Optimising Your Interview Chances
Once you have the look and content of your CV in place, there is one final area of your CV to improve before applying for your dream job. Unfortunately this needs doing every time you apply to a new job!
Maximising the relevance of your CV (or tailoring your CV) is sadly one of the most under-utilised weapons used by job seekers. Ironically, it is one of the easiest as most of the hard work has been done by writing the content already. This process is about highlighting the most relevant areas of a CV to the most important requirements of a job vacancy.
The first and most important element of tailoring a CV is to understand the job and the company thoroughly. Spend time reading the job description/ advert whilst undertaking research and using your own networks to find out as much information about the company as possible. Understanding the situation of a business will help clarify the emphasis that will be placed on a particular job whilst analysing a job description fully will help assess how the job will fit into that company’s situation. This all helps to highlight what skills/ experiences will most be needed and most probably looked for on a CV – hence needed to be emphasised by you.
At this point you can tweak your CV in order to show your relevance in the best light. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are there any skills/ achievements not on my CV that are important to this job?
2. Are my most relevant skills/ achievements at the top of the list in my employment history section?
3. Does my personal statement emphasise my relevance to this job/ company?
4. Are there keywords in the job description? If so, are these keywords in my CV clearly and relevantly?
Many people write covering letters to complement their CV, although with the development of online and social networking the need for these is reducing. However, if you are applying to a job advert through print media, a covering letter is to be expected.
If you apply directly to a company through a job advert online, the initial prose on the email should be treated as a covering letter but the same amount of detail is not needed.
If applying to a recruitment agency, a covering letter is not needed but a phone call to follow up the CV is a recommended course of action.
If you are writing a covering letter, one A4 page is the maximum length, consisting of 4 sections:
1. Introduction – describing who you are, what is the reason for sending your CV, where you have seen the job advert, and an accurate summary of which job you have seen (job reference number is ideal).
2. Brief Synopsis – outlining your skills and experiences to date (remembering to tailor them to the job).
3. Added Value – illustrating how these skills and experiences will benefit the employer if they recruit you and how you will add value to their business.
4. Closure – detailing your availability for interview
Remember with a covering letter, keep to the rules of formal letter writing and try to address the letter to the name of an individual rather than a job title.
Similar to a CV, the basics are essential to get correct – a good covering letter can’t get you a job offer, but a bad one can certainly prevent you from ever getting close!