Most jobs have some sort of a role profile or person specification associated with them. This is a description of the knowledge, skills and experience that they are looking for in the successful candidate. The person short-listing job applications is quite likely to have a checklist of the knowledge, skills and experience required and will be ticking those off from each application. Make it as easy as possible for them to match your knowledge, skills and experience to what is required for the job. Ideally, a bullet pointed list using the wording in the person specification as sub-titles, with your relevant experience described against this. Don't be tempted to describe everything you have ever done that is relevant. If you've got lots of experience in a particular area, just pick the most relevant and high level examples.
If you don't have directly relevant experience, don't make something up or stretch a tiny bit of experience beyond credibility. Do think about what else you have done in your life that might be indirectly relevant, to show that you have transferable skills or the aptitude to learn and take on new challenges.
Golden Rules for CVs
In addition to all of the stuff that describes your education, qualifications and work experience, ensure you give a strong sense of who you are. What do you like to do, what are you passionate about, how do your friends describe you? This isn't all about blowing your own trumpet (but if you can get a tune out of a trumpet, why not say so!) and saying what an extraordinary individual you are. This is about giving the recruiting manager a strong sense of what you would bring to the team on top of your knowledge, skills and experience. We are all unique and all have something different to bring to any group that we're a part of. Having the self-knowledge of who you are and being willing to share that can be extremely powerful in the recruitment process.
Golden Rules for Interview
You've submitted a fabulous application and been invited to an interview. What do you need to do now? Well, this is where the real work starts. You've made it to the starting line but there's a 100m sprint still to go between you and the tape! Preparation, preparation, preparation.
Think about what questions you might be asked and prepare your answers using the STARR model.;
· What was the Situation?
· What was the Task?
· What were the Actions? Be clear about what YOU did specifically
· What was the Result?
· Review. What did you learn and what would you do differently if you had to do something similar again?
Think yourself into the job. Imagine what it will be like on your first day, week and 6 months in this role. What will you be doing? How will you be feeling? If you can't visualise yourself doing the job then it will be much harder for the recruiting manager to visualise you doing the job.
Practise your interview technique. This is an important skill in its own right and one which goes rusty unless you practise it. Ask your current manager, a colleague or a friend to ask you some interview questions in an interview setting.
Manage your stress. For most people, job interviews are stressful situations and although a good interviewer will be able to see past some nerves you want to be able to present yourself clearly and to the best of your ability, which is harder if you are feeling anxious. Whatever you normally like to do to unwind, whether it is going for a walk or a run, meeting up with friends, listening to music, try to ensure that you make the time to do this as close as possible to the interview. Get up early on the day and go for a run, listen to your favourite unwind tracks on your journey to the interview, phone a friend for a chat, arrive early enough to go for a walk before you go in to the interview.
And if you're unsuccessful this time around, ask for feedback and review your own performance so that next time you'll be the person crossing the line first. Good luck!