Many employers are aware that recruiting someone based on two short interviews can be a risk if they do not ask the ‘right’ questions in an interview. That's why ‘behavioural’ interviewing has become very popular with many managers
What is Behavioural Interviewing?
It is a style of interview that forces you to answer questions that demonstrate your competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) by giving specific examples from your past experiences. The focus of the interview is less about what you can or could do, and more about what you have done in specific situations in the past.
Prior to the interview, the interviewer will define the competencies for the position, and will then develop a series of questions that allow him/her to find out if you have those competencies. Behavioural interviewing assumes that your past behaviour (in previous roles) is an excellent predictor of your future performance.
What sort of questions should you expect?
If your interviewer decides to conduct a behavioural interview, you can expect questions that will focus clearly on how you handled situations in the past, such as:
- Give me an example of how you have…
- Tell me about a situation where you...
- How did you deal with a situation in your past role where you had conflict with…
How should you prepare for a behavioural interview?
You can best prepare by taking the following steps:
- Look closely at the position you are applying for
Get hold of a job description. What specific skills are the employers looking for?
- Analyse your past work experience and background
Match the skills that you have with those the employers are looking for. Don't forget competencies that you have developed outside of the work environment (e.g., leadership or organisational skills through not-for-profit activities, etc.)
- Now identify specific examples/situations that demonstrate those skills
You need to be able to explain an entire situation - tell a story to show how you used a competency. It pays to illustrate the level of involvement you had in resolving a situation, and to quantify the results. If there are situations where you applied a competency but things didn't work out, use them as examples and explain what went wrong. What did you do to resolve it?
- Try the PAR approach to answering questions
State the Problem you faced. Outline the Action you took to resolve the problem. And then explain the Results you achieved.
Before you take your next career step you need to be clear where you’re heading. Working with one of our professional headhunters will help you get there faster. We can work with you to map out your career and personal goals - making sure the two complement each other.
Here's what you need to do:
Determine your long-term goals
Why are you in the field in which you are currently working?
Are your talents being utilised?
What are your continued professional education and training priorities?
Think about the consequences
Don't make career decisions in isolation. Be sure that your family is supportive of your choices. You'll be able to move faster when an offer is made, and of course, consult with your recruiter.
Actively manage your own career
Between where you are now and where you want to be can be a place of uncertainty. But it doesn't have to be that way. Take the bull by the horns. You know where you want to go. Take action to get yourself there.
Build an effective personal career network
Word of mouth is not only an effective sales tool; it's also an extremely efficient networking tool. For starters, identify and ‘work’ your own career network.
Friends, teachers and classmates
Co-workers (past and present)
Suppliers and customers
Consultants and recruiters
Actively maintain a fresh, current network roster and cultivate your network
Always be willing to give at least as much as you take in the way of information, introductions and referrals. It'll pay off in the long run.
Don't wear out the welcome mat by calling too much
Remember that your professional references should be part of that same network. Consider them special and treat them accordingly
Take a fresh look at your skills
Things change quickly in today's economy. Make sure your skills are cutting-edge. Be sure to research career enhancement opportunities in your industry through associations or training organisations.
1. Be Professional
How you work with a recruiter is a strong indicator of how you will work with your boss, your colleagues and your customers/clients. It’s a window into who you really are. A good recruiter will always measure this as part of your qualifications and convey his or her impressions to the prospective hiring company.
2. Be Honest
Be upfront about the extent of your job-searching efforts and results. Your recruiter has a vested interest in placing you in a career that could potentially change your life. You will gain nothing from being dishonest with your recruiter.
3. Be Forthright
Tell your recruiter all your requirements and preferences such as salary or relocation. When an interview is completed we will seek feedback from you - good, bad or indifferent. This is the only way we can facilitate the process. We must talk with you before we get back in touch with the hiring manager. We'll want to know what was discussed, how the manager left the interview with you, whether you're still interested in the position, and whether you want to proceed to the next step. This will help us in screening other opportunities for you.
4. Be Proactive
Get to know recruiters who specialise in your industry. Place a call to them and get familiar with them. Be sure to send them your CV. You don't even have to be looking for a job when you contact them, but it is good for them to have your CV on file. You never know when they might have the ideal job opportunity for you.
5. Be Inquisitive
You will probably have questions about housing costs, relocation, etc. Ask your recruiter. We want to make sure all these questions are answered before the interview. 'Do I want to work here?' and 'Do I want to work with these people?' are the only questions left for the interview.
6. Be Prepared
Prepare for the interview by reading the materials that your recruiter has sent you and by researching the company.
7. Be Cooperative
Don’t play games. Regardless of any past experiences you have had with recruiters, take your current recruiter seriously. If you are not comfortable with your recruiter, then find another one who can help you.
8. Be Patient
A smart recruiter knows how frustrating it can be to search for a job. Be patient. We’ve got your best interests at heart.
9. Be Enthusiastic
We still get excited about a truly marketable candidate and we like to see enthusiasm in our candidate too!
When you resign your employer will be disappointed. A boss and a company who are proactive, professional and secure in themselves will simply accept your resignation; thank you for your contribution and wish you well in your future career.
Employers who are insecure and reactive tend to make some form of counter. Counter offers are typically made as some form of flattery, e.g.:
- ‘You're too valuable. We need you.’
- ‘You can't desert the team/your friends and leave them hanging.’
- ‘We were just about to give you a promotion/raise, and it was confidential until now.’
- ‘What did they offer? Why are you leaving? What do you need to stay?’
- ‘Why would you want to work for that company?’
- ‘The President/CEO wants to meet with you before you make your final decision.’
Counter offers usually take the form of: more money; a promotion/more responsibility; a modified reporting structure; promises or future considerations; disparaging remarks about the new company or job; guilt trips.
Seven reasons to hold your nerve
- Since we all prefer to think we're number one; it's natural to want to believe these manipulative appeals
Beware! Accepting a counter offer is often the wrong choice. Think carefully about it; if you were worth "X" yesterday, why are they suddenly willing to pay you "X + n” today?
- Consider how you've felt when someone resigned from your staff
The reality is that employers don't like to be ‘fired.’ Your boss is probably concerned that he'll look bad, his career may suffer. Bosses are judged in part, by their ability to retain staff. Your leaving may jeopardise an important project, increase workload for others or even upset holiday timetables. It's never a good time for someone to leave. It may prove time consuming and costly to replace you. It's much cheaper to keep you, even at a slightly higher salary. And it would be better to fire you later, in the company's timeframe.
- Accepting a counter offer can have many negative consequences
Consider: Where did the additional money or responsibility you would get come from? Was your next increase or promotion just given early? Does your increase mean that there is less money available in the next salary round for your team? Will you be limited in the future? Will you have to threaten to leave to get your next increase? Might a cheaper replacement be sought out?
- You've demonstrated your unhappiness or lack of blind loyalty, and will be perceived as having committed blackmail to gain an increase
You won't ever be considered a team player again. Many employers may hold a grudge at the next review period, and you may be placed at the top of the next reduction-in-force ‘hit list’.
- Once the word gets out, the relationship that you now enjoy with your co-workers will never be the same
You will lose the personal satisfaction of peer group acceptance.
- Apart from a short-term, band-aid treatment, nothing will change within the company
After the dust settles from this upheaval, you'll be in the same old rut. A rule of thumb among recruiters is that more than 80 per cent of those who accept counter offers leave, or are terminated, within six to 12 months and half of those who accept counter offers reinitiate their job searches within 90 days.
- When you make your decision, look at your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed
Which opportunity holds the most real potential? Probably the new one or you wouldn't have accepted it in the first place.
A final word on counter offers
The rebuttal to the above advice that ‘a search firm has a vested interest in telling a candidate not to consider a counter offer because they will lose all the time invested in the search and will have to start over.’
Most searches that JSD Consulting undertakes are on a retained basis. Our motivation for warning about the dangers of counter offers is based on candidate and client experience.
The acceptance of a counter offer produces losses all round.
- The jilted company loses time and money.
- Other good candidates who would have jumped at the opportunity have moved on.
- The headhunter has lost time and perhaps some credibility with his client.
- The candidate accepting the counter offer has lost reputation with the jilted company, headhunter and perhaps further afield in the industry, and even within his own company.
Great companies and their managers don’t make counter offers. They know these are the response of weak, insecure management and leadership.
An interviewer has one objective: to decide whether to make you a job offer. While the interviewer will examine your work history and educational background, your strengths and accomplishments will also be important criteria. He or she is also interested in evaluating your level of motivation, values, attitude and personality. In other words, to find out if you’re the right person for the job, what your potential is for promotion and whether you will fit into the company environment.
Always approach an interview focused on your objective: getting a job offer.
- Can you honestly visualise resigning from your current position?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are your short and long-term goals?
- Evaluate yourself in terms of the position you seek. Look at the role brief and identify examples of skill, experience and achievements that prove your competence.
- Formulate responses by asking the question: Why should they hire me?
- Remember that you’re there to sell yourself and secure a job offer.
Research the Company
- Review annual reports, trade magazines and newspaper articles
- The internet offers a wealth of company information and industry statistics
- Know the company’s products and services
- Be prepared to tell the interviewer why their company is attractive to you
Six tips for the first two minutes
Because nothing matters more than a first impression
- Dress appropriately
Make your first impression a professional one.
- Be on time
Recruiters say arriving early is just as bad - in fact, showing up even ten minutes ahead of time may irritate them. Why? You will interrupt whatever they're doing. Arrive no more than five minutes before the interview.
- While you're waiting for the interviewer to greet you, always remain
You don't want the very first thing the interviewer to see is you getting your things in order and adjusting your clothing.
- What we say accounts for a mere seven per cent of a person's first impression of us, while our body language constitutes 55 per cent
Hold your briefcase or bag in your left hand and keep the right one hanging loosely at your hip, ready to shake hands.
- When speaking with the hiring manager's assistant, use his/her name
A simple, respectful ‘Thanks, Denise’ could mean a kind word from Denise to her boss later.
- The interviewer may well kick things off with the dreaded ‘tell me about yourself.’
We advise a short, sharp answer (around a minute) using these four steps:
- Provide a brief introduction
Introduce attributes that are key to the position
- Provide a career summary of your most recent work history
Your career summary is the ‘meat’ of your response, so it must support your job objective and it must be compelling. Keep your response limited to your current experience. Don’t go back more than ten years
- Tie your response to the needs of the hiring organisation
Don’t assume that the interviewer will be able to connect all the dots. It is your job as the interviewee to make sure the interviewer understands how your experiences are transferable to the position they are seeking to fill
- Ask an insightful question
By asking a question you gain control of the interview. Don’t ask a question for the sake of asking. Be sure that the question will engage the interviewer in a conversation. Doing so will alleviate the stress you may feel to perform
The interview should be a two-way conversation.
Ask questions of the interviewers. This shows your interest in the company and the position, and enables you to gather the right information to make an intelligent decision afterwards. The questions you have prepared can be asked of the different people you see.
We recommend that you prepare 25 - 30 questions and we can assist with this.
Remember, the objective of the interview is to obtain an offer. During the interview, you must gather enough information concerning the position to make a decision.
During the interview, be confident and show your determination to get the job! While you have other options, you want the interviewer to think that you really want to work for their company. Don’t be coy. Sell yourself.
This is your first meeting and the position, as well as future promotions, may depend on how you present. You must present a positive attitude to the prospective employer. It sounds obvious but you must never seem disinterested or appear to be job shopping.
Interview dos and don’ts
- Clarify questions if unsure
Be sure you answer the questions asked
- Encourage the interviewer to describe the position and responsibilities early in the conversation
You can then relate your skills and background to the position throughout the interview
- Mention your qualifications
Stress your accomplishments, using examples that are most pertinent to the job
- Be professional
Be aware of what your body language is saying. Smile, make eye contact, don't slouch, and maintain composure. If you’re nervous, take deep breaths
- Anticipate tough questions
Prepare in advance so you can turn apparent weaknesses into strengths
This is probably the most important of all. By concentrating not only on the employer's words, but also on the tone of voice and body language, you will be able to pick up on the employer's style. Once you understand how an interviewer thinks, pattern your answers accordingly and you will be able to relate better to him or her
- Don't answer vague questions
Rather than answering questions you think you hear, get the employer to be more specific and then respond
- Never interrupt the employer
You’ll look impatient, like you don’t have time to listen
- Don't smoke, chew gum or place anything on the employer's desk
- Don't be overly familiar, even if the employer is!
- Don't wear heavy perfume or cologne
- Don't ramble
Long answers can make you sound indecisive and unfocused
- Do not make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers
You've gone through the interviewing process and received a great offer and the prospect of a better opportunity with a better company.
Career changes are tough and anxieties about leaving a comfortable job, friends and location and having to prove yourself again in an unknown environment can cloud the best logic.
You analyse and agonise, and accept the offer. Your new team is anxiously waiting for you to arrive. It’s time to begin the transition from your old job to your new opportunity.
The resignation process can be stressful and filled with emotion. Especially if your company culture is very team oriented, there is a good chance that you have developed strong relationships with many people in many different parts of the company.
Follow this process and resign with grace
- Don't resign until you have a formal offer and start date from your new employer
- Don't second-guess your decision to resign
Remember that you went through the interview process, the hassle of taking personal time from work, invested time to educate yourself on the company, and perhaps even had many emotional conversations with your family members for a reason. You need to recognise that you would not have let the process come to this point if, at any time, you thought that it was not the right thing to do.
- Be prepared to resign both verbally and by letter
- Resign verbally to your direct report
Try not to get emotional. At times this may be difficult, especially if you have a very special relationship with this person. Thank them for the opportunities they have given for you to grow personally and professionally, and give them a well-constructed reason for your resignation. Don't focus on the possible negative reasons for your leaving. Rather be sure to explain the highlights of your new opportunity.
- If you are a key player on the team, anticipate that your boss may show some degree of frustration
Remain calm. Recognise that they are acting on the emotion of one of their best people leaving them. You will find that if this is an initial reaction from your employer, they will quickly recognise their attitude and become more relaxed.
- Prepare your resignation letter
Keep this letter brief and very formal. See example below. Remove all emotion from the content. Including comments that are based upon emotion may give your employer the ammunition they need to develop a counter-offer. (Click here to see more information on the counter-offer). Your letter should be addressed to your immediate supervisor and a copy should be sent to the Human Resource department.
- Continue working to the best of your ability while you work through your notice period
It will be a difficult time. After all, you are excited about your new position, and probably want to start impacting on your new company. Think about how your enthusiasm for your new position could affect your peers.
- Try to negotiate a quicker release date, basing your argument on finishing off your current projects to an agreed timescale
If your employer asks you to leave immediately, do not let this be a concern
Your employer probably recognises some of the possible negative ramifications your resignation may have on the rest of the company.
- If your company does not have formal exit interviews, ask for one
An exit interview is a great way for you to exchange valuable information that may help a department or company grow. During the exit interview, don’t be negative. Rather, point out the opportunities for growth or improvements. If you are going to bring up a problem, be sure to offer potential solutions.
- If you are working with one of our professional executive search team in our office be sure to open up and discuss your personal situation
Let them know your fears, discomfort, etc. You will find that they probably have dealt with candidates with similar concerns and therefore will be able to help you through the process.
No matter what the circumstances are surrounding your resignation, a professional approach is always recommended. Your professional reputation and references depend greatly on the way you depart.
The wording is not ideal for every situation; however, as a general guideline, we suggest following this example while preparing your official letter.
Please accept this letter as my formal resignation as (TITLE) for (COMPANY) to become effective as of (DATE). This resignation is final and irrevocable. I have accepted a new position.
I believe this position will offer me more challenges and opportunities for advancement as well as allow me to broaden my own experience and knowledge.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your time and efforts in my training and advancement during the past (TIME). The support and concern shown me by you and the rest of the management team has been deeply appreciated.
I leave (COMPANY) with good memories and no animosity or ill will, and wish you and your company continued success. To save potential embarrassment for everyone, no counteroffers will either be entertained or accepted.
Your interviews should be a two-way conversation, a business discussion between equals. You should ask questions and take an active role in the interview. This demonstrates the importance you place on your work and career. Asking questions gives you a chance to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in the field as well as to establish an easy flow of conversation and relaxed atmosphere between you and the interviewer. Building this kind of rapport during an interview is always a plus.
Remember, you are not just there for the interviewer to determine if you are a right for the position, but your questions can help you determine if this job is right for you. Some of your questions should evolve from research you’ve done on the company in preparing for the interview.
Guidelines for your questions and some examples
- Don’t cross-examine the employer
- Ask questions requiring an explanation
Avoid questions, which can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – they are conversation stoppers!
- Don’t interrupt when the employer is answering YOUR question
- Ask job-relevant questions
Focus on the role, the company, products, services, and people
- Prior to the interview, write your list of questions and take them with you
- Ask about your potential peers, subordinates and superiors
Why do you want someone for this job?
Encourage the interviewer to explain why this job can’t be done by one of his current employees. The answer may give you a valuable job description.
Job satisfaction questions
Ask questions that relate to the responsibilities, importance and authority of the position, as well as those investigating the rewards for a job well done and the career opportunities.
Past performance questions
Why isn’t this position being filled from within the company?
You may rapidly discover that nobody in this organisation would accept it or that your future fellow employees are a weak lot.
How many people have held this job in the last five years?
Were they promoted or did they leave the company?
If the turnover has been high, you have a right to suspect that the job may leave something to be desired. Or, it could mean that you can expect to be promoted quickly.
How did you get started in the company?
A good way to get to know the interviewer better and gain insight into the promotional path the company follows.
What are examples of the best results produced by people in this job?
Here you may discover you are over qualified or able to ask for considerably more money.
- Tell me about yourself
Provide a brief introduction
Introduce attributes that are key to the position
- Provide a career summary of your most recent work history
Your career summary is the ‘meat’ of your response, so it must support your job objectives and it must be compelling. Keep your response limited to your current experience. Don’t go back more than ten years
- Tie your response to the needs of the hiring organization
Don’t assume that the interviewer will be able to connect all the dots. It is your job as the interviewee to make sure the interviewer understands how your experiences are transferable to the position they are seeking to fill
- Ask an insightful question
By asking a question you gain control of the interview. Don’t ask a question for the sake of asking. Be sure that the question will engage the interviewer in a conversation.
- Why are you leaving your current position?
This is a very critical question. Don't ‘bad mouth’ your previous employer. Also, try not to sound too opportunistic. Best to relate major industry problems, a buy-out, or shutdown rather than any personal issues. It’s also good to say that after careful consideration, you felt it would be difficult to make a real difference due to company changes.
- What do you consider your most significant accomplishment?
This can get you the job. Prepare extensively. Score points. Tell a two-minute story, with details and discuss personal involvement. Make the accomplishment worth achieving.
- Why do you believe you are qualified for this position?
Pick two or three main factors about you and your job that are most relevant. Discuss for two minutes with specific details. Select a technical skill, a specific management skill (organising, staffing, planning), and a personal success attribute to mention.
- Have you ever accomplished something you didn't think you could?
The interviewer is trying to determine your goal orientation, work ethic, personal commitment, and integrity. Provide a good example where you overcame numerous difficulties to succeed. Prove you're not a quitter, and ‘that you'll get going when the going gets tough.
- What do you like/dislike most about your current position?
Interviewer is trying to determine how compatible you are with the available position. Stating that you dislike overtime or getting into detail about petty dislikes of your current role can make you sound negative. However, there’s nothing wrong with liking challenges, pressure situations and opportunities to grow, or disliking bureaucracy and frustrating situations.
- How do you handle pressure? Do you like or dislike these situations?
High achievers tend to perform well in high-pressure situations. Conversely, the question also could imply the position is pressure packed and out of control. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you know what you're getting into. If you do perform well under stress, provide a good example with details giving an overview of the stress situation.
- The sign of a good employee is the ability to take the initiative. Can you describe situations like this about yourself?
A proactive, results-oriented person doesn't have to be told what to do. This is one of the major success attributes. To convince the interviewer you possess this trait you must give a series of short examples describing your self-motivation. Try to discuss at least one example in-depth. The extra effort, strong work ethic and creative side of you must be demonstrated.
- What's the worst or most embarrassing aspect of your business career? How would you have done things differently now with 20/20 hindsight?
This is a general question to learn how introspective you are and to see if you can learn from your mistakes. If you can, it indicates an open, more flexible personality. Don't be afraid to talk about your failures, particularly how you learned from them.
- How have you grown or changed over the past few years?
This requires thought. Maturation, increased technical skills, or increased self-confidence are important aspects of human development. To discuss this effectively shows a well-balanced, intelligent individual. Overcoming personal obstacles or recognising manageable weaknesses can brand you as an approachable and desirable employee.
- What do you consider your most significant strengths?
Be prepared. Know your four or five key strengths. Be able to discuss each with a specific example. Select those attributes that are most compatible with the job. Most people say ‘management’ or ‘good interpersonal skills’ in answer to this. Don't, unless you can describe the specific characteristics of management (planning, organising, results, staffing, etc.) or how your relationship skills have proven critical to your success.
- What do you consider your most significant weaknesses?
Discuss tolerable faults that you are working towards improving. Show by specific example how this has changed over time. Show how a weakness can be turned into strength; for example, how close attention to detail results in higher quality work, even though it’s more time-consuming.
- Deadlines, frustrations, difficult people, and silly rules can make a job difficult. How do you handle these types of situations?
Most companies face these types of problems daily. If you can't deal with petty frustrations you'll be seen as a problem. You can mention your frustration at the petty issues, but it’s how you overcome them is more important. Diplomacy, perseverance, and common sense can often prevail even in difficult circumstances.
- One of the biggest problems is - What has been your experience with this? How would you deal with it?
Think on your feet. Ask questions to get details. Break it into sub-parts; it is highly likely you have some experience with the sub-sections. Answer these, and summarise the total. State how you would go about solving the problem, if you feel you can’t come up with an example. Be specific. Show your organisational and analytical skills.
- How do you compare your technical skills to your management skills?
Many people tend to minimise their technical skills, either because they don't have any, or they don't like getting into the detail. Most successful managers possess good technical skills and get into enough detail to make sure they understand the information being presented by their group. Try for a good balance here if you want to be seriously considered for the position.
- How has your technical ability been important in accomplishing results?
Clearly the interviewer believes he needs a strong level of technical competence. Most strong managers have good technical backgrounds, even if they have moved away from the detail. Describe specific examples of your technical skills, but don't be afraid to say you are not current. Also, you could give an example of how you resolved a technical issue by ‘accelerated research’
- How would you handle a situation with tight deadlines, low employee morale and inadequate resources?
If you pull this off effectively it indicates you have strong management skills. Be creative. An example would be great. Relate your toughest management task, even if it doesn't meet all the criteria. Most situations don't...
- Are you satisfied with your career to date? What would you change if you could?
Be honest. The interviewer wants to know if he can keep you happy. It's important to know if you're willing to make some sacrifices to get your career on the right track. A degree of motivation is an important selection criteria.
- What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself five years from now? Ten years?
Most crucially, be realistic! One or two management jumps in three-five years is a reasonable goal. If your track record indicates you're on line for a senior management in ten years, it's okay to mention. However, if you've had a rocky road, better to be introspective.
- Why should we hire you for this position? What kind of contribution would you make?
Good chance to summarise. By now you know the key problems. Re-state and show how you would address. Relate to specific attributes and to specific accomplishments. Demonstrate a thoughtful, organised, strong effort kind of attitude.
- Tell me about yourself
Several factors should be considered when you're deciding about a job offer. Obviously, there's ‘the package’—but putting the monetary value of the position aside for one moment, there are other aspects of the job to evaluate.
- Why it is available and how long has the position been open for?
- What happened to the previous employee?
- Have you seen a detailed job description? What are the specific responsibilities?
- Can you perform the responsibilities set out for the role?
- Do the daily activities appeal to you?
- Is there an opportunity for you to develop new skills?
- Are the goals set for the position fair, realistic and achievable?
- What is the growth potential in this role? Will it be a stepping-stone to your next desired role? How does this position fit with your long-term career goals?
- Where does the company sit in its own market? Who are its competitors? What is its market share?
- How is business? Is the company growing, maintaining its size or shrinking? What is the potential of the company, and how will that affect your role?
- How experienced/respected are its management, and how long have they been there?
- Does the company have a high retention of people, or is there a problem?
- Is the company culture (and its values) compatible with your own?
- How long has this person been in this position, and what are his/her reporting lines (upwards)?
- What is his/her background, including previous work experience?
- What is his/her next likely career step?
- Do you get along with this person, and do you think you could work effectively with him/her?
Other factors to consider
- How will this new role fit with your existing (or desired) lifestyle?
A CV is your personal introductory brochure, so it needs to resonate with the reader and encourage them to keep reading. The layout should be professional and the content informative and to the point.
Recruiters tend to scan, rather than read CVs initially so it is really important to make an initial impact and engage the recruiter so that they stop and read about you. An effective CV takes much thought and time to develop. Content and professional presentation are both vitally important. Take a look at our top tips:
Your CV is your most important tool in your job search. It should include the following information:
1. Contact information
Include phone, mail and e-mail contact information
2. Career objective(if suitable)
If your objective doesn't match the recruiter's needs, you may miss out on a golden opportunity. However, a clearly stated career objective can help your recruiter find your ideal career match
3. Summary statement
Your summary should be brief and include:
- Your title
- List of pertinent skills
- Character traits or work style
Example: "Financial Accountant with experience with in two FTSE 100 companies. Technical skills include P&L, budgeting, forecasting and variance reporting. Bilingual in French and English. Self-starter who approaches every project in a detailed, analytical manner."
4. Professional experience
List each position held in reverse chronological order, dating back at least ten years. If you choose to detail the most recent 10 years of your career, ensure you list your earlier positions to provide an overview of your career development. If you held multiple positions in the same company, list them all to show advancement and growth. The body of each position description should describe your responsibilities and achievements. Performance reviews can help you to highlight the most relevant and personal achievements, showcasing both hard and soft skills. The list below helps you identify accomplishments that can be very powerful because they can be quantified.
12 Accomplishments employers want to see:
- Increased revenues
- Saved money
- Increased efficiencies
- Cut overhead
- Increased sales
- Purchasing accomplishments
- New products/new lines
- Improved record keeping process
- Increased productivity
- Successful advertising campaign
- Effective budgeting
- Improved workplace safety
- Personal information
Marital status, family, driver’s license
- Other components
Include education, professional training, affiliations/appointments, licenses, technical skills and languages, personal information
Creating a Searchable CV
In today's competitive job market, Talent Managers and search recruiters are spending more money and more time developing and refining recruiting strategies, with online tools for CV submission directly into their own web-based CV databases. To align with this trend, informed job seekers are using standard fonts, crisp black type, clear objectives, and strong key words to prepare a career profile, ensuring that CVs can be read by a computer and "scanned" by the artificial intelligence that is used to extract qualification information. As a job seeker, the more skills, education, experience and professional affiliations you provide in your CV, the better the chances your qualifications will match with those of posted positions or those not yet published.
To help maximise the efectiveness of your CV:
1. Use one of our favourite fonts Calibri, Cambria, Corbel, Gill Sans in font size 11 or 10.
2. Try and keep the formatting simple – tables, lines, boxes and graphics can cause headaches for recruiters.
3. Use a standard chronological CV format. (most recent job first)
4. State your objective or summary clearly and specifically
5. Strive for two pages, but not to the detriment of your message. Keep your writing focused and sharp and list early experience very briefly.
6. Use your spell check and then proofread for meaning, typos and formatting errors.
7. Include a short cover letter, which states the specific position of interest to you and why you are qualified. Put the covering note at the end of your CV. If a machine is reading it will "want" to read your CV first; maybe there's more than one job available for someone with your background.
Things to check
We see a LOT of CVs so here is our guide to producing the best possible document.
1. Presentation, clear formatting and great editing make a very positive first impression. Ask someone to check your cv to avoid missing careless mistakes.
2. Tell a positive story: avoid exaggeration and vagueness and keep the message simple and to the point.
3. Quantify your results: List what you have accomplished, for example: "Managed the marketing department, which increased revenues 82 percent in a four-year period." would be a strong statement.
4. Be creative and different in the way you present your accomplishments. This will help you to stay fresh and differentiate yourself from others. Hiring authorities get bored with look-alike CVs.
A white background is a widely acceptable standard. In certain industries, you will need to design your cv as part of the application process. In most cases, we would advise that you take a conservative approach.
5. Keep the language you use simple and avoid acronyms. Recruiters are good at recruiting – they may not always know every buzz word associated with your industry. Your cv should be as transparent as possible.
6. Your cv is a snapshot in time. If you're well into your career, your summer jobs are less relevant.
7. As you move through your career, keep editing and refining your cv. Try and keep it current by reviewing it annually perhaps after your annual review. Adding to your cv incrementally can make it long and repetitive.
8. Keep your cv as accurate as possible. Most employers use some form of verification or validation to make sure that you are who you say you are. At best exaggeration can be embarrassing, but it can also be damaging to your long-term career prospects.
9. Job objectives are tricky. So much is dependent on your career stage and the level of flexibility you have. A clear objective demonstrates direction and focus, while if you are not certain of your next step and would prefer to explore a breadth of options, you may wish to tailor your objective according to the role you are interested in. Alternatively, you could write a profile statement without an objective to avoid eliminating yourself from potential opportunities.