الخميس، يونيو 01، 2006

CV & interview tips

1 Write a better CV
The object of your CV is to make sure that you secure an interview of your choice. It also serves as a prompting tool during the interview.

A CV in the IT world needs to do the business quickly and to the point - but you need depth too. Sure, it must be possible to skim over the document to get a flavour - but it must also be possible to read into some detail.

Did you know that around 80% of CVs, don't do the job of conveying exactly what roles the candidate is suitable for? Take a long hard look at your CV and turn it into a document that works. Make sure that it says exactly what you do on the tin.

Who invented the two page CV? Certainly not us or our clients. Technology CVs should be like a small chapter - easy to flick through but detail when you want it.

So you are capable of more than one role in industry? Have 2 x CVs! Don't lie, but be specific on your CV. One CV could be your technical document and one CV for your management experience. Apply for roles with the most appropriate CV.

Tell the story from today - and go backwards. This is reverse chronological order. Use employer names, dates and the functional title that you accomplished along with the hardware, software and skills you utilised. You may have been called the "Global IT Manager", but if your job was actually doing 2nd & 3rd line support for a 4 branch, 50-man business - make up a title that's appropriate.

Structure your CV with plenty of white space. Don't use 5mm margins and tiny font sizes. Think about business documents - they have plenty of headings, bullet points and white space. Copy what works.
2 How many pages?
How many pages should my CV be?As long as it needs to be. DO NOT be constrained by the 2 page CV that has evolved in society. I've seen examples of 8 point Time Roman fort, squeezed onto 2 pages. Terrible.

My analysis has shown that the average length of most technical CVs is 4.5 pages. Additionally, the agency will add 2 more pages in the form of cover sheets and "consultant notes". Clients therefore, are used to skimming quite large documents (remember the bullet points to keep it simple?).

I placed someone last year with a 17 page CV. Each page described a project that the candidate worked on together with a background on the issues the project faced, the technology and software utilised and exactly what role the candidate played in the project. It was truly a marvelous piece of work. A one-off and in my view, excellent.

Sometimes, the 2-page CV may be suitable. Particularly for senior management applying to a Sunday Times advertised role. But in that case, often the Senior Recruiter would present your details to the client attaching interviewer notes. Outplacement companies insist on 2-page CVs even for technical managers. Why? I don't know.

Remember - the CV gets you through the door - it doesn't actually get the job for you.
3 More than one version
I don't know about you, but I've always known what type of job that I wanted - so I guided my own career along those paths and could therefore write a CV that reflected not only what I had done - but what I was suitable for in the future.

If you really are suitable for more than one type of job, then you ought to think of having more than one version "in stock". On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with "tailoring" your standard CV for each job that you apply for. You may have technical qualifications that would lend your skills and experience down either of two technical avenues. Just make sure you put your more relevant experience further "up the page" for the job you applying for.

Remember which CV you sent for each job!

Keep note (perhaps a spreadsheet) of each job you applied for - and which CV you used. Take a note of the agency - and the end client. INSIST that the agency tells you the client name. If your CV ends up on the client desk from more than one agency, through no fault of your own, you are more than likely rejected. Clients don't want "agency squabbles".
4 How do I structure it?
Imagine a business document. Perhaps a Project Definition Document. Think about the luxury of white space, simple bullet points - then detail when it's needed. This is what I'm aiming for.

Page 1 - Name, address, date of birth, address, phone, mobile, email address and personal summary or statement of your personal objectives regarding your career Page 2 - Software, tools, methods, qualifications, hardware, techniques - simple vertical lists Page 3 + Your CV in reverse chronological order. For each job, show the next example as a cv for Information technology employee : Dates: From X to Y Client Company / Employer Your role / title

Software, tools utilised here Several paragraphs describing exactly what you did, how large a team you worked in, types of projects and technologies used. Problems and issues overcome etc If you worked on multiple projects over the years, perhaps describe each one using a different paragraph or sub section Utilise bold to highlight the major tools used. But don't over-do it. If you were writing ASP using IIS Version 6 then highlight it accordingly - particularly if you are applying for a job where ASP and the .NET framework was part of the role
5 Mechanics
I discussed in the previous section white space. Make sure there's enough white space that the page isn't crowded.

If you already have a CV, then make sure you change it to follow these guidelines: At least 1 inch (2.5cm) margins All tab stops must be identical Be careful when using paragraph alignment Don't use "tables" if at all possible - they are not appealing when viewed on a monitor Learn how to "right align" a tab stop Use the footer to put your name and CV publication date

Keep the structure simple. Someone at the agency might need to change the formatting to a "house" standard. Does your CV lend itself to editing in the future?
6 Ten things not to do
So, you're nearly ready to ship your latest creation - make sure your CV conforms to our top-ten hints.

Top ten tips:
No colour please - this is a business document Use a font size that works well "on screen" - 11 point Arial seems to work well
Be consistent where you use Bold and Underline Leave a proper margin - at least 1 inch (2.5 cms) Leave some room for reviewer comments - use 'white' space Using email? Think about your subject line and email body text Copy your contact details into the email body text Save as Rich Text Format - certainly not a PDF Don't use text boxes Spell check everything - and ask someone to proof read it
Before the interview:
Check the map and directions
Get a copy of the job spec
Re-read your CV again
Print of further copies in case the interviewer needs more copies
Get a good nights sleep
Leave in plenty of time
Remember to have telephone numbers and names of interviewers on you in case of delay
Remember Murphy's law. If it can go wrong - it will. Don't leave anything to chance.

Upon arrival
Who do you ask for?
The interviewer may be nervous too! Have some "stock" questions to relax both of you. You may have far to walk to the interview room. Perhaps someone else will pick you up and take you to the interviewer
Talk about their journey..?
People like to talk - get them to do the work!
Discuss the building, their products, successes, their Founder etc. Will you be offered a drink? Don't hesitate in telling them what you want
Have your papers to hand and your questions ready. Use a folder for your documentation.

During the interview:
Listen, Listen, Listen. You have two ears and one mouth. Heard that before? Remember it.
Some interviewers are better than others. Help them to get the best out of you
If you need to, take control - ask them if it's OK to talk through you CV with them
Body language is key. Don't slouch - and think about what you will do with your hands.
Don't interrupt. If you think of something important, make a note immediately and come back to it later
If you believe that you would be very good at this job, tell them exactly why

"People buy people"
Sure, this is an interview - but if you genuinely get on with the interviewer and like them, the chances are they'll like you too. They will be calculating if you will get on with the existing team - and will your future success help them.

This paper serves as a quick guide to interviewing from the candidate point of view. There are some excellent books on the market that will assist you further - put them on your list!

CV Sample download it & modify to match your data

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