All job seekers have different challenges to overcome. Áilín Quinlan gets CV tips for the graduate, the jobhunter who hasn’t changed jobs in a decade and the man or woman out of the workplace for years.
STUCK in the same job for a decade and looking for a way out? Maybe the kids have started school and you want to get back to work? Or perhaps you’ve just graduated with a first-class degree but have no experience in a sector that requires employees to hit the ground running?
The post-recession workplace is a radically changed place to which entry can be difficult for everyone from former high fliers finding their way back post-redundancy to newly-fledged graduates.
Three recruitment experts outline the dos and don’ts of the CV for four job seeker types.
STUCK IN A RUT
In the same job for the last 10 years and looking for a way out - and up?
John Fitzgerald, Executive Coach and MD of Harmonics
There are two things you must do before even starting work on a new CV, says Fitzgerald:
- Speak to people in your organisation or profession to identify the skills that are now in demand
- Decide on a goal and the upskilling you require to achieve it.
- Find the relevant course and sign-up – only then can you “tell a new story” in your CV. Never dress up an old CV.
Your CV should contain:
“A new personal and career profile with a clearly stated career objective, for example, seeking ‘X’ role in the IT Department and taking ‘Y’ course “to demonstrate my commitment to achieving that goal.”
The key words or phrases associated with the job you are seeking, because when you send it online to an employer or tracking agency, their applicant tracking system will look for particular associations with the role they wish to fill.
If these words are not contained in your CV it will be passed over. It’s a good idea to google the job spec’ for what you are targeting and check out sample job postings,” he says.
Search the recruitment site indeed.com for the role you’re targeting and check the key words associated with that role.
Transfer the information contained in your CV to your Linked-In profile and target and follow the relevant companies.
Get the word out via your network of colleagues that you’re looking for a role in a particular area.
STAY AT HOME PARENT
- Be clear on the career you’re targeting.
- List the skills you had prior to your departure from the workforce.
- Explain the reason for gap and don’t waffle.
- It may be worth mentioning new skills you gained – time management, self-discipline - while a stay-at-home mum.
- If you worked on project management or fund-raising for a local charity during this time, mention the skills required for the successful execution of these tasks.
“There is an increasing awareness that people can mature as a result of the 24/7 demands of running a house and raising children,” John Fitzgerald says.
- It can be helpful to ask a friend to help you assess your skills set, including some you may not even be aware that you have, he explains. “Your confidence may be low and you may not see those skills yourself.”
- Include your membership of local community groups, fitness groups or other personal activities – these all help potential employers build a holistic picture of the person you are.
- You could mention an interest in current affairs, if this is the case, or in particular journals, books or magazines which may be of interest to the person you are targeting or pertinent to the area of the labour market you are entering – but don’t lie.
- Never over-emphasise what you cannot stand over – emphasise any skills you may have acquired in different areas while away from the workplace, he says.
- Remember: “People buy people so don’t undersell yourself. Be positive, clear and relevant to the job.”
- Put yourself in the employer’s shoes, he says. It can provide a valuable vantage point from which to pitch your job application.
Brendan Lally, Careers Advisor with the University of Limerick
- Your CV is a marketing document, not a factual list of where you’ve been and what you’ve done,” he emphasises.
- Before starting, says Lally, decide what your unique selling points are - you may have consistent first-class grades, won awards or completed successful and interesting projects. On the other hand, your grades may be average, but you’re the captain of the county football team.
- Draw up your CV - to the highest possible standard - in a way which ensures potential employers spot your USPs early.
- While drawing up your CV, refer back to the job advertisement constantly. This ensures relevance. Look at the language which is used in the advertisement and the sequence in which the company is placing its requirements.
- A CV should run to no more than two pages. It should be in black text, with clear fonts – and perfectly presented. Get two different people to check grammar and spelling.
- Explain any gaps in your timeline.
- Be concise, use positive business language with action verbs such as “manage” and “organise” and avoid the use of ‘I’ as far as possible.
- Make only verifiable claims for work experience
- Avoid clichés such as ‘hardworking’, ‘motivated’ or ‘team player.’
- If you are member of clubs, societies or sporting organisations, list the positions you have held – employers want healthy, all-round individuals with active pursuits.
- Include your name, address, and a professional email address, as well as a mobile number with an activated voicemail and a personalised linked-in url profile. Highlight your availability to start work.
Rowan Manahan, consultant and career expert for more than 20 years, and author of Where’s My Oasis and The Ultimate CV
“No matter what level of the workforce you have been in, over the last few years we’re seeing the same problems for the long term unemployed,” says Manahan, adding however that there are broad guidelines to drawing up your CV:
- Summarise yourself at a glance. What you are, what you achieved in the workplace. What is your big skill or the thing which differentiates you as regards your approach, style and the contribution you’ve made.
- What are you doing now? “You can’t fudge the fact that you have been long-term unemployed,” he says, but if you’ve been doing project or contract work, cluster it under a simple heading which covers the period of your unemployment.
- If you’ve been completely unemployed, do not lie. If you have been re-training and gaining work experience, highlight it.
- However, it’s at this point that you hit a big fork in the road, warns Manahan. Most employers are discouraged by a long period of unemployment, so he suggests an alternative route or ‘back door’ into the jobs market:
- First, talk to somebody in the recruitment sector – friend, family member, old work colleague - who knows exactly what is needed for your CV.
- Consult the most up-to-date book on the market, or talk to a careers expert for advice on how to draw up a “fab, sharp CV.”
- Now focus on getting your CV onto the right person’s desk – but remember, he warns, the success rate with the standard approach of “firing out 1000s of CVs is minimal,” he warns.
- Learn how to use social media – get a Linked-in profile and a twitter account.
- Read up and inform yourself on developments in the specific area of the job-market you are targeting.
- Reach out through your social media contacts and build your network.
- Meet people for lunch and a spot of what Manahan calls “informational interviewing.” This is where you’re basically sharing knowledge and gleaning useful information about the jobs market.
- Don’t appear desperate – simply explain that you’re thinking about looking in a particular sector, and wondering what’s happening. Find out what they’re hearing. Use the knowledge you glean to network further. When opportunities start to appear, he says – and they will – use your contacts, ingenuity and experience to make the most of them.
Why not start the search for your next job at recruitireland.com
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