The Game Plan – The ulitmate guide to securing your best ever career move
Have you honestly got the best CV you can have?
A nationwide survey of HR Directors and Managers has concluded that CVs are failing to make the grade. The survey, designed and carried out by CMC and Senior Associate John Lees, produced some thought-provoking results which we thought to share with you:
46% of employers believe that 1 in 10 people lie about qualifications in their CV;
1 in 10 employers believe that 40% of people lie generally
CMC’s Managing Director, Robin Wood, comments:
“We’ve discovered that there are still too many unfocused, distracted and off-putting CV’s hitting employers’ desks, and a great many CV’s that do not entirely tell the truth.”
royall Appointments specialises in providing talent for all levels of recruitment requirements and is extremely well placed to advise those looking for new roles as to what works, and what doesn’t. If you are unsure just get in touch and ask!
The survey’s author John Lees says:
“Even good CVs often fail to communicate the right message and ensure that people are presenting themselves in person as they do on paper. Consistency is key! This survey shows there is an art to getting through that first ‘sift’. More than anything else it’s about two things: the initial impact on page one of your CV, and making a short but credible claim that you match the key requirements of the job.”
Some key results:
88% of employers prefer to see a short profile or summary on page one of a C.V.
• 85% of employers do NOT want a photograph with a C.V.
• Of those who expressed a view, 96% dislike C.V’s written by professional C.V writing services.
• Two thirds of HR specialists believe that a C.V should be no more than two pages long
The best CV’s are simple, clear, uncluttered and concise. A well-crafted C.V can create a powerful first impression, an outstanding C.V is one that provides concise information about your experience, skills and education and is tailored specifically to the post for which you are applying.
Keeping it to two pages is a myth if you are at a senior level and have decent work experience to portray. If it’s an interesting read and it’s in a clear format it won’t matter if it continues to three or even four pages, but always keep a record of any project work, events managed, or creative work on a separate addendum or portfolio.
Profile: This should be an overview of your skills, competencies, and experience in brief – not a long list of what words describe you best. If you only had this profile to summarise your experience and what you are capable of what would you say. Decide on an objective that can be summed up in one sentence on your application. Remember that a long and protracted statement suggests that you lack clarity and direction.
Qualifications: Nowadays education is usually at the end of the CV. List your academic qualifications and grades in chronological order and your non-academic too. You can always state your graduate or any other professional status in your profile summary.
Employment History: Always start with your current or most recent role; include the job title and employer, employment from and to dates, a brief introduction of your position, your main responsibilities and principal achievements and ideally a reason for leaving.
Responsibilities: These are your day to day working responsibilities. List them in order of importance and be commercial, use as much statistical information as possible and where appropriate use examples.
Principal Achievements: Your day to day responsibilities are what you do, and what is expected of you. They do not set you out from the crowd, especially in this competitive market. You need to make a list of career achievements. Numbers are important as words here and if you can be commercial and display cost savings, or sales successes when you not a sales person this is where you can really shine. Make your C.V as quantifiable as possible. Show how you solved workplace problems and what the results were. Innate personality abilities are as important as vocational skills.
Referees: It is not expected for these to be listed on your CV.
Interests: Detail any other relevant information, including your personal interests and achievements, i.e. Captain of Rugby Team, London Marathon, Charity Volunteer etc.
Addendums: This is a great way to display event/project management experience in chronological order and in a consistent fashion making quick referencing easing for the reader. Contact royall for a sample event addendum template.
Portfolio/links: If applying for a creative role most employers expect to see examples of creative work, either online or in a hard copy portfolio, try and always keep detailed and concise examples of what you have done in the past.
Keywords: In the world of internet searching your C.V needs to be literally peppered with key words to enable it to be found. Recruiters often use recruitment sites such as Event Job Search, Monster and Reed and they need to be able to find you as easily as possible. The better your key wording (SEO) then the higher up the list of potential candidates you will come. If you are an Account Manager then ensure all the related and associated phrases and keywords are on your C.V:
Account Manager, Account Management, Client Services Manager, Senior Account Manager, Project Manager, Client Services, Senior Account Coordinator.
A really useful tip is to write the keywords as a list as above at the bottom of your C.V and turn the type white so that it cannot be seen, this will really boost your keywords and ensure that you get them all in!
Maximising the impact of your C.V and preparing thoroughly for interview are two areas of the recruitment process that you can influence. In a competitive marketplace you need to capitalise on every opportunity to set yourself apart.
Looking good on paper is just not enough, especially in this very competitive market.
Interviews assess many levels of an individual’s character and career, including cultural fit, team dynamics and willingness to contribute to the organisation as a whole.
Employers are seeking candidates who will be valued, trusted and productive team players.
It is critical to consider how you can best demonstrate your skills and experience and make sure this is done in a positive and constructive manner. You need consider which examples you can use to provide evidence that YOU are the right individual to undertake the role.
An invitation to interview means the employer believes you have the potential to do the job. The interview is your chance to convince your future boss that you are the person they want to join their team.
Here are some simple steps to guide you once you’ve been successful with an interview opportunity:
Preparation is KEY!
Know the date, time and location along with the full names of the interviewers and their job titles (and any background on them if possible, get on line and have a dig around. Linked in will give you a potted history. )
If in doubt of where to go, leave plenty of time, get there early, get settled and have a drink so you aren’t rushed or stressed.
Check industry press for any relevant news about the company or agency and take a look at their website but go above and beyond this, what awards have they won and why did they win them, recent bid wins, who are their clients and who are they competitors?
Make sure you are up to speed with your industry news and relevant topics. You need to be able to hold an intelligent and informed conversation and offer your own opinions and views.
Read the job description (if there is one) in careful detail making any notes or questions. Your goal is to try to think of an example for every point on that job description. If you have done it before then you need to be getting this across in the form of a really strong example.
Research yourself as much as you research the company. Take the time to read through your C.V thoroughly to refresh your memory about your skills and relevant experience. You need to be able to talk through the numbers and be specific.
Write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses- proudest and toughest experiences so you have your best examples to hand
Prepare some intelligent questions about both the company or agency and the position you are being interviewed for, if there is a good rapport which there should be between you and your interviewer feel free to ask questions to them too. An interview is a two way process, you need to make sure that this really is your dream opportunity and indeed dream company. Asking questions is a great chance to show you know your stuff; “I see you have recently won the **** account from ****, amazing news. What do you think the key to this was?”
Examples, examples, examples!
Never be late!
Know the location (royall will have provided you with the address and a map – but it’s always good to familiarise yourself further)
Prepare your route in advance – tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner can help or give us a call. If you are going to be late, call us as soon as you can and keep your mobile switched on.
No 2nd chances to make that first impression!
Look your absolute best and do your best. Be confident in your first impression with firm positive handshakes. You can smile and enjoy the interview.
Most agencies are more relaxed in their dress code but that’s something you adopt once you’ve been successful, you should always be smart for an interview.
Two ears and one mouth!
Listen carefully, very carefully. If answering a direct question give a direct and clear answer to the question.
Always show your interest in the company or agency and the reasons why.
Make sure that you ask questions when appropriate and it’s your opportunity to do so – remember an interview is a 2 way process not only an opportunity to sell yourself but also an important chance to really decide if this is the move you really want to be making. The actual questions you ask the interviewer can matter as much as the responses. They demonstrate how forward thinking you are, and how eager you are to invest yourself in the company’s future. Here are several great questions that can set you apart from other candidates:
What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days? A great candidate wants to hit the ground running and make a difference from day 1. They also want to know how they will be evaluated and understand their objectives and expectations.
What are the common attributes of your top performers? Great candidates want to be great long term employees. This question demonstrates that firstly you want to know that you are a good fit and secondly that if you do, you want to be a top performer!
What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company? As an interviewee, you want to know what truly makes a difference for the company, because you know helping the company succeed means you will also succeed on multiple levels.
What do employees do in their spare time? Company cultures can be a controversial topic, but they can often be a large factor for many employers. Happy employees love the work they do and genuinely like the people they work with. A great candidate will want to know that they have a reasonable chance of fitting in with the culture.
How do you plan to deal with…..? Every business faces major challenges – use this question to show you know what these challenges are, demonstrate you know your sector and are realistic about the future. It shows both forethought and genuine interest.
These questions can help you stand out and demonstrate to an interviewer that you mean business, and you are conscious of the company’s future and your role in it.
More killer questions to ask!
How would you describe the general culture of the company and the workplace?
Why did you choose this company?
Will there be any form of training provided?
What are some of the biggest challenges/successes facing the department currently?
What process will be used to evaluate my employee performance?
Who will be my direct supervisor?
Are there many opportunities for professional development within the company?
What is the usual time frame for making the hiring decision?
May I contact you if any further questions arise?
Many candidates take the wrong path and ask inappropriate questions in their first interview. As tempting as benefits and salary information is to know up front, that should only be discussed after you have been offered the position. Plus, you will be in a better position to negotiate anyways. Not jumping ahead is important because you should be focused on having a great and memorable first interview to be called in for a second.
The interview process can be your best introduction to the company and by developing an interpersonal connection with the interviewee by simply reciprocating in the dialogue; you can stand out among the rest of the candidates. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable they are and will appreciate the gesture in reciprocating the dialogue. Remember, this is your opportunity to obtain further information regarding the position and the company that you could not get while researching online, so take advantage of this opportunity and make sure it is the right position for you.
Leave a lasting impression when a future employers asks you ‘do you have any questions’. Last thing to say is ‘no I think you have covered everything’!
Even if they have dug deep. Build deeper rapport by asking the interviewer(s) something personal about themselves. Not so personal, as to what’s their dress or suit size, but something about them individually.
How long have you been at x?
What do you love most about being here?
Finally, an interview is effectively a sales meeting, for you. You are selling YOURSELF. CLOSE the meeting by asking the interviewer (especially at second stage!):
Do you have any reservations about my fit and experience?
Have I done all I can to prove my fit, passion and interest for this opportunity.
What are the next steps from here on in etc.
Be yourself, and let your personality show through. Especially if it’s an agency opportunity as energy fit is extremely important
Employers will not recruit candidates who
Demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm or a negative attitude towards themselves or others
Criticise their managers or those they report to
Give the impression that the role is not their first choice
Cannot commit to the length of the role
You will be given the utmost support from royall during the whole process
Give as detailed feedback as possible
You will be provided with honest, direct and constructive feedback where applicable
Employers use a wide range of techniques and strategies to assess potential employees. By checking what they have planned for you, you may at least avoid some surprises! royall will always be able to give you an indication of the format you should expect and we explain to our clients that we want you and them to be able to make the very most of a short period of time.
The Single Interview
A one-to-one meeting between interviewer and candidate. Favored by smaller companies, this is often the least intimidating type of interview as it usually resembles a conversation between 2 people.
However before you relax completely, bear in mind that your success in this type of interview depends very much on whether you and the interviewer strike up a rapport.
The Panel Interview
In a larger organisation you may find yourself being interviewed by several different people. This type of interview is used as a way of gathering a range of impressions about you, with the interviewers meeting afterwards to compare notes.
An advantage of this format is that if you don’t gel with one person you may do better with another. But remember that in practice the process won’t be entirely democratic. One person, usually the most senior will tend to have the casting vote but will consider the input of their colleagues.
The Remote Interview
Telephone and video interviews are increasingly used to screen candidates during the first round. You should put the same effort into preparing for this type of interview as you would for a more traditional face to face meeting.
Try to relax – the beauty of this style of interview is that you can ensure you are in a comfortable environment and have notes in front of you. Remember you will not be able to rely on visual clues so convey with your words and tone of voice what you might have otherwise achieved with a smile or a nod. If there are long silences following your response to a question you can always ask “would you like me to expand further on that?”
Use a land line in a room where you won’t be disturbed
Keep your C.V and the job description to hand
Sit up straight or even stand
Dress smartly – somehow this always helps to make you feel more focused
Smile – a smile can totally change the way your voice sounds!
Video or skype interviews are fast becoming commonplace. As far as possible you should treat them as a face-to-face interview. Follow these tips:
Dress as you would for a face-to-face meeting
Set up your PC or laptop so that the camera is at eye level
Make sure your internet is connected at the time of the call and that your Skype is logged in – try doing a test run with a friend
Make sure you will not be disturbed
Address your answers to the camera and not the screen, this way you will ensure you have the video equivalent of eye contact.
At the end of the interview make sure you close the meeting, if you are interested TELL THEM. Ask when you are likely to hear and leave the interviewer with no doubt in their mind that you want this job and not any job.
The Best Way to Present Yourself – Skills, Values and Competencies
Competency Based Interviews
It’s vital that you’re able to prove you’re up to the job. That’s why employers will test your key competencies at interview. You might be asked to give examples of times when you’ve used your abilities to solve problems, work as part of a team, impress a client or help others to grow.
We’re all familiar with the standard interview questions.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give standard, by-the-book answers. These familiar questions aren’t just a test of your competency. They’re an essential way of demonstrating your values and skills as well.
We’ve come up with a list of core competencies you might be questioned on:
Problem Solving and Judgment
Impact and Influence
But where do values and skills fit in? Come to think of it, how are they different from ‘competencies’? They’re all linked, but there’s a clear order of importance that helps to define the way we work – starting with values.
Values are qualities that embody your best ways of working. They are how you do business. They are how you communicate. They define you as a person. By giving future employers a hint at what you value the most, you’re giving them a clear insight into how you solve problems and communicate with other people, enabling them to get a better idea about how you might fit into their organisation.
For example, at royall our key values are:
Treating others the way you want to be treated
Open and Honest Communication
We place these things at the heart of what we do. So essentially while our competencies describe how we accomplish tasks, our values explain why. For example, leadership and teamwork abilities are ‘competencies’ — they relate to our ability to get things done. But we value things like fun, money, learning, autonomy, variety and challenge. It’s how we apply these values to our day-to-day tasks that really explains who we are.
Our values define us. Our competencies demonstrate our values in action.
We do something because we place value on it — we carry out a task in a certain way because our values give meaning to our goals. Being able to explain these values, and explain how we apply them to our day-to-day tasks gives potential employers a way to measure our drive and determination. In short, an ability to articulate your values will make you appear confident and forthright. In other words, you’ll be demonstrating yourself at your very best.
Competencies can be taught. Values are acquired through experience. So they’re clearly two different things. But what’s the difference between a competency and a skill? Sure, they’re both ways of explaining your ability to get the job done. But there’s one important difference. It’s possible to know how to do something and still feel unable or unwilling to do it. You might, for example, know how to skydive. But that’s not the same thing as being able to jump out of the plane.
Competence, therefore, is the mixture of having the skill and the ability to use it. It’s this that employers are looking for. It’s not as easy as simply reeling off a list. Employers don’t want to hear you tell them what you’re capable of. They want to see evidence that you’re able to apply those skills to real life situations.
For example, you might be asked a competency based question to determine your leadership skills:
What has been the biggest challenge to your leadership skills? How does this relate to leadership? What impact did this have on your leadership skills?
This is your chance to really shine. With a question like this, it’s easy to incorporate your values into your answer. Start by explaining the why before you get onto the how. Once you’ve explained your way of doing things, make sure your employer knows that your way get results. After all, that’s what you’ll be measured by.
Skills are the technical side of getting things done. They’re things like computer literacy or budget management. Naturally, they’re best explained by example. But if you can apply your values to how you get there, you’ll be giving your employer even more insight into how your personality makes you suitable for the job.
The best way to present yourself
Naturally, employers are looking for competence. But if you’ve got a good grasp of the underlying values, of the reasons why you work in a certain way, you’ll be able to better present yourself as a well-rounded, self-aware candidate with clearly defined goals, ambitions and personality.
The best way to get in touch with your values is to write them down when you’re going over your CV. What are your goals in life? What are your values in life at home and at work? Beside all the key competencies you’ll need to demonstrate for the job, write down your underlying motivation behind the development of your skills. Why is being able to communicate well important to you? Do you get a sense of satisfaction from working with a team? You’ll quickly find that you’ve got a set of values which you’ve been using in your day-to-day life every day.
Once you’ve got a better grasp of who you are and why you do what you do, you’ll be a much more confident and outgoing person. And that’s a skill that’ll last you through your entire career, not just at interview.