Have you ever wondered why your CV doesn’t seem to be hitting the right notes with potential employers? You’ve sat in front of your computer for an hour with your record of achievement, listing all your qualifications, hobbies & interests and you’re already thinking ahead about doing the job you are applying for. It’s good to think that far ahead; it shows you are serious about the role.
“But what am I doing wrong?” You may ask yourself! Quite a bit actually but that’s why I’m here!
Your CV is a short summary to show potential employers just who you are and what you have got behind you. When you are applying for a job, you must tailor your CV for that role. That doesn’t mean you should have 10 different CV’s on standby, it simply means that you must relate your skills and/or experience to that specific role. Letting people know you have a GCSE in Learning for Life & Work won’t have a massive impact if you are applying for a Marketing Assistant post but that’s not to say it won’t help elsewhere.
It’s important to know what jobs you should/can apply for. If you see a job that requires 5 years experience and you only have 1 year in a similar role, you can apply for it but it’s highly likely you will receive the email that states “Due to the high calibre of applicants we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful”. They won’t specify why it’s been unsuccessful but you can imagine why. They’re obviously looking for someone else. If you see a job that says full training will be provided, even better apply for it!
Probably the most important reason any employer will hire you. I know there will be people out there that will say “So, I have to get experience before I get experience” but look at it from an employer’s point of view. They have a position available; experience is not necessary but desirable. Two people apply for the job; one of them has 2 years experience in the same role elsewhere whereas the other candidate has none. Let’s not beat around the bush, the guy with experience will get the job 9.9 times out of 10. This can be disheartening for people that do this on a regular basis and feel like they just keep getting knocked back.
If you volunteer at your local sports club where you do the bar after the games then you can say that you not only have experience in doing bar work (or to give it its proper title – Mixologist), you are giving your time to the club voluntarily. You’d be amazed at how many employers would see this as a good attribute to have. Include all placement experience, just because it’s not paid work in the literal sense, it is work that you have done (and for free). It shows not only that you have carried out work in a certain area but that you are willing to learn and improve upon your experiences.
What is the job you are applying for? All jobs will state that you must have great organisational skills, be punctual and work to strict deadlines etc. This is the norm for obvious reasons, imagine the amount of applications a company would receive for a job where you must be lazy, never on time, lose things and always miss deadlines. If you can relate to any of the latter qualities, you simply need to work on them. These skills can be obtained in your everyday life and you perhaps don’t even realise it. If you play a sport and you are the captain of the team then you will have leadership qualities that can and will cross over into your work life. It’s all about relevancy, if your granny taught you how to knit a jumper when you were 8 after Sunday mass, do you really need to list that as a skill? Well if the job is on a building site, I wouldn’t bother.
When writing a CV, it’s good to state what qualifications you may have. High School Business Studies class will tell you that you must list all of your qualifications but depending on the job role, your qualifications should determine what you state. Put your qualifications in order of relevancy to the job you are applying for. Qualifications are not the be all and end all of getting your perfect job, I’ve worked with people that had no qualifications and they were brilliant at their job. Employers won’t really want to know what you got in your 11+ or your Key Stage 3 results when reading your CV and although I do promote working hard in school, I wouldn’t bother listing it. It will benefit you in the future so don’t think just because it’s not a requirement it won’t help, it definitely will!
Confidence is key! We’ve heard it all before, we hear it over and over and it’s because it is true. If you can’t speak to people then you are really limiting your potential. Regardless of what your job is confidence will get you quite far. When you speak confidently about something, you automatically give people the impression that you know what you are talking about, that you ‘know your stuff’. When you know what you are talking about, a natural confidence will shine through because it’s your ‘area’. I’ve worked with people in the past that were great public speakers but ask them a question about how something works and you would find quite a big part of their job is ‘bluffing’. There is a difference between being confident and being cocky. A confident person puts people at ease and allows people to absorb the information given to them. A cocky person will make people forget all about what they are talking about and leaves you thinking how annoying that person is or wonder when they are going to stop talking. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Please don’t fall into this trap!
How many units of alcohol do you consume per week? There is no right answer to this question because if you state 0, they won’t believe you. They’ll either think you are just saying that to appear more mature or …they just won’t believe you. If you state a number higher than 8 then you suggest that you like a drink. Joking aside, don’t bother stating how much you love to socialise because it screams to them that you may or may not turn up on Monday morning and be the first one out the door on Friday afternoon. Socialising is a private and personal choice and they don’t need to know anything about what you do in your free time.
There are many factors in getting the job you want, not just the one you need. If you think you are getting nowhere in your search for work, you should try to implement some of these tips I have listed. There will always be stumbling blocks when it comes to the world of work but remember the whole world isn’t against you. Make sure you have an email address that shows your maturity/professionalism. Employers will frown upon email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com so take 2 minutes to create a new email address that doesn’t suggest firstname.lastname@example.org will turn up like Jack from The Shining.
If you’re on foot and don’t have an email address, pop your CV in an envelope and drop it in. Don’t fold it in half and make sure there are no tea cup circles on them. Make sure you read over your CV, familiarise yourself with everything you have stated. An employer will ask you about what you have included so it’s wise to know exactly what you have written. Make sure you run a spell check, I can’t stress that enough! The first thing employers notice on a CV is a spelling mistake.
Don’t be put off by certain job titles. You could see a fancy job title like Gastronomical Hygiene Technician that puts you off applying and maybe even reading about it. People would be put off by this term when it’s simply a fancy term for Dishwasher. You don’t have to be able to draw to be a Sandwich Artist in Subway either. You do need to be able to make a damn fine sandwich though but have a look around and don’t scroll past jobs just because the title is outlandish.
The most important piece of advice I could give to you is to just be yourself, be honest with yourself instead of trying to be something you don’t like and don’t want to be. If you leave an interview feeling like it didn’t go well, don’t worry about it. Evaluate what you did and look to improve for the next one. If the people that took the interview weren’t nice or made you feel uncomfortable or intimidated then would you really want to work for them anyway?
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