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Career Advice

The First Choice in Integrated Human Resource Management

We understand what it's like to look for work. And part of our mission is to make the experience easier and more comfortable for you.
We'll work with you to identify your strengths and use our connections to promote your skills. But there are also things you can do to make your best impression on paper and in person – and increase your chances of success.
Tips for landing a great job. And for lasting success.

Resume Preparation:

Finding just about any job, whether Temporary, Permanent, or even part–time is like writing a book, where the chapters of a story are like stages in obtaining the job of your dreams. Writing a good solid and appealing resume begins chapter one of your new and exciting career life.
Here are some tips to get you started before you make that leap into the world of work.

Content:

Your aim is to convince the employer that you have the necessary experience, knowledge and hunger to do the job. Many CVs do nothing more than provides a stark list of job titles and duties; but all companies are results–orientated. So you must emphasize what you've achieved within a role, show how you added value to a company or how you made a difference. Always be honest about your achievements and skills and make sure the information is up to date, just one extra qualification or skill could make all the difference between getting an interview or not.

Structure:

Personal Details–
Start with your personal details (Name, Address, Phone Number, Age and Nationality), personal profile . Give a short 3 or 4 line personal profile summarizing your Skills, Experience, Knowledge – and Career aspirations. It's the perfect way to give the employer an overview of your suitability for the job.

Career History–

Employers are more interested in what you are doing now, or have done recently. So if you are already in employment, focus on your career history first and then move on to your academic qualifications. (If you are a college–leaver or still in education, start with details of your education and academic achievements.) List all the jobs you have held chronologically, with the most recent first. For each give your job title, the name of the company and the period of employment. Follow this with a description of the role, your key responsibilities and remember to highlight any achievements. For previous jobs keep the details briefer – Unless they were more significant in terms of the post you are applying for. Employers are suspicious, so don't leave gaps in your career history. If you took a year out to travel, say so and make a virtue of it.
There's no reason to say why you are moving on. That will make a good topic of conversation at the interview.

Qualifications & Education–

When it comes to qualifications and professional training, take the same approach as with your employment history. Begin with your most recent qualifications and work back; if you have a degree or higher qualification, there may not be a need to include an extensive list of your junior educational certificates.
And if you are in education at the moment, expand on areas of your studies that might be relevant to the post you are applying for.

Interests–

Be truthful about your leisure interests. If you can tie them in with the job selection criteria, for example, to show that you are a team player, then do so, but never risk claiming something you can't back up at interview. The chances are you'll be found out. If you are just starting out in the job market, give any evidence you can to demonstrate initiative or practical skills, for example, voluntary work, elected office in a society, member of a sports team or contributor to a college magazine.

Presentation and Layout:

Put yourself in the employer's position. They're busy people – Wading through hundreds of CVs is a time–consuming process. Research shows that, on average, managers spend less than two minutes – and often just 30 seconds – examining each CV. So visual impressions count. A jumbled, poorly laid–out CV is an open invitation to move to the next one; a well structured, clear and concise CV encourages the employer to read on.

Key Guidelines:

2 sides is ideal – Certainly no longer
Use subheadings (Career History etc.) wherever possible – They help the reader quickly find information
Keep it well–spaced, so it's easy to read – Don't try to squash everything onto the page by using tiny typefaces
Use a simple, clear typeface – Fancy fonts and gimmicky design devices do nothing for clarity
Laser–print it on good quality white A4 paper – Cheap photocopying paper doesn't impress.

Style & Tone:

Again, don't make life hard for the employer. Write in a precise, clear style and stick to the point – only includes relevant information.
Keep the language formal with short, crisp sentences – your personality will come through at the interview stage.
Use active keywords (Created, Devised, Enjoyed, Relished, Helped, Negotiated, Managed, Liaised and Motivated) which have a positive impact.
Avoid jargon and abbreviations – the employer may not be aware of what they stand for

Accuracy:

Take great care with spelling and grammar – The slightest error can result in your CV being rejected. But don't just run the CV through the spell–check, that won't identify 'typos', discrepancies or grammatical inconsistencies.
Once you have checked the finished document, asks a friend to check again – A fresh pair of eyes often spots a mistake you missed.

Writing the Cover Letter:

The cover letter can be just as important as the resume. Not only is it your introduction to the company, it is your opportunity to tailor your qualifications to the job opening. Cover letters are not a synopsis of your job history or a long self–description. One page is sufficient. Your purpose is to generate interest and your aim is to get an interview. Don't describe yourself with terms such as "Assertive, Aggressive, Highly motivated and mature." Instead, demonstrate those qualities by specifically listing your accomplishments. Here are the basic rules for preparing a cover letter.

Paragraph 1 – The first paragraph identifies the position for which you are applying and where you saw the ad or how you learned of the position. Clear information will ensure that your resume ends up on the right person's desk. Here is an example: I am responding to your job posting on websitename.com for the Call Center Specialist position at your New Jersey headquarters.

Paragraph 2 – The second paragraph explains that you can perform the job. This paragraph is a bridge which connects your resume with the position. You may want to include information that outlines related assignments of accomplishments, similarities to your current position and why you believe you can do the job. This paragraph will have a greater impact if your accomplishments include facts such as numbers, statistics, programs established, etc. Here is one example of how you might approach this paragraph:

Your Requirements
My Experience
Three years of experience in a call center or customer service department. Over four years of experience as Customer Service Specialist with ABC phone company.
Excellent computer and phone skills. Proficient in MS Office programs. Able to learn customized call center software and phone systems very quickly.
Able to contribute to improving service levels. Helped create a customer service training course and manual improving service levels.

Final Paragraph – The final paragraph is your closing pitch. Thank the reviewer and repeat your interest in the job. Request the next step in the interview process. Tell the recruiter how to get in touch with you – Repeat your phone number and email address. Also, if you say you will contact the recruiter, make sure you follow through.

I would appreciate an opportunity to discuss how my – background and experience could benefit your organization. I can be reached via email anytime at myname@email.com, or by phone at 044 – 1234 5678. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Interview Preparation:

Everyone approaches a job interview with some degree of apprehension. Nerves are perfectly natural; the trick is not to let them weigh you down. The main thing to remember is that the employer has asked to see you because they think you are capable of doing the job. Their time is precious and they will be hoping, just as fervently as you, that you are the perfect solution to the vacancy.

At the interview, your main aim is to reinforce the excellent impression made by your CV. You do not want to be stuck for words, so it is important to think about what you are going to say, how you are going to say it and how you are going to act, beforehand.

Here are a few proven strategies that will help you take control of the interview and ensure that the whole process goes smoothly.

Do your homework–

Of course, your Manpower consultant will brief you fully about the company and the position being offered. But it's always worth 'going that extra mile' – You can never have too much information. Try logging on to the company's website, get hold of company literature and find out about competitors. If the opportunity to use this knowledge arises, you'll be able to demonstrate an impressive level of interest in the organisation.

Making a good first impression–

Look smart and professional. When it comes to dressing to impress, always error on the side of 'traditional' rather than 'trendy'. Take a copy of your CV with you. Even the most efficient companies can mislay or forget to bring a document. Plan your route and allow plenty of extra time to get to the interview. Be courteous, make good eye contact, smile and shake hands firmly.

Body language–

You may be superbly qualified for a job, but you must also look motivated and interested. The way you act, your posture, gestures and facial expressions, will reveal a lot about you. Look the interviewer in the eye and don't be afraid to smile when it is appropriate. If you are being interviewed by more than one person, always look at and address the person who posed the question, then glance at the others when you have finished your answer. Adopt a good posture. Don't cross your arms, fidget, tap your feet, sprawl or lean forward anxiously.

Sounding positive–

You must be ready to expand on, not simply regurgitate, the information presented on your CV and anticipate the route the interviewer might take. No one fits a job perfectly so emphasize your most relevant skills and slant answers to reassure the interviewer that any shortfall is not a problem. Don't use tentative language. Phrases such as 'I feel I could', 'I think I can'. 'Perhaps I would' – Dilute the strength of your case. Don't confine your answers to monosyllabic yes and no's which make the interview more like an interrogation. Be enthusiastic but don't constantly interrupt. Practice makes perfect. Before the interview, test your fluency by talking out loud or presenting to partners and friends. Don't be evasive. Make a virtue of any career gaps on your CV.

Handling tough questions with confidence–

Employers will ask questions deliberately designed to see how you behave and react in certain situations. Giving a positive, fluent answer isn't as difficult as it might seem. With a little advance planning, it's perfectly possible to anticipate common general enquiries and prepare a coherent, effective response. In fact, you can turn these questions into an opportunity to take the initiative and 'sell' the exact message you want.

Never answer a question you don't understand with a knee–jerk response. Always seek clarification before answering and if you don't know an answer, it's much better to admit this than guess.

Be prepared for the following questions:

How would you describe yourself?
How would your manager describe you?
What is your career path for the future / where do you see yourself in 2 years time?
What motivates you to be successful?
How do you react when you are left to work without supervision?
Give me an example of when you feel you have coped extremely well under pressure at work?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This final question is particularly tricky. Obviously, you can't claim to have no weaknesses, but you don't want to stress anything too negative. The best solution is to admit to one weakness and then turn it around and show how you have constructively overcome it.

The interview is a two–way process:

At the end of the interview, the employer will usually ask if you have any questions about the job or company, so always prepare a few in advance. This is a good chance to clarify any points of doubt – after all, you need to make sure that the job is exactly what you expected and what you want.

Suggested questions to ask:

What are the opportunities for career progression?
What are the training opportunities?
What are my precise responsibilities?
How much travel is involved?
What are the targets for the first 6 months?
How long will it take you to make a final recruitment decision?

Closing on a confident note:

Leave the employer with a good final impression. Smile, thank them for their time, say you enjoyed discussing the job and that you look forward to hearing from them soon. Don't add any afterthoughts as you leave the room.

You are almost there:

Some people always seem to succeed at interviews. They're not lucky, their secret is careful preparation. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will be and the more success you will have. And remember, when you go to an interview you have already beaten most candidates and the employer wants you to succeed.