10 Tips to create a Professional CV
Tips to help you create a successful, professional, polished CV
Research the Company
Research the company you are applying to and check their website. In particular research the role you are applying for and the people in that company working in that area.
Have a good CV template
Include the following;
- Your name, address, contact details and LinkedIn profile
- A Personal Statement
- Work Experience
- Educational History
- Courses and Training
- Extra-Curricular activities/Hobbies
Get a second opinion
Get a second opinion. When you spend a lot of time trying to get your CV perfect, it is easy to miss mistakes. Get the person looking at your CV to check it for spelling and grammar errors, and give them the job description to refer to.
Take a break
Once you think you CV is ready, take a break. Even if you think it is good to go, it is always a good idea to let it rest for a while. Take a coffee break, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Edit for clarity, use plenty of white space and bullets, and aim to keep your CV to two sides of A4.
Include key words and abbreviations
Include keywords in a CV because Applicant Tracking Systems often check job applications. When you send your CV online, these systems can filter out up to 50% of applications before anyone opens the CV or cover letter. By using keywords and abbreviations, you can double your chances of getting through and having your CV checked by a pair of human eyes.
Print out CV and review
Print out your curriculum vitae before sending it. Make sure it looks well on paper, and that no important information gets cut off.
Back up your achievements
If you make any big claims on your CV, it is important to back them up. For example if you said that you are an excellent salesperson, prove it; include some figures from a previous job. Quantifying your achievements shows the impact of your work and makes an impressive CV.
Spell check your CV
Spellcheck your CV. One of the most common reasons people get ruled out for jobs is because their CV has mistakes. Do not rely on the computer spellchecker. This will not always catch everything, like company names.
Only include relevant social media on your CV
If you are including social media on your CV, make sure the profiles reflect you well. They should be relevant and professional, like your LinkedIn profile. Be aware that even if you do not include your social media on your CV, it is only a Google search away. Make sure anything you do not want prospective employers to see is kept private.
Being well prepared for an interview is half the battle. Here are some valuable tips that can help you nail that job!
Do your research-know the Company
One would assume you have done research on the company already, otherwise, why would you be applying for the job? A lot of interviewers will ask what you know about the company. It is their way of finding out how much interest you have in working for their company.
Most large companies will have a detailed section on their website about the company, comprising of various headings; history, size, locations, structure, culture and share price, (if they are a limited company).
You will not need to be able to recall it all, just show you have looked at it and understood most of it. What will really impress is if you can talk about company information you have found away from their website, like news, recent events, marketing or charitable/volunteer work for example.
Know your CV
This may sound obvious but you will be surprised how many people in an interview cannot remember how long they spent in a particular company or the details of their career history. This is the document that got you the interview and it is what the interviewer wants to know more about. If you have the ability to remember everything on your CV, great, otherwise, take a highlighter to mark your key achievements, important dates and figures and any other points, relevant to the particular role.
Ensure your LinkedIn profile matches your CV especially dates, key skills and experience.
Interviews can take varying styles; some can seem like informal chats, while others are more structured. You need to be prepared for both. By preparing answers for questions beforehand, you will be ahead and it will give you an opportunity to examine your CV the way that the interviewer will.
Assign Recruitment will assist you prepare for interview questions and answers, to ensure you can show your skills and experience in the best light.
Ensure you prepare answers for the “What is your biggest weakness?” question. Be honest and look at your “weakness” as a challenge. Talk about the steps you have taken to overcome your weakness, this shows you are proactive and resourceful enough to overcome them.
Avoid weaknesses that may stop you getting the job, for example, if you are applying for a job in hospitality, do not highlight a weakness as “not a people person”.
The first question is usually a request for a summary of your background. People applying for their first job should focus on extracurricular activities, education and qualifications.
It is quite acceptable to repeat major points you have outlined in your CV or cover letter. It is important to show your personality at this point as employers are examining your skills along with how they feel you will fit into their team culture.
If you are involved in volunteer work mention the areas you have contributed to.
A specific question often asked is “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?”.
Qualifications, in this context, relates to all qualifications which could make you suitable for the position including educational, employment-related and personal.
In most cases, this may be the question that will win or lose you the job, so your answer needs to be clear and memorable. Review people on LinkedIn in the team you are applying for, review their experience and expertise and the terms they use to describe their responsibilities and achievements.
Here is where your research pays off. Discuss your past experience in a way that is relevant to your potential employer, include details of your education, charity and community work.
Reasons for Applying
If you are applying for your first, or one of your first jobs, your answer should describe what you find appealing about the position, how you prepared yourself for a career in the organisation and how you believe your present job equips you for the position in question.
Be ready to discuss your long-term aspirations. Your best approach is one that indicates you have thought about your career in these terms and have taken some action towards realising your ambitions.
In some organisations, the interviewers ask candidates questions designed to test their reactions to certain crisis situations. You should try to find out the most common type of dilemma for employees in the job you are seeking and formulate an intelligent response.
Behavioural or competency based interviews are used to show how you would demonstrate certain behaviours/skills in the workplace. You will be asked to give an example of a situation or task that led you to take a certain course of action.
Probing questions will then be used to determine the course of action you took and how these actions affected others around you. When answering, remember that the interviewer wants to know what you as an individual delivered and achieved so avoid over-using examples of ‘we’.
Questions to ask the interviewer(s)
You must have questions prepared; otherwise it can imply a lack of interest in the job. Here are some suggestions:
- What would be my main responsibilities?
- What training or induction is given?
- How much interaction would I have with other departments, or with clients and suppliers?
- What scope is there for taking on extra work, or being involved in any other aspects of the company?
- What plans do you have for expansion, how would these impact on my role?
- Where are the opportunities to progress within the company?
- Why is the position available?
Practice out loud
Try answering some of the typical interview questions out loud or ask your friend to pretend to be your interviewer. You will be surprised how different something may sound when said out loud and this will allow you to adjust your answer.
Preparations for the Interview
Now you have got your plan sorted, you need to arrive 10 minutes early for your interview.
Have you thought about how you are going to do that?
Where is the interview taking place? Will you be taking a car or public transport? What time of day is the interview: will traffic be lighter or heavier? If you can, make the journey to the company beforehand, unless you know the journey intimately already. Doing this will ease your anxiety on the day.
Dress to impress. Decide what you are going to wear well in advance of the interview, then make sure the items of clothing are washed/dry cleaned and ironed the day before.
Wear your smartest outfit, as long as it is comfortable. If you think any of your clothing looks shabby buy a replacement, it could be a huge investment.
An interview is never just about what you say, it is also about non-verbal communication. Positive body language makes those around you feel comfortable and at ease.
Remember to have positive and open body language using hand gestures and eye contact while avoiding distracting habits like touching your face or tapping your foot.
Day of Interview
Bring your documentation, a copy of your CV, directions and the address of the company and your interviewer’s name. Be fully prepared use a mobile map app (Google Maps).
As mentioned above, arrive at reception ten minutes before the interview. If you misjudged the traffic and arrive 30 minutes early, take a walk in the locality. If you show up too early it can cause a poor first impression.
Ensure your mobile phone is turned off so it does not ring or vibrate during the interview. Your phone interrupting your interview will distract you and is seen as completely unacceptable.
When the interviewer approaches you, greet them with a firm handshake (or as is appropriate in pandemic times) look them in the eye and smile. There is a good chance you will engage in small talk on the way to the interview room.
It is best not be funny as you do not know what their reaction will be. Safe small talk about the weather, the journey or the office will suffice.
The interview itself
All your hard work and preparation has led to this. Be confident, be friendly but most importantly, be yourself. Sometimes it can be easy to miss the questions being asked by the interviewer due to nerves, so try and concentrate on the question and feel free to take a few moments to prepare what you are going to say.
In Covid times many interviews are taking place by Zoom or Teams. Prepare the same way as if you were going to do an office to do the interview in person. Dress professionally. Make sure to have a neutral background in your home with no distractions or unusual pictures, books, photographs in the background.
If you have been put forward for an interview by a recruitment agency remember to give immediate feedback to your recruitment consultant after the interview. This includes any areas you felt you may have fallen down on, perhaps you have a doubt about how you answered a specific question or forgot to highlight a certain valuable skill or experience.
Your consultant can cover this for you in his or her call to the employer. If you were interviewed directly, send a thank you email, expressing enthusiasm and keenness to join the company. Sent this in the evening or the next day, this email can be an important factor in an employer’s decision- making process.
There may be the possibility you will be offered the job on the spot, at the end of the interview. If you are, and are unsure, be confident enough to ask for time to think about it.