CV Tips

Overall CV Format

Your CV is a thirty second advertisement to get you invited to an interview. Your CV should reassure the reader of three things and three things only.

1. Yes I can do THIS job, not just any job but this one
2. Yes, I am a highly motivated person
3. Yes, I will add value to your organisation

A CV should have a clear format, no spelling mistakes and covers a range of topics such as:

– Personal Profile
– Education and Training
– Employment History
– Hobbies and Interests
– Skills

It is important that your CV, although outlining your skills to the highest, is honest. Companies place high importance on referencing and any dishonesty will be found.

Personal Details

There are a number of essential personal details which should be outlined on your CV:
– Name
– Address
– Email address
– Phone Number
– Link to your Linked In Profile

Some CV’s have too much information that is not important to the employer.

There is no need to include your date of birth, marital status or number of children on your CV. Your experience, qualifications and skills should speak for themselves.

Personal Profile

Does the candidate have a profile which sets out their skills and career interest?

Inserting a personal profile on the first page of your CV is a useful way of flagging an interest and skills for a particular career on your CV.

This should be inserted at the beginning of the CV and should be tailored to suit the post that you are applying for.

It is your main attempt to catch the potential employer’s attention especially in environments where there is an abundance of job applications being submitted to employers.

This should be 2-3 lines maximum.

For example:
“Ambitious and hardworking individual motivated by a challenging and target driven environment with extensive experience in the area of customer service. Capable of working either as part of a team or on my own initiative. Currently seeking a challenging position within a progressive Company where I can be an important part of a successful team”

Educational Qualifications

Educational details and qualifications should be placed into one area so it is easier for the recruiter to see the grades obtained in each course.

Educational qualifications should be placed in chronological order from most recent to past.

It is advised to remove your primary education details as they are not relevant to a prospective employer.

Employment History

Your employment history should have the dates of employment, the name and address of the company, the job title and details on the roles and responsibilities outlined.

A clear structure is needed in terms of your employment history, highlighting your most recent role first.

It is not enough to simply state the name of your previous company and the role – you should expand on the responsibilities section of each job that is relevant to this role you are applying for.

This will enable the recruiter to understand if your experience mirrors the needs of the vacancy.

Interests & Achievements

It is important to show you have interests outside of a workplace environment.

Examples could include:
– Running – member of the Tralee Running Club
– Reading
– ECDL
– Full clean driving license
– I completed the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon, Dublin 2014
– Music
– Travelling

Skills

It is important to outline the skills you have in a separate section.

Each skill should be 2-3 lines maximum..

You should chose skills in which you are strong in that relate to the role you are applying for.

Examples:
– Time Management
– Customer Service Skills
– Communication
– Conflict Management
– Problem Solving

For example:

Communication Skills:
Excellent communication skills gained from working in the customer service sector for several years. Ability to quickly build rapport and form relationships with clients, customers and colleagues. Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

References

You should ALWAYS ask permission from a referee before giving their details to a potential employer.

As a guide we suggest that you do not include your references on your CV unless specifically asked for in the job application.

You can give the details of your references after the interview – make sure they are up-to-date and correct.

Cover Letter

We recommend submitting a cover letter with each job application that you make.

A cover letter is a one page letter going into much more detail about why you are suitable for a specific job and organisation.

There will inevitably be some overlap in content, so try to write any similar content using different words (use a thesaurus) and from a slightly different perspective.

It is ideal to have your letter addressed to the person receiving the applications and if no details are available from the website, I would suggest you call to confirm the name and job title of the person who you should make your application to.

Saving Your CV

A key tip we are willing to share with you is for saving your CV.

Due to the many CV’s received by all companies we suggest that you rename your CV when saving to your full name.

For example:
Kelly O’Connor CV 2014

If you would like to make an appointment to meet us for a CV review please contact us here

Interview Tips

From our experience there are three main reasons why candidates are not offered a position after interview:

a) They cannot do the job
b) Someone else can do it better
c) They give the impression they are not interested in the position

We have outlined the main pointers on how to excel in your interview.

The Basics

Preparation is the key to a good interview. The basics, if perfected, can ease you into an interview situation.

For example one is more comfortable when going into a situation where they know who and how many people are interviewing them. When agreeing to participate in an interview you should ask who will be in attendance at the interview and their position within the company. Do your research – look them up online, google them, search their profile on linked in – this will help settle your nerves and make you feel more prepared.

Know about the company and any achievements. Scour the company website and news links to bring yourself up to date with product / service offerings. Drop a piece of information in when appropriate if not asked about what you know about the company. This shows your enthusiasm and initiative in learning about the company and reflects positively on you.

Other basics include:

Smile:
– It creates a good first impression of warmth and friendliness

Manners:
– Say hello, say goodbye and say thank you
– Thank them for inviting you to interview, and at the end, thank them for their time

Remember names:
– Repeat their name when shaking hands

Give a firm handshake:
– Practice this with friends or family

First Impression

Dress appropriately:
– Even if the office environment is casual, dress professionally for the interview.
– Pay attention to personal hygiene.

Pay attention to body language:
– Make eye contact with the person asking questions, do not slouch in your seat, do not cross your foot over your knee, do not cross your arms, and do not lean forward on a desk or table.

Greet the receptionist politely and enthusiastically:
– Receptionists are increasingly prepped to observe candidates in the reception area – have you been polite and courteous, have you used this opportunity to find out a little bit about the company, have you looked at the project information of company brochures in the reception area?
– Use this time wisely.
– People have been successful in interviews largely because of their behaviour in the reception area.

Have your homework done about the position, the company and if possible the interviewer:
– Let them know that you have taken the time to get to know them, that you know about the position and the company with whom you are interviewing for.

“Tell Me About Yourself”

This is often a particularly hard question for many interviewees. We would advise that you prepare this answer in advance so that you can ease yourself into the interview.

Keep your answer short, clear, and to the point. It should be job focused, and therefore include:

Professional Qualifications: A Brief Statement of where and when you studied and your qualification.

Experience to date: Mention companies you worked with, projects you worked on – including size and scale of projects and your responsibilities on those schemes/tasks

Your reasons for attending the interview.

Your future – taking your career to the next level, take on new challenges, take the next step in your career, development etc.

All this should only 2 – 3 minutes.

Do not let it progress beyond 4 minutes, instead allow the interviewer to bring up areas of particular interest to them.

“What Are Your Strengths”

Do not “hum and haw” when asked this question and have a prepared response.

Ensure your response is relevant to the job.

We recommend you mention three strengths relevant to the position you are going for. It is important that you give an example of each strength.

Examples of strengths:

– Time management
– Work well under pressure
– Friendly personality – works well in teams
– Good communicator

“What Are Your Weaknesses”

Again this needs to be prepared in advance, in the event it is asked.

You should discuss only one weakness – be careful of what you choose in this instance.

The important thing here is to show you are aware of your weakness, and to demonstrate what you are doing to control it, so that it’s not an issue in the workplace.

Turn this question to your advantage by attempting to translate the negative to a positive.

For example “I would say that my weakness is public speaking or speaking in front of a group of people. I get anxious and nervous and worry about stumbling over my words. However, in my last role I have been given many opportunities to improve on this and I think I am managing to get this under control. With more experience I am determined to conquer this.”

Equivalencies

This relates to areas of expertise you are not yet experienced in.

It is not the end of the world if you do not have experience in a certain field or area. The important thing is to equate the experience you do have to an area you are not (yet!) experienced in.

For example:
Question: “Have you experience with the Sage software package?”

Answer: “No I haven’t had the opportunity to use Sage in my career to date however I do have experience in other packages such as QuickBooks and Relate. From using these packages I feel I could learn Sage very quickly and transfer my knowledge quite quickly to a new package, and would welcome the opportunity to do so”

Competency Questions

Aside from required experience or qualifications, one of the key considerations at interview for an employer is building a team of people they can work with.

Competency Questions are asked which require interviewees to describe specific tasks or situations they have come across in a previous role or within education etc. They work on the belief that the best indication of future behaviour is past behaviour.

The competency section is often considered the hardest part of the interview. This is where your coping skills and attitude to work play an important part.

Interviewees can expect to be questioned on the below however these can vary substantially dependent on the role you are being interviewed for:
– Teamwork
– Working on your own
– Taking orders
– Delegating work
– Dealing with difficult situations or difficult customers

Common examples include:
– Tell me about a time when you worked successfully as a member of a team.
– Describe a time when you had to analyse a problem and generate a solution.

What Questions To Ask

The way to convey enthusiasm about the role is to ask questions and enquire further. It is always advisable to prepare 5 or 6 questions prior to interview, although it is enough to ask only 2 or 3. Prepare more however, in case some of your questions are answered during the course of the interview.

Positive questions to ask indicate your enthusiasm in the role and company include topics such as:
– Company information
– Project information
– The company culture and team
– The 3 best things about working for that company
– A good psychological trick is to ask questions relating to your role in the company – e.g. “what projects will I be working on if successful?” or “what team would I be potentially be working with?”