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Reading your CV is a company’s first chance to form a professional impression of you. How it reads, looks and the areas that you concentrate on will tell a lot about you as an individual. You need to keep the reader interested, by giving them just about enough information to wet their appetite. Make it personal but keep it concise and relevant to the sector you want to work in.
A CV should NEVER be more than two pages long, especially if you are a recent graduate. It’s better to be as succinct as possible to keep the attention of the reader. Education and work experience (paid and unpaid) should be in chronological order, with the most recent first. Use bullet points to help you summarise and keep the layout neat. Use an easy to read font and make sure you thoroughly proofread your CV to whittle out any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
Although you can use CV templates to help with the layout of your CV, you should keep your version as non-generic and personalised as possible. This is your chance to shine, stand out from the pack and really get yourself noticed. Use keywords and sell yourself through action verbs (‘managed’, ‘presented’ etc) to come across with a can-do attitude. This is your chance to sell your own personal brand, so make sure you represent your achievements accordingly.
It is imperative that you are happy with your CV and believe it to be an honest, attractive and accurate reflection of your professional career to date. Only start sending it out to potential employers once you are completely satisfied that it is the best it could possibly be. If you need help with it, just ask us.
Your CV should include:
- Personal details
- Profile outlining the sector / sort of opportunities you’re interested in
- Employment History / Work Experience
- Awards / Achievements / Interests
Things we look for
Good presentation and a clear layout – shows there’s been considerable effort and thought gone into your CV.
A punchy tone and concise points – will make you come across as confident and collected.
Relevant and appropriate information – edit your CV to the role. If your CV states that you’re keen to break into Accountancy but you’re applying for a role in Digital Media, then you’ll be fighting a losing battle from the start.
Avoid using clichés – people tend to think they will help them to stand out from the crowd but it has the opposite effect because they are overused. Instead, choose to highlight your best attributes with personal examples.
Original and truthful – we receive around 10,000 CVs a month. The ones that stand out are unique and don’t read as if they have been copied and pasted from lots of different example CVs. Any inconsistencies in the information that you provide generally do get found out - most of the companies we work with will ask for references (normally a professional and an academic one) - so you won’t do yourself any favours by over-embellishing the truth/ amplifying your skills/fabricating.
To see some template CVs, please click here.
Am I Creating the right impression?
The way you handle yourself during the application process and your level of communication - emails, letters, phone manner - is an employer’s first indication as to how you might handle yourself in a business environment.
Basic contact resources should be professional at all times. Email addresses such as blondienats@ or psycho_chris@ do not get a good response from employers, whereas having firstname.lastname@example.org does. Similarly, make sure your voicemail greeting demonstrates your professionalism and sobriety - a cheesy pop song playing the background won’t do you any justice. Any communication between yourself and the potential employer should be targeted - from a prospective cover letter to a follow-up email, get the name of the person in charge of recruitment and address all correspondence to them. Research goes a long way to stand out from the rest of the applicants.
Is this the right role for me?
Keep an open mind. Employers want to see that candidates are not only serious about their job search but that they are also excited at the prospect of starting their career.
You might come across a role you like the sound of, although some of the job spec doesn’t appeal to you at first. If the role is in the sector you are looking to break into and you get offered an interview, you should definitely go. This will give you the chance to learn more about the company and the opportunity itself, possibly opening your mind up to new avenues.
Get out as much as you can to meet people in the industries you are interested in. Network your way round events as you never know what sort of opportunities may arise from having had an informal chat with one of the attendees. The more people you meet, the more informed a decision you can make about which role is right for you.
If you are offered an interview for a role you are no longer interested in, tell the company first hand in order to not waste any time. However, do not despair if you are attending interviews but not being successful in your approach - instead, look at these from a practical point of view: the more interviews you attend, the more polished your technique should become!
How do I get myself noticed?
Jobs boards now make it very easy to apply for countless jobs online. However, as hundreds of candidates are applying for the same roles as you, on the same jobs boards, how can you make yourself stand out?
First of all, make sure you follow up on your applications and touch base with employers/agencies to introduce yourself, so you’re more than just a CV. Take a note of which roles you’ve applied to with each company, in case someone calls you about a position out of the blue, you’ll know why they’re calling you.
You want to show potential employers that their role is of particular interest and importance to you. If a company or an employer call, then be on the ball straight away. Be bubbly, chatty and happy to hear from them. If you can’t speak to them there and then, then politely ask to call them back asap. Don’t forget to take down their contact details! Do not leave it too long to return the call as they will speak to more candidates in the meantime and could fill up those precious interview spots.
We try and communicate with candidates as much as possible but so much of the job hunt is about timing. Having a chat with an employer or recruiter might spark a conversation about a company or a role that you could be perfect for. Don’t wait for people to call you; try and take the initiative yourself.
Understand the role you’ve applied for
Before you meet any potential employers, you should have researched the company and your potential role within it. One key misconception about the interview stage is that it’s one-sided - this is your chance to shine and see how you would fit in.
Prospective employers will look favourably on candidates who have done their homework. You may think this is common sense, but memorising a website’s content is not what we mean by this.
Get a good feel for what the company does: what markets they operate in, how long they’ve been established. Find out who is interviewing you and what role their role is.
You should prove that you hold informed opinions about the firm and be charismatic in your interviews. Thanks to this, you will be able to ask relevant and more insightful questions during your interview, which is bound to impress the board. Choose something that interests you about the company to make your conversation more lively and personal. Don’t be a know-it-all but be able to show that you’ve taken a clear interest in what the company does. Come prepared!
How do I keep up-to-date with my dream industry?
As well as researching online, there is a wealth of trade magazines, blogs and newspapers that specialise in providing industry-specific information. Many of these reviews act as a reference point for professionals; by keeping abreast with these publications, you can learn a lot about how the field is developing.
Keeping an eye on your sector will not only stand you in good stead amongst your peers, but also benefit you with valuable insight into market trends, helping you to find talking points for your interview. By gaining more knowledge into the industry through your research, you will show real drive and enthusiasm to any potential employer through a clear desire to stay on top in your chosen sector.
Blogging has become a hugely popular medium. Join a community, read what industry experts are discussing and catch up on the latest news. This will give you the chance to keep your finger on the pulse and network with other professionals. Stay ahead of the competition by knowing your sector inside and out!
Journeys in London can take a lot longer during peak hours. Your first day could be the first time you’ve travelled to the company early in the morning so allow some extra time to make sure you’re not late for your first day. If you’re asked to arrive at 9:30am aim to get there for 9am in case the journey gets disrupted. If you arrive early take the chance to have a quick walk around the area so you get familiar with your new surroundings.
During your interviews you will probably have noticed how everyone is dressed around the office but if you are in any doubt, call in before your first day and ask. Clean your shoes and iron any shirts the night before so you’re not rushed in the morning. Try to keep your clothes quite sober and sensible to start off with. If the company has a more relaxed policy that’s fine but you’ll have many more occasions to wear your favourite jeans etc, after your first day. Make sure you create a positive, clean and tidy image from the very start.
Food and drink
Once you’ve been introduced to the team, you’ll probably be shown around the office to help you find your bearings and settle in. Don’t be afraid to start helping yourself to tea, coffee etc (make sure you ask if anyone else would like a drink). You can start to feel a bit more relaxed around colleagues and have a quick chat to make the transition smoother. Our one major DON’T with food is to avoid bringing in or making strong smelling food in the office. This won’t make you very popular with other colleagues which isn’t a great start.