Job Seeker Hints

Your CV

Remember that your CV is the first opportunity to represent yourself to a prospective employer – invest the time to make yourself stand out in a competitive market – it is your sales pitch. Aim to make a clear statement that paints a picture of you and your strengths.

Imagine you are a prospective employer reading the document and think about what you would like to know about a potential employee – the reader needs to grasp quickly whether you have the attributes for them to take the next step and arrange to meet you.

Never send a CV without a personalised cover letter summarizing your skills and employment objectives – tailor it to the role you are applying for and keep it focused, concise and positive.

CV Hints and Tips:

  • Fonts – choose 12pt in Verdana, Arial or Calibri, they are clear and easy to read.
  • Avoid underlining or italics and don’t include fancy borders, backgrounds or a photograph.
  • Under employment history, list the position, title, company and dates worked.
  • Bullet point your responsibilities, achievements and company description for each position.
  • If you have worked for a variety of companies, only use your last five roles.
  • If possible, include only the last ten years of your working history.

To view a sample CV, click here.

Your resume is your opportunity to sell yourself to a prospective employer, and it’s often the first thing they see before they even meet you. Employers receive many resumes, and a lot of their valuable time is consumed reading them and selecting potential candidates to invite for interviews. Therefore, if a resume is too lengthy or lacks focus, interest will be lost. We’ve put together some handy resume writing tips which you can use to give yourself the best chance of being invited for a job interview.

Aim to give a clear and concise overview of yourself and your abilities. Imagine you are a prospective employer reading the document and think about what you would want to know about an applicant. Be sure to include all previous relevant work experience, education, training and qualifications, as well as any voluntary work you may have completed. You should also provide a brief summary of your positive personal qualities, as they relate to the workplace, and a summary of your career goals and objectives.

Unless you’re going for a graphic designer job, your resume is not a chance to show off your fancy design skills. Steer away from bright colours or graphics, and stick to plain, black and white with some smart formatting.

Do: Use a clear font such as Arial 12 pt.

Don’t: Use underlining and/or italics.

Do: Use simple black and white

Don’t: Use colours or images (other than a small photograph of yourself, if you wish)

If you’re still unsure, consider looking at an example resume online, or downloading a resume template.

A brief letter outlining your employment objectives and summarising your skills relevant to the position and why you are ideal for the job is always extremely helpful. It’s often best if this letter is focused and positive, customised to include some facts about the company to which you are applying. Address it to the person to who is in charge of hiring.

For more information and interview advice to help you along in your job search, see our helpful interview tips.

Interview Hints

First Impressions Count

Professional styles of dress vary depending on the level of role you are interviewing for but try to follow the common sense tips below when presenting for an interview.

  • Dress in conservative business attire, ensure shoes are polished and hair is neatly groomed.
  • At interview, we recommend that body piercings and tattoos are not visible.
  • Avoid wearing too much cologne or perfume and avoid chewing gum during the interview.

Interview Do’s

  • Confirm with your consultant the date, time and place of your interview and the name and title of the person who will be interviewing you.
  • Try to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early – if something holds you up, ensure you notify your contacts.
  • Be prepared – thoroughly research the company and the role you are being interviewed for. If you have been given a job description, make sure you are familiar with it.
  • Know yourself – be ready to discuss your strengths and limitations and make sure you can provide current examples from your workplace experience to relate questions to. If you don’t have relevant work experience, demonstrate how your life skills may help you meet the job specification.
  • Try to maintain good eye contact as avoiding it can be perceived as nerves, lack of self confidence or boredom.
  • Try to appear relaxed but confident – project self-confidence, not over confidence.

Questions To Ask

Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions.

Here are a few examples of intelligent business question you could ask your interviewer. Try to be familiar with a few of them. Only ask questions that you are comfortable with and try to ask them in a natural way, in your own words. Obviously, the depth of the questions will depend on the level a person is at in their career.

  • Why has the role become available?
  • When would you be looking for the successful candidate to start?
  • What are the companies medium term goals, say over the next five years?
  • When you think of someone who has been successful in this role, what made them so effective?
  • Do you offer ongoing training to your employees and what does it consist of?”
  • What is the culture of the working and social environment?
  • Are there good opportunities for career progression for top employees?
  • What do you think the company’s biggest challenge is going to be in the future?
  • What level of staff retention do you have?

Avoid any of the following questions:

  • How much is the position paying?
  • What are the hours I would have to work?
  • Never make negative comments about previous or current employers, competitors or colleagues.

Closing the Interview

Once it appears obvious the interview is coming to a close, the following questions could be asked:

  • Do you have any concerns about my ability to perform in this role?
  • Ask what the next stage in the interview process is. If you are enthusiastic about the role, make it clear if you were offered the job, you would take it.
  • If the interviewer mentions a further interview, ask if it is convenient to make that time now?
  • On leaving, shake hands and thank them for their time.

If You Don’t Get The Role

  • If you are not successful this time, try not to take it personally – there may just have been applicants with experience and qualifications that more closely suited the role.
  • Think of the interview as an opportunity to practice your interview techniques.
  • Remember to follow up with your consultant and ask for honest feedback on how you might improve your chances next time.
  • Remain positive – your next interview could be the one that secures your ideal role.

Without a doubt, this is the most important part of the entire interview process.  Although the following questions must be asked, they must be done so in a manner that sounds genuine, unrehearsed and consistent with your personality. In addition, these questions should not appear on your written question list.

  1. Do you have any concerns about my ability to perform will in this position?
    If there are any concerns try to overcome them.
  2. I’d like you to know that I’m very interested in this position, and if I were offered the job I would take it.  I think this is a great company and I’d love to work here.  Given you have no concerns about my ability to perform the role well, what is the next stage from here?
    If the interviewer mentions another interview follow with:
  3. Is it convenient for us to make that time now? (with diary in front of you)
    Upon standing up and shaking hands to thank them for their time you should ask:
  4. Do you have any company brochures or material that I could take with me to read over?

I have never known anyone who has answered “No.” to the question “Do you have any questions for us?” and have still been offered the job. Here are just a few intelligent business questions that can be asked.  You should determine ahead of time what questions you will be asking so you can type them up and print them off to take with you.  Always remember that when asking questions to the interviewer (s) it’s a good idea to take notes on the answers you receive.  This gives the impression that you are perhaps comparing the role with other opportunities that are available to you.

Tip: Only ask questions that you are comfortable with and ask in your own words. People at various levels in their career will ask different questions.

  1. Why has the role become available?
  2. When would you be looking for the successful candidate to start?
  3. What are the company’s medium term goals, say over the next 5 years?
  4. When you think of someone who has been successful in this role in the past, what was it that made them so successful?
  5. What sets you apart from your competition?
  6. What is the culture of the working and social environment?
  7. What kind of ongoing training do you offer to your employees?
  8. Are there good opportunities for career progression for top employees?
  9. What would you say will be the company’s biggest challenge in the future?
  10. What is your level of staff retention?
  11. Why do you think that (good or bad)?

Questions or comments you should never ask or make:

  1. How much is the position paying?
  2. Make negative comments about previous or current employers, competitors or colleagues.
  3. What are the hours I would have to work?

Interview Preparation

Interviews can be stressful for some people. Fortunately, there are many ways to make the process easier. By doing some thorough interview preparation well in advance, and keeping some important pieces of interview etiquette in mind, you will find interviewing to be a more a pleasurable and engaging experience. Here are a few key interview tips to remember:

DO

  • Arrive 5 – 10 minutes early. If something unavoidable has come up, ensure you call before your scheduled interview time.
  • Be prepared – allow yourself plenty of time before and after your interview.
  • Re-confirm with your consultant the date, time and place of your interview, as well as the name and title of the person who will be interviewing you.
  • Be prepared – thoroughly research the role and company you are being interviewed for.
  • Know yourself – be ready to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, skills and abilities. Ensure you can provide current examples from the workplace.
  • Maintain eye contact – look at your interviewer/s whilst they are asking you a question and when you respond.
  • Be relaxed, but confident. Project ‘self-confidence’ not ‘over confidence.’
  • Be concise – give enough information to answer the question, but do so in a clear and concise manner.
  • Above all – Be YOURSELF. There is no particular candidate an interviewer is looking for. This is your chance to impress! USE IT.

DON’T

  • Be late – keeping your interviewer waiting for you, the interview could be over before it has even started. First impressions last!
  • Overbook – scheduling interviews directly before or after another interview or appointment is not just a bad idea if one interview runs over time.
  • You might find it difficult to concentrate, and may even get different companies mixed up!
  • Be unprepared – ensure you have read the job description if available and/or have thoroughly researched the company and job.
  • Be uninformed – make sure you know the person interviewing you, the location and date/time well in advance of the interview.
  • Lose focus – gazing around the room, or out of the window, and poor eye contact could be perceived as nerves, lack of self-confidence, boredom or even rudeness!
  • Fidget or slouch – you’ll either come across as ‘over confident’ or ‘not confident enough.’
  • Babble or talk for the sake of talking or filling in a silence.
  • Lie – about your experiences, or ability to do the job. If you don’t have relevant experience, demonstrate how the experience you do have could be implemented and utilised to meet the challenges offered in the position.
  • Look bored – by the questions being asked. Treat each interview as a new opportunity to refine and enhance your interview skills.
  • Don’t act like someone you’re not  – Be yourself.

For more helpful advice on interview preparation and acing your interviews, see our section on interview survival. Or, if you have any specific questions related to interviews, contact us today.

Dress for Success

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Studies show that being well “groomed” ensures that you’ll leave a better first impression with your interviewers.

One of the main purposes of an interview is to present yourself to a potential employer in a manner that reflects a highly polished and professional image. It is important to keep in mind that the interview is not the time to be making a personal statement with the way you dress.

Think that you can dress down in your interviews for warehousing, shipping or courier jobs? Think again. Even if you’re not interviewing for a particularly “corporate” job, or a job in which you’ll be in an office every day, it’s still important dress in professional attire throughout the interview process. This means suits for men, and a tailored jacket, blouse, and skirt or pants for women.

Although professional dress and appropriate styles may vary slightly, there are several key points to keep in mind:

  • Conservative business suit
  • Clean, pressed long sleeved business shirt
  • A tie that complements your business shirt
  • Polished business shoes
  • Business socks in a dark colour
  • Neatly groomed facial hair

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a suit to look good for your job interview. Ensure your suit is well-fitted (get it tailored if needed) and choose conventional, neutral colours like black, dark blue, or grey.

  • Avoid skirt lengths higher than just above your knee
  • When wearing a skirt, always wear stockings
  • Professional business blouse/shirt
  • Conservative hairstyle
  • Corporate business suit
  • Shoes – flat or with a slight heel (avoid open toe)

For women, dressing well for a job interview is about wearing neat-looking clothing which fits well and doesn’t expose too much skin. Keep heel height moderate, and ensure jewelry is kept simple and to a minimum of just a few pieces.

Both men and women should display impeccable personal grooming and hygiene at job interviews. Keep the following in mind to look fresh and presentable at your interview:

  • Avoid wearing too much cologne or perfume
  • Ensure hair is clean and neatly styled
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Ensure fingernails are clean
  • Visible body piercings are not recommended (e.g. nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.)

For more information and interview advice to help you along in your job search, see our section on interview dos and don’ts.

Interview Skills

There are many common reasons why an applicant may not be offered the role after an interview. Interviewers cite the following as some of the biggest reasons they choose not to hire a candidate:

  • Inability to clearly express him or herself
  • Poor personal appearance
  • Lack of confidence
  • Evasiveness of interview questions
  • More interest in salary and benefits than in the position itself

In other instances, even if you’ve performed perfectly well in an interview, taken time to prepare, yet are still not offered the job, it could simply be that somebody else was interviewed who had more relevant experience and skills for that particular job.

To give you the best possible chance of acing the interview next time around, read our tips on interview skills, dressing for success, and interview do’s & don’ts.

Interviewing for jobs can be a time consuming process. If you aren’t offered the position you were going for, don’t be discouraged. Keep the following in mind, and you’ll be on your way to your perfect job in no time:

  • Try not to take it too personally – there may have been other candidates with more experience and qualifications that were better suited the role.
  • Think of the interview as a great opportunity to have practiced your interview skills and talk about yourself. Remember that only practice makes perfect!
  • Talk to your recruitment consultant about how you might improve your chances of landing the job the next time around. They may have feedback from your interviewers which could help you in future interviews.
  • Consider practicing asking and answering questions in role-play situations with friends and family to improve your interview (and conversational) skills.
  • Be positive – your next interview could be the one that lands you the perfect job that you have been dreaming about, so don’t give up or be disheartened.

For more advice and interview tips, contact Impex Personnel today.