Your Career Advice
How to write a winning CV:
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CV WRITING TIPS
With Our HR Director – Brett Vince
What is a CV?
A CV is a document that summarises your career history and sells your experience. It is the first thing a prospective employer sees, forming their first impression of you. It should give relevant information that relates to the role you are applying for.
A good CV includes:
- Your skills
- Your knowledge
- Your responsibilities
- Your results
- Your achievements
- Your performance
A good CV promotes conversation at an interview.
Do you work under a framework agreement?
Your CV must include all work history from the end of your secondary education to present working day. Remember to include career breaks and their purpose so all gaps in employment are explained and each month is accounted for.
A CV must always be specifically tailored for the role and market you are applying for – include a concise personal profile that outlines your skills and experience pertaining to your chosen profession and what makes you the best at what you do.
Have multiple copies of your CV tailored to individual sectors.
Ensure the content in your CV is relevant to the role you are applying for. Make direct links to your work history and the job role; research the application criteria and emphasise your experience in relation to the required competencies. Outline your achievements that are relevant to the job role, sector or job description.
Emphasise your relevant work history rather than producing a list of previous positions.
The winning format
The initial page of your CV should include your profile, your relevant skills and experience, and your current or most recent position – all the important information a prospective employer needs to see.
Use headings to highlight individual sections, making it easier to navigate:
- Skills and Experience
- Recent Work History
- Previous Work History
- Qualifications and Training
Always work in reverse chronological order when setting out your work history, qualifications and training. Keep it concise, including the information that needs to be specifically stated or explained in detail. The font you choose can say a lot about you – keep it professional and regulated throughout the document.
So, remember that the perfect CV is factual, honest, relevant, specific, concise and above all is a tool to sell you, your skills and your experience.
Your CV can be screened by a prospective employer in under a minute; stick to our layout tips to help you!
COVER LETTER TIPS
With Our Group HR Manager – Sam Lea
Don’t rewrite your cv
The function of your cover letter is to provide a highlight reel of your CV; it should be designed to entice the employer to view your CV. The information that should be included is: what role you’re applying for, why you would suit the role and your contact details.
Sell yourself. Think about what skills & experience you have that would most impress your potential employer. Make this relevant to their business and make sure it is clear & concise.
Tailor Your Cover Letter
There is nothing worse than sending a generic cover letter or CV. It displays a lack of interest and general laziness. In light of this, you can combine two tasks into one - do some research into the company you’re applying to work for and look at the specifics of the role. Not only does this show that you’re interested and well informed about the role, but it also give you subjects to talk about when you make it to the interview stage.
Check out their website, their social networks (if they have any) and news related articles about the company through a simple Google search.
Keep it short
Your cover letter should be used to entice your potential employer, so keep it between half a page and three quarters of a page in length. It is seen as a simple courtesy function and should explain what vacancy you are enquiring about, your suitability to the job and a full list of your contact details.
Give contact details that you are always going to be contactable with. There are far too many instances of people missing out on jobs because they couldn’t take the call.
SPELLING & GRAMMAR
This goes for every document you ever use in your job seeking process. Ask yourself what you would think about a potential candidate if they hadn’t checked their spelling and grammar. Mistakes such as these imply carelessness and a lack of attention to detail.
Get a few other people to have a read through if you’re not sure, as you can often miss the simplest of mistakes, especially after so much proof-reading.
A surprising number of people don’t consider this to be an essential element of the job hunting process. What if you’re the perfect candidate for the job but the employer cannot read your cover letter because it’s in a confusing layout or the file type cannot be opened? The most widely used formats are Microsoft Word Documents and PDFs, simply because they are almost universal in use.
Don’t write it by hand! If you don’t have a computer, head to your nearest library; they will have a computer you can use to type it up on and you should be able to save it as either a Word doc or PDF there. Don’t write the entire cover letter in capitals, bold or italics; choose a clear font such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
Interview tips compiled by two of our expert Recruiters, Simon Ryan and Zenna Hoyte, to give you the best chances of landing that dream job!
Pay special attention to any awards and accolades they’ve received.
Learn as much about the company as possible. Showing that you have an active interest in the company you hope to work for shows initiative and enthusiasm.
Having done the research, you can really apply your strengths to the job on offer; linking the two will help you to appear invaluable to the interviewer.
You are in essence using your interviewer’s time when going for an interview; using it poorly will only deliver one result.
Lateness is simply not acceptable; arrive early (30 minutes as a minimum). This not only gives you time to prepare, but also to go over your CV, prepare some questions and ensure that you don’t turn up having run from the nearest tube station!
If you’re even slightly late for an interview, you are going to have to give the perfect interview performance to get the interviewer back on your side.
Whilst it may be important to you to ask questions like: ‘when do I get a pay rise?’ or ‘how much holiday do I get?’, they aren’t questions that will inspire your interviewer.
Questions relating to the company and the direction it’s going in will show you want to progress and work for a company with the same aim.
Useful questions to ask:
How is outstanding performance awarded?
What sort of promotion path can I expect?
What are the best / worst things about working here?
You can never change a first impression so make sure you get it right the first time! Wear a suit to every interview unless you’re specifically instructed not to.
Always think about what is going through the interviewer’s mind. If you feel good, you will generally portray that with your body language.
Clothing is a way of expressing your respect and consideration for the situation. If you want to be taken seriously, dress seriously.
Know your CV
Read through your CV before your interview so you wont be caught off guard for any questions relating to its content.
You should almost be able to recite your CV; make sure you aren’t caught out by dates and gaps. What on your CV are you proudest of? Do you have any regrets?
Always have reasons for leaving a previous employer and for any gaps in your CV.
Tips by Simon Ryan and Zenna Hoyte
Posture and Hand shake
Sitting up straight in your chair and keeping your arms unfolded sends good messages to an interviewer. Closed arms imply you are defensive, which you want.
Two important things during an interview. Body language gives an interviewer a lot of information. Handshakes are very important; make sure it’s firm but don’t break their hand!
You want to show your personality off as much as possible. Show that you’re likeable and driven by your aspirations.
Sell yourself. You are at the interview stage because your CV demonstrates you can do the job. You’ve made the shortlist, now the difference between you getting the job or somebody else getting it is your performance during the interview.
The reason eye contact is so important is that it creates engagement between you and the interviewer. It demonstrates you are confident, interested in the interview and possess good communication skills. Don’t be afraid to look your interviewer in the eye and speak to them as one professional to another. Practise eye contact with a friend or relative before the day of your interview; this will help you to feel and appear more confident in front of your interviewer.
Making eye contact with your interviewer should feel natural. There are times in conversation when you might look away and think about what you are going to say. It is perfectly acceptable if your eyes look up as you are remembering an example you want to tell the interviewer; this is a natural reaction when we are thinking.
Avoid looking down. The connotations of looking down are shame and embarrassment, neither of which you want to display in an interview.
Send your CV straight to the right person
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