CV & Interview advice
Your curriculum vitae is the single most important weapon in your armoury when it comes to job hunting.
A prospective employer will often make a snap judgement the second they read it and even the most qualified people on the planet can find themselves rejected if the resume fails to come up to scratch. So how can you give yours the edge?
Avoid making it too fancy and complicated. You only have about five seconds to grab the attention - if it is too clever and unreadable it will go in the bin. Don't try to make jokes and never slag off previous employers.
There are no set rules governing the length of your CV - this will be decided on your career history, education and achievements.
Everyone has a different theory when it comes to CV design. Don't get too bogged down over this, just make sure everything is clearly marked.
Include your career progression, education and achievements prominently so your prospective employer doesn't have to search.
Here is a basic format:
Start off with your name, address and contact details clearly listed at the top of the page. Follow this with a profile of yourself which should include an outline of your skills, experience and immediate career goals.
After this you can put in your career history - in reverse chronological order over the past 10 years - with brief descriptions of your responsibilities and achievements. Then comes education, interests/personal details and references.
Stick to the truth
Make sure it is printed on good quality A4 size paper and never attach extra documents, letters or certificates - save these for the interview. Read and re-read your CV, and then ask a friend or family member to read it as well.
Make sure there are no spelling errors or coffee stains as these will be fatal.
It might sound obvious, but be truthful. Never try to smudge dates and jobs to hide periods of unemployment. The most basic of checks will expose your deceit and ruin any chance of getting the job.
Follow all instructions on the job advert. If they want four copies of your CV then you should send four. It is also vital to get it in on time. The covering letter should be customised for each job you apply for as this is your chance to tailor your skills to the demands required.
Step 1: Do Research Before the Job Interview.
Use every possible method to learn all you can about the company and position. The Internet makes researching companies pretty easy. Just simply type the company’s name using a major search engine, such as Google. If it is a big company, go right to the company’s website, as well as, competitors’ sites. Use investor web sites to learn what’s happening now in the news with this company and its competitors. Use bizjournals.com to find business news by industry and location. Take special note of the information that can be gained from the corporate annual report. Any candidate who has read the President’s Letter to the Shareholders will be way ahead of the competition.
Utilizing your research skills can provide you with a lot of information which others didn’t bother to collect. But it is not enough just to find the information you need to put it to work for you. Find out as much as you can about the organization so you can target your interview answers to the employer’s needs and demonstrate a real interest in and knowledge about the company.
Step 2: Practicing Interview Questions and Answers.
Take the time to review the “standard” interview questions you will most likely be asked, such as:
• Tell me about yourself.
• What is your greatest strength/weakness?
• What motivates you?
• What do people most often criticize about you?
• What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
• How do you handle stress and pressure?
• If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?
• Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
Prepare your responses to interview questions ahead of time and practice, practice, practice. Your friend (husband, wife, etc.) can ask you some interview questions or you can do it in front of the mirror. Set your mind to why you are the best candidate for the job, and explain what you can do. Review your work experiences. Be ready to support past career accomplishments with specific information targeted toward the company needs. Have the facts ready.
And remember that it’s actually possible to predict and prepare for many of the questions you will probably be asked in a job interview. Some careful thought and practice will ensure you’re ready with winning answers to even the most difficult questions. And don’t forget to prepare a few questions to ask. We recommend you to read The Best Questions to Ask in the Job Interview and What Message They Give to the Interviewer.
Step 3: Dressing for an Interview.
You should decide and prepare in advance (at least the day before) what you would wear for an interview. You don’t want to discover your suit jacket has a stain or doesn’t fit anymore on the day of the interview. Your interview clothes should be professional looking, neat and clean. Also pay attention to details, especially your shoes. Make sure they are conservative, clean, and polished. And don’t forget about a fresh haircut and clean, manicured nails. Some employers notice details of your dress, and it makes an impact on their first impressions of you. More info on Dressing for Success.
Step 4: Know where you’re going.
Make sure to find out where the office is and how to get there. Check the weather for the interview day and plan to arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled time. If you came earlier just wait in the car or visit the restroom and check your appearance in the mirror. Enter the office a few minutes early and don’t forget to turn your cell phone off.
Step 5: Prepare necessary documentation.
Make a checklist of documents that you will need for the interview, and make sure that you have them before leaving home. Take a few copies of your resume, your reference letters (or information about three or four professional contacts), copies of licensing, certifications, or course completion that will indicate your suitability for the position, your driver’s license and other miscellaneous documents that might be needed.
Don’t forget to get business cards from everyone you meet during the interview. That makes it easier to send the thank you letters after the interview is over. Writing a Thank You Letter can increase your chances of getting hired.
You can never be over prepared. Good luck with your job interview!