Make an impact in the first 60 seconds

Opinions vary as to how much time your CV has to convince a recruiter that you're worth short-listing for an interview.  Poor presentation, inconsistent format, different font’s, inconsistent paragraph’s, too many pictures, not applicable information or obvious errors could mean that your CV does not represent who you really are and might result in you not being invited for an interview.

This is hardly surprising given that a recruiter could have up to 500 CV’s per job to review.

You have to treat your CV as if it were your own personal advertising board.  It's a schlep, but every part of the communication you have with an organisation is an opportunity for them to accept or dismiss you as a serious candidate.

To be effective, your CV must provide a concise, accurate summary of your qualifications, skills and experience. Its layout, design and the words that you choose will play key roles in getting you through to the interview process.

There are several successful formats from which to choose from.  Most people use the chronological format, and that's the one we recommend.  Recruiters are more likely to expect to see this type than any other and it's also the best format for recent graduates with limited or no work experience.

CV Do’s

  • List all your personal details first; don’t forget to add your contact details  and Id number and citizenship.
  • Next list all your education details, remember to add the Institution, the year when the qualification was obtained, together with a list of subjects, as well as any awards or achievements you might have received while studying.
  • List all additional information i.e. short courses, work shops, software skills, articles published, editorial duties etc.
  • Next list your work experience, in reverse chronological order.  Put your most recent experience first.
  • Concentrate on your duties and responsibilities, also list any recognitions or awards you may have received.  Remember to ad your reason for leaving the company as well as the period you were employed.
  • Write your CV relevant to the particular role you are applying for.
  • List any other skills that could give you and edge you above the competition.
  • Include some of your interests.
  • Keep it simple. This means no shading, boxes or columns as they will be lost when your CV is scanned or photocopied.
  • Check spelling and grammar.  A CV with errors is a quick and easy way of weeding out weaker candidates when faced with hundreds of applicants.

CV - Nearly done

Ask someone to check your CV through; and ask the following questions…

  • Does this sound like me?
  • Am I proud to send this off?
  • Have I eliminated irrelevant information?
  • Have I included everything that could help me get this job?
  • Is it easy to read?

The most important thing about your CV is that it should leave the employer keen to meet you. If you think yours will do that then push that ‘Send’ button before another applicant submits theirs.

CV Don’ts

  • Don’t tell an untruth. You will be found out!
  • Do not include a photo unless the employer has asked for one.
  • Do not include lots of attachments unless specifically requested in the ad.
  • Do not list all your personal problems in your CV or covering letter.

Interview tips

  • Prepare for your interview.  Remember you have only 1 chance to impress the panel; it’s a once off and there are no second chances.  You would want to make such a good impression on the company that they would want to employ YOU and not the next candidate.  You are not the only person being interviewed for the job.  This is a competition and they are going to employ the best candidate for the job.
  • Do your homework in advance.  Learn as much as you can about the company.  Go onto their website and familiarise yourself with who they are, the people, their competitors, their products and the company history.  Look at the company’s culture, values and ideals and decide if that is where you would like to go for your future.
  • Refresh your memory regarding details of present and past employers and your work history in their companies. Pay particular attention to how you will describe your most important achievements.
  • Go through the job description of the position you are being interviewed for.  Understand the roles that will be required of you.
  • Arrive ON TIME or at least 5 to 10 minutes earlier.  Late is NEVER excusable.  Plan in advance sufficient time for traffic, go through company security etc.  The panel are busy people and they have a set time and date for a reason.  Being too early can be seen as rude as being late.
  • Research has shown that interviewers form 80% of their opinion of you in the first five minutes of the interview, so it is important to dress and behave appropriately.
  • Ensure you know the exact time and place of the interview, and the interviewer's name and title, and how to pronounce it.  Plan your journey in advance and always allow yourself some contingency in case you get lost or run into a traffic jam.
  • Dress professionally and appropriate to the organisation.  Pay close attention to your appearance and ensure all the little details are taken care of, for example polished shoes, ironed shirt etc. these minor details send messages to the interviewer.  Also personal hygiene is important, if you are a smoker please use mints etc.
  • Listen carefully to what is being said and look your interviewer in the eye. If there is more than one interviewer you need to ensure you concentrate on all members of the panel.  Respond honestly to the questions being asked.  If you do not know the answer to the questions, say so!  Don’t thumb suck, you will be found out!
  • If presented with an application, fill it out neatly and HONESTLY.