New beginnings and career moves are always a little unnerving. Making a good first impression is so important and can easily swing results in your favour — just as much as it can in the opposite direction. Here’s how you can create the best possible impression when sending in your next application.
Read more: How NOT to apply for a job
With so many candidates vying for the same position and interview opportunities not as common as they used to be, job seekers have to make sure they create a good first impression when submitting their CV and securing an interview.
‘First impressions are important, not only when going for an interview, but also when submitting your CV. A CV is a written representation of yourself and the effort you put in and the quality of your application will reflect the type of employee you are and likely to be,’ says Angelique Robbertse, Product and Marketing Manager for Job Mail.
What to keep in mind
Recruiters are inundated with job applications and they often only scan the first page of every CV they receive, spending less than 1 minute on each application! So capture the essence of your work experience in the first few paragraphs.
- Write a convincing covering letter. Your covering letter must be well written, short, concise and convincing. This letter confirms your application, where you learned about the position, why you’re applying and what you can offer the company.
- It’s good to be a little ‘top heavy’. Include the most important and relevant information at the top to catch the recruiter’s attention. Start with your most recent job experience first, if it’s relevant.
- Keep it short. Don’t make it longer than two pages. Use bullet points instead of long paragraphs where possible. Shorter descriptions are easier to scan and quicker to read.
- Highlight your achievements. Don’t just list your education and work history, highlight your capabilities, strengths and the results you’ve achieved. Write from the employer’s perspective when compiling your CV so that it’s obvious why you’re the perfect candidate for the position.
Read more: How to stand out when looking for a job
- Tailor your CV. Edit your CV to reflect your most recent experience or the most relevant. Keep in mind that your most recent experience may not be the most relevant, depending on the job, so tailor your CV to suit the job you’re applying for. Use the job specifications stipulated in the ad as a guideline of what aspects of your work experience to include.
- Use the right language. The recruitment ad will use descriptive words to explain the job and candidate the employer’s after. Use these keywords in your CV where they relate to your experience. For example, if the ad says they’re looking for someone who is detailed orientated, briefly explain how you were entrusted with tasks that required attention to detail.
- Explain the gaps. Don’t leave gaps in your education and work history, as this may give the recruiter an excuse to pass over your CV. Rather explain the gap in a professional manner and what you’ve been doing during this period.
- Update your professional online profile. Reflect your latest job and update your professional network on sites such as LinkedIn and Who’s Who Southern Africa. Include links to these profiles in your CV. Recruiters are actively looking for potential candidates on these sites so make sure you’re constantly connecting with new professionals to expand your network.
- Research. Find out about the organisation you’re applying to and its people. What are they passionate about? What drives them? What do they say about their colleagues? If you have similar skills or share common interests, share these in your CV where relevant. Thorough research will also help you to become familiar with the company and will help you if you’re invited for an interview.
- Contact details. Include your contact details and steer away from quirky personal email addresses. If possible, include the details of at least three references and ensure that you have the latest contact details for them.
‘Your CV has to highlight you as a professional who can add value to the company with your unique set of skills and experiences. Take the time to compile an exceptional CV as you only have one chance to make a first impression,’ Angelique adds.
Visit Job Mail’s blog for helpful career advice here.