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Executive Search & Selection

Advice Centre

Your CV

Your CV or Resume is your own, essential, personal marketing tool. With a good CV you will be able to more effectively advertise yourself within the employment market place. When applying for most vacancies you will first have to send your CV to present yourself to the prospective employer and having a great one will mean you are more likely to be invited to interviews and get the chance to really promote, highlight and expand on your skills and experience in your CV.

It is important in any job-seeking situation to make a good first impression and having a well-written, well-presented CV will go a long way to helping you create this. Imagine the CV as being a brochure that lists the benefits of a particular product or service, only in your CV, the product and services are your experience and skills! When reviewing your CV, look at it from an employer’s point of view. Would you stand out against the competition? Would the hiring manager want to talk you for a possible job?

A CV or Curriculum Vitae is a summary of:
  • Your Personal History
  • Your Career
  • Your Achievements
  • Your Skills

Chronological CV

There are a few ways of writing your CV but the most common and most easily readable is one that is presented in reverse chronological order. The chronological CV is named as such since it details your most recent employment first and works backwards through a complete and concise record of your career history. You can chose to put your education and certifications either at the end or the beginning of the CV as you deem most appropriate for the position.

Job titles and company names are emphasized with details of your skills, duties and achievements under each job title. A chronological CV is most useful if you are staying within the same industry and wish to show strong career progression. Most employers prefer the chronological CV format, as it is easy to see who you have worked for and what you did in each particular job.

Formatting your CV

The formatting of the CV should be pleasing to the eye in alignment, layout and typesetting. You should ensure that all sections of the CV line up correctly, in the same ‘columns’. You should use tabs and indents for this and shouldn’t be using the space bar to indent sections. You should chose an elegant and simple typeface for the font (such as Arial or Times New Roman), with a size between 10 – 12pt and all of your text should be in black unless there is a special reason for it not to be.

On layout; don’t be afraid to use white space with plenty of space for margins and don’t be tempted to squeeze your margins to the edges of the page to fit your text on to two sides. The general consensus is that a CV should be no longer than two sides of A4 and certainly some of the most elegant and readable CVs we have seen are only two pages long. However, don’t be afraid to extend this to three pages if it means you maintain strong presentation.

Keep the CV crisp and easy to read, using proper highlighting (Bold) tactics for different areas you need to attract the employers attention to. Often the employer has only a few seconds' time to glance through your CV and to make their decision whether they are interested.

Again, Each and every aspect should be chosen with the company and job you are applying for in mind.

Content

Keep it interesting with short sentences where you need to elaborate and with bullet points when you need to list skills or responsibilities. It should be possible to scan the contents without effort and still gain a clear understanding of what you can do.

Highlight clearly what value you can add to the job and the company so they can appreciate the value addition you would bring in. List information based on the employer and the job role first, for each position therefore focusing on the most relevant information.

Your job title is one of the most important elements in your work history, so list it first, followed by the employer, city, and dates for starting and ending of employment. When you list your qualifications you should follow the same procedure. The name of the qualification (don't use abbreviations), the institute, city and completion date.

Style

Get rid of unnecessary words and formatting in your CV and keep it to the point and punchy. Don’t use terms such as “I feel” or “I believe”. Ideally, you should steer away from using 'I' and 'me' throughout your CV. Instead of using 'I', you could simply state the sentence as it is perfectly acceptable to use fragments in a CV. For example:

Instead of writing “I feel I was instrumental in increasing our revenue in the EMEA region” use “Instrumental in increasing revenue in the EMEA region”. It is much sharper and shows more confidence in your own ability.

Your vocabulary should be achievement driven. Avoid the use of words such as 'duties' or 'tasks'. Don't just list your work responsibilities; list your achievements in the specific position! You are supposed to be able to do all of the tasks, but you need to show why you are better than anyone else doing the same role as you! Show how you’ve done more than expected and how you have performed better than your peers. Your contributions to the company and team should stand out.

Keep verbs and noun fragments separate, for example: Full budget control (noun). Expanding existing markets (verb).

Can be replaced by: Full budget control Expansion supervision of existing markets

If you want to include an objectives section, do so at the start of your CV to make it easier for the reader to scan your CV. If you also want to include a summary of your goals, skills, qualifications and experience, do so at the start of your document and keep it short, no more than a few lines after your objectives.

Another way to improve your CV is to consider reducing the number of paragraphs. Paragraphs are great in your profile section, but don’t need to be used throughout your career history. Try using bullet points instead to create a more readable CV.

Don't assume the reader understands the acronyms you use, especially if they are specific to your current employer. Avoid using jargon and academic terms to describe qualifications and experience. They may look impressive, but the reader may not be familiar with the terms.

To avoid age discrimination, only list relevant experience for the past ten years. It is perfectly acceptable to list up to 15 years if you are applying for a senior level position.

How to make yourself stand out

Ideally, you should revise your CV every time you apply for a new job and you should aim to tailor it to the position you are applying for. In order to do this, you should research the company's background as well as examine the language they use on their website and in the job description to help identify the best personal traits and qualifications you think they are looking for. You should then match these with those qualifications and traits that you have and emphasis them within your CV. Your CV is then much more likely to catch the attention of the prospective employer and you will gain the chance for an interview. For example, if the job description asks for a “conscientious, reliable, hardworking individual” and you are one, then make sure you tell them in your CV!

A common mistake is for people to draw up a general type of CV and only change the cover letter when applying for positions. This can be harmful to your chances of getting an interview since each job is specific and has special requirements and there is no way that a universal CV can match of all the jobs you could apply for. You must be aware that a CV is the key that unlocks the gate of the company for you. You want the job, you are ready for it - but have your really got the right key?

It is also important to continuously update your CV to include any new aspect of your professional and personal (relevant) growth. You should update your CV whether you are looking for a new position or not and you shouldn’t wait until you need the CV before you write it. If you’re rushing it you will tend to leave out many beneficial points which would have otherwise gained you an interview with the company.

Take a look here for some more useful advice: http://careersadvice.direct.gov.uk/helpwithyourcareer/writecv/


Candidates – Advice Centre – Interview Tips

An interview is a discussion between you and an employer to find out if you can do the job. However, there are certain rules and conventions to follow in interviews. Here's a checklist of the main do's and don'ts.

What to do:

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare - research the company and the interviewer thoroughly
  • dress smartly, look bright and attentive
  • make sure you know what type of interview it will be
  • speak clearly and confidently
  • find out where the venue is beforehand, how to get there and how long it takes
  • examine the person specification and your CV/application form, and think about what type of questions they will ask you
  • prepare answers for the main questions - for example, why do you want the job, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what are the main tasks in this job
  • make about three or four points in each answer
  • quote real examples of when you've used certain skills - just saying you've got a skill isn't enough
  • take your time when answering the questions
  • sell yourself
  • prepare some questions to ask at the end
  • when discussing salary, know your market worth and start by quoting a little higher than this
  • get feedback on your performance, whether you were successful or not – try to close for a further interview or offer
  • turn off your mobile

What not to do:

  • don't be late!
  • don't swear or use slang words
  • don't slouch in your seat or do anything else that makes you look disinterested
  • don't be arrogant and assume you've got the job – arrogance is not often a desirable quality
  • don't discuss controversial topics such as religion, politics and gender relations
  • don't read from notes or your CV
  • don't criticise former employers or colleagues
  • don't argue with the interviewer, no matter what.

Above all, preparation is the key to performing well in interviews. Research the role and organisation, and prepare evidence and examples of your skills and competencies.

Types of Interviews
 
Screening – Short, first interviews.  First impressions are crucial.  Conducted over the phone or at the organization.
 
On-site Interviews – Takes place at the organization.  Usually talk to several people while there.  Appropriate to ask for the agenda in advance so you can prepare and learn names of people you will be meeting.

Commonly Asked Interview Questions
 
Personal Assessment and Career Direction

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • Why did you choose this career?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • In what kind of work environment do you feel most comfortable?
  • How would you describe your ideal job?

Work attitudes

  • How do you define success?
  • What qualities should a successful manager possess?
  • Define the relationship that exists between a supervisor and supervisee.
  • What is the best type of compensation structure?

Knowledge of Employer

  • Why did you decide to seek a position with this organization?
  • What contributions do you think you could make to this organization?

Sensitive Issues

  • You seem overqualified for this position.  Can you explain why you applied?
  • How much do you think this position pays?
  • What is the hardest job you have ever performed?

Behavioral Questions

  • If your supervisor were setting impossible deadlines, what would you do?
  • How would you handle a situation where your direct supervisor asked you to do something that was not consistent with your professional judgement?

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

  • How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
  • How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
  • Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
  • What is the company's management style?
  • Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
  • How many people work in this office/department?
  • How much travel is expected?
  • Is relocation a possibility?
  • What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected?
  • What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
  • How does one advance in the company?
  • Are there any examples?
  • What do you like about working here?
  • What don't you like about working here and what would you change?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
  • What can I tell you about my qualifications?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?