Your Cover Letter is the first document that your prospective employer will read. It sets the tone for the employer to learn about your personality, style, credentials and professionalism, and sets the expectation for the CV that they will read afterwards. The key to any good cover letter is to bring out the “why” to explain why you are the most suitable candidate for the role that you are applying for
Your CV is your personal marketing document that will take you to the next level of your career. It is essentially the key that will get you the interview for your dream job. However, with so much competition in the workplace, how do you stand out to attract potential employers to meet with you? How do you differentiate? Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts for CV writing:
- Always prepare a CV that is personalized to the employer that you are applying to. A CV is not a “one-size-fits-all” document. Therefore, you need to customize the content to suit your employer’s needs
- Make sure your CV is clear and concise. Recruiters usually spend 20-30 seconds to review a CV. As such, you need to make sure that your CV and contact details are easy to read and that it is easy to extract critical information about you
- Keep the formatting of your CV simple with consistent use of fonts, font sizes, spacing, headings, short sentences, and allow a good balance of white space
- Use key words that raise your profile and visibility under an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
- Use bullet points to list information
- Use professional tone and active verbs
- Try to keep your CV within 2-3 pages
- Spellcheck and check the grammar on your CV
- Don’t use abbreviations or slang in your CV
- Don’t be too wordy on your CV (less is more)
- Avoid using graphics, photos, or images
- Don’t include information that is not relevant for the job you are applying for
- Don’t make up any experiences or skills that do not fully represent your credentials
There are generally two types of CV’s that are commonly used to send to employers. One is more work-focused, whereas the other is more skills-focused.
A work-focused CV format, as the name suggests, places more emphasis on your career history. It is normally used if you want to highlight your work experience and career progression, or if you aspire to progress to a similar or higher level role.
A skills-focused CV format places more on transferable hard or soft skills and less focus on your career history. This is to highlight your new & key skills, or desire to transfer to a new field. As such, it is normally used if you have gaps between jobs, or if you plan to return to return to the workforce after a break, or want to move to a new geographical location. This format is also used if you do not have much work history or if you want to change to a new career.
Congratulations! Your hard work in preparing a winning cover letter and CV has landed you an interview. Now it’s time to shine so that you can get the offer for your dream job. Here are some interview tips to improve your performance:
- Make sure you do your research about the company to learn about the company’s product and services, culture, people, and recent events. If possible, do your research about the interviewer so that you can find commonalities to build rapport. This action shows initiative and your keen interest in the role.
- If possible, research the role that you will be interviewing such that you can give more practical examples to align your skillset and experience with.
- Prepare questions to ask and to answer. This is perhaps the most important part of the interview where you can really showcase your interest and talents.
- For questions to answer, think from the shoes of the interviewer in the capacity of Human Resources, Line Manager, or Owner/MD/C-Suite, and visualize what questions they may ask as different stakeholders will ask different questions. You can review and prepare to provide more about key projects / milestones you reach at different stage of your career.
- For questions to ask, try to come up with questions that show depth and complexity. Start asking questions at macro level (bigger picture questions relating to the company, vision, culture), then move to micro level (more detailed questions about the role, direction, prospects).
- First impressions set the tone of the interview, therefore, your appearance and attire is vital to the success of your interview. Make sure you dress in a professional, clean, and corporate manner. Remember, the way you dress not only reflects your personal image, but you will also be judged on how you will represent your future employer.
- Punctuality is key to succeeding in interviews. As a rule, aim to arrive 10-15 mins early to your interview to give yourself some buffer in case of unforeseeable circumstances.
COURTESY, GESTURE, MANNERISM, PACE
- Make sure you demonstrate professionalism and mannerism that allows a fluid two-way communication filled with active listening and use of appropriate language. Focus on your verbal and non-verbal gestures (posture and eye-contact) which helps to demonstrate confidence.
- Ensure the engagement with all interviewers and maintain good eye contact and good balance of communication with all parties
- Video interviews are becoming a norm in lite of the current pandemic situation. As such, it is important to have the appropriate technology, connectivity, and device to ensure that video meetings are carried in a smooth manner. To mitigate any potential risk, make sure you have tested using the software platform before the interview and that you are familiar with their functions.
- Make sure you source a quiet place, preferably indoors, to conduct your video interview with minimal distraction.
- Watch your posture. Make sure you are seated comfortably but also upright. It helps to check how you appear beforehand in the ‘video preview’ settings.
- Try to keep a reasonable distance with the screen which gives you a headshot or having your shoulders in the shot.
- Please make sure you are in interview mode until you have officially “signed off”. Otherwise, any action whilst you are online will be assessed by the interviewer.
THANK YOU NOTE
- A small gesture goes a long way. Make sure you send a Thank you note to your interviewer after your interviewer. This shows your interest toward the role, and also gives you a reason to follow up. As a guide, the note should be sent within 48 hrs after the interview.