Writing a CV is not brain-science and yet there is an art to it
I have had a side-line in writing CVs /coaching for interviews for years now. I don’t seek people out, they tend to seek me out and because I don’t like to turn away people who need my help, I’ve helped them. But many a time, I’ve considered not including CV writing on my website, because it’s not the main thing I help people with and well, the way that I help people with their CV, it takes up alot of my time because I need to understand a person in order to be able to best represent them.
BUT, I love to see people succeed and be happy and therefore purpose and work are important! So I decided to include it in to the services that I offer, because it fits nicely with my mission to get good people onto their life purpose path as quickly and as painlessly as possible. But for those who can’t afford my services, I decided to write my own list of tips and suggestions for both CV writing and How to rock Interviews!
So , if you come across this post during your job search, I hope you find my guide useful! Everything on the list is my original content, it’s what I have learnt through the years and it’s what has got me all the jobs I wanted and it’s helped many people across different industries get the jobs they’ve wanted too!
* Remember to spell check and grammar check your CV. Ask a friend or family member to read your CV to check for any spelling or grammatical errors; mistakes are easy to miss on your own CV, so having a fresh set of eyes is always a good idea.
* Spelling and Grammar mistakes can mean the difference between getting and interview or not. And if you’re going to write a sentence on your CV like “Excellent attention to detail” make sure there are no mistakes. It ruins the credibility of the rest of your CV.
* Keep in mind that your CV is not just a history of the work that you’ve done, you’re trying to show what you’re capable of and what you can do for your potential employer, so make it relevant and confident.
* Recruiters and HR teams read a lot of CV’s and only those with the best matches to what they are looking for get through to interview stage, so tailor your CV in certain places to show you are a good match. You don’t need to completely re-do your CV, you just need to tweak your CV in certain places.
* Look for key words, phrases and key-skills in the advert or job description and see for yourself if your experience looks like a good fit. Mirroring the language of the job description/advert is an easy way for people to see you’re a good fit – but don’t stretch the truth – remember in your interview you’ll have to back up everything you have written on your CV. So keep it within the truth.
* Use confident language on your CV with confident action words, but don’t be overly wordy for the sake of it. Power words make your CV punchier and exude confidence.
* Confident language is great, but don’t over-egg it. If you are young and do not have a great deal of experience focus on your potential, enthusiasm and willingness to do what is asked of you. Don’t pretend that you have managed large teams and practically ran the business single-handedly – you lose credibility and your CV is likely to be binned.
* Your CV is a professional document, it is not a place be arty. Your CV is not a place for fancy fonts, designs or creativity. If you are applying for a job where you need to be artistic or creative you will have an opportunity to express this through your portfolio or creative assignments given to you at the interview stage. Fancy CV’s are more likely to be binned for being too frivolous – keep it professional.
* Keep personal information to the minimum. Marital Status, Age, Kids or anything that may be a cause for discrimination is not recommended. If your employer is keen to find out more about your personality to see if it is a good team fit, the interview is the place for this. For example, you might be proud to be a mother of 3 and want to tell the world, but to a small company, that might mean you might need more time off for child illness or child-care emergencies, they are not allowed to discriminate on these grounds but you’ll never know if they did or not because you might never get to the interview. If they are interested in your personal story then they will ask this in the interview stage with questions like, “what are you most proud of in your life?” At this point you can tell all about you!
* HR/Recruitment Agencies are looking for best fit, so if you have unusual or not “imperfect”
experience or an unconventional path, try to by-pass these gate-keepers and go direct to the company website or find out the name of the actual person who you would be reporting to and contact them directly.
* Make your Personal Profile Personal to you, generic profiles about being hard-working, loyal and a team player whilst also taking the initiative is on EVERYONE’S CV, if you want to stand out, make sure you also tell them something that makes you stand out. Don’t be afraid to give information that is unique to you such as figures you achieved, awards or information about how you improved things for others.
* Dress appropriately for the culture of the business. This might sound a bit basic, but it’s a quick reference for people to know that you understand the company and culture. Although you’re not allowed to discriminate on this basis, we’ve seen it happen over and over again especially in the creative industries, so make sure you’re dressed for the culture.
* No eating smelly food or having a cigarette just before the interview. Simple hygiene good sense applies here, you want to get off to a good start. If you are worried, popping a mint in your mouth beforehand is never a bad idea.
* Run through your CV before your interview and imagine what questions might be asked of you that relate to your CV. Always have a valid reason for leaving a previous position and what you are looking for in your next role – which fits with what is being offered.
* Even if you are seething inside with hatred for your last company, nobody wants to know this, keep all answers relating to your previous company as positive as possible and put down your keenness to move on needing a new challenge or career development. Unless your former company has a reputation, you don’t want to be perceived as a difficult employee.
* Rehearse your answers to standard interview questions, making sure to make them sound genuine and personal to you.
* Turn every negative into a positive. For example if asked if you have experience in something do not have experience of you could reply ” No I don’t have experience of that specifically, but I pick things up quickly and that sort of thing is no problem, when I worked at ___ I had no experience of ____ beforehand but by the time I left I was training others on it/ I was considered the most competent in the team/ I won an award on it… etc etc etc.
* Research the company. EVERYONE looks at the company website, so if you want the job you’ve got to go a step further. If you really want the job, do extensive research, speak to people, go into a branch and research their products/services.
* Always have a good answer ready for the following questions –
“Why do you want to work here?”
“What do you know about the company?”
“What does our brand stand for? What are our values?”
“What would you do differently, if you worked here/could influence the direction of the company?” or another version of this is, “What do you think we do well and what do you think we could improve on?”
“What are your strengths?”
“What are your weaknesses?” – and no saying you don’t have any is not a good answer, it’s the worst answer, so never say it!
“Why should we employ you over any of the other candidates applying for this job?” – and no never say, “I love you and I would really love to work here, you’re my dream job” in response to this. This only tells them what you want, not why you are an asset… presumably everyone applying for the job wants the job so this question is all about selling yourself.
* An interviewer cannot be expected to guess that you’re good at your job or that you will be the most hard-working, enthusiastic and productive employee they have ever had: you have to tell them. If you’re shy about your skills, you’ve got to pull up all your courage into your chest for an hour or so and promote yourself as if your life depended on it. We’re not saying be arrogant but you have to be prepared to tell people what you’re good at and why you’d do the job well.
* Always have some good questions prepared to ask in the interview – when you are asked “Any Questions?” It is always better if you have built a rapport with the interviewer and so rather than question from them, answer from you, you are in more of a dialogue so you can ask questions you want to know as you go along. But you should still also have some questions prepared so you have at least something to ask at the end. Questions about salary and holiday allowance are not good subjects! Focus on where they see the company going, what the structure is like, what’s the team/ hierarchy like, who you report to… anything which shows that you are interested in the company and not just what you can get from the company.
* At the end of the interview always ask what the next steps are, when you can expect to hear from them, so that you’re not kept hanging and you might get a hint of whether they want to take you further in the process.