Help And Advice

Pointers to help you get the job you’re after. We’re here to help

Whenever you apply for a new job or go for an interview, you will always get about 20 different opinions from 20 different people on whether your CV should be long or short, whether you should wear a tie or not for your interview, whether you should ask at interview about salary and holidays!

Whilst many of the answers to these questions are subjective, we’ve attempted to dispel a few of the myths and offer some best practice advice to those of you in the potentially stressful position of looking for a new job.

Hints and tips for interviews

Be on time…

There are two ends of the scale here. The obvious one surely is that being late for an interview doesn’t create the best first impression. We advise you to check out the location the day before, plan your route and if you have time, do a dummy run so that you know exactly how long it’ll take, what the traffic is like etc. If you are running late due to unforeseen circumstances always ring ahead and let your contact know.

You may be surprised to hear that being really early for an interview is also slightly off-putting. If you do get there unexpectedly early why not take a moment to compose yourself by waiting in your car or walking around the block.

In our opinion you should aim to get there about 5-10 minutes before your interview time.

Suited and booted…

There is nothing truer than the expression “first impressions count”. Whenever possible you should wear your best interview clobber. In our opinion you will be taken much more seriously if you arrive in a business suit. Handshakes are important too – a good, firm one is advised. A friendly disposition always helps so try to smile!

Be prepared…

Check when you make the appointment what you might need to bring along with you – and then make sure you remember it!

Sell yourself…

Tricky one this as you want to get the balance right. At the end of the day no one wants to sit and listen to a relentless show off BUT you are there to show that you have all the credentials for the role and you need to sell yourself in order to do that. You may have put together a brief CV which merely outlines your skills and experience – this is your chance to expand on that giving examples where you can. However, the most important thing to remember is…

Hopefully, your interviewer will have put some thought into the questions they ask you. They will no doubt have a planned structure and will ask specific questions designed to find out everything they need to know about you to ascertain if you are right for the job. In order to make the best impression, listen to the questions and give relevant answers that involve as much of your experience as possible.

And finally… don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is also a chance for you to find out if the role is right for you!

CV Tips

It’s a personnel thing…

Likelihood is that your CV will end up on the desk of a very busy HR or Personnel Officer and if it doesn’t hit the right note I’m afraid it will probably end up at the bottom of a very big pile.

I’m also afraid that we can’t give you all the answers or a ‘right or wrong’ way to do it. It should be a personal thing and that means that your CV will be as different as the next persons.

What we can offer is a few pointers as to what we like to see on a CV.

Think about it…

Don’t just rush in and print off loads of the same CV and fire at random. If you are applying for a specific job that has been advertised then have a think about what they are asking for. You can usually tweak elements of your CV to emphasise the skills that an employer is asking for.

Printer syndrome…

We have identified a new disease. Its symptoms are coloured paper, unnecessary borders and clip art. Its effects are that your CV will, yes stand out, but is likely be taken much less seriously. It’s content we want, so please stick to white, good quality paper with an easy to read font. Most employers want to find the information presented under clear headings, so think about how you will set it out before you start.

Be content with your contents…

All we are looking for are all the details that we need to know so we can establish whether you meet the basic criteria for the job. When you get your face to face interview this is your opportunity to elaborate about your 30 metre swimming badge and other achievements. All we need is:

Personal Details: How do we contact you? Name, address, phone number, mobile, email, work number – all are really useful to contact you quickly to organise that first interview. Save the space for the relevant info! Most employers aren’t really concerned (and certainly shouldn’t discriminate) if you have family or how old you are. And unless you are applying for a job working abroad, we aren’t really bothered if you have a current passport or not!

Work experience: Unless you are a school leaver with no experience, this section of your CV will be the most important to most employers. It should list the most recent experience first as this will probably be the most relevant or responsible. List your Employer and Job Title and when describing the role keep it straightforward using positive language. We recommend short sentences, which are clearly laid out (and we LOVE bullet points!) Listing achievements are fine if they are to the point and highlight relevant skills required for the role you are applying for.

Education: School leavers this will be your main part but it’s important for other applicants too. List brief details of Qualifications and/or memberships to professional bodies.

Skills and Training: If they are relevant to the role and are specific skills such as languages or IT skills they should be listed again in a simple style.

References: If you get the job it is likely that your new employer will issue your contract subject to satisfactory references. It is usual for you to provide names of two people (one of whom should be a recent former employer) who they can contact for a reference. Academic and character references are usually acceptable but in all cases make sure check with your named referees that they are happy to be contacted!

Hobbies: This is probably the most personal and probably the least relevant thing on your CV. It is optional and we advise you to be careful with what you put if you decide to include this section – think about what kind of image you want to portray to your potential employer.

And finally…

Make sure the spelling is correct. It’s not a good start if your covering letter is addressed to a specific person and you have spelt their name wrong!

Little white lies may be tempting but if you get caught out it won’t be pleasant.

Don’t be vague with dates of employment – employers will want to know exactly how long you worked for a company and if you are not clear they will think the worst.

If your CV is about as heavy as you, you have to look at your content; what is truly relevant? Most Employers will drift off after two to three pages – they are not looking for a novel so keep it to the point.


Covering Letter Tips

Are covering letters important? You betcha!!! Your covering letter provides you with the perfect opportunity to connect your skills with the job qualifications the employer is seeking.

Your covering letter gives you the chance to make a match. It’s your opening to express “why you should give me the job” and get you into contention for an interview.

Be Concise…

Make sure you write a covering letter that will provoke the interest of the reader to want to read your CV next, if they read your covering letter first. However, do not assume a hiring manager will read your covering letter first – ensure your CV can stand alone in conveying your value message.

Be specific about your qualifications…

When applying for a position ensure that you prepare a covering letter that picks up three or four key qualifications listed in the job description and be very specific with regards to what you can offer relating directly to those qualifications.

Connect your skills to the job requirements…

The covering letter is there to help you to connect your skills, experience and education directly to the employers advertised requirements. In the world of work each application receives a minute review so make it easy as possible for the potential employer to see that you are more than qualified for their job.

Cover letter length…

Your covering letter needs to no more than one page. It will not be read if it is more. Simple.

Less is more…

Covering letters are no longer signed, sealed and delivered in the post. The likelihood is that the covering letter you write today will be either emailed or uploaded electronically. Hiring managers now want ever more substance in fewer words. The covering letter as we know it is shrinking to accomplish only these goals:

  • Personalisation… Address your covering letter to a person, not “To Whom it May Concern.”
  • Connection… Tell how your qualifications are a good match for this company.
  • Contact… List how to reach you.

Make it Personal…

Unlike your CV, your covering letter should be personalised and written in a first person point of view. Make sure you tailor your letter to the specific job using examples of special projects you’ve worked on, accomplishments you’ve achieved etc. Create excitement about your interest in the position and state why you’d be a great addition to the employer’s team. Lastly, close your letter with a desire to speak further in person or on the phone. If done right a personalised covering letter can be the difference in landing your next interview.

Showcase your personality…

Most covering letters are boring and lack anything that makes them stand out. It is essential for you to showcase your enthusiasm, positive energy and personality by stepping away from the standard formula and really writing from your heart. It may take slightly longer to write your letter this way, but it’ll definitely be worth it!

Skip the Graphics…

Pictures on CV’s and covering letters are a no go! They act as a distraction, appear unprofessional and shows poor judgement. Do NOT do this, ever.

Tell a Story…

Covering letters are often used as a writing exercise. How well do you communicate an idea or get your point across? So instead of summarising your career history why not tell a short story of a project you worked on? Make sure it’s clear why you’re sharing this tale – as in, the value or benefit to the company.

If you need further advice regarding your CV or any other matter why not give us a call on 01225 810100. Alternatively, you can use any of these other methods to contact us.

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