Long gone are the days of the “job for life” in the UK and research shows that employees change jobs anything from 7 to 15 times throughout their careers. Most people like to have a solid employment history or at least remain in the same job for a couple of years – as this shows commitment and loyalty and employers still like those qualities.
However, a lot can still happen in the labour market in a couple of years and it’s surprising how even little changes can mean your job search and CV are out of date, dull or just don’t stand out from the crowd.
I’ve pulled together some points that are being discussed by the recruitment professionals out there at the moment. These points are well worth considering if you’re back on the job market for the first time in a while.
1. Create a Personal Brand
Most people know the importance of using LinkedIn in their job search and today having an up to date LinkedIn profile goes hand in hand with your CV. However, are you aware and do you really understand how important your personal brand is to your job search? It’s been common practice for decades that hiring managers will contact other managers they know in the market to obtain references without consent. It’s obviously not a practice encouraged or probably even admitted openly by HR but it happens. So your reputation in the market has always been important. So it’s understandable that hiring manager now view your on-line profile before inviting you to interview.
With the advancement in technology it’s not only easier to find someone’s professional profile but they have easy access to a candidate’s personal life too. They may well visit your Facebook and Twitter accounts if they come up in a Google search (although, most won’t admit to using the information to make hiring decisions as it can be risky). Everything you do and say leaves a foot print on the internet and how you behave on your social media accounts really matters and contributes (positively or negatively) to your personal brand.
2. PC Friendly CV
We all know how fast technology advances but not all companies are using the latest versions of MS products or have the newest IT systems. Therefore it’s now better to save your word document as a PDF file. Once you’ve converted the word document to a PDF version it will maintain its original format unlike some word versions that distort the look. This is definitely something you want to prevent from happening – particularly if companies still print off your CV as it will not look professional.
These days it’s easy to think everyone has a computer but that’s not the case. But don’t worry there is good news as most libraries will have a pool of computers you can access and if you are unemployed the Jobcentre will provide free internet access and some (if not most) job centres will allow the use of telephones to contact employers and recruitment agencies.
As mentioned above – technology is all around us and it’s almost taken for granted now. There’s an assumption that everyone knows how to use systems. However, there are still lots of candidates that will fall short of the technological requirements of a job and therefore, it’s important to include your specific IT and systems skills and knowledge as this could give you a very real advantage in the screening process.
If appropriate and relevant to the job you are applying then you should definitely consider including details and links to blogs, articles and websites. Professional bloggers and article writers know through their writing and sharing information they can build up credibility and trust with their audience and they can position themselves as an expert in their field. Again use this to your advantage and include on your CV.
Certainly over the last few years it’s been widely discussed that hiring managers like to see examples of your achievements and accomplishments on your CV – rather than just a list of tasks and duties. In 2015 this is still important, however there’s a slight change in the way these achievements are presented on the CV.
A more effective way of writing an achievement is to put the result at the beginning of the sentence, i.e. the costs saved, the percentage of additional revenue generated or how much time was saved by automating a process. Then follow the result with a brief and concise description of how you achieved it. For example, “Reduced the cost of stationery by 30% by sourcing a new supplier, educating the business on waste reduction methods and introducing a companywide Waste Reduction & Recycling policy”.
See also: 5 Great Tips for Writing a Successful CV
5. Soft Skills
Whether you are qualified or not, whether you have work experience or not it’s important to include your soft skills (also called behavioural competencies) as employers put a lot of emphasis and importance on these skills. However, try to avoid using a bunch of buzz words to describe these softer skills as you definitely won’t stand out from the hundreds of CVs received.
If you are going to list your softer skills ensure you back up the generic statements with how you have applied this particular skill. For example, don’t just put “Excellent Communicator”. Instead consider this example. “Responsible for all communication to senior managers relating to financial management information to facilitate strategic decision making.”
6. Be honest
Another point that should go without saying but unfortunately the percentage of candidate’s that lie or exaggerate on their CVs is still surprisingly high. Screening methods, selection techniques, interview processes and background checks are getting more and more sophisticated and candidates who cannot back up the information they claim on their CVs or application forms will be caught out at some point. Trust me it’s a very awkward situation particularly if you’ve been caught out during the interview – that walk back to reception is a long one!!
7. Professional Format
Over the last decade I’ve worked for corporate environments, blue chip fortune 500 businesses and a financial services provider. So I’m bound to lean towards the professional, corporate CV – no fancy fonts or borders please! For the corporate environment keep it very clean and simple. A traditional look is still acceptable.
Of course the style and format of a CV is going to be very different between sectors and industries. Some industries don’t use CVs – they only use application forms to ensure a consistency of information gathered and therefore making it much easier to assess objectively and fairly. Some industries don’t use either CVs or application forms it is still word of mouth – the construction industry for example. If you’re a graphic designer then the word on the internet is to include graphs, charts and show off your expertise by inserting images or even sending a 3D CV. I don’t know much about this sector but I would still keep the images to a minimum and ensure it doesn’t take attention away from important key information.
It still remains really important for you to double check your spelling and grammar. Remember it’s so much easier to spot someone else’s spelling mistakes than the one’s you’ve made yourself!! So be aware hiring managers and recruiters will notice these errors at a glance.
CIPD shared a great example recently of a candidate missing just one comma in a sentence describing his interests “Cooking dogs and interesting people”. Oops!! It has been said before that relying on MS word to check for mistakes is not a full proof way of ensuring it’s accurate, so take the time to double check.
As always we hope these points have been useful and we thank you in advance for sharing across the various social media platforms.
photo by: carito345