Straight from the source
Desperate job seekers are the reasons overpriced job sites, CV consultants, career consultants, image consultants and the whole career-related side of the internet exists. Many people find the meaning in life, or at least some pleasure from getting a good job. That’s understandable. But the thing is, most of the advice offered to potential employees is given by “consultants”. Their qualifications are often dubious. Even if they have worked as HR managers, they still weren’t the main decision makers in their workplaces. Listening to the advice of higher-ups is great, but why a job seeker shouldn’t go straight to the main source?
Every time you are applying to a job, look at the advice coming from the owners or CEOs of companies. Why would you consider employment advice from someone who hasn’t ever worked as a boss?
If you clicked on this post, you are in the right place. I have unexpectedly fallen into a place where I decide which people will get a job, and which won’t.
With the lowest 50% of candidates, it’s easy. Sometimes I’m astonished how people work so hard to give no effort at all. If you have looked over your CV more than one time, congratulations, you are aeons ahead of them. It’s harder with candidates who are equally good. Sometimes a very small detail will lead to a candidate getting the job. “Avoid obvious mistakes” discusses this.
With this post, I want to give an opportunity for those candidates who have been down on their luck. Maybe a little perspective from the employer’s side will help you get your dream job!
What potential employees don’t consider
If the company is small or mid-sized, the opinion of the upper management will be very important in the hiring process. The company will at most have one HR person or just an assistant to sift through CVs.
That’s why a candidate applying to such companies should dedicate their time to studying the philosophy of the company and the CEO. This doesn’t mean that you have to memorize every little detail in a company’s “About us” page. It means that reflecting the goals and the corporate philosophy of your preferred workplace in your job interview is a must. Or else, you are likely to say the wrong thing to the person who holds the most power during a job interview.
Does your future employer present an image of a strict professional, or is he or she more of a rock star CEO? Of course, the HR department will be the first ones to see your CV. However, the philosophy and outlook on life of the CEO is an important criteria when selecting and hiring employers. Fit your CV to match them.
Match their expectations
Matching, and if possible, exceeding the expectations of potential employers should be the main goal of all job candidates. The bulk of all candidates never get the job because they don’t have the basic qualifications needed for the job.
Sure, you don’t have to tick all of the boxes for most job positions. Most jobs aren’t that competitive. But if you have less than 30% of needed skills and qualifications, only luck or exceptional circumstances can help you get the job in that case.
Also, sending a CV that is better suited for another industry will make you stand out negatively against the pool of candidates. Don’t send a creative CV for an accounting job, and don’t send an overly dry CV for an artistic job.
Moreover, I believe that engaging in predicting the expectations of your potential employers can benefit any candidate immensely. Try to place yourself in the shoes of your potential employers. What are they really looking for when hiring an employee for the position you are applying? What candidates are they looking to avoid? These questions will help you write a better CV and be more confident in a job interview.
Don’t be afraid to be creative
If you are applying for any position above the most monotonous ones, showing creativity is a must. And creativity is expressed differently in every profession. An accountant can show his or hers creativity by applying tools that cut down the time needed for counting. A manager can show creativity by coming up with ways to increase productivity that are fitted to specific workers. And so on, and so forth.
Creativity is not limited to the arts or jobs related to them. Creativity is thinking out of the box, and being confident to show how your differences help you stand out against other candidates.
However, a “creative” resume can be a hit or miss. I recommend avoiding that. Showing your creativity and innovative thinking in job interviews is the better choice.
Avoid obvious mistakes
Even one typographic mistake will make most candidate screeners throw out your application. Even if you are the top choice.
In the age of spell check, there is no excuse to leave obvious mistakes. Go through your CV at least three times. Punctuation mistakes aren’t so obvious, but they make reading and skimming through a text much harder.
It’s a rare mistake, but many people still make it. Using a word just because it makes your CV sound professional, without knowing the actual meaning of the word, can backfire immensely. Many words with Greek and Latin origins can sound sophisticated and help you construct the image of a well-read person. However, if you don’t know their actual meanings, you’ll either just be plain wrong, or worse, you’ll sound like a crazy person. Avoid that.
Moving away from writing mistakes, let’s look at content and formatting mistakes. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details of writing a good CV. I frequently see people who write their CVs as if they are historical romances. Or as if they are technical manuals. Oversharing and overt simplicity are both equally bad.
The content of a CV and the work experience you talk about in a job interview should always be relevant to the job you are applying for. There are not enough people who can talk about their burger-flipping job as if it is a profound job experience, to justify the advice to “Talk about the relevant parts of any job, even in a different industry”.
Formatting mistakes are fairly obvious. Don’t send an all-bulleted CV. Don’t use unusual fonts. Do use page breaks and justified or right alignment. Bold the main sections and space them out.
Also, employers mostly (certainly?) don’t care about your hobbies. Be careful with that section.
The main advice around the very obvious mistakes related to CVs can be summed up as “adhere to standards”. Candidates who do not adhere to the standard practices expected of them, 99% of the time sabotage themselves.
Consult a professional?
Consultants are there for a reason. Sure, they have their limitations, but they are great for fixing mistakes you might not even notice. We judge other people (even if only subconsciously), and a job interview is a socially acceptable setting to judge people harshly. A consultant can point out your behaviours or nervous ticks that will negatively impact a job interview.
Consultants are also more up-to date about the current standards and practices of CVs. They do change, and you don’t want to miss that. Also, higher level consultants can give invaluable advice and help when applying to hyper-competitive positions. If you can, use the opportunities consultants offer to your advantage.
The hidden advice
A candidate’s CV could be perfect. Their work experience just right for the role. Their conduct during an interview impeccable. But they still won’t get the job.
How? Maybe the candidate is not someone the management thinks will be a right fit to the already existing team dynamics. Maybe they subconsciously remind the hiring manager of a negative experience in their life. Maybe their auras don’t match?
There are always things beyond your control. It’s important to remember that. Accept that, learn from your mistakes, and try again. You never know, maybe the next opportunity will be even better than the one you lost.
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