Are you seeking advice and tips on ace a job interview?
Applying for jobs is the easy part, job seekers would say. The process of applying for an available vacancy and getting the interview. Finally, how the get the job offer (how to get the job offer will follow in a follow-up article).
How to start – A resume or a Curriculum Vitae, is much more preferred. A well-written CV is still the most accepted form of applying for a vacancy.
With that said, we will focus on some of the BIGGEST mistakes and BEST tips we have found in jobseekers. This list is not the ‘be all and end all’ of how to compile a great CV. It will go a long way in making sure your CV is noticed. Hundreds of CV’s are re-screened daily by HR personnel and Recruiters (also called ‘screeners’).
IMPORTANT FACTORS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN CONSTRUCTING A “RESUME” OR “CV”
There is nothing more frustrating to the screener than to open the CV of an applicant that has absolutely NO chance of being invited for an interview. The reason might be that the applicant possesses none of the minimum requirements. READ THE JOB SPEC CAREFULLY BEFORE APPLYING.
Do not make a fool of yourself by just applying randomly. The screener will not automatically think this applicant is not suited for this position. They will move on, but we have another position that applies’ as a screener goes through hundreds of CVs.
READ THE ADVERT PROPERLY – Advice and tips on how to ace a job interview
You may feel you have a chance to get this job you are applying for. Why do you then send the same CV you sent for another vacancy?
Why not tailor your CV in an honest way to showcase your relevant talents and experience? You have many more skills that you might initially know of, and only you can explain it to the screener.
There are many ‘similar’ positions open in a variety of industries, however, industry experience is a must these days.
If you are an entry-level job seeker, do not try an apply for positions where experience is necessary. Yes, it is a ‘Catch 22’. Instead, focus your efforts on internships and apprenticeships where companies are only seeking first-time work seekers. You will save yourself a lot of frustration.
Other aspects to respect in the advert could be proficiency in specific software, an extra language, or years of experience in a specific role or responsibility. Others include driver’s license requirements, passport requirements, travel requirements, and even the gender they prefer.
Many companies these days also use software to find the best candidates out of all the applicants and CVs that might be on their database. Usually, more frequently than not, the software is designed to pick up certain specific keywords. Making sure your CV has relevant information increases your chances of being properly reviewed and perhaps even getting the interview.
Try and understand all the requirements the company has, and if you truly feel you will add value then elaborate it specifically in your CV but keep it short.
THE COVER LETTER
The document, which could be overlooked but has proved to have traction over the last couple of years. The reason is once again that the screener does not have the time to read every cover letter in detail to see the relevance of your possible suitability. It has proven that the Cover Letter becomes so detailed and consists of long paragraphs (see next section on paragraphs) that screeners just skip it and go after the meat of the CV. Should you absolutely have to motivate certain factors in your CV, do it in such a manner so that the screener can see it right away.
STRUCTURE OF YOUR CV
A standard structure of a great CV has always been a topic of conversation between screeners. There is one simple truth though: Keep It Simple! We all have so much to say, and we wish to make the best impression with our CV, and with this, we sometimes start to Google the formats, and even go so far as to import pre-made formats from Microsoft Word. We see words such as “Chronological”, “Functional” and “Combined” and we follow the format and think this is going to be perfect.
The realistic answer is that there is no perfect structure.
The first thing to keep in mind (in line with the above section) is to not write paragraphs. Keep it to bulleted items wherever possible, especially in describing your present and past duties. The screener is after information and not the overall beauty of your CV. Be sure to check your spelling and your grammar…twice.
Provide your personal details as detailed as possible (living location, contact details, gender, age, citizenship and/or country of birth, languages and proficiency in each, driver’s license, main mode of transport, citizenship and passport/travel record, criminal record) honesty goes much further.
Give a career summary and include your starting and ending dates as well as the reason for each change of employment. Stay away from general statements such as ‘end of contract’, rather also include the reason for the end of the contract such as “Temp Contract to stand in for Maternity Leave” or “Project Based and Project was completed”. Follow advice and tips on how to ace an interview through a reputable recruitment agency like FROGG Recruitment
If you were dismissed for misconduct, incapacity or poor performance then list it, give more detail, or ask the screener to contact you for more detail. See the part on Referees down below for more. You can always include in the first part of the CV (not to confuse it with a covering letter) why the screener first should take your application into consideration. Although you might not meet the requirements of the letter.
Strictly speaking a reference is a written letter made by a Referee. A referee is the supervisor/manager who could be contacted by the screener to verify your previous employment and with whom to conduct a formal “reference check”. Nonetheless stating an invalid Referee in your CV will undoubtedly disqualify your application.
Keep it honest.
Should you have a soiled career history declare it forthwith. Many positions have been filled by people who have admitted to making a mistake in the past but had the courage to admit it and learn from it. Trying to hide previous misconduct will not play in your favour. On the other side of the coin, your Referee’s statement could make the scale tip in your favour.
Along with the “READ THE ADVERT” section above, other finer details that screeners pick up immediately will most usually make the difference between your CV being shortlisted or not.
Some considerations are the following:
Companies are looking for someone already staying close by to their offices. On occasion the spread for candidates is increased, so make sure the company will be willing for MS Teams/Zoom Interviews or will be willing to pay for an air ticket, etc. That is if they are looking for a potential Candidate from other areas.
Yes, this might perhaps seem unfair to some at the first outset, but with age comes experience and a certain level of expertise. Companies sometimes want people they can mould and at other times someone that can ‘hit the ground running’. Make sure you at least provide your birthday, if you feel you might be out of the age range (especially if the advert states something like ‘young’). State your age and comment that you still view yourself as ‘young’.
There might be a qualification you have that could support your application. Include your relevant qualifications as detailed as possible, with the service provider where you achieved the qualification and the date achieved.
There is certain information in your CV that you do not need to provide such as:
Achievements that have no relevance
Being a sports team captain in high school or achieving an art or Debate Prestige Award has no relevance. UNLESS it is in line with what you are applying for. Be sure to showcase your relevant strengths and experiences.
No body particulars
If you are not applying for a position as a model, sports coach, or a vacancy where your body plays any part, there is no need to provide your weight, height, eye colour. Also, be wary if you decide to provide a picture of yourself. This might be relevant to certain positions such as sales reps or brand managers. However, a ‘top down’ selfie showing cleavage or a shirtless photo showing off your sixpack will not be respected by most.
Photographs are generally accepted as a face photo from the shoulders up and with a front view.
Although stating that your hobbies include watching TV and listening to music shows that you are human, it will not necessarily support your application. Generally, refrain from stating your personal hobbies or extracurricular activities otherwise.
This might be a point of debate for some, especially after the whole SKA movement (Skills, Knowledge, and Attitude) of the mid-2000s. However, listing your key skills without any supporting evidence in your past and present duties might be a mood killer. Rather display your ‘SKAs’ in your working history rather than stating a long list of your skills that almost looks like a ‘copy-paste’ exercise from a Google search.
RESPOND TO CORRESPONDENCE ASAP
It does not really need to be stated but should someone contact you after your application be sure to respond. If it is a telephone call and you cannot talk, make a time when you are available. If it is via email respond as soon as you can.
If supporting documentation is needed, then provide it as soon as possible. A good practice will be to have certified copies of your ID, Drivers Licence, Qualifications, and any other documents ready on PDF to be sent electronically. Save this on your phone or in any other convenient manner, so that it can be sent at a moment’s notice.
Sometimes placements can be as quickly as 24 hours, sometimes it can take two to three months, however, your willingness to correspond quickly says a lot to the screener and can be used as a motivational factor.
By following the tips, you will not only increase your chances of getting invited for an interview, but you will feel more confident during the interview while you are sitting in front of the interviewees. If you want to find out more about what we do as one of the top staffing agencies, view Our Expertise.
Remember – screeners want to give you an interview, and the only person keeping you from the interview is yourself…do the right thing – have a great CV and apply for the right vacancies.