Friday, 28 August 2015

Lose weight - Fast!

Okay I've not gone crazy and nor am I about to start writing about weight loss. I'm talking about slimming down that CV.

A general rule of thumb says that your CV should be no longer than 2 pages long, this means you need to summarise your experience as best you can but remain interesting and appealing. No mean feat for most but if you've a whole heap of experience then it can be a really tricky task (NB sometimes its ok to push to 3 pages particularly in certain industries where your experience will be technically/scientifically specialist).

So how do you go about reducing all of that information that you're CONVINCED is so important
and every employer MUST know? Hint; they don't.

Layout - make sure the layout of your CV is conducive to keeping it short. If you're short of space then don't have your address listed, have it on one line across the top, the same goes for your education, don't list it vertically, do it horizontally.

Necessary? - Is everything you're including in your education necessary? You really don't need to include all of your GCSEs or O'Levels, you can summarise your A Levels unless they are specific to your role (which if you've a lot of experience they won't be any more). Just remember that an employer wants to look at your experience and your skill, not necessarily your education before you were 18.

Training - Unless it is really relevant to the role you're applying to, you don't need to include every training course you've ever been on. A prospective employer is unlikely to be interested in your 2011 Fire Marshall training course or your 2008 Word refresher, make sure the courses you're listing are specific to the role. Degree courses are always good to include even if the role is in a different field, you're likely to get questioned if that's the case but it will show you have commitment and dedication to study.

Job specifics - Here's where it gets tricky. You want to make sure you're including everything that's relevant but you don't want to waffle on for multiple paragraphs. So how do you go about it? It's pretty simple really but a LOT of people can't be bothered because it takes effort.

You need to tailor your CV to the role you're applying to.

Make sure you read the job advert and apply it to your CV, don't make it too obvious of course but it doesn't take a genius to read a job ad and find out what they're looking for. Make sure you include any relevant experience, specific matches are good, for example if they're looking for someone with team leadership experience and you have it, put it in (You'd be shocked how many people miss off the most obvious of things), if you don't have that specific experience then see if you have anything that vaguely matches up, if you don't have anything that does then don't waffle on about something that is completely irrelevant, you can try and make up with your lack of experience in one area by shining in another.

Remove any information that doesn't align with what they're after but if you have something outstanding to include then do put it in.

If you feel you just have too much marvellous experience and simply CAN'T slim it down (trust me, you can) then you can start a list, again, horizontal rather than vertical, and you should focus on responsibilities rather than achievements.......

Responsibilities and Achievements - This is a rather old school approach to a CV but if you're struggling for space it can save you, by splitting your experience this way, you can really see the wood for the trees - as can an employer - you will be able to identify the two areas and also identify what information is most relevant to the job you're applying to. You can also create lists this way as described above.

This is a simplified approach of course but it can get you on the right track to removing irrelevant information and making your CV match as closely to the job as possible whilst also showcasing the talented individual you are!

Come and talk to us if you need further guidance. We can help you find the right balance 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Staying positive

I've seen quite a few articles of late about staying positive in your job search it sort of follows on from my last blog post of remaining positive when you've been made redundant. This post will focus more on some other aspects of remaining stoic and constant when you're job hunting, especially if you're currently unemployed.
These pointers count whether your a graduate who has recently left uni or someone who has been working for many years.

1 - Don't be complacent in your efforts. It really does help to set daily goals, to be proactive and to maintain a positive outlook. Don't just sit and wait for something, if you put the effort in, it will happen, it might not happen as quickly as you want it to but it will happen. The following pointers reiterate this but if you want the best out of something you have to put your best in, it's that simple really. Don't expect miracles to happen, work hard, play hard, learn to dance in the rain and other motivational musings!!

2 - Don't machine gun applications, its obvious and it looks unprofessional. What do I mean by this? When you're searching for a job, say you're on and you see a role that looks like it matches some of your skills but not all, so you think - sod it, I'll give it a go - that's fine and sometimes if enough skills align then it could be a good thing, but if you're just hammering out CVs to anything and everything it will be obvious, you probably won't be doing a cover note, you probably won't be tailoring your CV, you probably won't be checking your accuracy in terms of skill match and you probably won't be reading the job specs thoroughly. It will be 100% obvious because of these points that you are just throwing your CV out there and that is highly off putting to a hiring manager or recruiter. Why should they take the time with you if you can't take the time with them?

3 - Remain accurate - follows on from above really. If you're sending out a lot of applications and you're doing it right, make sure your contact is the right one for the right job, your cover note is addressed to the right company, and the job title is the right one. If a candidate can't take the time to check these minor details I can tell you now as a recruiter, it is SO off-putting and is again likely to lead to you ending up in the no pile.

4 - Don't lie!
I was talking to a colleague today about a couple of candidates who had lied to get a foot in the door. Both had got to offer stage before they came clean and now both offers weren't going ahead and the candidate's reputation was in tatters.
Even after all these years in recruitment I'm still baffled as to why people lie when applying to a job. These particular people had lied about their degrees. Each had said they were qualified in an area that they weren't, we understood their desperation to get a permanent job as they'd both been out of work for sometime but we would now never touch them with a barge pole - its that simple, how could we possibly trust them in our business when they've lied before they've even got here?
Lying about anything on your CV is just a straight no. Embellish, maybe, if you can pull the skill off you have embellished but outright lie? No way.

The following links are the recent articles I've seen. Come and have a browse on our Facebook page www.facebook,com/cvukwriterltd

Not quite job related but still relevant -

Thursday, 28 May 2015


What a boring title! Sadly, for those going through it, it's not a boring situation.

If you worked through 2008/2009, it's likely you knew 1 if not more people, who were made redundant or were placed at risk of redundancy, it was a very scary time and I was one of those placed at risk, I retained my role but seeing so many colleagues and friends have to leave the jobs they'd worked so hard in through no fault of their own was heartbreaking at times, and i'm not exaggerating.

Redundancy happens all the time, its a way for companies to keep costs down, loose excess headcount and slimline a burgeoning business in tough times. Its never pleasant but it happens and it may happen to you, I just wanted to write a post on it to highlight a few things to keep in mind if you're put in this position and how to remain positive and proactive.

1 - Every cloud
I don't mean that to sound flippant but it may be that this is the best thing that has ever happened to you. If you're fairly new to the business, well, who wants to stay in a business that is making people redundant, its not the greatest of signs so perhaps its best to get out early. If you've been there forever then all the more reason to celebrate, perhaps you were stuck in a rut, afraid to get out, happy in your comfort zone, well now you HAVE to move, you have to do something and this could be the push you needed to find something bigger and better. It won't always be that obvious when you're worrying about your bills but do keep it in mind, it will help you through the tough times.

2 - Dust off that Cv
It may be that you've been using the same CV for a while, or not, either way this is a good opportunity to really take a long hard look at how you're selling yourself, after-all your position is a bit different now so you need to really understand how you can present yourself in the best way possible and get in front of that new hiring manager. Are you clear, concise and able to demonstrate your expertise, whatever that may be? Of course cvukwriter can help you with this if you're not sure....!

3 - Don't dwell
There's no two ways about it, even if you were quite hoping for redundancy for whatever reason, its still not a great place to be and for 99% of the population, if you're going to leave a business you'd rather do it on your own volition. But don't dwell on this, try and keep your head up, dwelling on the negative will only stall your efforts to a more positive future. Motivated people will do more and be more, unmotivated people who dwell on the bad times will more likely be the people sitting watching Eastenders of an evening rather than tweaking their CV for that role they just spied on Indeed. Easier said than done buy it's often a case of mind over matter

4 - You're better than you think
So you've been made redundant, try not to take it personally (yeah right). That made sound like a daft statement but it's the case, self confidence can go a long way (although when it tips over into arrogance then no one can save you!), just because you've been made redundant doesn't mean your skills won't be valued elsewhere, doesn't mean you won't thrive elsewhere and it sure doesn't mean that someone else won't hire you. They will, you just have to keep the faith and as per post 3, don't dwell on the negative.

For further reading these articles might be of interest:

Aimed at the over 40s but valid points that can apply to many people regardless of age;

Good tips that hopefully your employer would have covered anyway;

The serious side of redundancy, know where you stand, another useful article from the Guardian;

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

(Not so) Great Expectations

As you leave university you will have spent the last 3 or 4 years working hard, playing hard and hopefully enjoying your time before you have to start making some choices about your next steps which for most graduates will be, what job do you want?

It’s important that when you’re stepping out post university that your expectations match the outside world and most of the time, these expectations revolve about money and time.
If I had a pound for the amount of times I’ve spoken to a graduate and they ask “What is the salary” or “do you offer flexitime” I would be a rich person right now, they’re not taboo questions to ask but there is a time and place and within the first 10 minutes of an initial phone call with a potential employer is not the time nor the place. Which brings me back to the point of this blog, what are your expectations? It’s a really important question to ask as it could demonstrate that your “wants” are totally out of whack with the market you’re applying in or the employment market in general.

It’s not uncommon these days for businesses to offer flexible working, this could mean working from home, staggering your hours or working from a different office but that is not to say that as a fresh graduate with no experience you won’t be expected to come in, on time, to one location, every day for some time to come. You have a lot to learn and you can’t do that if you’re not with your team, it’s not only about learning a skill or demonstrating yours, it’s about learning to be with people in a professional environment, answering the phone, being in meetings, conduct with clients or senior members of staff, very important skills to learn and you can’t do that at home on your sofa and expecting to be able to flit here and there as and when you want is very off putting.

Money is the other embarrassing point and there are far too many grads who think they should be in line for £35K for just graduating. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain jobs that will pay that such as Oil and Gas engineering but most won’t and coming in all heavy handed with expectations of “at least £30000 starting salary” (immediate reject) is so off putting and recruiters will often have to have a very uncomfortable conversation about what you’re thinking!! This usually results in the candidate swallowing their pride or flouncing off somewhere else only to be told the same thing.

These two examples just demonstrate some extremes of behaviour and to ensure you’re on the money when you apply to roles, do your research, what is the market ACTUALLY paying, what benefits are most common in your field? You can play hardball but know your limits and you’ll not only come across as interesting but also astute and someone that an employer may want on their team, unlike someone who’s expectations are so above what they should be, you’re dismissed before you’ve even started the process.

It’s worth me ending by saying that graduates in the main are keen, enthusiastic and present themselves well as they know it’s a busy market out there but there are the odd 3 or 4 that let everyone down and give them all a bad rep. There’s certainly more that can be done at universities to change that but that’s for another post (and it’s certainly not a criticism).

Any comments about this article? Is it too harsh? Do you think graduates have a right to be pushy? Do let me know

Sunday, 4 January 2015

UK job market at the start of 2015

Welcome to 2015! I hope you have enjoyed the seasonal slowdown and have spent the first few days  of the year not sticking to your resolutions!

My blogs will be slightly more focused from here on in and I'm starting with a brief (very brief) picture of the UK job market as we head into the year.

It's been clear for a while that what once were green shoots in the employment market are now grassy meadows, we are back in a candidate driven market with many industries enjoying a more buoyant time with the ability to hire new staff in significant numbers.
Without a doubt, many recruiters and indeed managers still feel the reverberations of the recession and the impact it had on employment, it's taken a long time to get to this point but we're heading into 2015 with more positive expectations for the year ahead.

But why focus on the positive?!! We're always so good at finding the negative spin aren't we (our media are at least) so this is mine - research currently suggests that unfilled posts in the UK are costing the economy £18 BN a year. Eighteen billion - that's huge!!

Empty seats are not great and every recruiter's aim is to get the right bum on the right seat, no bum means a cost to the company but also to the wider economy due to time lost, money lost, inability to fulfill contracts on time etc etc - this paragraph came out wrong but you know what I mean.

I'll link to the article below but the issue effects nearly every industry, social, healthcare (obvs), finance, retail, professional services and more.

Its an issue that is already being talked about in the longer term with an ageing population, a lack of qualified candidates and the problems we will face in the future but that is not for I would be here for ages and you would have left in a flurry of boredom.

So what does this all mean? To be honest, I'm not sure, every day you read something different about our economy and the employment market, what you read and what it means in a general sense will depend on the writer. One thing is for sure, we have jobs once again, there are jobs out there, they don't suit everyone I know but as I said, those green shoots have defiantly shot and it would seem that in some industries they're impossible to keep up with.

So what does this mean to you as a job seeker? Well I would firstly say that you shouldn't expect your job search to be easy, there is still a huge amount of competition out there, particularly at Graduate level but if you're committed and intelligent, if you know your market and can demonstrate that in your application through study and/or experience then you are off on the right foot, of course if you're not sure where to start then get in touch with us.

So 2015 - who knows what will happen as we move through the weeks and months, one thing is for sure, no one can predict it, no matter how many facts and figures they give you.