Top 10 tips for CVs and interviews

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07-01-2020

There’s something about the start of January that makes people reflect and re-evalulate, and this might include taking a good look at your current job and career aspirations.
January is typically a busy time for LionHeart’s support officers and this is often fuelled by the desire to make changes and set new goals.
If you’re hoping 2020 will be a year to nail that new job, here are our top 10 tips for refreshing your CV and getting interview ready.

Make sure your CV is geared towards the job you are applying for
Applying for a job shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all. Check the job specification carefully and tailor your CV to make sure you show the most relevant skills you have that fit what the employer is looking for. This can mean writing a new CV for every job you apply for. The easiest way to do this is to write one ‘master CV’ and then copy and paste the most relevant parts into a new document.

Take time over writing your CV
A good CV will take a good few hours to write. When an employer is sifting through CVs, it will be obvious which have had time and care taken and which haven’t. Your CV is supposed to be a showcase of who you are and what you are capable of - so don’t make yourself look slapdash!

Check and double check spelling and grammar
Don’t rely on spellcheck. It won’t pick up mistakes if the word that was spelt incorrectly is still an actual word, for example if you meant to write ‘noon’ but typed ‘moon’, spellcheck wouldn’t pick this up. So check, and check again. And did we mention check again?

Don’t be precious about experience that isn’t relevant for the role you’re applying for
You may be really proud of some achievements from previous roles, and rightly so. But if they don’t fit the job you are applying for leave them off your CV - you have limited space and need to use it for things that the employer wants.

Remember that a potential employer will only usually read the first half of the first page of your CV before deciding if they want to read the rest
It’s estimated you have just seconds to grab an employer’s attention. One good way of doing this is starting with a ‘Personal Profile’ that best fits the job specification and a section on ‘Key Skills and Achievements’ that does the same.

Keep an ‘Achievements’ journal at work
This is good practice even if you aren’t looking for a new job right now. Think about times where you have had to overcome adversity or have just done a great job (or both!!). This will help when writing about achievements in your CV and will also help prepare you for questions in interview where you’re asked to give examples.

Research the company you are applying to and the role you are applying for
Usually, one of the first questions in an interview is ‘Why do you want this job/to work here?’ A surprising number of candidates are not prepared for this question and saying ‘my friend works here and told me you give a lot of holiday’ probably won’t get you hired! Do your homework.

Ask if you can take notes into the interview with you
This can really help you give the most relevant example you have to an interviewer’s question and the act of checking your notes can really help calm you down if a question has caught you off guard or you feel nervous. Have headlines or bullet points rather than the full example written down, though, so you aren’t just reading out a pre-prepared answer.

Use the ‘STAR’ method to answer questions using examples

SITUATION - What was the problem/issue?

TASK - What needed to be done to fix it?

ACTION - How did you do it?

RESULT - What happened?

(OPTIONAL - What did you learn from it and/or what feedback did you receive?)

Have thoughtful questions prepared
Have questions that show you have researched the company and are interested. Avoid questions about pay/holiday/sick leave etc. This can also be a good time to re-visit any answers you may feel you need to expand or explain further. You can also ask here if there are any answers that they would like more information about or if they have any concerns that you could answer now.

Ben Halpin is one of the LionHeart support officers. Part of his role is to offer work-related support including coaching, CV and interview skills. To find out more about our career support, please call the helpline on 0800 009 2960 or email info@lionheart.org.uk


SUPERCHARGE YOUR JOB HUNT: 
Check out our free webinar on using all the resources available to you and writing a killer CV. Details and booking here

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