Looking for a new job can be a very stressful process. Even for people who are not really looking but who are approached by a headhunter/recruiter and asked if they might be interested in a position, the sudden need to prepare a good personal presentation can be a shock to the system. Everybody wants to make a good impression. The stakes may be high and the competition strong.
Recruiters know exactly what kind of person they are looking for. They have a profile of minimum requirements which include knowledge and experience, skill set, qualifications, etc. A standard CV for all job applications, simply listing previous employment and qualifications, is no longer enough. These CVs are quickly passed over, without a second look. Consequently, it is important to adapt each CV for each application so that it matches the job description and candidate profile the recruiter is looking for as closely as possible. Many English native speakers find CV writing challenging enough so for non-native speakers the challenge is even greater but here are some tips to help you get noticed.
The sequence in which the information is presented is important. It should be easy to find the most relevant information. A short introductory personal statement is useful. This should be followed by career information, with your most recent or current position first, followed by previous positions, going back in time. Similarly, qualifications should be listed with the most important or relevant first. It is not necessary to list everything in date order and a recruiter is much more interested in professional qualifications than in school results.
2. Match your CV to the candidate specification
The HR department responsible for recruiting the right person will have written and normally published a profile of the ideal candidate. This will include such things as a minimum number of years and level of experience, the level and subjects of qualifications, etc., so it is important to ensure that your CV matches the requirements as closely as possible.
3. Quantify responsibilities and achievements
When giving previous career details it is a good idea to provide quantitative information. For example, a ‘Sales Department Manager’ should state the number of teams and individuals in the department that he or she is responsible for, give an approximate annual value of the sales managed and preferably provide rough figures for sales growth over a period. A good CV will show career progression over time with development in the scale of responsibilities and achievements from one position to the next.
4. Name drop
Whenever possible, include references to big-name clients and business partners. Having good connections can be as important as showing you are able to work in demanding environments.
5. Use the right vocabulary for the business life cycle stage
If you going for a job in a start-up or relatively young company, using words like ‘build’, ‘create’ and ‘initiate’ implies starting with very little. On the other hand, if you want to work in an established company, using words like ‘develop’, ‘expand’ and ‘grow’ imply working with something that already exists and making more of it.
6. Interesting interests
Recruiters like to see a little more than just work experience and qualifications. They also want to get an idea about ‘what makes you tick’. What kind of a person are you? Simply listing hobbies or interests such as ‘sport’ or ‘reading’ gives little information and doesn't say much about you. Saying that you like to run marathons and have improved your time consistently over a number of events or that you like to read horror stories and you have read every Stephen King novel written would be much more eye-catching. Even though they may have nothing to do with the job they are much more interesting and can provide a glimpse of your personality.
7. Get it checked
Each time you change your CV for each new application be sure to get checked, both for errors and also as a match for the job description, by someone with experience and of course the appropriate language skills. If possible, go through it together as this will be a valuable learning experience and good preparation for when you are invited to an interview.
A well-structured CV, adapted to the requirements of the job description, in good English and without mistakes, should be your own minimum requirement when putting yourself forward for a new position. Whether you choose to call this document your CV, your Resume, or your Personal Profile is a question of personal style, but if the job is worth going for then it makes sense to put some effort into this initial presentation. If you are being put forward by a headhunter then you should discuss the position and adapting your CV accordingly, so that you are sure you are being presented in the way you wish. The headhunter should be able to give you information about the company, the department and the specific role. With a little effort, you can greatly increase your chances of getting the interview that you deserve.