Candidate Corner

Candidate Corner

A well-presented CV is vital in your search for a new job. It will not get you the job (your talents and abilities will hopefully do that), but a good CV can make the difference between getting an interview or your application being thrown in the bin. With your CV being one of many, employers will only read it for a short space of time, so it is extremely important that it is structured clearly, with your best selling points presented in a logical manner and the most relevant information readily identifiable.

Everybody writes and presents their CV as they like, there is no right or wrong way. However, with these words of advice we will help you produce a clear and concise CV that will increase your chances of being invited for an interview.

Good CV's are logical, clear, concise and simple with sentences including short, to the point key words and statements. It is best to leave out words, such as, 'and' and 'I' as much as you can and make each sentence as meaningful as possible. An effective CV needs to focus the readers' attention on the criteria that they are looking for, highlighting important information that can be accessed and interpreted easily. Try to match yourself with the criteria they are looking for.

You may also be asked to justify and elaborate certain statements that you have made in your CV if you are invited to an interview, so you should be honest and accurate all the way through. Be careful not to over-exaggerate, however, always remain positive! Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are vital, as well as the overall layout and format of the CV.

Structure & Presentation
First impressions are very important! Each section needs to be headed clearly so that it is well presented, orderly and pleasing to look at, to avoid any discouragement to read on. Your skills, experience and achievements must flow in a logical manner detailing all key points. Any dates should be included where applicable and placed in reverse chronological order i.e. latest job first, working backwards to your first job. TWO OR THREE pages is the standard length of a good CV. DO NOT let your CV run any longer than an absolute maximum of 4 pages. CV’s over 4 pages are almost always viewed as wasteful and instantly discarded.

Once a layout and structure is decided on, you should stick to it using consistent headings and sub-headings as well as a STANDARD FONT SIZE AND TYPE. In general, Verdanna or Arial (or a modern type face) and size 9/10 is the norm but the use of bold or different size fonts can highlight important information and point the reader to the relevant areas! All text should be fully justified so the paragraphs look neat and tidy and there should be a balance between text and space. Bullet points are useful to break up text; black lines can be used to emphasize headings.

Personal Details Need To Include
Name, Date of Birth, Your Address, Home telephone, Mobile telephone, Email address, Nationality. Married or single (you do not need weight, height, religion, inside leg measurement etc)

Education And Qualifications:
With the date of when you took them on the left hand side, list the schools/universities you attended, the full title of your degree and any significant exam results.

Professional Qualifications & Courses
This should include any RECENT & RELEVENT courses or qualifications you have taken. Do not list anything that is not relevant to the job you are applying for, or something that is very out of date.

Work Experience
On the left hand side put the dates that you were at a particular company. This should include the month you started/finished. Then list the company you worked for and the job title you had UNDERNEATH the company name. You should then write a brief description of that the company does (do not assume that people are aware of the company you are working for) and include a link to their website. Underneath this you should then present your job duties in ‘bullet’ form, that is, in a clear, logical sentence, one after another for example:
  • Formulate and ensure HR policy and system is implemented in line with corporate policies and market practices and compliance with local municipal and state labour regulations. Keep track with changes in our corporate policies, market practice and labour regulations. Advise the management of the changes and revise the HR policy when necessary.
  • Work on organizational and manpower development plan to support a high growth and dynamic business.
  • Responsible for recruiting high calibre candidates to support the business’s staffing plan and growth agenda.
It is important that what you say is relevant and detailed in short, bullet-pointed statements. Make clear what your individual contribution was using positive language and include your responsibilities and achievements. Back everything up with quantifiable facts, such as size of budgets and results achieved, to make your skills tangible.

Under each job you should then list your achievements. Think carefully about which examples you include in this section, as employers may deduce a lot from your choice about your motivations and what you regard as important.

Extra-Curricular Activities
This section on hobbies and interests should be kept short and include information, such as, membership of and positions of responsibility in sports teams, drama societies etc. Any information should have a purpose, showing skills relevant to the role you are applying for and saying something of interest about you.

Unless requested, references need not be given at the initial application stage and a simple "references available on request" should suffice. Employers will ask for references if and when they need them.
The best interview advice we can offer is to prepare for it. This may sound obvious, but it's not. Too many applicants walk into an interview without knowing as much as they should about the industry, the company and its problems. Remember: You are there to solve a problem. Otherwise, the company wouldn't be hiring.

Our interview advice:
  • Know the company. Find out as much as you can about the position, the company and its needs, so you can show how your background meets those needs. You can gather information by reading the company’s website and researching any articles that may appear on the Internet.
  • Know yourself. Mentally review the skills and character traits you have that will help the company's bottom line. Think in terms of the value you can add to the position and the company.
  • Know your job history. Mentally review your past achievements and be prepared to describe your work experience in detail. Gather letters of reference and samples of your work to present to the interviewer as proof of your past accomplishments. Practice describing your experience in terms of your responsibilities and accomplishments at each job.
  • Know the questions. You can almost bet on being asked: "Tell me about yourself." Approach this from the employer's point of view. Ask yourself, "If I were hiring someone for this position, what would I want to know?" Then answer those questions. And be ready for tough ones, too. Think of the worst questions you could be asked about your experience and abilities, then prepare positive responses.
  • Prepare questions of your own. Employers are as interested in your questions as they are in your answers. And they'll react favourably if you ask intelligent questions about the position, the company and the industry. (Examples: Where does this position fit into the company as a whole? Is there any problem on this job with waste/accuracy/meeting quotas, etc.? What is the largest single problem facing your staff now?)
  • Get the big picture. Visualize the entire interview, from start to finish. See yourself as performing with style and confidence. How will the interview end? Will you get a job offer or be called back for a second interview?

Make a Good First Impression
The outcome of the interview will depend largely on the impression you make during the first five minutes. To succeed, you must project a professional, competent and enthusiastic image. Your aim is to convince the interviewer that you would be an asset to the company. Keep the following in mind:
  • Punctuality. Do whatever it takes to arrive a few minutes early. If necessary, drive to the company the night before and time yourself. Allow extra time for traffic, parking and slow elevators.
  • Dress. Your clothing should be appropriate for the position you're seeking. Attire must fit well within the office and be immaculate. If you don't know what the typical attire at the company is, call and ask your consultant. Shoes should be polished; pants/skirts and shirts pressed.
  • Grooming. Clean hair and fingernails are essential. Hair should be styled conservatively. Avoid excessive make-up, jewelry or cologne.
  • Handshake. A firm handshake is appropriate and projects confidence. Make eye contact when you shake.
  • Body language. Send the right message by standing straight, moving confidently, and sitting slightly forward in your chair.

Conduct the Interview
Have your own agenda and know where the interview should be heading. This will give you confidence and help you move from one area of questioning to the next. Remember: Most interviewers are as uncomfortable as you are. They just want the position to be filled as fast as possible. If you can put the interviewer at ease by helping things move smoothly, you'll improve your chances of being hired. Remember the following:
  • Enthusiasm and eye contact. Show your enthusiasm by making eye contact and keeping an interested expression. Nod and gesture in moderation; excessive body movement can distract and annoy the interviewer Listening skills. Listen carefully and ask questions to probe deeper into what the interviewer is telling you. Most interviewers are delightfully surprised by a question such as, "How could I help you solve the problem you've just described?"
  • Communication skills. Good grammar and articulate speech are essential. If this is an area where you're weak, work on it. Practice on your family, practice in front of a mirror, record your voice, take classes -- do whatever it takes to become a more effective communicator.
  • Negative statements about previous jobs or employers. NEVER make them. Instead, be diplomatic. No matter how bad your last job or boss was, there’s probably something good you learned from the experience. Emphasize the positive -- with a smile.

Follow Through
This is a crucial and often-overlooked final step in the interviewing process. Remember: No home run or 350-yard golf shot was ever hit without a proper follow-through. At the end of the interview thank everybody for his or her time. Once you are away from the interview venue call your consultant with feedback on the interview. Good detailed feedback can often help your consultant secure you a second interview or Job offer.

Please do not hesitate to speak to our consultant if you need any further interview advice.
There are right and wrong ways of resigning from your job. Doing it the wrong way can lead to bad feelings between you and your employer, recriminations or even a bad reference. On the other hand, the correct resignation etiquette will contribute to continued success in both your personal and career development. Make sure that you know what you are doing, be prepared, and be positive and good luck!

The Resignation Meeting (Resigning Orally)
  • Work out what you're going to say and then stick to it. The boss will try and probe you for more information – details that you may not want to give at this stage. Don’t be obstructive but simply make it clear that you are submitting an oral resignation.
  • Emphasize the positives: you never know when your career will mean that you cross paths with your former employers so don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your time at the firm.
  • Expect a reaction: unless your boss is expecting you to quit, your decision may come as a surprise. The boss may get emotional or even confrontational in which case, stick to your prepared comments.
  • Retain your composure. The boss may by now no longer see you as a team player and may even feel betrayed. Once again, stick to your pre-prepared comments and try not to rise to the challenge. Speak in measured tones and regulate your breathing.
  • Always leave the meeting on a good note and be as co-operative as possible. Stress that you will undertake the handover of any uncompleted work to the best of your ability. People remember both the first and last impression you make on them.

The Written Resignation
  • A written letter of resignation always gives you more time to prepare what you want to say and gives you greater control of your message. Use this opportunity constructively.
  • In its simplest form, a resignation letter should only include the following information: name, date, the person it is addressed, notice of termination of employment, when this is effective from and finally, your signature. One of our letter templates (below) may be perfect for your circumstances.
  • If you're leaving in good circumstances and feel that you want to say a little bit more, again, emphasize the positive – perhaps thank the boss for the opportunities he / she gave you - you never know when you may need your ex-employer to vouch for you or to give you a reference.
  • If however, you're leaving in strained or bad circumstances, resist the temptation to badmouth and let off steam. Remember, your letter of resignation may be used as a stick with which to bash you later on.
  • Don’t get personal. Just because you are now leaving, a written letter of resignation is not the vehicle with which to tell your boss what you really thought of them. It is never polite to include personal remarks in a resignation letter. If you genuinely have differences of opinion with your boss, save the communication of them for another time and place. Never commit these thoughts to paper – your comments will remain in your personnel file and may come back to haunt you.

The Counter-Offer
  • Is this what you really want? Has anything changed? Why did you take the decision to resign in the first place and have these factors been effectively addressed?
  • Will you have the same standing within the company? The boss may now be doubtful of your 100% commitment to the firm. In this way, maybe it would be better to move on. Having already resigned once, will you be more partial to seeking alternative employment more easily next time?
  • How does the acceptance of a counter-offer affect your integrity with your would-be employers? You never know when you may cross paths with them again.

Leave on the Right note
  • Make sure that you’ve given ample notice to the firm of your intention to leave. Your notice period is usually stated in your contract of employment or in the Company handbook. Where no period of notice is stipulated, you should allow between 2 and 4 weeks for any handover of work to take place.
  • Make sure that you’ve completed any outstanding tasks and participated in the smooth handover of any unfinished work.
  • Ensure that your boss knows that you’ve actively participated in this process and that you have been as co-operative as possible
  • Take time out to speak to all of your colleagues and associates. Give them support and make positive comments about their contribution to your time at the firm. Try and remain in touch because again, you never know when they’ll be useful to your personal and career development in the future.
  • Negotiate a fair settlement for any outstanding salary, holiday entitlement and commission payments that are due to you