Tools and Resources
Finding the right role for you is our job – but there are some things that you can do too. This section contains a range of resources, put together by our team of experts, to help you win the role you want most. These resources cover: Writing a Winning CV, Getting Your Application Noticed, and Preparing for an Interview.
Turn your ambition into real impact.
Writing a winning CV
Your CV is essentially a sales document. Here are some guidelines to help make sure your CV cuts through the pile and secures you an interview.
What to include:
- Personal details – include your name, address, phone number and professional email address. You do not need to include other details, such as a photograph or your date of birth.
- Profile – the purpose of your profile is to tell the reader a few important details about you. It should briefly cover your work history, skills and experience. You can also tailor the skills and experience that are relevant for the role you are applying for and include other information such as how you like to work, your career aspirations or what you are looking for in a position or organisation.
- Skills summary – a short overview of your core transferrable skills such as leading teams, managing budgets or stakeholder management skills.
- Professional qualifications – detail your qualifications, where you obtained them and when.
- Career history – your roles should be listed in chronological descending order, with your most recent or current job first. Add the following information:
- Company and role.
- Dates employed. There should be no gaps in your employment history so include if you have had a career break to travel, study or raise a family.
- A brief introduction to the company that could include the size of the business, what it does and the number of employees.
- A summary of your responsibilities. Bullet point format works well.
- A summary of your measurable achievements (e.g. reduced costs by 10%, improved DIFOT from 90% to 96%). You should always place more emphasis on what you have accomplished, rather than what you were responsible for.
- Technical skills – this is optional, but it is a good place to include relevant skills such as computer programmes you are proficient in using, the type of Driver Licence that you hold or any languages that you speak.
- Interests – again this is optional but if you choose to have this section, exercise caution in what you put down. Where possible, include interests that are related to the role – if leadership is a key requirement for a job, you may want to mention that you spend your spare time managing a volunteer team for example.
- References – include two to three referees who can be contacted with your permission or are available on request.
Do not limit the length of your CV. It is more important that you include all the relevant information that a potential employer may want to know. If you have had a longer work history, your CV is bound to be lengthier. Even if it is longer, it should still be succinct and to the point.
Present your CV in a clear format that is well spaced with sufficient white space. It should flow well, be consistently formatted, and use a plain, easy-to-read font like Arial or Calibri. This all helps the reader to scan your CV easily and find the information they are looking for.
Check and check again – it is all well and good writing “good attention to detail” on your CV but if it has spelling mistakes or bad formatting, it defeats the purpose. Errors can easily be missed, especially if you have looked at a document many times. So, it is a good idea to ask someone else to have a read through – fresh eyes will pick up mistakes you may have missed.
Be mindful of the language you use. For example, if you did something yourself use “I”, if you were involved in achieving something use “we.”
Be yourself – don’t be generic. A CV represents you, so you must be comfortable with it. While you should follow base principles in terms of format and layout, use language you would normally use and inject your own personality. It is best to avoid jargon and acronyms. Use active verbs when possible. For example, include words like created, analysed, and devised to present yourself as a person who shows initiative.
Tailor your CV
Your CV should be tailored for every role – and every employer. With each application, you may need to highlight or place more emphasis on particular skills, experiences or values to show how you meet the requirements of the position and the place of work.
Many recruiters use software to scan CVs for keywords so ensure the language and words you use reflect what is set out in the job advertisement.
Keep in mind
It is worth remembering that recruiters and potential employers will look at your LinkedIn profile so make sure it is up to date and a true reflection of your CV. Some may also look further on Google and at your personal profiles on social media, so take care about what you put online. It pays to review your privacy settings on your social media accounts so only those you are directly connected with can view what you post.
If you need help, Seek has a template for getting your CV ready.
Standing out to improve success
Getting your application noticed
There are several things you can do to help get your application noticed and give yourself the best chance of success.
State your availability
A lot of candidates are concerned that their application will be discounted if they have been made redundant or are in between jobs. This is simply not the case. In many instances, being able to start immediately is a huge advantage. If you are free to start straight away, make sure this is clear on your CV as well as your LinkedIn and Seek profiles.
Keep your CV up to date
It doesn’t take long for a recruiter to through your CV, so make sure it is well laid out, with good spacing and in an easy-to-read format. Ensure skills, experience and achievements are highlighted, and always remember that your achievements should be measurable. Your LinkedIn and Seek profiles should reflect what is in your CV, so remember to keep these updated as well. You can read more about creating a great CV here and download a template here.
Pay attention to detail
When it comes to job applications, the detail matters. Spelling mistakes, missing dates and out-of-date CVs indicate a lack of attention to detail. So, take the time to check and even get someone else to have a look. It is not just your CV and cover letter that should be error free, but also any emails and your LinkedIn profile. It is all too easy to copy and paste an application and send it off – but you will be discounted for addressing an application to Sarah when the hiring manager is John.
Make it relevant
For each application, you need to demonstrate why you are a good fit for the role. Your cover letter and CV should show how your skills and experience match those of the role. This often means highlighting a certain skill set or discussing a particular role in greater detail in your cover letter.
In this industry, appointments are often made at speed – particularly for temporary roles. It is not unusual for our team to fill a vacancy within a few hours for a business that needs someone to start the next day. So it helps to build and maintain relationships with recruiters who specialise in your area of expertise. Pick up the phone, email, send in your CV and let them know what you are looking for – and keep in touch.
If you are looking for a permanent role, consider widening your search to contracting or temporary roles. Often there is an increase in temp roles in an uncertain market as businesses are more hesitant to commit to permanent hires.
Looking for work is not always an easy process, so it is important to stay positive and be kind to yourself. Missing out does not mean you haven’t got what it takes – it is often just a case of timing. All you can do is give yourself the best chance of success by working through this checklist and working with the best recruitment team in the business. If you need support or simply want to chat, get in touch.
Finding the right fit for each other.
Preparing for an interview
A job interview is an opportunity to show why you are right for the role. But it is also a chance for you to find out if the role is right for you. Here is a quick checklist to help you be prepared.
Day of the interview
- Arrive on time.
- Switch off your mobile phone before you enter the building or join the virtual interview.
- Give a firm (but not aggressive) handshake.
- Let the interviewer/s control the interview and set the pace.
- Be enthusiastic while reading the room to match your energy, voice level and tone with that of the interviewer/s.
- Be positive – do not complain about your current job.
- Be brief and to the point (it is extremely common to talk too much)
- Maintain an appropriate level of eye contact. If there is more than one interviewer, ensure you acknowledge everyone in the room throughout.
- Do not ask about salary levels in the first interview but be prepared to discuss this if it is raised by the interviewer/s.
Pre interview checklist
- Double check the time, date and address of the interview location. If your interview is in a different time zone, be sure you have correctly calculated the time difference.
- If your interview is virtual, test the technology in advance and be sure that the interview can be carried out in a quiet location where you will not be interrupted (more tips for a video interview here).
- For a face-to-face interview, it is good to map out beforehand how you are going to get there, public transport options and delays and if you are driving, where you are going to park. Leave yourself enough time so you are not late.
- Strive for a tidy and professional personal appearance. It is better to be overdressed than under. Ask your consultant about the appropriate attire if you are unsure.
- Research the individual/s interviewing you and the company. Look at the company website, LinkedIn page, recent news and industry blogs. Try to find out more about the organisation’s reputation and information that demonstrates you understand their products and services, the markets they operate in and their competitors. If you know someone that works there, ask what the organisation is like.
- Have a list of at least five unique selling points ready – these should be your strengths and transferrable skills.
- Prepare for a formal interview and adjust your style and approach if needed.
- Use the CAR (context, action, result) formula to successfully answer behavioural based questions (more detail on this is below).
- Have questions prepared to show you are engaged in the process and invested in the opportunity.
Common interview questions
Regardless of the style of interview, you should be prepared to respond to questions about yourself, your career aspirations, your work style and your interest in the role and company. The types of questions you can expect include:
- Tell me about yourself / your career to date?
- What interests you about this role / company?
- What benefits can you bring to our organisation?
- What is your longer-term career plan?
- What type of environment do you work best in?
- How do you respond to criticism?
- Tell me about your strengths / weaknesses?
- How would you describe your work style?
- What are your interests outside of work?
- Why do you want to leave your current role?
- What are your salary expectations?
Behavioural based interviews
A behavioural based interview focuses on asking about specific situations from your previous work experience and how you have responded. The goal is to understand how you might respond to similar situations in the future, while also giving the interviewer/s insights to your skills and ability.
The CAR model will provide a structure to your responses:
- Circumstance: Give a summary of the situation / problem you encountered.
- Action: Describe the action you took, including any obstacles that you had to overcome.
- Results: Highlight tangible outcomes achieved such as time saved, money saved, or improvements made because of your actions.
Think about the relevant behavioural traits required for the role as this will be a good indication of the questions that you may be asked. Then, make sure you have relevant examples to speak to and rehearse your responses in advance.
Below are some examples of behavioural based questions as examples for specific competencies.
Influencing or persuading others
- Tell me about a time when you were able to change someone’s viewpoint significantly?
- Can you talk through a time when you were asked to do something that you disagreed with?
- If you were managing a team, how would you work with, and command respect, from team members who are more experienced than you?
Interpersonal and team skills
- Can you give an example of a time when your skills and personal qualities contributed to the teams you have been part of?
- Tell me about a time when you handled a situation with a difficult person?
- Describe a time when you have had to build new relationships?
- Tell me about a time when you were successful in getting crucial information from another person?
- Tell me about a time when you worked with people from a culture unlike your own. What did you do to overcome any perceived barriers to communication?
- Tell me about a time when someone misunderstood what you were attempting to communicate to them?
- Describe a situation that best demonstrates your ability to effectively develop and lead a team?
- Tell me about a time when you had to manage a conflict between individual and team needs and how you went about obtaining cooperation?
- Tell me about a time when you delegated effectively?
- Can you give an example of how you motivated an employee who was performing poorly?
Personal adaptability, energy and resilience
- Can you tell me about your most satisfying accomplishment to date?
- Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was criticised?
- Can you give an example of when you worked on a project or piece of work with unclear responsibilities. What did you do and what was the outcome?
Self-management, self-motivation and self-knowledge
- Tell me about a time when you acted over and above the expectations of your role?
- Can you describe a time when you have successfully demonstrated initiative?
- Can you talk about a time when you overcame a weakness or learned from a mistake?
Problem solving and decision making
- Can you tell me about a time when you have worked under pressure and what was the result?
- Tell me about a difficult or unpopular decision that you have made?
- Tell me about a time when you had conflicting priorities and what you did to resolve the situation?
Conflict management and ethics
- Have you ever anticipated a difficult situation before it arose? Describe the situation, the action you took and the outcome.
- Tell me about a difficult customer or a complaint that you have dealt with?
- Tell me about a time when you have resolved conflict in the groups or teams that you have membership of?
Questions for the interviewer
There will be time for you to ask questions of the interviewer/s. Having questions prepared helps you assess if the role is a good fit for you. It is also a chance to show that you have done your research, are prepared and interested in the opportunity.
Your questions could include:
- Can you tell me more about the company strategy?
- Can you tell me about what a typical day might look like?
- What do you see as being the main challenges and opportunities of the role?
- What does success in this role look like?
- Can you tell me why this position is available?
- What is the company culture like?
- Can you let me know about opportunities for future growth in the organisation?
It may be that your prepared questions have been covered off during the interview. Even if this is the case, it is important to ask questions – it may be that you ask for more detail on a topic covered during the interview, for example.
Concluding the interview
When the interview is concluding, thank the interviewer/s for their time and emphasise that you are looking forward to hearing from them about the next steps.
A job interview can be a daunting experience – but preparation is one of the main ways you can help to alleviate nerves. It is a two-sided process. So, while it might seem like the ball is in the employer’s court, equally they need to make a good impression and promote the benefits of joining their organisation to you.