As a business professional we wouldn’t dream of insulting your intelligence by suggesting the bare basics. Clearly there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution but here are a few hints and tips to ponder when compiling your CV.

  • Where possible tailor your CV to focus on your most relevant job roles, and highlight those career successes most appropriate to the vacancy.
  • Stand out from the masses – this is your opportunity to shine. Use bullet points to focus attention and bold to highlight key buzzwords.
  • Start sentences with positive descriptive words such as ‘led’, ‘implemented,’ ‘achieved,’ and ‘initiated.’ Employers want to clearly see where or how you have added value.
  • Focus on your ‘outcomes’ i.e. what you have achieved and delivered and demonstrate initiative where relevant.
  • Poor spelling is one of the quickest ways of getting rejected during the initial sift. Don’t rely on spell checker 100%. It won’t pick up the differences in ‘their’ and ‘there’, ‘hear’ and ‘here’ so get a friend to cast their eye over it too. Read, read and re read your CV.
  • Aim for two sides of A4 and ensure that it is clearly laid out, concise, positive and honest – after all it should sell you and increase your chances of being moved to the ‘yes’ rather than hovering over the ‘maybe’ or worse still ‘no’ tray.

Congratulations if you’re reading this as it means you’ve reached interview stage. Here are a few hints and tips to aid in the lead up to the interview. There is a common theme – plan and prepare.

  • Plan your journey – if travelling by car don’t rely solely on your Sat Nav to ensure you reach your destination on time and check out where you can park. Carry out a ‘trial run’ remembering that peak periods can vary the journey time enormously.
  • Prepare by looking at the company’s website, and familiarising yourself with what they do, goals, turnover, and how they compare with their competitors. If appropriate call beforehand and ask for company literature to be emailed or posted – this will demonstrate your initiative and give you a feel for their level of customer service.
  • Prepare a number of intelligent questions for the interviewer such as ‘If I’m successful, what do you think will be my biggest challenge in the first 30 – 90 days?’ ‘What is your staff retention?’ ‘What are the expansion plans for the company?’ ‘What would staff say they most enjoy about working for the business?’
  • Take sufficient copies of your CV to hand out and, if appropriate, compile a summary sheet of your relevant career highlights to leave with them. Demonstrate unequivocally that your skill set and experience match the brief.
  • You may well be asked some of the standard non technical questions such as ‘What are your strengths and how are you rectifying your weaknesses?’ There’s no harm in practising your responses so that they flow on the day.
  • Find out who will be conducting the interview (is it more than one person?) and their position(s) within the organisation.

Right – this is your opportunity to shine and demonstrate how well you match not only the brief but will complement and add value to the existing team. Again we won’t insult your intelligence by offering very basic tips but a few reminders;

  • Remember you are on show from the moment you step through the reception door and the greeter may well be asked for their initial impression of you.
  • Dress to impress!  Unless advised otherwise, wear a smart outfit in which you feel comfortable and confident. Shine those shoes and reserve the urge to stand out by wearing garish socks and ties.
  • Be positive and let your personality shine through. Easier said than done but relax, use positive body language and be mindful of any personal habits such as fiddling with your pen and avoiding eye contact.
  • When asked questions, take your time to construct relevant answers that best demonstrate your suitability for the role – a slight silence is better than waffling.
  • Ensure that your replies are constructive and if confronted with a ‘negative’ question such as: ‘What are your weaknesses?’ turn your response into a positive.
  • At the end of the interview don’t be afraid to ask how you have compared with other candidates and seek clarification of the next stages of the selection process.