Women Career Essentials: How To Have Effective CVs (Resume’s) and Successful Job Interviews
Whether you’re a new graduate out on your first job hunt or a seasoned professional looking to kickstart a new career, having the right tools for your job and career search is a must.
Among other things, you must know yourself, in particular, your strengths and skills, how to market yourself on your curriculum vitae, (resume) and how to handle yourself during interviews.
That’s a lot of things to keep track of, but fret not. Here at Women Talk Today, we’d like to share with you some career essentials – tips, insights, and knowledge to empower you on your job hunt and career development.
Your Curriculum Vitae/Resume: Tips For A Good And Effective CV
Any job or career begins and ends with the curriculum vitae. A curriculum vitae, or a CV, provides detailed notes on your experiences, skills, and credentials. It is one of the single most important documents you have to get right because your CV is your on-paper persona.
We understand that building a curriculum vitae (resume) from scratch is a particularly daunting task, but fortunately, it is not impossible.
Keep CVs neat and logical
Appearances aren’t everything, but when it comes to a curriculum vitae, they are an absolute must. Hiring committees and HR personnel receive hundreds of CVs every day and they don’t have time to read through every one. Your CV must look good and read well – this means it should be concise, organized, and aesthetically pleasing to compel a more in-depth look at your qualifications.
A messy CV will not paint you in the best light, so keep these things in mind when preparing your CV:
· Short and concise is the way to go. Two A4 sheets (or one A4 back-to-back) should be enough.
· Use simple and clear fonts for your CV to make it readable and look professional. We think Garamond, Calibri, Constantia, Didot, and Helvetica are some of the best fonts for CVs. Additional tip: Use just one font style for your CV to avoid clutter. Be consistent
· Make generous use of headings and sub-headings to highlight the sections of your CV
· Highlight your most recent experience and achievement first. Follow a reverse chronological order for your experience, education, and accomplishments.
· Don’t be afraid of white space. Allow your CV to breath.
Don’t sign off your CV without having a second and third look. Check for grammar and spelling mistakes, and if you can, get someone to read and critique your CV for you. Career development professionals can also give you solid advice on how to make your CVs even better and more effective.
There are plenty of resources such as CV templates and guides available online to help you get started. There is no one CV style or format that fits all, though, so make sure to customize these templates according to your needs and in consideration of the requirements of the position, job, or career you have your eye on.
Include only the essentials in your CV
We want to put our best foot forward with our CVs but this does not mean cramming every inch of space with a barrage of information and minutiae. Depending on your qualifications (entry-level, graduate, etc), content for CVs will vary but these are a must for CVs:
· Personal and contact details. Hard to believe, but many people forget to include their personal details and contact information in their CVs. Make sure these details are printed clearly on top of your CV.
· Work experience relevant to the job, arranged with your most recent position first. Include brief bullet points detailing your key responsibilities.
· Your skills and achievements to show why you are suited to the job. Make sure to highlight how your efforts contributed to the objectives and goals of your organization
· A strong and concise personal statement that sums up who you are, your goals, and what you can offer to the company
You can include more details about yourself such as volunteer experiences, side jobs, further education and post-secondary learning programs and activities, hobbies, and civic participation, to name a few. The important thing to remember is that whatever information you choose to include should be relevant to the job you are applying for, and should add value to you as a prospective hire and as a professional.
We also recommend identifying the strong points and the gaps in your CV. Remember, CVs are about presentation. If you’re a new graduate, you might not have a substantial work experience so lean more on education, continuing learning experiences, internships, and volunteer activities. If you have an employment gap, you can highlight the activities that you did in between such as freelancing and consulting work.
A final note: Take the time to really prepare your CV. Get started on it long before you hit the job-hunting circuit. Put in time and thought on how your CV looks and what information it contains so that it presents you in in the best possible light.
Developing Successful Interview Skills and Habits
The purpose of a good CV is to secure an interview with the company. It is not the CV that will get you the job, but your performance in the job interview. Sealing the deal falls squarely on you and how well you think and answer questions relating to the prospective job and company.
We cannot emphasize enough the value of preparation to ace your job interviews. Preparation gives you confidence and competence to give good answers. Once you get the call for that interview, practice every scenario you can imagine and how you will respond.
· Review again the job requirements, particularly the skills that you need for that particular position.
· Take a look what you wrote at your CV and incorporate it into your interview so you are consistent and have a strong voice.
· Research and anticipate possible questions, and practice answering them. List down specific examples of your accomplishments, success stories, and major milestones from your work experiences which you can use to provide strong and well-thought answers to situational and behavioral-based interview questions.
A little preparation can go a long way compared to just winging everything.
Using STAR technique For Job Interviews
The STAR interview response technique is a particularly helpful strategy for dealing with behavioural and competency-based interview questions – questions along the lines of “Describe a situation at work and how you handled it”, “Tell me how you handle stress”, “Share an example of…”, and “Have you ever dealt with…”.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Utilized properly, it allows you to connect real-life experiences with behavioural questions and scenarios designed to probe how you handle certain work situations. It’s a helpful strategy to focus and organize your thoughts. It also helps highlight and connect your skills, experience, and qualifications to the requirements of the job while providing specific examples and accomplishments.
· Situation. Relay to the interviewer/panel the situation that took place
· Task. Describe the task that you were assigned to do – a problem you needed to solve, a project you had to accomplish, etc.
· Action. This is where you explain the steps and measures that you undertook to complete your task.
· Results. Let the interviewer/panel know the results of your actions. Explain the significance of your actions – did it resolve a problem, yield an innovative practice, set a new standard. Highlight how your actions gave your company a success.
There is an art and a science when it comes to interview. There are skills that you can develop to complement your personality when interacting with people. Confidence, the ability to interact with other people, how well you articulate and speak your thoughts are some of the necessary interview skills that you need to ace job interviews.
Skills For Hire
You need to be able to back up what you wrote on your CV. More importantly, you need to show your interviewers that you are both qualified and skilled. Qualifications alone no longer make the grade. Skill-based hiring is a trend gaining traction as more companies look to individuals who have the specific skills and competencies needed to deal with work scenarios and the attitude to allow them to fit in the company culture.
According to Forbes, these are some of the most powerful skills and qualities of jobseekers that often outweigh qualifications and experience:
· Explorer mindset, which covers creativity, innovativeness, and adaptability
· Common sense, empathy, and emotional intelligence, which all pertains to inter-personal skills and the ability to work with others and be part of a culture and a team
· Advanced degrees show not only an individual’s expertise but also demonstrates their character. Continued learning, volunteer work, certifications are not formal education avenues but they all attest to an individual’s critical thinking, persistence, drive, and the willingness to learn – qualities which have tremendous value to organizations and companies.
· Leadership, ambition, and hustle
A positive paragraph to finish off this article on interviews