Fresh Career Advice That Actually Works

Archive for November, 2010

“Almost” a Success Story

This is a story about a good friend, who was at the time in his first year of college. He applied for an Executive Assistant position in a small but reputable company. He didn’t have any experience in the required field (or hardly anywhere for that matter).

Despite the stiff competition, it turned out he was the second best. The employers liked him very much (and probably saw the great potential for growth), so they created an additional job for the young man. He was offered a position as a Research Assistant. You’re probably wondering how he managed to make the recruiters want him so badly.

First of all his CV was top-notch. It was neat, concise, articulate, confident and interesting (even contained some intriguing information). The resume was maximally adapted to the requirements of the job. Everything the student had ever achieved even remotely related to the position was put in the CV. The accomplishments were presented as something special and valuable. The resume painted a picture of a person with wide range of skills and a strong willpower. It was also fresh and creative.

Before writing the CV and motivation letter, the student analysed the job offer. He got a general idea which features of the candidate are valued the most by the employer. The motivation letter addressed a lot of the requirements with small success stories. They were about his previous work experience and different life events which had demanded similar skills. It showed that he had an ability to handle relevant problems.

Maybe here’s the most important part. One task of the candidate was to find some information on the Internet and use it to create graphs in Excel. He also had to write an article on a given subject. He managed to make a very good and thorough work quite fast. He was later told that he was one of the first who sent out the email with the motivation letter, resume and homework. It was really impressive and gave him a strong advantage. It was the key to the interview.

When he was asked to participate in the interview, he started to prepare right away. He read a book about the most frequently asked interview questions and searched for interview tips on the Internet. In conclusion he thought out answers to different interview questions. He tried to create a vision of himself as someone successful with strong convincing power. He even listened to the music that made him feel happy and energetic. After a long good night sleep he went to the interview and managed to shine so brightly that the employers were immediately sold.


Resume Writing Tips from a Recruiter

Have you ever asked the question, what happens to your resume, when it reaches the recruiter? Well it simply goes on top of a thick stack of other CVs and then more CVs will be placed on top of yours. In bigger companies it may be also electronically scanned (for relevant keywords) before anyone looks at it.

There are dozens if not hundreds of applicants to every vacancy. It’s not an easy task to choose the best candidate for the job. The person who has to read all the CVs and concentrate on each one of them feels that it’s just a lot of hard work. So how does this process work?

The very first round is about first impressions. Your resume has to create interest and be relevant to the job you’re applying for. The hiring manager isn’t very selective when he’s having hundreds of sheets of papers to evaluate. Usually with every passing round the competition gets harder and each CV gets more attention and will be reviewed in detail. If your resume isn’t pleasant to look at, it’ll go straight to the trash bin along with fifty other CVs. Now only about half of the resumes remain.

If your CV captured the recruiter’s attention, the focus goes more on the structure, correct language and grammar. Without a logical structure, infested with spelling mistakes and typos, the resume has no hope.

The most important part is the top half of the resume. There you can summarize the whole CV by highlighting your strengths, unique qualities, achievements etc. The recruiter has to see right away that you’re a suitable candidate. It’s crucial to give a short overview of the resume.

Is your CV just a heap of boring facts or is it a colorful description of an impressive person? Your resume has to be distinguishing. If it’s bland and vague, it won’t get to the next round. Your resume should paint an imaginary picture of you as someone who could excel at the position offered.

Lots of people are good in theory and on paper, but the ones with practical skills are always preferred. If there’s any chance to prove your abilities and skills the job needs, definitely do it. Give the recruiter examples from real life experiences or provide links to online material.

Don’t try to be too qualified. It’s not good. The employer wants the job to be a challenge for you. Overqualified candidates are cast aside. Potential employers may feel that they’re using the position as a stepping stone. If you really want a job where you significantly exceed the requirements, it’s better to leave some details out or diminish their importance.

The first step of the hiring process is a game about who wins the CV-round and is invited to the job interview. There’s no doubt that the best way to play it is with your heart and soul.

Is It Better to Trust Yourself or a Professional CV Writer?

Writing a CV may seem a tiresome and difficult task. Maybe someone else with greater skills can compose you a far more impressive and convincing resume than you’d ever be able to do on your own. You’d also waste less time and energy. I don’t know whether you’ve had thoughts like this, but I know lots of people who have.

An expert CV writer creates a feeling of safety and comfort. Usually we believe that a professional will compose a high quality resume and we’ll probably reach our goals sooner. It’s very common that knowledge of CV writing practises is quite low among people. Therefore even if the bought CV is poor or not excellent, it’s possible not to recognize its shortcomings. Sure there are superb experts in this field, but it’s always a gamble.

What the CV-Experts Aren’t Telling You.

It’s only partially true that a professional will save you some valuable time. The first task of a good expert is to acquire enough information about you to compose an adequate resume. It’s a long and demanding procedure to provide someone with a lot of facts and details. Most commonly you have to go to the interview (another alternative is a telephone interview) and/or fill out forms that are many pages long. In addition it’s a must that the CV writer understands your industry and role. This is very hard without first-hand experience. As a result, it’ll all take much more time and effort on your part than you initially expected. One thing’s for sure, don’t trust “an expert” who only asks you to supply a copy of your old CV.

It’s only the first step toward your goal if you’re able to get to the job interview with a CV from a professional resume writer. Consequently you’ll have to overcome another obstacle. It’s vital to know your resume by heart. If you don’t know your CV and what’s on there, it comes across in the interview. That’s a fatal mistake. So when you have a resume that’s composed by someone else, it’s better to pay attention and learn it from the first word to the last. This will cost some more time and nerves.

What about the Price?

Don’t expect to get a cheap price from a really good expert. Cheap or medium priced ($50-$150) professionals don’t give you the personal attention you need. A word of caution – in this price range you could easily get a typing service and not a professional CV writing service. So make sure early on what exactly are you paying for. A decent resume will cost you about $250, quality CV $600 and high quality $800. To get a CV along with professional coaching will definitely set you back more than $1000. These are all approximate prices, because there’s never a guarantee that you’ll receive what you paid for.

You know yourself better than anyone else in the world does, i.e. you’re potentially the best CV-expert for yourself. If you know how to express yourself well through your resume, you’ll get a magnificent result. Don’t be afraid to write a CV that stands out and is memorable. You’re one of a kind. Because of that there’s no reason to use a boring, generic “cookie-cutter” approach to create your documents.

Writing a CV is like a unique language you talk about your life’s course. Once you know how to construct an interview winning CV, the best person to write it is actually you.

A Simple Method to Help You Conquer Your Job Interview Fears

Do you get extremely nervous before a job interview?
What makes you most worried?
Do you think you’ve had job interview failures that were at least partially caused by nerves?
Does worrying disturb your concentration and the ability to keep a clear mind?

Here’s a method that has helped a lot of people to have a successful job interview. It was developed by Willis H. Carrier, an American engineer and inventor.

The Three-Step Method:

1)    Before going to the interview analyse your situation honestly and critically. Create the worst-case scenario in your mind. Consider everything that could possibly go wrong and think about the consequences. How bad are they really? You definitely won’t be executed or jailed.

2)    Accept the worst that could happen and imagine, that it has already come true. Get used to this possibility. It should take off the pressure and tension and make you ready if the interview turns out in the worst possible way.

3)    Things can only get better now. When you’re not worrying you’re able to concentrate. Start to improve the conditions of the worst-case scenario. While being interviewed be ready for the worst and you can calmly and freely give the interview an opposite direction.

A job interview isn’t the only place you can benefit from this method. You can use it in any nerve-wracking situation where you need to be calm and collected.

What to Do With Employment Gaps?

With large gaps in your work history the employer might think that you’re unstable, unreliable, unmotivated, undesirable, undedicated, you have personal issues, that interfere with your ability to do the job; you’re not up to date; you were in jail, rehab; you were doing drugs, drinking; you were collecting unemployment benefits and started looking for a job when the benefits ran out.

The less you see the more frightening/intriguing it becomes. It’s like with horror movies, they are scary as long as they don’t show the monster and let the audience imagine it instead. You should definitely show the “monster” (and try your best to clean him up a bit). The truth is, that if you don’t fill the gaps, the recruiter will fill them for you.

Two Ways to Hide Gaps:

1)    When listing your employment history use only years instead of months/years. This will completely hide any short-term gaps. And there’s another plus too. Your CV becomes easier to read and looks neater. You should consider doing it even if you don’t have gaps in your work history (unless otherwise instructed).

2)    When writing down your work experience the general rule is to go back 5-10 years or 3-5 jobs. Therefore if you have an older employment gap you can leave it out altogether.

Two Ways to Address Gaps:

1)    If you have a recent gap, create a new CV section with the heading RELATED/OTHER EXPERIENCE (depending on the content). Make a list of your activities during the time you were unemployed. Write down everything you can think of (you have time to edit later). Here are some ideas, so it’ll be easier to remember what you actually did. Travelling, volunteer work, freelance work, internships, courses, business ventures, maternity/paternity leave etc.

Of course the best variant is if your activities are in relevance to your job objective. So if you’re seeking a position in the travel industry, then independent travelling will be an advantage. Another possibility is to identify any transferable skills acquired from the different activities that are applicable to the position you’re seeking. For example: you successfully handled all of the family money for 5 years as a full-time parent, i.e. you can keep financial records.

2)    It’s tricky if you actually didn’t do anything. Well it’s never too late. Start searching for opportunities (volunteer work, internships) to improve your situation. If it isn’t possible for whatever reason, create a CV section – SELF DEVELOPMENT. You have to prove that you continually updated your skills and therefore remained marketable. It’s important to read professional journals and specialized books. Write down how you kept current on the latest developments in your chosen field.

Does Your CV Live Up to the Person You Really Are?

A lot of people think that others can decide whether they’re valuable or not. You’re unique just like me and everybody else. In fact you’re exactly what you think of yourself. When you tame your thoughts and think positive about yourself, it’ll have a great impact on your self-esteem. You’ve done many beautiful and good things in your life and deserve respect for that.

The way we perceive the world around us, determines our reality. Surround yourself with everything good and try not to think about the bad things. Our lives are mostly affected by the way we think things are. When you begin to value every small success you’ve had in the past, you’ll start believing more in yourself. It’ll not only improve your personal life but also your professional career.

You’ve probably had many events in your past that were significant and worthwhile. Maybe you just don’t put much value to them. You may even refer to them as being “nothing special”. But in actuality the way you view your accomplishments can have a huge positive impact on your CV.

Do you know anyone, who tells you how interesting and exciting and full of great moments his/her life is? There’s something we can learn from someone like that. You should remember that small things are only small because you think they’re small. Figure out, why certain events were important and developmental, then describe them colourfully and with pride. This will greatly enrich the variety of experiences you can use in your CV. The interviewer will never ask questions like: “What did others think about it?” or: “Wasn’t it a worthless small event in reality?”.

Always be honest, concise and accurate when writing your resume, but at the same time don’t forget that you deserve more than you give yourself credit for.

Your CV – a Few Sheets of Trash Paper or a Golden Key to Success?

I believe that you’d like to find a suitable job and do it quickly. You’ve probably made an effort to realize your goal, and that’s truly positive. In conditions of high unemployment rate, per every successful candidate there are unfortunately tens if not hundreds of persons, who still remain searching.

You’ve possibly felt the frustration after receiving a negative answer from a potential employer. I know the feeling because I’ve gone through a crisis period, during which I got negative responses. However, I learned a lot from this period and made a number of useful conclusions. By implementing simple and practical knowledge gained from experience, my CV started opening job interview doors. I also gave advice to friends and it greatly facilitated their ability to get a job.

The more valuable and better your CV, the easier it’ll be to get hired. Yet people go on posting similar comments in online discussion forums: “I’ve already sent out more than a hundred CVs, but I’m still not invited to any interviews.” Such an action requires a great deal of perseverance and willpower, but doesn’t it refer to a poorly written CV? Sending around more than 120 CVs and being constantly rejected – it seems that the sender’s attitude toward his/her CV is very low and the resume is sent almost randomly as something worthless.

Your CV is your calling card and therefore deserves care and respect. If you don’t value your own CV, why should the employer do so? Try putting yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. After reading your resume you should feel proud of yourself.

Some Tips for Improving Your CV:

1)    Modify your CV to each job offer. Try to understand the needs of your potential employer. Even small changes like using the same keywords as in the job listing can make a great difference.

2)    Instead of relying on good fortune and the employer’s conciliatory spirit, thoroughly edit your CV. Change the layout, proofread text, delete unnecessary information and only include valuable content.

If you’re willing to give your CV a high level of personal attention, the chances for getting the desired job multiply. At the same time the possibility to get frustrated by rejection decreases equally. Most likely you’ll get hired sooner and it’ll gain you a great amount of quality time. Instead of eagerly craving for a job you can contently start living a more fulfilling life. The time it takes to comprehensively prepare a CV is marginal compared to months or even years it takes to find work.

Sharpen your sword before going to a battle – maximize your CV’s impact when applying for a job.