January has a reputation for being the most popular time of year for people to job-hunt. After using the Christmas break to reflect on life, then being hit by the January blues, it’s not exactly surprising that job searches are at a real high during month one.
The problem is: everyone’s at it. So how do you make yourself stand out without, you know, dreaming up another masters degree, or becoming best friends with Mark Zuckerberg or something? We hunted around for the smallest tweaks you can make to ensure you become all the more employable and bag that new job of dreams:
1 Use bullet points on your CV
‘Remember these three words – clear, concise, simple’ Gordon Kaye, Co-Founder and Director at Cathcart Associates says, describing the ideal CV. And Steve Thompson, Managing Director at recruitment specialist Forward Role agrees. ‘Your CV should be an “at a glance” summary. It should use formatting, bullet points and white space for readability and to direct the scanning eye. He adds: ‘If you’re creating thin margins or using a tiny font size to fit everything on one page, make yourself familiar with the backspace button and start using it.’
2 Start playing a sport
This might not sound like a sure-fire way to get yourself a job, but according to new research from Golfsupport.com, adding a sport to your CV can improve your prospects of getting an interview and landing yourself a job – no matter what industry you’re in. Carly Lake, Head of Marketing Recruitment at Ernest Hunter Green suggests it’s always a good thing to list under your interests. ‘The benefit of having sport on your CV unlike any other hobby is that you can demonstrate a range of skills, from team work to determination and many more in between,’ she said.
But Carly does warn that you should only put it on your CV if you have ‘a genuine interest in the sport in question, not because they once rode a horse back in 2009.’ It could come up as a topic of conversation with your interviewer, and you don’t want to be left scrapping round for something to say during polite conversation.
3 Don’t be too keen
It’s important to be prompt to an interview, because it proves you’re organised and punctual. But if you take it too far, founder and managing director of CV-Library Lee Biggins warns it could actually harm your chances of getting the job. ‘Turning up five, even 10 minutes early is expected. But remember, recruiters are busy people, and turning up too early can interrupt their schedule, serving only to prove that your time-keeping skills actually aren’t that great,’ he explains. ‘If you arrive at your interview too early, stop off somewhere for a coffee, or take a walk around the block.’
4 Think about your USP
Everyone is different, right? So think about what makes you different from everyone else and then use it to your advantage as your unique selling point. ‘Do you have transferable skills or qualifications other candidates are less likely to have? Maybe your marketing mind-set will make you an asset to the tech team. Or your people skills will help you fit into an office that recently had some pretty major shifts in management or direction. Those additional facets of your candidacy will help build out the stories you tell,’ explains advice site The Muse.
5 Use the right font on your CV
According to Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff Design, opting for Times New Roman on your CV is a crime of epic proportions. In fact he likened using it to wearing sweatpants to an interview. Ouch, that bad? ‘It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,’ he wisely informs us. Instead, go for something like Helvetica, Hoff suggests. ‘Helvetica is so no-fuss. It doesn’t really lean in one direction or another. It feels professional, lighthearted, honest. Helvetica is safe.’ Who knew there could be so much psycho-analysis in a font?
6 Get rid of your CV photo
If it’s a selfie, that is. ‘While the selfie craze is still ongoing, this is not something you want to take with you on your job search,’ CV-Library’s Lee Biggins says. ‘The majority of recruiters said they don’t think it’s acceptable for job hunters to include selfies on their professional profiles – and that includes LinkedIn.’ Noted.
7 Read up on the company’s perks
Not just because you want to know how many days of annual leave you’ll be getting, and whether this company will offer you an extra one on your birthday. ‘You want to show the hiring managers that you understand the atmosphere, mission and principles,’ explains The Muse. Read more on their theory about this here.
8 Revisit your French studies
Or whichever language you studied, for that matter. Research has proven people with a second language earn an average of 10% more than those without, and it also opens up plenty more job opportunities. We’re not going to pretend it’s easy learning a new language from scratch, but if you’ve got the basic skills, now’s the time to sharpen up (you can use apps to help) and mention it on your CV.
9 Clean up your social media act
At the risk of sounding like your grade 11 tutor, it is important to be aware of what is publicly viewable from your social media accounts. And yeah, yeah, you probably knew this already – but it’s definitely worth checking your privacy settings every few months just to make sure they haven’t been changed by any platform-wide updates.’What do your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts say about you? If they are a continuous stream of unflattering pictures from after-dark socialising, it might set off a few alarm bells!’ warns Tim Redgate, Co-Founder of EchoMany.
10 Have a good chat
It’s obviously important to prepare for the questions you’re going to be asked in an interview, but it turns out that’s not all. ‘The questions don’t matter as much as the conversation that happens afterwards,’ argues Peter Roper, Google’s head of mobile brand strategy. ‘It provides you with a unique opportunity to really understand what someone’s passionate about and what someone keys in on,’ he explains. Better get thinking of some conversation that doesn’t reference the weather, in that case.
11 Remove irrelevant work experience from your CV
Remember the first bit of advice about keeping your CV clear, concise and simple? That’s not going to happen if you’ve listed every bit of work you’ve ever done on there. Laura Hampton, Marketing Manager at Impression, advises: ‘It’s important your CV best reflects your skills in the most appropriate way for the job you want. That doesn’t mean doctoring your experience – simply ensure your relevant skills are most prominent.’ So yeah, maybe remove the dishwashing job you had at your local pub as a teenager if you’re applying for a marketing role.
This article was originally published on Cosmopolitan.com.
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