Posts Tagged ‘CV advice’
In the exciting and dynamic world of the job market, it’s always difficult enough without sabotaging yourself. You need to know what the “business suits” want from today’s job candidates. A well-written CV or resume can get your foot in the door. But don’t let that door slam on you because you’re not prepared for the interview process. Did you know that face-to-face interviews are not the only part of the hiring process? Technology provides employers with the ability to learn more about you than you may think.
What Do Hiring Managers Want?
Detailing your complete education history will get your CV or resume noticed, but you still need to explain to the manager what you can do with your education and experience. The Interview Prep Cheat Sheet provides insight into what potential employers want. While the right degrees, majors, or significant experience are important, employers look at other values as well.
Confidence is a major factor in getting the position. Tell the interviewer about your past achievements and what you have to offer that can benefit the company. Explain to them how well you deal with changes – let them know that they can count on you to handle decision-making and uncertainty on projects.
Show the manager that you have more than one skill set and that you have a great deal to offer. For example, you might be a business major/business degree holder and have additional education in philosophy or psychology. Let the employer know how you combine education and experiences to meet more than just one need.
What To Do And What To Avoid:
Ensure that you know what your CV or resume says about you. Hiring managers are usually overwhelmed with candidates and don’t fully absorb the details of your background. The interviewer may have only glanced at your CV or resume, so be prepared to address all questions. Have an extra copy of your resume in case yours gets lost in a pile of paperwork because you will have a lot to explain.
Be prepared for unusual or surprise questions. You don’t always have to know the correct answer, but the interviewer may just want to see how you handle the unusual and how quickly you react.
A favourite question in interviews is asking about your weaknesses or faults and it’s important that you don’t come across as perfect. Your interviewer will not believe you, so it’s crucial to portray yourself as a normal person. You also don’t want to come up with something irrelevant. Before your interview, think of mistakes you have made and the steps you took to fix them.
Remember to show interest in the position and the employer. Take a few minutes to find out what the company is all about and prepare some questions. This is not the time to ask about potential benefits; this is the time to show the interviewer that you are sincere in wanting the position. Ask about the latest in new technology or about a successful advertising campaign.
Behind The Interview Scene:
What happens before or after an interview can make the difference in whether or not you will be considered for the desired position. Social networks like Facebook may be a great place to chat with friends or let off steam. Unfortunately, what you post on the Internet stays there and is available for potential employers to see.
A study has shown that up to 37 percent of employers screen candidates through social networking sites. Resist the urge to tell your friends on Facebook how much you hate your current employer. Keep your personal life out of public view; your potential new employer doesn’t want to know what you look like in a bikini or how much you drank last night. While legal debates over these practices continue, you can simply protect yourself in the meantime.
The most important thing to keep in mind about hiring is that there are many candidates who are trying for the same position, and it’s very important to stay ahead of the competition. With these tips, you may not be guaranteed a position, but you may just be that much closer to getting the job you’ve wanted for so long.
Thanks to journalist Michael Sturman for this article.
Getting a job is one of the hardest tasks known to man. You go through all the hard work of gaining qualifications and sitting down and searching through the web or newspapers looking for jobs only to suffer knock back after knock back and slowly getting increasingly downhearted.
A lot of the time, the reason why job applications are unsuccessful is down to the initial application. We hear so much from career advisors and recruitment agencies about the importance of a standout application, one that really jumps out at the employer and ensures that yours doesn’t become just another application in the pile on the desk.
The obvious thought that goes through many minds at this stage is “right, bright colours and images” but this can work against some because they go too far and the application becomes unprofessional – it’s a real catch 22 situation.
So what do you do? Get noticed, but don’t be in your face – that just adds to the confusion – so here are five tips for creating a standout job application that will stand you in good stead for earning yourself an interview at the very least, (hopefully!)
- Do your research. When you start to fill out an application, you need to consider who it is you’re applying for a job with. You need to tell the employer about everything that is relevant to the position in question, which includes your qualifications and all the details that show why you meet their criteria. To do this, go through the company website, or even pop in and get a feel for it if possible, and you can then show a thorough understanding of the business and why you’re perfect for a job there.
- Read the instructions. Many people go wrong when they don’t read the questions on the application form properly. They glance at it once, get an idea and begin to fill in their response and without realizing it they’ve gone off topic and not answered the question sufficiently. Check, check, check again and then begin to write. Even try writing your answers on a separate piece of paper to make sure you’re happy with your response before writing on the application form.
- Answer all of the questions. Don’t leave any questions unanswered, as this will automatically indicate a lack of understanding or ability. Before sending your application off you need to make sure everything that requires an answer has one, and not just one to ensure it’s filled in, one that is good enough to get you an interview or the job itself.
- Be consistent throughout your application. When you send in a CV, you need to include all of the dates. Where a number of applicants for jobs fall is when they then talk about their qualifications and get the dates wrong, which shows inconsistencies to the employer who may feel that you are lying in your application. Make sure every date you mention is correct and backed up with evidence.
- Proofread it! After taking the time to get your application right, don’t fall at the final hurdle by allowing spelling or grammar mistakes to be your downfall. Proofread everything you’ve written to ensure it is correct and makes sense.
Thanks to Chris White for this article.
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).
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.
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.
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.
If you are writing an English CV for a position in Germany, here are a few tips:
- Include a cover sheet with your name, address, telephone number, and email address on the top right side and your place of birth, date of birth, nationality, and marital status on the bottom right side.
- Place a head and shoulders LinkedIn- and Xing-type photograph on the top right hand corner of page one.
- Start your CV with the same style and content of letterhead that you would use on a UK CV or American résumé (name, email address, telephone number, postal address).
- Either start with the experience section (reverse chronological) or include a very short profile statement.
- Don’t use a career highlights, key competencies, or similar section before the experience section.
- Ensure that you use months in your employment dates.
- Explain all gaps in your employment history.
- Leave space to date and sign it (and include the city in which you signed it) at the bottom of the last page.
- Alternatively, use the new Europass template as a starting point, but be sure to add the date and sign it.
- As with all European CVs, use A4-size paper.
- Use UK spelling unless the target company’s literature and job advertisement uses American (or other) spelling.
- Have copies of your educational transcripts, certifications, and references ready to be submitted, if required.
iAgora – CV for Germany
Berlin Info – German-style CV
Europass CV Template – CV Template in German
Working in Germany – CV and Employment Tips
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When you cannot use attachments or formatted documents, copy and paste the relevant sections of your Pro-CV PLAIN TEXT.txt file or your own .txt file (without line breaks) into your EMAIL ‘compose’ box.
If a job description asks you to include a plain text CV in the body of an email, make sure your email software is set to send plain text. Otherwise, your email browser will add formatting to your CV and the recruiter may assume you didn’t follow instructions.
The method for sending a plain-text email depends on the email program you’re using. Look for a “Plain Text” button or option and/or make sure the “Rich Text Editor” is off. Further information can usually be found in the “help” section of the program.
Here are instructions for some major email programs.
Choose “Compose Mail”. Click “plain text” option amongst the formatting options. Then, simply copy and paste your CV into the e-mail. You may have to make some minor formatting changes.
* Yahoo! Mail:
Create a new e-mail. At the bottom of the email, click the “plain text” button. Then, simply copy and paste your CV into the e-mail. You may have to make some minor formatting changes.
Create a new e-mail, in the pull-down field labelled “Tools” make sure the “Rich Text Editor” is off. You’ll be able to tell if you’ve successfully turned the Rich Text Editor off as all the formatting options will disappear from your compose screen. You may have to make some minor formatting changes.
* Windows Live Mail:
If you don’t see a menu, press ALT. Click Tools then Options. Click the Send tab. Next to Mail Sending Format, tick the option for Plain text. Click the Compose tab. Set the Compose Font for mail to 10 pt. Courier New. Click OK.
* Microsoft Outlook:
Create a new email, click on the “Format” button and choose the “Plain Text” option. Then, simply copy and paste your resume into the new email. You may have to make some minor changes, but most of your formatting should remain intact.
Before sending an email, read over all the contents of the compose box to ensure that you have copied and pasted the relevant sections. For instance, have you inadvertently included your references?
1. CVs are more important than ever in today’s competitive job market. What are the best ways for job seekers, particularly project managers, to grab the attention of HR/recruiters?
- HR managers and recruiters desperately want to find the right candidate as quickly as possible. You will grab their attention the moment they can find the information they need to validate a decision to interview you. Give it to them on a plate by presenting your relevant qualifications and experience near the beginning of your CV/résumé.
- One way to do this is to create a section called, “Professional Summary” or “Key Qualifications” or similar. Present your information relating to the job criteria in bullet point form and embolden the first few key words, if appropriate. Start with an action verb (e.g., Spearheaded the project …) and state the benefit(s) that your actions brought to the company (… that resulted in …).
- Under your name in your letterhead, include your relevant qualifications (e.g., B.Eng., PRINCE2).
- Instead of using the section heading “Profile,” use a positioning title. That is, use as the heading your most relevant job title and subtitle it with the relevant industry in which you have experience. For instance, Project Manager – Oil & Gas Industry.
- Present information about your projects in a uniform way. For instance, Challenge: … Actions: … Results: … or Project: … Activities: … Results: …
2. What are the biggest mistakes that people make when writing their CV/resume? How can they avoid these mishaps?
- There is a fine line between arrogant boasting, succinctly explaining the value you offer, and humbly describing your job duties. It is important to tread the middle road. Honestly, but descriptively, tell the reader about your accomplishments.
- Ensure that you have addressed as much of the job criteria as possible. Do this as early as possible in the document.
- Do not include irrelevant details or out-of-date qualifications.
3. In terms of design, what are some creative approaches that project managers can take?
- Use a dark color from the target company’s logo in your section headers.
- If you want to include a list of skills, use bullet points in columns.
- Divide your document into two columns – allocate less than one-third for your section headings and at least two-thirds for your body text.
4. In terms of design, what are some mistakes people often make? What sorts of things are considered “over the top” e.g. too many colors, etc?
- Easy-to-scan is the most important design feature, so using all upper case letters, underlining, and more than two fonts can impede this. If you use two fonts, use one Serif and one Sans Serif.
- Never use WordArt or similar word processing design features. A project manager’s CV/résumé should be a professional-looking document, so one color (e.g., dark blue or a dark color from the target company’s logo) could be used for your name and section headings.
- Do not choose a font that is uncommon. If the recipient doesn’t have it, their computer could replace your wonderful font with an unsuitable font. Consider using the super-safe Times New Roman or Arial, or the semi-safe, but more interesting, options of Book Antiqua, Calisto MT, Californian FB, Cambria, Candara, Corbel, Garamond, Georgia, Goudy Old Style, Lucida Sans, or Palatino Linotype.
5. What advice do you have for print CVs versus online CVs?
- For international applications, be sure to use the correct paper size (8.5” X 11” for North America and A4 for the rest of the world) whether printed or electronic.
- Use good quality paper in either white or cream if a hard copy is required.
- Use a good quality laser printer if you are going to print your document.
- Do not use a font size smaller than 10 point Times New Roman.
- Give at least 2 cm or .75 inch for a margin.
- Never fold or staple a hard copy CV/résumé. Protect it with a board-backed envelop.
- Send a digital/electronic version in .doc or .pdf by email in addition to submitting a required paper copy.
- Electronic versions of your CV/résumé should conform to the instructions from the target company. That is, don’t upload a .pdf or a .docx file when they ask for a .doc.
- Don’t copy and paste your Word document into online forms because they are unlikely to support formatting features, such as bullet points. Save the Word file as .txt, fix the formatting problems, and then copy and paste from the .txt file.
6. When should project managers seek professional help? Is this really a job for a professional CV writer?
- If you feel that your CV or résumé does not compare favorably to other CVs/résumés – your colleagues’ documents or examples on the Internet.
- If you are qualified for the job and your CV or résumé is not generating interviews, it is time to seek help.
- If you are not fully qualified for the job and you want the best chance of getting an interview.
- There are plenty of very good CV/résumé writing books if you want to take the time to read them and apply their advice. I would recommend Expert Résumés for Managers and Executives by Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark.
7. Any additional CV tips?
- Always tell the truth.
- At an interview, you will be asked to elaborate on information contained in your CV/résumé. If you don’t want to discuss it, try not to include any aspect of it in your CV/résumé.
- There is no need to include your references or the statement, “References available upon request. It is understood that you will give references upon request.
- Do not include personal information (e.g., age). Include work permit status if there is an issue with permission to work in the country.
- Do not include interests/hobbies unless they are highly relevant (e.g., you lack paid employment project management experience, but have experience as a volunteer).
Thanks to Denene Brox for these questions. Parts of this post were quoted in Denene’s article, Top of the Stack / Build the right resume and they will call, which was published in the August 2010 issue of PM Network (Project Management Institute).
Writing and Organisation:
Your CV not only presents your qualifications and work history, it also demonstrates the quality of work that you produce. Your CV tells the prospective employer a number of things about your decision-making, organisational, and communication skills. This is an opportunity to impress them with your ability to provide them with a professional document.
You are just a name on a page until you add a personal touch with a lively and captivating summary of your best qualities. Your personality shines through and the reader wants to learn more about you.
There is no set rule as to what headings should be used. However, they should be instantly recognisable and lead the reader to the information they seek.
If it is not possible to quickly find specific information, the reader may not bother. A CV that is well laid out and presented will enable the reader to retrieve the maximum amount of information in the 20-30 seconds they have allotted for the task.
Business etiquette dictates that a focused cover letter accompanies the CV or application form. It is expected. The job hunter who does not write a cover letter is seen to be a person who either cannot be bothered or does not know any better.
The reader only wants to know specific information. What information is presented and what is left out is the CV writer’s job. Too little information and the reader is left with the impression that the candidate is unqualified. Too much information and the reader could get bored and not even get to the important parts. If all the information you need to convey can be attractively presented on one page, then one page is all you need. A two-page CV allows for more detail. The first page grabs the reader’s attention with crucial information, and the second page enhances and confirms that information. When the number of candidates for a position will be very low, (e.g., upper level executives in highly specialised fields), more than two pages may be required.
Grammar and Spelling:
Even if perfect grammar and spelling are not necessary for the job, mistakes look sloppy and show that you do not care about details. Careful proofreading will catch these errors. If you are unsure, try WhiteSmoke software.
Photocopies are old fashioned and usually of inferior quality. Photocopying or any poor printing says, “This document has been sent as a mail shot – the writer is not serious enough about the job to be bothered to put the time and effort into applying specifically for this job.” Also, the original needs to be sharp because your CV may be photocopied and/or scanned for distribution within the company. For clarity and ease of reading, inkjet printing does not compare favourably to laser printing.
Paper Colour and Quality:
If a hard copy is appropriate, use 100 gsm weight paper, either white or ivory. Strongly coloured paper may stand out from the rest, but will not be practical. Some colours do not photocopy or scan very well. This makes it difficult for your CV to be circulated inside the company. Using inappropriate or poor quality paper will imply that your standard of work is also of poor quality.
When you present yourself for an interview, you make sure that you look your best. Your CV presentation should also be at its best. You can achieve this by including a couple of extras. Thermal binding and hard backed envelopes, coupled with your well-written and well-designed CV, demonstrates your enthusiasm and above-average interest in the position available. Bring a list of your referees presented on a reference sheet that matches your CV. Info about referees.