

Accomplishments

Listing accomplishments on your CV is a way to illuminate you from a slew of competitors. If you’ve earned prestigious awards, such as executive Weinberger who won the Anti-Defamation League Award, or Samsung’s CEO, Dr. Oh-hyun Kwon, who was declared the year’s most successful brand-builder, you’re going to want to place that on your CV. It’s best if these accomplishments fit the job you’re currently applying for. Even if they don’t, these achievements still speak volumes about your character. The Huffington Post suggests adding quirky accomplishments, as well. If these “accomplishments” are appropriate and will potentially pique employers’ interests, it’s worth a shot.

Avoid At All Costs

Don’t add flair by printing on colored paper. Sure, your CV will stand out among the others, but not in a positive way. It’s such a blatant attempt at getting noticed that it will likely irk whoever’s eyes lay upon it.

Type in a standard font. There’s a multitude of fonts to choose from, and most will work just fine. Avoid ornate, pretentious fonts that prefer showiness to readability. At the same time, you’ll want to avoid overused fonts (e.g., Times New Roman). Moreover, ensure the type is large enough. Your name should be the most conspicuous and the first thing on the page. Don’t use headers and footers for important information.

CVs aren’t the place to opine and state your personal beliefs. Avoid stating your ethnicity, sexual orientation, political affiliations and religion.

Bridging a Gap in Employment History

Sunday, August 19, 2012 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

There are a number of ways that you can address a long gap in your work history and the reasons for the gap. Your strategy will depend on your previous experience and your target job.

If you are applying to a company that uses computer scanning, such as an applicant tracking system, your dates of employment will be appear in the resultant report. UK employers want to see months and years in your employment history, so you may not want to leave out the months or indeed the whole date.

However, if you have the skills and experience required, you could still be in the running for an interview because of your key words and total amount of relevant experience, even if you gained it years ago.

If your target company uses staff members to screen the CVs, you could impress the reader with your skills and experience before they notice your employment dates. Explain the gap in a cover letter and in your profile statement.

Try to explain the gap in the most positive, honest, and dignified way possible. Emphasise that you are ready, willing, and able to re-enter the workforce or at least, to handle the target job.

The reader of your CV could easily assume the worst possible reason for your gap and could be suspicious that you are hiding something that would affect your ability to do the job or integrate into the organisation’s culture.

People take breaks from employment for all types of reasons – illness or burnout, education, childcare, parent care, travel, redundancy and then lack of employment opportunities, moving because of spouse’s job, or prison time.

You may be able to partially fill the gap with a course or workshop or other activity that you did during your recovery. Also, include education or training information in the appropriate section.

EDUCATION BREAK: Certificate in Something, Training Institute, London <either a comma or tab to the right> 03/2012-06/2012

Whether your gap is short or long, prepare a strategy for your CV and interview.

There is no shame in periods of employment, so keep positive and remember why you are the best person for your target job!

LinkedIn Tips for Job Seekers

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

LinkedIn is a social media site that should now be a key part of each and everyone`s job hunt, whether for a first job or for something that will further develop a career.

A site of purely business connections, where the only interest from other users is purely business-minded, it multiplies countless times the number of people that can be made aware of and potentially aid, the search for a job.

Just signing up for LinkedIn is a very good first step, but there are several additional measures that can be taken to maximise the site`s potential.

First and foremost, a key thing to do is to complete as many profile options as possible. The more that is known about current and former jobs, the more chance of someone liking something they see and taking a chance based on it.

A second, and also key step, is to reach out to as many current and past colleagues as possible, particularly those still working in the career fields that are of interest. Hunting for a job can be a numbers game and the more people aware of a job hunt, particularly when they may be in a position to help either by spotting an appropriate job or by personal recommendation, the better. There is no stigma in being upfront about wanting or needing a new job, whatever the reason behind it. There is now an option for status updates on the site, which gives further opportunity for job hunters to alert their contacts and potentially a wider network, about the fact they are on the lookout for a new post.

LinkedIn also offers an option to feature personal recommendations by former employers or clients. Having features such as this on an account will be one of the things that makes it stand out from potentially hundreds or thousands of similar ones and anyone job hunting should think hard about who could usefully vouch for professional and personal qualities on their behalf. The more senior the person making the recommendation the better, for obvious reasons.

For more personalised searching or to target prospective companies, there are many search options available on LinkedIn, including searching by skill and searching for companies and/or individuals within a preferred postcode. Combining two or more of these searches could potentially identify, for example, companies with a matching skill set or job opportunities in a desired location.

Another useful feature of LinkedIn is the company profiles which reveal a lot of information about the nature and form of the company, but also about the previous jobs of people working there currently. These can be a mine of information for anyone trying to work out how to get into a particular company, or what would be needed to change careers.

Read LinkedIn’s help files and terms of service. In particular, don’t be tempted to put your job title (or target job or contact information, for instance) in the ‘Name’ field of your profile in an attempt to get higher in search results. It will result in LinkedIn restricting your account or locking it if someone flags up this transgression. You can, however, put your letters, such as John Smith, PhD. For further information see LinkedIn’s guidance here and here.

One final tip, particularly as the UK news is full of the on-going recession and the impact on jobs, is to get started with LinkedIn before a new job is needed, so that the connections and tools are already there when the day comes that you want or need to put them into use.

What are references?

Sunday, May 20, 2012 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

Reference Sheets

According to a 2010 Society for Human Resource Management survey, 76% of the organisations they asked conduct reference checks on job candidates.

Are you one of the many job seekers who don’t know who should be listed as a reference? Do you know how to prepare your references to help you secure the job? Are you sure that all of your referees are on your side? Could one of them be unintentionally, or even intentionally, sabotaging your job offers?

In the following newsletters, we will cover what references are, how to select referees, how to prepare them to help you secure the job, and which myths should you ignore.

What are references?

Your CV will get you the interview, your skills and experience coupled with your great personality will get you the job offer, but it is your referees who will secure the job. The interviewer might be impressed with you, but they will want to confirm their decision to hire you with opinions of the people who have first-hand knowledge of your work ethic, character, skills, and experience.

Reference checks are important for both job seekers and employers. References are a chance for employers to add to the information they learned from your CV and in the interview. Information that they find out from your references will either confirm their desire to hire you or make the decision not to extend the job offer. A great reference will help the hiring manager feel good about their decision to hire you.

The definition of “reference” includes two important functions in a job search. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a reference is “a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made.” A reference is also defined as “a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment, given by someone familiar with the person.”

Reference checks are often part of a comprehensive employment screening programme, which can also include verification of employment eligibility as it relates to immigration status, credit checks, and background checks.

Job seekers applying for positions with access to confidential information (related to other employees or the company’s clients) were most likely to be subject to reference checks, as were candidates for financial positions, information technology jobs and customer-facing positions.

Some companies will check your references and some won’t. You should prepare your references for the companies that do (as well as for the ones that ask for your references, but never use them).

Why Get LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is the top social networking website for jobseekers. According to Hitwise, it is currently the most visited UK recruitment site.

As Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, explains it, “Post a full profile and get connected to the people you trust. Because if you’re connected to those people and you posted a profile, then when other people are searching for people, they might find you.”

With more than 120 million registered users — and adding two new members every second — the rate at which your network expands on LinkedIn can be truly amazing. A hundred strategic contacts could mean access to millions of people in a short amount of time. You’d have to attend dozens — or hundreds — of in-person networking events to equal the reach you can get on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn allows you to leverage the power of your network — the people you know, and the people those people know — to help you connect to the person (or people) who are in a position to offer you a job.

As the co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, puts it, LinkedIn is about “connecting talent with opportunity on a massive scale.”

Executives from all Fortune 500companies are on LinkedIn. In addition, 59% of people who are active on social networking sites say that LinkedIn is their first choice of platform, according to a June 2011 report from Performics and ROI Research.

However, author Guy Kawasaki puts it best, “I could make the case that Facebook is for show, and LinkedIn is for dough.”

Your CV – Make It Findable Online

Monday, April 16, 2012 By: Debra Mills
Category: CV Writing Tips

Findability Factors for your CV

You have heeded all the advice on CV content and format. You have uploaded your CV to the top job boards. You are waiting to be found.

Increase the chances that your CV will be found by recruiters looking for your skills and experience by learning about how online job sites function and what you can do to increase your chances of being called for an interview.

Key Words

The recruiter will search for a candidate by entering key words and phrases into the search engine. Be sure that you have included many of the important words and phrases that appear in the target job advertisement and in other job advertisements for the same type of job. Include words and their synonyms that are relevant to your experience and achievements, as well as well-known industry-specific jargon or terminology.

This is a time-intensive endeavor, but if enough of their search words match those found in your CV, your CV will be flagged for further investigation, and if you are truly qualified, then you will be called for an interview.

CV Length

If all these key words and phrases do not fit conveniently on two A4 sheets, do not despair. Online submissions will rarely be printed, so a wordier version of your CV could be appropriate. Check the word or character limits prior to submission and work with the limits to submit the information that the recruiter needs in order to find you.

CV File Type

Consider creating a CV especially for online submission – not just in terms of content, but also in terms of file type. A plain text file (.txt) that is clearly formatted with appropriate section titles, such as Summary, Experience, and Education, will be parsed more successfully when the recruiter retrieves it during a search.

The stereotypical recruiter giving a 30-second eyeball to your CV as an A4 sheet of paper, or even as a Word document, is becoming a rarity. As technologies improve , it is becoming more important that your electronic content (CV) ranks high in the recruiter’s search.