Q&A: Graduate CV

This week we have a question form a recent graduate who is looking to forge their career in event management.

Hi Nicola, I have been looking for a new role recently as the current position I am in is temporary – I have got some good experience in managing events as part of a placement at University and my current role. However I don’t seem to be attracting hiring managers with my CV and wondered if a functional format CV is the right format for me? Without this format my CV looks limited and listing my recent assignments as suggested by recruiters doesn’t seem to be effective either.

Wendy – Project Executive; Derby

Hi Wendy, Many thanks for your question. I am often asked if a functional CV (one which highlights out core competencies at the top of the CV) works for project management roles as effectively skills are the same throughout each role. I have to disagree with this statement as every role is different and I have yet to meet an organisation which runs its projects the same as another business. Therefore it is important to use a chronological format where you can drill down into what the projects were and how you delivered them in each role. Now I understand that you have a limited number of roles on your CV being a recent graduate but this is where you can list your part time positions and responsibilities too, as all experience is good experience. You have been fortunate enough to get some solid industry experience on your placement and in your current role which I would suggest you place most emphasis on and also draw out some key achievements. Your CV will soon be rich with information about your abilities and experience to date; by taking a professional approach to contextualising your experience and where you have used your skills you will be demonstrating excellent communication skills to your potential employer and should start to attract attention from hiring personnel. Here’s some further information about Functional Vs Chronological CV formats.

Six Things To Do Before An Interview – Guest Blog

With the current economic climate in its current state, interviews, let alone job offers, are a little on the rare side. Because of this, when you’re called in to discuss your suitability for a position, you can’t afford not to put on a good show.

Though the interview itself is of course important, what you do before the interview is equally so. When it comes to effective interviewing, preparation is key.

An hour spent preparing for an interview can not only save you a lot of awkward silences and regretful rambling, it can also greatly increase the chances of you actually landing the job. Here are six things that you should do before every job interview.

Research the Company

The first thing that you should do upon landing an interview is to spend a few minutes researching the company in question. Many job candidates arrive at interviews knowing little other than the companies name and this sends a very bad message.

A little bit of research about both the company and the industry in which it operates will allow you to illustrate that you are serious the position.

Ask Yourself What they Want

If you’ve been called in for an interview, you probably meet the positions requirements in terms of both qualifications and experience. The interview is your chance to illustrate that you also meet the positions requirements in terms of personality.

To do this, you need to ask yourself what they are looking for. What specific personality traits would allow you to perform the job well?

Think of Examples

Once you’ve established what personality traits the employer is looking for, you then need to figure out how you are going to demonstrate them. Unfortunately, listing them is isn’t going to work.

You need to come with specific examples in your past employment when you demonstrated said traits. Specific examples speak volumes, general adjectives say very little.

Decide What to Ask

Unprepared job applicants are often stumped at the end of job interviews when they are asked if they have any questions. You can save yourself a lot of stuttering by coming up with a few questions to ask before hand.

Avoid asking about the salary. Instead ask about working conditions and specifics of the role. Doing so allows you to demonstrate that you won’t work just anywhere.

Choose the Right Clothes

Regardless of what position you are applying for, you can’t go wrong with a suit. Some people question the suitability of such attire when they are applying to work somewhere with a casual dress code. Ignore such thoughts.

There is no such thing as a casual dress code when it comes to job interviews. When you wear a suit, you are demonstrating that you are both a professional and somebody that genuinely cares about landing the position.

Map Your Route

Finally, we have the small matter of deciding how you’re going to get to the interview. Many people don’t make a trial run and this is why so many people arrive at job interviews late.

When you go somewhere that you haven’t been before, traffic is difficult to predict and wrong turns are easy to make. And just because you know where the building is, that does not mean that you know where the actual interview room is. Always do a trial run.

Peter Johnson is an established career consultant who offers professional assistance to students seeking designer jobs.

Applying for roles I am over-qualified for – Questions answered.

This week we have a fantastic question from someone looking to work for their dream employer – by (almost) any means….

Hi Nicola, can you advise about applying for a junior/admin role at your dream employers … Just to get a foot in the door at the right company. I’d be interested to know how to pitch an application for a job I could be described as over qualified for.

Vicky – Northampton.

Hi Vicky – great question! I’m not sure you are going to like my response though, as applying for roles less senior to your current role can be seen as a step backwards it is often the case that employers will discard your application for a number of reasons such as:

  1. HR / hiring manager may be anxious that you may be looking for a way into the business with no real desire to stay in the role – wanting to progress is great for most employers but when you are already a step or two ahead of the role, this means you will be in the advertised role for a few months before making a move upwards. This leaves HR and the hiring manager with the initial problem of filling the Admin role; this is essentially deemed as a waste of time and money recruitment wise.
  2. Suspecting you are looking for an easy-ride role, as it is more junior you perceive it as a job you can sit back in and not really engage. Whereas a less qualified person would see the role as a challenge and really work hard / demonstrate keenness.
  3. Your potential line manager may feel intimidated by you, especially if you have held a more senior role to them and have more experience – their job feels threatened by your presence.

My advice would be to wait for a role which is more in-line with your current seniority ideally as rejections for roles tends to put a mark against your name as candidates make an impression that they are either desperate for a role and applying for anything or didn’t read / understand the job descriptions – applications would then be rejected or put to the bottom of the pile.

Have you tried making a direct approach to the business in question? LinkedIn can be a great way-in, by looking up heads of departments etc and making contact you could start to form some relationships with the right people and then once a relevant role comes to your attention you can make an application and your name will already be known in the right circles. When you do make contact – ask questions about what career backgrounds the business tends to attract, how often XXX types roles come up and if you can get a fluid correspondence flowing – ask if you can meet for coffee. It’s playing the long game but it is more likely to harvest positive feedback and a way-in at a level you deserve to be at too (whilst gaining some valuable insider information which you can use to strengthen your application).

Free Project Management CV writing essential guide

Are you trying to put together your resume but unsure of what you should be included in your CV? Over the past couple of months we have covered a great deal of information on CV writing for project professionals on the blog and have drawn together all this information into one easy guide.

Covering areas such as:

  • An explanation of why job applications are rejected – a great start to writing your CV is to understand the pitfalls of making an application.
  • Basic CV structure – an easy guide through the structuring of a professional CV, what to include!
  • Understanding your target audience – you need to know what your prospective employers want to know about you, some handy hints to get you started.
  • Specific detail about writing your profile and examples of good and bad profiles.
  • The benefits of adding key achievements and what to state.
  • Employment history – addressed with specific examples of a role, written the right and the wrong way.
  • Information about stating referees and hobbies in your CV – understand how an employer views these.

This document has been compiled for those of you who want to write your CV yourself – however once you start to understand the complexity of writing your CV to include your experience and skill-set versus what the employer needs to understand, you may decide to take up the services of a professional CV writer such as The CV Righter. There’s no shame in it – in fact having a recruiters’ perspective to how your CV reads is invaluable in the ever competitive job market.

If you would like a free essential guide to CV writing, please contact us through our webpage here.