Introduction• Dear Jobless Graduate… • When you start looking for a job, your success often has little to do with the degree that you studied, and more to do with all the other qualities employers look for in a candidate.• The way that you present yourself in a Curriculum Vitae and in an interview can make the difference between getting that job and searching much longer.• This brief presentation will cover: • Your CV: • Content. • Packaging. • Interview tips and tricks.
Your application starts with the coverletter• These days there are often application forms to complete and pre-set electronic submission of documents, but if there is an opportunity, also include a cover letter with your CV.• This is specific to every job that you apply for.• Here you pick the parts of your CV that you are the most proud of and relate it to the particular job.• Focus on metrics rather than generics.• Make the HR manager want to have a closer look at your CV.
CV content – The basics• There is no single correct or best CV.• But it should sum up who you are.• Every CV should contain some basic info: • Contact information • Education • Professional experience • Accomplishments • Community interests• First put together a comprehensive general CV, but then tailor one for each job application. • In each case, present you education, training, experience, accomplishments as it relates to the specific position.
CV content – Contact information• This is on the first page.• Include: • Full name. • Postal address. • Email address (use one that will be valid after you have left campus). • Phone numbers.• Some formats also include things like Nationality, Marital status, Dependents, Home language, whether you have a drivers license or a criminal record.
CV content – Bio• Following the basic contact information you can have a short paragraph with biographical information.• It is a summary of the info that you are going to present: • Matriculated from High School Potchefstroom in 2008, • Studied B.Com Economics and International Trade at the NWU, • My academic record shows that I am a hard-working academic achiever, • But I was also involved with the activities of …, • And gained experience in … through …, • I am a likable, enthusiastic and trustworthy team worker.• Already here, you have to tailor it to the things that they are looking for in this specific position.
CV content – Education• Start with the latest / highest first.• Attach you academic record, but translate it for someone whos not at the NWU. • That means writing out in the CV: I completed the B.Com degree Economics and Risk Management with the main subjects: and then you list their names, e.g. macroeconomics, bank risk management (other people dont know what EKRP221 is). • And you dont only have knowledge, you also have skills: write out in a paragraph that you have made presentations, written reports and articles, used EViews to estimate regression models, etc. • Again, emphasise the things that are appropriate for the specific position.• Add details of achievements, certificates etc.
CV content – Experience• Since you have just left University, you dont have much experience, but you have to present whatever you have: • Marking assistant, facilitator for tutorials. • Holiday work.• The employer knows that you wont have experience in whatever, but they would like to see evidence that you can take responsibility, work in a team and with clients, keep to deadlines, etc.• So emphasise this experience that you might have in the context of residence activities, student societies, church groups, volunteering of any kind.• But dont just say you were involved with … – describe your role, responsibilities, achievements.
CV content – Accomplishments• This is a separate section on achievements, honors, or awards that you have achieved.• This is the stuff that sets your application apart from all the others.• But it has to be things that you can provide proof for, so include the certificates etc. at the end.
CV content – Other interests• Fill out the rest of the picture, tell them what makes you a human being.• Remember, companies have social-corporate responsibility programmes and employee-wellness programmes and are looking for employees that are engaged and less likely to burn out.• So spend a paragraph on your interests, hobbies, involvement in your community.
CV Attachments• The CV tends to be short and to the point, but that means you have to include supporting documents: • Your academic record / transcript. • Certified copies of all certificates.• It may also include letters of recommendation: • I am doubtful about the usefulness of the letters themselves. • But the importance of having a network is clear. • Having people who are ready to provide a reference if asked is very useful, but then you have to keep contact and really have a network. • My approach… • And the future importance of LinkedIn.
CV formatting• Once you have the content together, you have to make sure that the packaging is spot on.• The first step is to make sure that the content is organised and easy to read. • Use numbered headings • Use a clean font and 1.5pt line spacing • Describe things in paragraphs, bullet the lists, align the text. • Use a running footer that says CV – yourname and the page number.• Keep it crisp and professional throughout.• Nothing will sink you more quickly than misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.
CV formatting• Be careful about "adding value", or "making it stand out".• Not everyone likes unusual fonts, colours, pictures or photos.• On the web you will find lots of infographic CVs, use of blogs or QR codes, but be careful.
Interviews• Recap your CV.• Research the company.• Prepare for questions.• Prepare your questions.• First impressions last.• Beware the stumbling blocks.
Recap your CV• You may be asked to talk through your CV, or they may ask questions about things you described or listed in the CV.• Make sure that you are familiar with every detail.• Take your own copy along to the interview.• And take a pen so that you can make a note if you have to.
Research the company• It looks bad if you really, really want the job, but dont really have any idea what it is the company does.• You have to research their business and how it is going, their corporate culture, the current and future plans.• When they ask, "Why do you want to work for us?" you have to be ready to explain how you will fit in and add value.
Prepare for questions• This is an interview, so there will be questions and it is best to think about some answers before hand. • What are your goals, what are your weaknesses, why should we hire you?• Everyone knows the "right" answers – you want to look like the team player who can work with colleagues and customers, communicate and deal with conflict, handle deadlines and stress, be innovative, take initiative, be assertive, think strategically and act responsibly.• But just saying it is not going to be enough – you have to be ready with examples of each.• So prepare your stories and where possible, relate it to the details that you have in the CV.
Prepare your questions• Typically at the end of an interview the panel will want to know whether you have any questions – it looks bad if you have none.• It can build on your research of the company – if they are international, what opportunities do they offer to gain experience overseas? Do they support further studies?• Or you can ask about the specific unit or team that the position is in: are they young or experienced, what projects are they working on, where will you fit in?• NB: this is not the time talk about the money or how much leave you will get!
First impressions last• Get a good nights sleep.• Dress appropriately.• Eat something beforehand.• Make sure you know where to go and allow time for traffic – it is extremely important to be on time for the interview.• Switch off your mobile phone before it starts• Be polite and friendly, make eye contact.• Look lively but not hyper, dont talk too much.
A final bit of advice• An interview is like any exam – preparation and practice makes the difference.• Luck will not get you that dream job.• You have been preparing for it since school and you should keep learning • Youll never get through the next 40 years of work with only the things you learned at the Puk. • You have to start thinking in terms of a professional learning network for developing knowledge, skills, competencies.• And please keep my posted: our Alumni network on LinkedIn is called Pukekonomie.