Applying for a new job can be daunting, especially if you have been out of work for a while or are unfamiliar with technology and uploading a CV online.
Here are seven CV dos and don’ts:
1. DON’T make your CV too long.
Many recruiters will form an opinion based on what is in the top third of the first page, so put the most relevant information first. Two pages are more than adequate to get all your points across. You can always bespoke your CV with more relevant information once you have made the initial contact.
2. DO Use key words.
Many companies are now turning to technology to help them sift through all the applications and CVs they receive. If key words don’t appear your CV could be missed. Examples of key words would include the name of your industry (E.g. Automotive, Oil and Gas, etc), your job title (Keep it generic!) and specifics about systems or industry jargon (E.g. SAP, diesel engine, CAD, etc.)
3. DO keep personal statements short.
Research by secondcareers.co.uk found that recruiters preferred short personal statements and recommended that job-seekers avoid waffle such as “works well individually or as a team” at all costs. Only include it if you can be specific, if its highly relevant and if it will set you apart from the next candidate.
4. DO deal with potential problems.
A CV is devised to help you get an interview, don’t lie on your CV but tailor it to get key info across, if you have a big gap in your employment history be prepared to explain why. Skimming over or being devious is likely to get you discounted.
5. DON’T include irrelevant content.
Information about hobbies and interests don’t need to be included unless they make you more marketable for the role (or it is your first role)
6. DON’T supply reference names on your CV.
You want to be in control of your job search, the last thing you want is a prospective employer calling your current boss.
7. DON’T make spelling or grammatical errors.
Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that a person’s past performance on the job is the best predictor of future performance. When a company uses behavioral interviewing techniques, they want to know how you act and react in certain circumstances. They also want you to give specific “real life” examples of how you behaved in situations relating to the questions.
In fact, behavioral interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10% predictive.
The interviewer identifies desired skills and behaviors for the job, and the questions you will be asked will be geared to finding out if you have those skills. The interviewer wants to know how you handled a situation, rather than just gathering information about you.
Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions
- Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
- How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
- Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
- Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
- Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular and how you handled implementing it.
- Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
- Give an example of how you worked on team.
- What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
- Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
- Have you handled a difficult situation? How?
How to formulate your answers
Keeping to the STAR (Situation,Task, Action, Result) method is a very effective tool to answer competency based questions as it should make your answers structured and yet succinct:
- Think about a Situation that corresponds to the question in hand. State it clearly and succinctly.
- Then explain the Task you had to undertake to resolve the problem
- Tell them the Actions you took to break down the task and get the job done
- Explain what the Result was, and where possible quantify it e.g. % cost savings, how many new customers, etc
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
I made a Christmas wish for you,
For a holiday full of pleasure,
Friends and family all around,
And memories to treasure.
I wish for you a Christmas filled
With joyous holiday cheer;
I wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a very Happy New Year!
Thank you for working with me during 2014
Over the past 24 years in recruitment, I have probably seen the best and worst of hiring strategies and recruitment errors. In the past, companies got away with making crucial errors in their recruitment processes or hiring decisions because the market was soft and it was easy to rectify the mistake (usually a miss-hire) by finding a replacement. But as the jobs market becomes more and more competitive this is no longer possible, and the cost in time and pain of miss-hiring is no longer that easy to overcome.
If you are a candidate seeking another job, then being aware of these pitfalls will assist you in judging whether you are in a process that will succeed or fail. There is a far better chance of getting a stable, long-term new job if you can identify selection processes that are not going to be prone to hiring errors.
These are the main pitfalls:
1. Lack of a clear objective
Often, hiring companies aren’t specific enough about the duties, skills, and competencies they need. Concocting “wish lists” of super-human attributes, combined with unrealistically low pay scales relative to expectations of the experience needed, will create havoc in a talent search. Hazy, ambiguous descriptions along with generalities like “good written and oral communication skills” don’t help either. It is much easier to hit a clearly defined target. This does of course mean going back to the basics of developing a job and person specification, but the longer term benefits are real and calculable.
2. Having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them.
There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, and waiting for one is as unrealistic as searching for one. The only way to become realistic about what the market might bear is to research it, especially in this economic climate as it changes so rapidly. Know what and who is available and the commensurate earnings expected and then plan accordingly. The number of quality candidates active in the market is drastically lower than it was even last year. My clients are often shocked that the salaries locked in by inflexible pay structures won’t allow them to hire the quality or experience they wish for. The rules of supply and demand are in play here: Good skills and experience have become a commodity and this is driving up salaries, whilst also limiting the candidate pool. I’m not saying throw all caution to the wind. I am saying be prepared to negotiate to attract the best talent, or be satisfied with the second choice.
3. The confused objectives of too many or inappropriate decision makers
Studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater. The reason so many people are usually involved in the interviewing and hiring process is that organisations, naturally, want to spread the risk of decision-making. But better hiring decisions would probably be made if only a small number of people (In my view, 2 is optimum) manage the process objectively.
But having the wrong people in the decision making process is equally risky. Most managers will claim that hiring good people is the second or third most important function they have, right behind making a profit. So why delegate screening or interviewing of candidates to subordinates who have no real understanding of the organisation’s needs, or subordinates with hidden agendas? If hiring is one of a manager’s most important functions, he or she should take the time and make the effort to do the whole job from start to finish. How can they afford not to?
4. Processes that take too long.
It used to take about 30 days to fill a vacant position. Now it takes between 90 and 120! And even longer for more senior or complex roles. When the hiring process takes too long, good candidates are lost to more decisive companies, it refelcts badly on the hiring company’s brand, and it gets harder and harder to fill the vacancy. The “shelf life” of quality candidates is increasingly short – This has now become a competition! Maintaining the momentum with candidates (Especially after the first interview, when only the one or two “choice” candidates remain) is crucial to keep them motivated about the process. If things take too long to progress, they simply lose interest and wander off to find other employers who respond more rapidly. Slick, quick process impress candidates and make them feel worthy of a job in the organisation. Slow processes that crawl at a snail’s pace, laden with red tape, puts calibre candidates off and might be a crucial element should they have to decide between two job offers.
5. Poor interviewing techniques.
Preparing a list of questions to ask every candidate, recording the answers, and comparing the responses (Quickly) equate to efficient and objective recruitment. Sadly, this rarely happens.
It is often down to a lack of experience on the itnerviewer’s behalf. After all, its not something they do every day. “Tell me about yourself” is the first question down the wrong road. Most interviewers start with random questions to “get to know the candidate” and never recover. They make copious notes, and then three weeks later try to compare the candidates about whom they remember very little.
A structured, disciplined interview technique that is applied to every candidate in exactly the same manner is the only real way to compare candidates. It is so simple and yet so seldom practiced. Tight, controlled interview processes with rigid structures applied fairly across all candidates, in a short space of time, deliver the best results. It might be worth bringing an experienced interviewer into the process and to rather observe than conducting the interview personally – This is a real and practised technique that delivers results when a decision maker lacks confidence or experience to interview.
Until we get to know someone, our brain relies on snap judgements to try to categorize the person, predict what they will do, and anticipate how we should react. You may have heard that you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, but the truth is, your brain has made up its mind (so to speak) about a person within milliseconds of meeting them.
According to research done by a Princeton University psychologist, it’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. Your brain decides from the information it has—in other words, how you look—whether you are trustworthy, threatening, competent, likeable and many other traits.
As a member of Toastmasters International, where we develop public speaking skills, body language is regarded as equally important to speech content. It really is about HOW you say it, as much as WHAT you are actually saying!
If we want to build trust-based relationships, being aware of what we project with our physical body is very important. Whether you’re applying for a job, asking for a raise, or meeting with a new client, just being mindful of our body language can influence the other person’s perception of us and the outcome of the situation.
15 Body language blunders to watch out for:
- Leaning Back too much — you are perceived to be lazy or arrogant (especially if this is paired with reaching out with arms akimbo, or hands behind the head!)
- Leaning forward — can seem aggressive. Aim for a neutral posture.
- Breaking eye contact too soon — can make you seem untrustworthy or overly nervous. Hold eye contact a hair longer, especially during a handshake.
- Nodding too much — can make you look like a bobble head doll! Even if you agree with what’s being said, nod once and then try to remain still.
- Chopping or pointing with your hands — feels aggressive.
- Crossing your arms — makes you look defensive, especially when you’re answering questions. Try to keep your arms at your sides.
- Fidgeting — instantly telegraphs how nervous you are. Avoid it at all costs.
- Holding your hands behind your back (or firmly in your pockets) — can look rigid and stiff. Aim for a natural, hands at your sides posture.
- Looking up or looking around — Fidgety eyes are a natural cue that someone is lying or not being themselves. Try to hold steady eye contact.
- Staring — can be interpreted as aggressive. There’s a fine line between holding someone’s gaze and staring them down.
- Failing to smile — can make people uncomfortable, and wonder if you really want to be there. Go for a genuine smile especially when meeting someone for the first time.
- Stepping back when you’re asking for a decision — conveys fear or uncertainty. Stand your ground, or even take a slight step forward with conviction.
- Steepling your fingers — Steepling can be perceived as arrogant, devious and scheming behaviour. (Think Mr Burns in The Simpsons!) It is also possibly weak and seeking affirmation or begging, especially if it looks like prayer position with palms touching.
- Standing with hands on hips — is an aggressive posture, like a bird or a dog puffing themselves up to look bigger. The same goes for hands in pockets – This can also be regarded as overly relaxed, slouchy and even rude.
- Checking your phone or watch — says you want to be somewhere else. Plus, it’s just bad manners.
- So, what should you do? Aim for good posture in a neutral position, whether sitting or standing. Stand with your arms at your sides, and sit with them at your sides or with your hands in your lap. Pay attention so that you naturally hold eye contact, smile, and be yourself.
If you discover you have a particular problem with one or two of the gestures on the list, practice by yourself with a mirror or with a friend who can remind you every time you do it, until you become aware of the bad habit yourself.