How to make sure your CV kills your job prospects
YOU only have a few precious seconds to make your CV stand out from the crowd - and one simple mistake can cost you your dream job.
According to people management specialist Karen Gately, director and founder of human resources firm Ryan Gately, jobseekers need to learn to think of their resume as a "marketing document" that gives them the opportunity to showcase why they should get the gig.
"There are a lot of people out there with similar experience to yours so you need to show why you're most likely to succeed in the role," she said.
"Your CV needs to reflect your experience but more importantly, show your successes - what you've actually achieved, and how you've gone about it.
"The amount of time spent reading a CV is actually very short - you have a nanosecond to go from the 'undecided' to the 'must interview' pile."
So what are the biggest resume traps - and how can we avoid them?
Ms Gately said a surprising number of workers were forgetting one thing in their application.
"One thing people often miss is sending their CV without a cover letter. If you don't take the time to introduce yourself, express interest and explain why you're putting your hand up for the job - that's fatal," she said.
Another resume no-no is one that is too long. If your potential employer has to hunt for the information they need, your file is more likely to be deleted.
While the length of your cover letter and CV should depend on the specific job description as well as your experience, a good rule of thumb is to stick to a one-page cover letter and two-page resume, Ms Gately advised.
"Another problem is making your CV too generic. It should be tailored to the job you are going for," Ms Gately said.
"Getting on the radar is the most important thing - you've got to come through as sincere, engaged and passionate about what you do and you need to articulate why you're excited by this job.
"It's about creating a synopsis of you as a person that describes how you will actually go about doing your job. You should describe things like the environment that best suits you. You should say something like, 'In the past when I was at my best, it was in environments where I was able to X.'"
When it comes to resume shockers, Ms Gately has seen them all.
"Never swear in your CV. I've seen that, and the person is trying to seem relaxed and confident, but it is too risky," she said.
"Never criticise your current boss or colleagues, because expressing a 'poor me' scenario doesn't help - you should reframe it in a positive way and say, 'I'm looking for the opportunity to X.'
"And don't be arrogant because when people come across as big-noting themselves and trying to sell themselves as the guru of all gurus you seem overconfident. Express self-belief and humility instead, and point out areas where you want to grow or gain experience."
After years in the HR business, Ms Gately said she was still unsure whether including a photo with a job application was a smart move - or career suicide.
"I'm really torn on this one - a really professional photo can be helpful as a memory jogger and it means a connection is easier to maintain - but it has to be a professional photo that's not arrogant, seductive or aloof," she said.
"I've seen so many candidates give employers a good laugh - in the most extreme case, a person sent a really seductive, semi-naked photo with their CV which was clearly not relevant.
"If you include a photo that is too casual it raises the question mark as to whether your focus will be professional enough."
She said the same rule applied for the photo you select for your LinkedIn profile, as most employers will look at your profile along with your CV.
• Swear words or overly informal language
• Seductive, inappropriate or casual photos
• Forgetting a cover letter
• Long-winded CVs - more than two pages
• Not providing specific examples of success
• Complaining about your current workplace