How to write a Curriculum Vitae
Your CV is a representation which should reflect your personality and what is important to you.
When applying for a job, it is likely that you will be one of many candidates. Presenting an effective CV is one way of getting noticed from the outset. Interviewers may decide whether or not to see you on the strength of your CV.
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Do not just think of it as a list of facts; it should be a resume of all your personal, educational and career history, showing your strengths and achievements.
- Always type your CV, in a clear font and to a MAXIMUM of three pages
- Avoid gimmicks, elaborate designs, or fancy typefaces or photos of your Holidays!
- Your CV represents you and should be kept simple with a minimum of layout fuss (ie no tables, text box inserts, lines in between things)
- Lay out your CV so it is easy to read and understand. Structure it by writing a list of important headings. Include your name, location, telephone number (evenings and daytime), work history (in reverse chronological order – maximum detail in the last ten years or so), any major achievements (under each role), qualifications (include examination results), hobbies and interests. In this order!
- Start with your most recent job. It is more relevant for the reader to see your current position and duties first. Break your job role down into areas of responsibility. Detail the duties within each area, in point fashion for easy reference and list your achievements as well
- Account for any ‘gaps’ in your CV
- Do not forget leisure pursuits – participating in sports, for example, shows good potential for teamwork, or team captain – leadership skills.
- Where possible, make the CV relevant to the position you are applying for by highlighting transferable skills or similar experience
- Avoid industry jargon or acronyms.
- Use space constructively; omit irrelevant experience, examination failures, etc. and keep your early career experience to one line with Dates, Company name and Job title
- Check your spelling carefully and get a friend to double check-it. Be concise, do not bore the reader. Two pages is the optimum length with Maximum three pages if one has to run over two.
- Do not claim qualifications which you do not have. Increasingly, employers will terminate the employment of, or not employ, candidates who cannot provide proof of qualifications such as GCE/GCSE, degrees and secretarial certificates. If you are shortlisted for a role the chances are you will be screened by your qualifications and references, if not the full blown background check
Between the lines
- Ensure the information is correct and relevant. Most companies will reject a CV with spelling and typing errors.
- If you spent a year or two travelling, say so. Time on a CV that is unaccounted for is always suspicious, and if you are early on in your career, travel can be seen as a great growth experience.
- Never lie on a CV, or you will undermine yourself from the onset, and may be found out in the future.
- If you have worked somewhere for a few years, explain briefly how your job title and responsibilities have changed. Show how you have developed since joining the company.
- Highlight major achievements. Have you successfully managed any projects or brought in new systems or increased sales? Show on paper that you are an asset to your present employer. It is helpful to put figures in to support your claims such as: “I increased sales by 100% from $1m to $2m”
- Keep a copy of your CV, read it before your interview and take two clean, crisp, unfolded copies to the interview (one for you, and one for the interviewer – just in case).
- It is also useful to keep a template CV which can be adjusted for each role you are applying for, highlighting your relevant skills for each role.
In general terms, a prospective employer is looking for loyalty, ability and suitability (ie cultural fit), determination, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
- Dress smartly and conservatively, suits or equivalent (no leather or denim garments), neat clean nails and smart, clean shoes. It is carrier, a more casual look might be appropriate – but not TOO casual.
- Leave for the interview in good time. If you are late, do apologise and contact us or them to let them know of your delay. When you meet your interviewer shake hands firmly, look them in the eye and smile.
- Do answer questions, concisely, honestly and avoid getting side tracked.
- If you are asked what you about the company or job, do not say ‘nothing’, a short sentence will suffice. It is useful to always research the company before attending an interview with them. Most companies are on the Internet – it impresses interviewers if you have done your ‘homework’!
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During the Interview
- 80% of interviews are decided in the first five minutes. 80% of communication is body language.
- Do not put your handbag, briefcase, or elbows on the interviewer’s desk.
- Do not slouch, sit on the edge of your seat, shuffle your feet, or tap your fingers.
- Do not interrupt, but do not be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify a question if you do not understand it.
- Do not criticise former employers/employees or anyone else.
- Do explain your reason for changing jobs in a positive way.
- Do smile
- Do look the interviewer in the eye.
- Do use the interviewer’s name.
- Do ask questions (if in doubt ask why the last person left, how long has the company been established, how many offices do they have?). If your mind goes blank, say ‘You have covered everything, but if I think of anything afterwards, may I ask through the agency?’.
- One area to avoid is that of promotion; most companies are interested in filling the vacancy in hand first.
After the interview
- As soon as the interview is over, contact your consultant with your feedback. This will help when we contact the interviewer.
- Any interview is valuable experience. Use it to your advantage by going over the interview with your consultant to see if there was anything you would have liked to have handled better, or anything you forgot to say that you want conveyed to the interviewer.
Be confident in yourself. We are! If you are going forward to shortlist we have assessed your attributes and understood your requirements and think that they match our clients needs. We have also discussed with you the job you are being interviewed for. If we did not think you were suitable for the position, we would not have wasted your time or our clients time by sending you for an interview.
5 Expert Tips for Following Up After a Job Interview By Sharlyn Lauby
The big job interview you’ve been prepping for and stressing over for days or weeks is over, and you can finally breathe a sigh of relief — except now comes the hard part: Waiting to hear back…
You’re excited about the opportunity, and you want to do everything in your power to present yourself as the perfect candidate for the job; one way to increase your odds of landing the gig is to follow up in a professional manner.
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Landing your dream job requires a degree of finesse, from the initial email or phone conversation to negotiating salary and signing on the dotted line. In the post-interview aftermath, you want to appear interested without crossing the line and coming across as a pest. You want to be memorable in the right way; so what does this entail?
Below, recruiting experts share their insights on the dos and don’ts when following up after a job interview.
1. Yes, You Should Follow Up
Following up is critical in showing your continued interest in a job opportunity, says Willoughby, senior vice president of people at a job and career site where employees anonymously post the pros and cons of their companies, positions and salaries.
She cautions candidates against becoming a burden to the hiring manager — she stresses the importance of politeness.
“You don’t want to pester until you get an answer, but rather keep yourself in [the hiring team’s] minds as they make the decision,” she says. “A great approach is to ask about their timeline for making a hiring decision before you leave the interview. This will help you to properly time your follow-up attempts. In addition, a quick ‘thank you’ [email] is always a nice touch.”
Another way to stand out in your follow-up communications is to mention recent news about the company to show that you’re keeping the job opportunity top-of-mind. This tidbit could be in regards to a blog post, industry news or something related to the job you interviewed for — it goes without saying that the news should be positive in nature; don’t send over a note with a mention of a company scandal.
2. Communicate in a Timely, Professional Manner
Mirizio a content marketing writer at The Resumator, a recruiting software company, agrees that there’s nothing wrong with sending a gracious thank-you message, unless the recruiter explicitly states no follow-ups or replies.
He suggests using the last form of communication that you had with a recruiter as the best medium for following up (i.e. phone, email, text, mail, etc.). “Go with that medium, or follow whatever instructions have been given to you. Email is always a safe bet, but always contact recruiters through their business accounts. Personal email accounts and phone numbers are for personal friends, and trying to reach [hiring managers] at home can be an awfully quick turnoff.”
3. Tastefully Follow Up When You Haven’t Heard Back
In a situation in which the company says they will make a decision next week, and a week goes by without any word after you’ve sent an initial follow-up note, Willoughby says that it’s okay to send one more polite inquiry.
“However, if the company has given you a set time frame and exceeded it by longer than a week, a well-written follow-up note is reasonable. It should be concise and friendly. Don’t necessarily remind them that they haven’t gotten back to you, but rather use the time frame provided as the reason for your follow up.” Willoughby suggests wording your message along the lines of, “I know you mentioned you were hoping to make a final hiring decision by the end of the month, and I wanted to follow up and see where you are in that process.”
4. Learn When to Move On
If you’ve been waiting patiently for a reply from the company and they still haven’t responded, there’s a point when you have to move on — even if you really like the company and want the job. Fields, a human resources consultant and expert resume writer, reminds job seekers that focusing on other opportunities is the best way to move forward. “Don’t take it personally; just move along. You never know what is happening internally at a company. Here is my rule of thumb: Follow up once, and if you receive no response, follow up once more. If you still don’t hear anything, move on.” I will add though that here at Horizon Executives Search that we endeavor to come back to come back to everyone we are considering for a role, even if it seems to take a while.
He adds that company time frames can be tricky to predict, and candidates should take encouraging comments during an interview with a grain of salt. “Workplace emergencies happen unexpectedly and all the time, so it’s important to follow up a couple of times. But if you hear absolutely nothing, then it’s time to move on,” says Fields. “Some interviewers are complimentary to avoid confrontation; they tell you what you want to hear. Sometimes it’s genuine, but there is no way for you to tell. If the company wants to hire you, they will contact you, whether it happens a week later, a month later or even several months later.”
5. Don’t Make Assumptions With References
A request for references doesn’t necessarily mean that the job is in the bag, says Mirizio. “It’s a good rule of thumb throughout the hiring process to never assume anything,” he adds.
Fields agrees. “I’ve seen some crazy stuff, like negotiations falling apart, offers rescinded and miscommunications. [Being asked to supply] references is a good sign that you are in the top two or three candidates, but it’s no guarantee of employment,” he says.
The ultimate goal in any job search is to receive multiple offers so that you, as the candidate, can choose the best one. Creating a strategy to follow up after interviews is just as important as the actual interview itself. Horizon: In return though, we request the courtesy of being informed of other positions you might be considering so that we can let our clients know you are doing this – this may even encourage the company to make a decision faster!
When the Headhunter calls
By Liz Ryan – CEO and Founder, Human Workplace
This is the time of year when parents call our office to ask “Can you find a headhunter for my child, who’s just finished college?” God bless these parents, who have never met a headhunter, much less worked with one. Someone told them that a new college graduate needs to make friends with a search professional, sometimes called a headhunter, in order to get a job. We get to tell the disappointed parents that in all likelihood a headhunter can’t help their child.
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You would think schools would teach kids a lot of things they don’t, like how to pick a career and how to get a job. You’d think we would teach kids how to work with recruiters a/k/a headhunters and lots of other things about the grown-up world of work and careers. We teach them a bunch of specialized subject matter knowledge that will be obsolete in five years, instead. We teach them almost nothing that could help them land a job and thrive in it. That’s shameful, but that’s how it is in 2014. Neither the graduating seniors nor their parents understand the recruiting profession, including the differences between recruiting and career coaching.
Headhunters, executive search consultants, third-party recruiters and search professionals are all different names for the same thing. Headhunters are people who work for themselves or work for recruiting firms, finding candidates for their employer clients.
Retained search firms (the minority) perform dedicated, exclusive searches for their corporate and institutional clients. Once an employer — for instance, Angry Chocolates — hires a retained search firm and pays them an upfront fee of about ten percent of the new hire’s projected first-year cash compensation, the retained search firm starts beating the bushes for talent.
They’ll earn another twenty percent of the new hire’s first-year cash comp as the search progresses, for a total fee of about one-third of the new hire’s compensation package. That’s good money, but their assignment isn’t easy. The retained search firm has to show up with at least one candidate who appears to have been raised in a Petri dish specifically to do this job, with every requirement the employer could dream of.
Hiring managers, as you know, can get pretty delusional when somebody else is doing the recruiting task for them. Their imaginations can run wild. The retained search is not complete until the employer hires somebody, no matter how many candidates have been presented.
Contingency recruiters work in a different way. Lots of contingency headhunters can work on the same job opening for the same employer, all at the same time. That means that a hiring manager can get resumes from five or six different recruiters for one job opening. Only one of the contingency recruiters will get paid when somebody gets hired. Whoever presented the ‘winning’ candidate is the headhunter who gets paid. Everybody else worked hard on the assignment and didn’t take home a dime.
If you haven’t worked in an environment like that, it might be hard to imagine. Contingency recruiters only get paid when their candidates get hired, no matter how many resumes they present to hiring managers. Now you can see why not every job-seeker is recruiter material.
If an employer could run a job ad and find candidates on its own, the employer wouldn’t need to hire a recruiter. They’d save their money. Contingency recruiters charge a fee of about 25% of the new hire’s first-year cash compensation. That means if the job pays $60,000, the headhunter’s fee is $15,000. That sounds like a nice fee until you consider that the recruiter might talk to fifty job-seekers to find that one person who eventually gets hired. And that’s if another recruiter’s candidate doesn’t get the job offer first!
Once you understand how recruiters earn their fees, three things become clear:
- Recruiters aren’t career advisers. They don’t have time to share career advice with candidates unless they’re working with them on a specific job opportunity, and sometimes not even then.
- The job-seekers who are most appropriate for a headhunter connection are the ones who have in-demand skills that employers can’t find through their own recruiting efforts. Often that means specialized technical skills, industry-specific experience or a mix of experiences that isn’t plentiful in the general job-seeking population.
- Applicants with ‘quirky’ backgrounds don’t tend to be recruiter material. When a hiring manager designs a job spec (however fanciful) and commits to paying 25% of a new hire’s first-year compensation to a recruiter, the hiring manager expects the recruiter to show up with a candidate who jumped right out of the job ad.
Most new college grads are not recruiter material, unless they’ve got specific technical or scientific expertise employers are desperate for. Most all-around Marketing people (apart from social media gurus) aren’t recruiter material, either. HR people can be, if they have something employers really need (collective bargaining experience, for instance, or a background in a particular industry) and so can Finance types. IT and Engineering folks make up a disproportionate share of the global headhunter-friendly population.
Many or most of us will go through our careers without a headhunter’s assistance. That’s okay – there are other good job-search channels!
How can you determine whether you’re recruiter material? Reach out to a few recruiters in your area and ask them to glance at your LinkedIn profile. If you make overtures and don’t hear back, that’s a sign that you’re not recruiter material. After all, recruiters only make their money one way. They introduce candidates to employers and get paid when a match is made. If your resume screams “I’m place-able!” recruiters won’t ignore your calls.
If you’re not recruiter material, don’t panic. There are plenty of other ways to get a great job. Recruiters are just one channel in your job search strategy. Very few people can rely on recruiters to navigate and negotiate all of their job changes throughout a career. Most working people use two or three job search channels. The recruiter channel is only one of them, and only a part of their larger job search strategy.
Here are three job-search channels that every job seeker should become familiar with, whether the job-seeker works with a recruiter or not:
- Networking into job opportunities — a must for every job-seeker!
- The Whole Person Job Search – the direct approach we teach at Human Workplace, where you’ll send your Human-Voiced Resume with a Pain Letter directly to your hiring manager.
- Working with your Career Services department (if you’re currently in college, or just out of it) or your alma mater’s Alumni Career Services team. You paid the tuition. You may as well get some job-search benefit out of the deal!
If you get interest from recruiters in your job search, remember how they get paid. As fun as it is to sit and discuss your background with someone, recruiters get paid by the transaction. It’s unlikely they’ll have time to strategize with you over your career choices, your job-search strategy or your branding. That’s what career advisers do, and what we do at Human Workplace. We have great respect for recruiters, not only because they get people into terrific jobs that never get advertised, but also because we know from the other side of a desk how hard it can be to find certain kinds of talent.
When I was an HR chief, I relied on my headhunter partners. It doesn’t matter how vigorously I might have advertised our hardest-to-fill positions; there are tons of job-seekers who won’t respond to job ads, no matter what. If their search buddy calls them up and says “I have a job for you to look at,” they’ll consider it. Otherwise, no.
Are you headhunter material? If you are, you may as well investigate the third-party-search channel and add it to your job-search strategy. Even if you’re not looking now, you never know when things will change. If you’re not, that’s okay. It’s good to know whether you’ve got a search-friendly resume or not, so that if you don’t, you don’t waste your time (and deplete your precious mojo) trying to get recruiters interested in you.
If a recruiter says “I don’t see opportunities for people like you very often” that doesn’t mean your background isn’t valuable. It just means that other job-search channels will be more productive for you. Rejoice! When one door closes, another one opens.
Will Your Interview Answers Get You Hired?
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, describes his hiring process this way:
I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work directly for that person.
Zuckerberg’s comment illustrates an overlooked, yet fundamental, truth about hiring—people are ultimately looking for someone they want to work with.
This is why companies of all types will ask you the same five questions.
Human nature ensures interviewers return to these questions time and again to find out if you’re someone they want to have down the hall.
Your ability to wow the interviewer and land the job hinges on how well you answer these questions.
Fear not! I’ve provided perfect answers to the five questions you will be asked every time you interview.
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“Why are you leaving your current job?”
This question trips a lot of people up because it can get you into a negative mindset or a rant against your present (or previous) job. The interviewer only wants to know that you aren’t leaving purely for money and that you don’t have trouble getting along with people.
Even if you were fired, the key to answering this question is to maintain undying positivity. Put a positive twist on the negatives to show your interviewer that you’ve learned significant and valuable lessons.
If at all possible, show the interviewer that your moving jobs is all about passion and career growth.
“Tell me about yourself”
When interviewers ask this, they don’t want to hear about everything that has happened in your life; the interviewer’s objective is to see how you respond to this vague, yet personal, question.
Most people are quick to gush about their life story or their passions outside work. In the process, people have the tendency to slip up and to reveal things that cast them in a negative light. You don’t want to be too loose with your personal life with someone you just met.
The idea here is to give the most important points of your resume and how these experiences make you a great fit for the job. All you need to do is show the interviewer why you’re the best fit for the position and leave all the other extraneous details out.
“What are your weaknesses?”
It’s difficult to find a genuine weakness that makes you appear competent.
For instance, telling your interviewer that your weakness is working so hard that you have trouble prioritizing your family life is a little too cliché and comes across as disingenuous. But telling your interviewer that you lose interest in mundane tasks (though this may be genuine) makes you an unappealing candidate as well.
To answer this question perfectly, pick weaknesses that are minor and can be developed.
A great tactic is to choose a past weakness that you have an awesome story about fixing. For example, if your weakness is that you have difficulty confronting people with bad news, tell your interviewer that you’ve learned to begin with something positive before moving into the negative. This is a perfect example because the issue is minor (interviewers won’t consider it a deal-breaker), and you’ve shown that you’re someone who can learn and seeks improvement.
“What is your desired salary?”
The unwritten rule when it comes to salary is this: whoever proposes a number first, loses.
When you interview, you should never feel pressured to answer this question. Simply let your interviewer know that the most important thing to you is how well you fit the position.
Say something simple like, “Though I know salary is relevant, I don’t make decisions based solely on it, and I would prefer to discuss it later once you know more about me and I know more about the role.”
This shows the interviewer that you have put thought into the question and that you would prefer to focus on fit before pay. You’ll have far more leverage in a salary negotiation if you wait until they want to hire you before discussing it.
“Tell me about a time when you _______”
This question sounds simple, but it’s difficult to clearly and concisely share a meaningful story.
Laszlo Bock, the head of HR at Google, says you should approach this question like this: “Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.”
Bock also says, “Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought processes.”
A perfect answer to this question shows what you did and why you did it (i.e., how you think).
Have stories prepared that demonstrate different desirable attributes of yourself. Just don’t forget to explain the thinking that went into your actions as you tell them.
Bringing it all together
Now that you know how to answer the five most important questions in any interview, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Just don’t forget to prepare and practice your responses until you can share them without your answers sounding rehearsed.
Are there questions that I’ve missed? What’s the best way to make yourself stand out in an interview? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.