Nov 12, 2011

How to write resume and how to succeed at interviews - Part 1

I have experienced that most important part of every job interview I ever been to was my first impression. Without positive first impression I had really hard time to succeed in every application that I have sent out.

With bad first impression, I did not even get reply - after waiting couple days. I believe this happened to all of us.

My experience with job interviews is not always positive. I was at many sales positions, HR positions, operations and management positions, early in my life. I also tried par time jobs and summer internships. Now I am able to sum up main ideas, that helped me to stand out among dozens of applications, that I was competing with.

An overview that I am about to give you is divided in to many articles. This is part 1. 
This (first part) is about writing resume, basic rules and first impression. You are being compared to other people all the time. In selection process, it is from the very first moment when hiring manager receive your email.

After some time, I always say, that CV = Business card.

Most important thing to right do now.

One of the major mistakes, I ever did, was having grammar mistakes in my CV. 

Some companies never even contacted me after sending my CV and cover letter. After some time, I understood that grammar mistakes are wrong - but what if they missed talented young individual, who simply does not understand grammar? I understand that it was more about character and personality, more than about skills. Now, I always give my CV to at least 2 people to proofread before sending out for applications! Do it for yourself. Give your CV to some people and seek for their feedback (positive and negative).

I have met some hiring managers recently having hundreds of CV's placed on the table.
Managing director of one particular small investment company I worked for some years ago said to me:

- See how many people are interested in your place ?
- But in your case, it was quite easy for me to hire you.
- Why? (I have asked)
- From the first moment, you acted as you really know, what you want.
- Your CV looked very simple, colorful and to the point. Most of the resumes I get (she pointed finger on the pile of cover letter) don't.

Many other companies, I was interviewed with, were telling me, that my CV looks very interesting.

It is almost like a rule, when I was invited to the interview - they called me and said to me:
- When I looked at your CV, it looked good to me. I would like to invite you for personal interview.. Why you want to work for us?

Be simple and creative.

Imagine you are hiring manager.
Imagine you have to hire New Business Development Consultant.
You receive 50 resumes and cover letters.
Easiest way to do it, will be (at least for me) to optically check all of them at first.
If there is something that looks different than 80% of all resumes (most of them look same), your attention will get focused on these first. We are humans and that's how we operate.

If you choose those good looking, then you (as an applicant) have to have nice profile, that match position and description of the work you apply for.

As a hiring manager, you look for what you need. (it is mostly shared in job description and requirements) When I was looking for Business Development Consultant, I seen 2 nice looking CV, clean, sharp with pictures, maybe some symbols, dates of last review and personal signatures. I was quite happy, because these people looked very sharp.

But one of them, had this section called: Personal interests. (I was working at the HR department of the biggest national bank at that time) This clever man has applied for Sales position and business development consulting. His personal interests showed following: "I Like animals, play chess, reading and writing about tropical plant species" - I would never take it as a criteria, but on the other hand, there was other good looking CV, where some sharp young man, described his personal interests like this: "Long distance marathon runner - awarded 4 times, personal development writing, socializing and drinking good quality wine :-) "

- Who would you invite for interview if you were hiring manager?
- We invited both. But hired the second one.

Summary.

Take a look at your CV. Make it sharp, good looking, creative.
Do not follow any rules - because there are no rules! Everyone follow some books and guides how to write CV and all end up looking same, using the same source !!

Be yourself, and always have various cover letters and resumes of your personality, that match position you want to apply.

See this great article by Laszlo Bock (SVP, People Operations at Google, OCT-2014)
The Biggest Mistakes I See on Resumes, and How to Correct Them
My Personal Formula for a Winning Resume

Both are very inspirational and interesting.

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