Introduction – my story. Crap CV after graduating – enhanced by my work abroad.
Why is the CV important? How do you write a top CV? What can you do and what can EF do for you?
CV’s have obviously changed with technology – now digital CV’s which are hosted on business oriented social media sites – like LinkedIn, or on candidate’s personal websites where they have their CV’s and portfolios. However, no matter the format, technology has not replaced the need for a good CV- It is still the first window into who you are, so its very important to make sure that you give your best impression and put your best foot forward.
When preparing a CV my advice would always be to think about who is going to be reading it first. Who is your audience? Whoever it is they will like everyone be busy in their jobs – they will be running against the clock to get everything done in the day. Between meetings, conference calls, reports, interviews, presentations and trips its hard to find time to sit somewhere and quietly go through new applications. For many managers it may be the most important goal to fill an empty vacancy in the team, but it’s often the least prioritised task compared with all the other things that need to be done. This means that when a recruiter does eventually find the time to view your resume they are not going to have the luxury to give you much time. Recruiters receiving more than 100 CVs / day so they need to have fast process to evaluate candidates-so think about how you would view your CV in a pile of 99 other ones. Will it blend in with the others or will it stand out! Will it grab my attention, will I think WOW and will I want to follow and speak to you? One way you can check this is by giving your CV to someone – ask them to spend 2 mins reading your CV and then ask them what 3 things most stood out. If they are WOW factors (relevant to the job you are applying for) you may have reached your audience!! Core value of passion at EF. I want applicants who are passionate about working for EF – not just passionate to find a job! I see hundreds of CV’s a week and can tell if you have made an effort – both for a generic application and specifically for the position we are advertising for. I want to see that you are really excited by the job ad I placed for EF – not because you are just desperate to change jobs. You should want to be fired up about bringing something new to us and if I can see this on you resume you will make my day a better one. Think too that my job is to recruit, so I am happy when I see a great CV … it excites me, because I can already start to imagine how you could fit into our company, so think what I am looking for and how you can sell what you have to offer us. Think what is going to brighten my day – make me go wow! If you are writing to me make sure you get my name right
So as I mentioned, recruiters are busy people so they spend on average of only 6 seconds on a CV This image shows a study using “eye tracking” technology, which can measure exactly where recruiters' eyes looked and how long they stayed on that spot. They spend 80 percent of their brief review on six key elements of your resume: your name, the current company you work for, your previous employment, the start and end dates of your previous position, the start and end dates of your current position and your educational background. I also look for experience abroad, languages, goal achievements and key words which might correspond to the job description. Here you see with this image where the eye naturally falls on the page. As you can see the reader does not read the whole thing. So you need to be strategic about what you put – too much and the recruiter will miss the important things. Think about what matters and especially which of your skills and experience are really relevant to the job you are applying for. Maybe your experience as a waiter or waitress really doesn’t enlighten me as to whether you can web-page designer. Maybe the most vital and selling information about you is hidden inside a paragraph I will never read. So think about where you place the information on the CV.
So lets explore a little more what is important in a CV and a cover letter.
The structure of a resume will determine how easy it is for a recruiter to find the information they are looking for. If you make your resume too complicated, or use too much text I am going to get frustrated trying to wade through the irrelevant info. Also I am a very visual person and I like structure, so if I see that the resume looks disorganised, very wordy or not clearly presented I am going to think that maybe you are not a very structured person, that you are not able to present yourself or your ideas in a clear, systematic and succinct manner and that you do not have a eye for simplicity, clarity and focus. I want to see the following: Education, Experience, Personal Info, Skills, Personal Interests and achievements, but my time is limited and as the info-graphic shows my eyes fall first and foremost at the top of a resume – so this is one of the main zones where you can influence my decision about what you can offer me. Previously the top of the resume was often used for writing an objective statement – however this is now considered obsolete. Recruiters don’t really make decisions based on this so you are using valuable “prime” space for un-useful information.
I have talked about your focus as an applicant. The more you focus, the more exposure you give to your relevant experiences. The irrelevant can go out the window and you can really target what will help clarify if you are an interesting candidate. So focus on: what the recruiter is looking for what the job requires what you can bring to this role Which of your experiences, skills and knowledge are relevant to the job you are applying for?
I mentioned I was looking for achievements – more and more applicants are including goals they have met present and previous jobs– sales people for example include figures on what they sold or how much profit they brought into company. This is good because then I can see that they are result driven and have clear focus on what their goals and achievements have been. I have tangible and measurable information on their successes. I can also see that they recognise that their focus should be on bringing additional value to the companies they have worked for.
So I come back again to a couple points already touched on. I don’t want to see a CV from someone who has applied to 100 jobs with the same CV. So Customize your CV to the position you are applying for: Take the time to read about the company – check their mission statement. See what they do, what they are involved in, what type of culture they have in their company- because only then will you be able to position and market yourself appropriately. Using strategic keywords of the industry and of the company is a good way to show you have done your research and for me to see you really are interested in this job. It shows you have taken time, gone the extra mile to understand what we stand for and care about what we do in EF.
The quickest way to get a rejection from a recruiter is by having a spelling mistake. Review your application several times, ask a friend to proof read it. With just one spelling mistake your resume will be throw in the bin! And after you have spent all that time on preparing it, it’s a crying shame to blow it on one simple error! Also do recognise that you will become blind to the small mistakes once you spent you’ve been looking at your CV for so long! You need a new set of eyes! Also if you are asked to provide a resume in a language other than your native one, do not just rely on google translate! Spend the extra time and effort to find someone who can rewrite your CV. And then get it proof read by a different native English speaker – don’t just trust your translator. Spelling mistakes for EF is an especially big no no for two reasons – one we work in the education sector so we cant be making mistakes and secondly one of our core values is attention to detail – if a candidate cant even spell on their resume when they are trying to make their best impression and when presumably they have had lots of time to prepare, how will they respond under pressure, running against the clock?!!!
While I still receive many CV’s that have been made on word I personally like to see someone who has gone the extra mile and taken the initiative to see what other online and off-line software is available. You can use services like LinkedIn, DoYouBuzz or even Resume-Up to help design your CV. This will help to make your CV stand out, will show that you have taken some extra time, used your initiative. They will help to make your CV’s just that little but different.
Its also important that I can get a vision of who you are as a person, so: Have something that reflects your personality and life outside of work on your CV I want to know about you -it can be your interests but also for me what’s interesting is what you have done either abroad or maybe during a period when you had some time off. Maybe you went travelling – did some adventure, fulfilled a life long dream! My dream was always to travel in SA – I thought I would do it sooner but I started my job with EF in Ecuador. However, after 3 years there I said enough is enough and took a year off to go traveling. Afterwards I came back and started work again with EF. On my resume I would lie and put that I had spent my whole time with EF – I would include my year out and put what I did and why because I think that makes me interesting – perhaps a little different because I quit my job to fulfill a dream and a passion I had!
. We often hear how important it is to have a well-developed network today. Well, use your network: For checking spelling / language and design It can be humbling to let someone review your resume- it can be downright frustrating when you have spent hours working on it and then someone looks at it and says – that’s rubbish I would never write it like that. Think about who would really give you the best advice and ask them for tips before you start, and then again when you have finished.
There are without doubt some things that whatever happens you should avoid!
Don’t have an inappropriate profile picture on your resume. Avoid pictures that are too sexy, too formal or informal, make sure you are smiling – naturally of course! Don’t use subjective text in the CV State facts rather than subjective info – subjective text can be in the cover letter. Don’t address the cover letter or intro email to the wrong person / company Check your messages and names twice Don’t use a standardized cover letter without any customization and personality. Don’t let the recruiter get bored by the message you are sending
Don’t list irrelevant experiences List only what makes sense for the targeted job Avoid a very long CV (1-2 pages max.) Your level of experience will impact the overall length so think about what you can omit Make sure to not fake experiences or include lies Getting discovered will mean losing your chance of a job And again don’t have a messy structure and design Be concise, recruiters don’t want to get lost reading your CV
So lets look at a few examples of CVs
Focused, 1-2 page CV Clear structure Standardized fonts Clear and easy to read Simple design I get a good sense of David – he is organised, structured person. He appears to be focused and has good attention to detail as there are no errors. There’s so colour in the resume too which makes a change from
This is a more innovative design Full of relevant info Shows personality They have divided the focus into experience, leadership skills, results and creative ability – The have thought about what the audience wants and what they are looking for. Nice use of QR code providing the a way to download the CV which to me communicates a sense of innovative creativity. The ability to find alternative ways to do things. This candidate actually hired someone to help with the design but that in no way detracts from the CV – instead it shows the candidates keenness to have something different
There are mixed opinions about cover letters. Some recruiters don’t bother to look at it, let alone pass it on to hiring managers. But the cover letter can be an opportunity to add a little more focus on your motive and interest in the company and what you can bring to the job and company. The cover letter should not be too long (10 lines max) It’s more personal and subjective than your CV Don’t repeat the same things that are in your CV Can be typed , but a handwritten signature is still appreciated Provides more contextual information When you are available How mobile you are (interviews, moving for the company) What you can bring to the position you are applying for An intro email can play the same role as a cover letter In most cases an intro email sent to the recruiter has the same structure as a cover letter. Remember to include the title of the job you are applying for – 70 different job ads running at the same time.
So we have seen the traditional and the innovative CV what about those of the future! As technology advances so should your CV – so make the most of the different ways of making your presence felt. Some candidates just send links to their professional online profiles. But they spend a lot of time making sure that this profile looks good and achieves just what Chris Rickborn alludes to her. Maybe best to include both so the recruiter has direct access to your resume but can later browse through your online profile too.
Diana was working in the Website Marketing Team of EF Education First – here you can see her online resume She uses an the info graqphic of a thermometer to show her language skills. She has links to the different social network sites where she is – this shows that she has a large network and it well connected. She is being transparent which is good too and most importantly she recognizes that around 68% of companies will visit applicants on facebook before deciding whether to invite the candidate for an interview. When I am recruiting I will check out candidates on their social websites – so think about what photos etc that you have there – a drunken party picture may seem harmless but it might not be showing your best side. Here are a few more examples of other websites where you can create your online profile and CV. You just fill in the information and then the sites create a visualization for you. And with linkedin it creates a resume for you so that when you apply for a job thru linked in, the resume is automatically included.
Of course a beautiful looking CV, with great graphics, nicely organised and well focused can only help to sell you – it cant make up for a lack of experience. But there are ways to add value to the content of your CV.
Getting Experience Abroad is for me a must. When I am recruiting I always look for this because the environment at EF is truly international. Here in Zurich we have 35 different nationalities between 150 people. To work well together I need to find people with great communications skills, an understanding of cultural differences and a flexibility to adapt to a room full of people with different approaches to life. By living abroad you gain these skills whether you realise it or not. This one of our biggest selling points for EF’s courses abroad whether it’s an Academic Year or Language Course Abroad from 2 to 52 weeks you will gain skills which most global companies now look for. We also offer internships because again the skills you acquire working in a company abroad will be directly transferable to working in an international environment. Of course Work Experience in relavant jobs or internships will be a big plus on your CV but even voluntary work can mark you out from the crowd and provide a good foundation to build upon. During your studies if you can become a member of any groups, societies and clubs you will demonstrate your ability to network. For example AEISIC And finally explore your passion! Have a life outside of work and academics. Follow what drives you!
EF Education First has been founded in 1965 and is the World Leader in International Education . Offering study abroad programs , language education , educational and leisure tours , academic programs etc, our mission is to break down barriers , be it language barriers, cultural barriers, or geographical barriers.
We are present in more than 50 countries around the globe and we hosted more than 15 million students in about 450 schools so far.
How can EF help you? 4 out of many programs EF is offering University preparation abroad 16+ : preparation for placement at one of our 150 partner universities, 6/9/11 months Academic Year Abroad 17+ : Combine academic and language studies, 6-12 months Language courses abroad 25+: 2-52 weeks Language courses abroad 15+: 2-52 weeks
For more information please visit our website or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube.
EF Go Global - Writing a CV in the age of social media
WRITING A CV IN THE AGE OF
Webinar presented by: James Mandl
Online Campaign Team
WHY? HOW? WHAT?
References: (1) (2)
WHY IS THE CV IMPORTANT?
HOW DO YOU WRITE A TOP CV?
WHAT CAN YOU DO AND WHAT CAN EF DO FOR YOU?
CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE
BUSY RECRUITERS RECEIVING MORE THAN 100 CVs / DAY
WILL YOUR CV STAND OUT?
WHAT RECRUITERS LOOK AT IN YOUR
References: (4) (5)
AVERAGE TIME SPENT ON YOUR CV: 6 SECONDS
KEY ELEMENTS: NAME, CURRENT COMPANY, PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT, START AND END
DATES OF PREVIOUS AND CURRENT POSITION, EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
BE STRATEGIC ABOUT WHAT YOU INCLUDE
HAVE A PROPER STRUCTURE
Education Experience Personal Info Skills Personal Interests References
THE MORE YOU FOCUS, THE MORE EXPOSURE YOU GIVE TO RELEVANT EXPERIENCES
FOCUS ON: WHAT RECRUITER IS LOOKING FOR, JOB REQUIREMENTS, WHAT YOU CAN
BRING, RELEVANT EXPERIENCES, SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
HAVE CLEAR ACHIEVEMENTS
NUMBERS & PERCENTAGES MEASURABLE INFORMATION
CUSTOMIZE YOUR CV TO THE POSITION
YOU ARE APPLYING FOR
INFORM YOURSELF ABOUT THE COMPANY
ADAPT YOUR CV TO THAT INFORMATION
USE STRATEGIC KEYWORDS OF THE INDUSTRY AND COMPANY
THE INNOVATIVE ONE
References: (17) (2)
THE COVER LETTER
I am writing in response to the opening for xxxx.
I can offer you seven years of experience
managing communications for top-tier xxxx
firms, excellent project-management skills, and a
great eye for detail, all of which should make me
an ideal candidate for this opening.
I share your company’s values like xxxx as I am
passionate about xxxx and did xxxx in the past.
Therefore, I would love to be a part of your
I have attached my résumé for your review and
would welcome the chance to speak with you
FROM PRINT CVs TO YOUR
PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PRESENCE
“The resume of the future should enable candidates to tell their story without the
limitations of a plain text document. Profiles will be an interactive experience with rich
content that should adapt and dynamically direct viewers to relevant skills, strengths
and accomplishments based on the viewers needs.”