(Update: I got an interview! Had to create a 15-minute presentation to give to my direct boss, the head of our company, various HR types and the other candidates. It’s been a stressful week and a bit but it’s all over now except for the waiting to hear.)
I’ve been filling out an application for a promotion at work which has me thinking. My entire life, I’ve struggled with promoting myself, selling oneself to get ahead or indeed self-confidence. Whittling down my skill set and abilities, editing and fitting all the relevant information into a tiny little box is daunting.
Applying for any job can be a scary prospect, like a lot of people I get comfy in my situation and don’t want change to happen. But sometimes life has other ideas for you and opportunities come along when you least expect it. My current job was one of those moments. I was at a point in my previous career where I couldn’t do it anymore. Spending my days stressed out, broke and fighting to get through it. My evenings were spent browsing the internet in search of something that paid even just a bit more. It was a chance moment, the clouds lifted, sunlight pierced through and there was this job on the screen.
I had to move for it, back to where I had grown up but it worked for us both. Kal’s work can be done anywhere and I had family nearby. The application process was quick, 3 stages in total leading up to a phone call from new boss during which I made a complete idiot of myself. When she offered me the position all I said was “What? Really?” My old self-doubt sticking its head back up above the parapet. Even after the call ended I couldn’t quite believe it.
In school, I was taught how to write a resume or Curriculum Vitae to use its proper title. The layout, length and what it should ideally include. While talking to my team I realised that schools do not teach it anymore, at least not from the experience of my staff. In the 15 years (oh damn… was it really that long ago?!) since I left school, I have kept and updated my original CV. I still have an old copy of my first one saved on my hard drive, I keep it for when I need a laugh.
When I decided to get serious about having a career I revamped the whole thing. I did a lot of research on the internet, asked family and friends for advice on promoting myself. I made sure that the document that would decide if a company was interested was the very best representation of me. It has faired well so far and I’ve had compliments on the quality of it. (I had no idea that was a thing?) It’s not necessarily what you have done in life but the presentation. It makes a huge impact on any HR department or place of work looking to hire.
Resumes and C.Vs:
I work for a company as a manager, part of my job entails promoting job vacancies. (For various reasons I’m not going to state what company). I recently had to do a recruitment drive and was shocked at the quality of C.V’s, resumes and applications that I received. We had some luck, recruited and are now training but on the whole, it was an eye-opener.
Some of the CVs and applications I received stood out. Some for good but most for all the wrong reasons and were condemned to the rejection pile. I’m not going to go to reveal personal details, however, I will tell you about a couple.
- Text speak: Instead of using the word “and” it was replaced with “n”. To use it in a sentence: “I like music n movies.” That was for the whole of the C.V.
- Spelling mistakes: The town they live in. I realise not all spell checkers would know all town names out there but I would hope they would know where they live.
- No capitalisation: Throughout the entire document.
- One large long run on sentence and paragraph.
The last two were part of the same but I saw a lack of grammar in most, no punctuation and generally very poor presentation. I do not claim to be any kind of written word genius, my spelling is not great and my grammar is average. Why candidates do not use them, I can not imagine.
How To Improve:
In the world of the selfie, carefully curated Instagram and Facebook feeds I thought that people would be near expert level for promoting themselves. Especially when doing so to companies which they expected to hire and pay them a wage. The positions we hired for were not high-level corporate jobs, nor were they academic or managerial.
I understand that when candidate’s hand write an application that mistakes happen. There are numerous reasons for it and I will over look them to a point. However, when one-word answers are given I have to wonder if their heart is really in it.
The point I want to make is that if you want a job, take some time with the process. Really invest in your brand, you want to make yourself as appealing as possible especially when going for a job that may be just beyond your skill level.
- Use a computer. If you don’t have one available at home, find a library, go to a job centre.
- Make use of spell checkers and grammar extensions such as Grammarly, even Google Docs will be able to help with checking.
- Use borders or horizontal lines to separate out sections.
- Try not to go beyond 2 pages. 3 at a stretch if you have a large section of qualifications that should be included.
- Drop older jobs from the list if they are not relevant, tailor the C.V to the job you are applying for.
- Shorten the oldest job entries to very brief summaries.
- Use a professional sounding email address. Your name is ideal or a variation of it.
- If you are starting out and don’t have a particular job in mind try getting some volunteer experience. Many charities will really appreciate the help and you will learn valuable new skills at the same time.
Get Yourself Out There:
If you’re still struggling to come up with the perfect C.V then get someone else to review it. Ask for an honest opinion and constructive criticism. If all else fails, email me. I am not kidding. I love to help people and if you really want some help promoting yourself I will do so.
addy@anythinginterestingtoday (dot) com
You can edit out your personal details if you want, I can leave those areas for you to fill in, but seriously, I will help.
Let’s get you a job or a better job and hopefully, we will all be happier in our chosen careers!