By Adam Shapley, Managing Director, Hays New Zealand
If a new job is on your radar, it is important to present yourself well, both online and on paper, as well as during an interview.
Listen to this podcast episode to find out how to effectively present yourself and get the job you always wanted.
Can you give us five top tips regarding writing your CV?
1. Think about your current role: Start writing your CV by jotting down your duties and responsibilities in your current role. Points that could be easily found in your job description. On your CV and during any discussion with a recruiter, interviewer or hiring manager for that matter, it is your achievements and results that really count. In other words, we don’t want to read or hear what you think about yourself, we want proof that you did your previous jobs well.
2. Sell yourself by using proof and action verbs: One of the simplest and most helpful ways to make sure you add and quantify accomplishments on your CV is to use action verbs. Verbs force you to include your results and achievements. It really is a simple trick that ensures you prove your strengths rather than simply list them one by one. Next time you update your CV, consider using action verbs to bring your success front and centre.
Instead of writing that you managed a team, try using words like directed, guided, motivated, recruited, or united. For example, ‘I united and motivated a team of five under performers. After one year our customer service scores had increased 55%.’ Another way of writing that you achieved your goals is to use verbs such as reached, surpassed, or accomplished.
Highlight one or two unique selling points to differentiate yourself on your CV, so show relevant examples and statistics. Your future employer will be interested in where you went above and beyond to achieve something great. If you have been nominated for employee of the month three months running, say so. All achievements should be quantified. For example, if you overachieved on your sales targets you need to say by what percentage and over what period.
3. Update your CV regularly: Even if you have been in the same job for years and aren’t ready to apply for new jobs, you regularly gain new experiences, skills and successes that should be reflected on your CV and online profiles. There isn’t an industry or sector today that isn’t experiencing change. If your CV indicates that you have fallen behind in terms of new skills that employers now need, it’s time to upskill. Your CV is actually a constant work in progress. Whether you are looking for a new job or not, updating your CV regularly to reflect the progression of your skills, responsibilities and successes is a sensible long term career management policy.
Other advantages of updating your CV regularly include being able to quickly apply for your dream job if it becomes available and projecting an accurate representation of your abilities to hiring managers. Regular updates also mean that you have pertinent details fresh in your mind at the time of writing.
4. Make sure your grammar is correct before sending your CV out: It may sound obvious but every day we still receive CVs that contain grammar and spelling errors, so don’t forget to spellcheck your CV. Remember that it is the first impression your potential employer will have of you, so take the time to get it right. If possible, ask someone to help you and check for any spelling, layout or typing errors. If you can’t find anyone to do this for you, put your CV away for 24 hours and take a look at it the next day, so you can track any mistakes with a fresh mind.
5. Add a link to your LinkedIn account at the top of your CV: For example, under your contact details. But more importantly, make sure that your online and offline CV match. Any inconsistencies in your work history, duties or employers make you appear untrustworthy. When interviewing a candidate about such inconsistencies there is often a valid reason, often a candidate has different versions of their CV in order to emphasise different skills and to apply for different roles. The solution is simple, succinctly describe all different aspects of previous roles in your online profile and then expand on the relevant roles for the job you are applying for.
What is your best advice on how to build a great online presence?
- Your social media accounts should be relevant for the job that you want. If you’re looking for a job in real estate or professional services, make sure that your online profiles are very corporate. Whereas if you are going for a job in retail or marketing then you may want to make sure that your profile looks creative so that it matches the job you want.
- Is your employer active on Instagram and Snapchat? And are you applying for a role in digital marketing? Make sure that you have an account and you know how they work. Let social media work for you. Be smart, use your accounts as a showcase for your expertise and achievements. Act social and connect with companies, recruiters, and industry leaders. Engage by joining discussions and industry groups and post links to interesting articles. Don’t forget to look the part! Choose a recent and professional photo and stay up to date by searching online and deleting any old accounts or information.
- Be careful of what you share and where. If you don’t want a new employer to see a post, don’t share it. If you can’t always be professional, adjust your privacy settings so that only your personal network can see your personal information. Check privacy settings regularly to know what is being posted in your name and always keep your current employer’s social media policy in mind.
Once you’ve made the shortlist and are invited for a job interview, what are the typical dos and don’ts during the interview?
- Hiring managers and recruiters know when you have prepared for a job interview and when you haven’t. If you have, you link your skills and experience to those that the available job requires. You perfectly describe how your present job equips you for this opportunity. You have a good story to tell that is relevant for the job applied for and you clearly articulated this to the hiring manager.
- A common term to describe your career journey is your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Your USP positions you in the candidate market based on your personal strengths, experience, skills, and values. It is what makes you stand out from other candidates. If you don’t know your story, it is time to identify it.
Where would you suggest to start, when preparing your Unique Selling Proposition?
- Think firstly about your skills. Ask current and former colleagues what skills they admire in you, think about what you do well and are proud of.
- Look back at your performance reviews and see what skills your managers have praised. What can you do that no one else in your current organization can do as well? Examine your duties and responsibilities and look for areas where you excel.
- Next, add evidence to support the strengths you have identified. See how much money you have saved your organisation. If your role doesn’t provide this opportunity, share examples that demonstrate the successful application of your skills. Arm yourself with several examples, ideally one for each skill.
- Tailor your USP to the particular job that you are applying for. If you are applying for several jobs, create an individual USP for each organisations that suits them, their culture, and its industry. This can then become your default list for that industry when answering interview questions. It will ensure that your answers are relevant to the job you are applying for and will help if you are asked a question that you aren’t sure how to answer.
- Avoid complexity. Be straightforward and sincere. Practice clearly articulating it in a compelling way so that the hiring manager wants to know more. Take your hiring manager on your career journey so that they gain a deeper understanding of your abilities and suitability for the role. By doing this and tailoring your USP to each job that you’ve applied for, you’ll have an authentic story to stand up above other candidates.