CV Advice & LinkedIn Profile Guidance
When it comes to job hunting in today’s world, your CV and LinkedIn profile are the most important profiles you will produce. They will be your first opportunity to stand out from the crowd and make a strong, lasting impression on any new employer.
At Sammons, we’re here to help. Our consultants have years of experience in CV guidance, LinkedIn functionality and interview preparation, with the knowledge and experience to guide you through the creation of a high-quality profile ready for your next career opportunity and beyond.
Before you write your CV and create your LinkedIn profile, gather all the information you need (employer organisation names, job titles, past employment dates, reference details, exam grades, etc.).
If you are applying for a particular position, read the employers’ requirements for the opportunity carefully and think about how your skillset fits their criteria selection and how you can best demonstrate that.
Ensure the information you include is both concise and accurate, remembering that potential employers are likely to check and cross reference your CV and/or LinkedIn profile during the recruitment process. The two profiles go hand in hand so also be sure to align both for consistency and transparency throughout, and both are always up to date.
Length: The recommended length of a CV is two pages.
Proofreading: ensure to carefully proofread your CV, keeping the format and messaging consistent throughout. Scrutinise your document, ensuring that there are no errors in grammar, punctuation or spelling. Use free online spell and grammar checkers such as Grammarly, to provide proofreading functionality. Also, it is often helpful to ask someone you know to review your draft – they may well see things that could be expressed better or see less obvious errors.
Keywords & Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): ensuring your CV is tailored to a role and in your own words will not only demonstrate you are an employer’s ideal match, but it will help your application beat ATS robots too. These now reportedly reject up to 75% of CV’s before they even reach a human being. Don’t let this statistic be you.
With more than 600 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is the largest professional network globally, making it job search critical to have a LinkedIn profile that's optimised and up to date. Alongside your CV, your LinkedIn profile is your chance to get your name in front of hundreds of professionals in your industry and thousands of employers looking for top talent. You need a LinkedIn profile that draws attention, says the right things, and helps you really connect with the people who can help you expand your career.
Our simple tips to help make your LinkedIn profile stand out:
Add your headshot: always remembering this is the first impression people will get of your profile.
Create an eye-catching headline: positioned right below your name, this is the first thing profile visitors read about you. Target your headline to your audience and think of it as a small billboard advertisement for you and what you do.
Draft an interesting summary: focussing on your past experience but also on what you do well and what you can bring to a prospective employer.
Customise your URL: personalise your URL, it only takes a couple of minutes and it can make your URL much more memorable.
Start making connections: having a lot of connections helps keep you visible to others.
Ask for recommendations: Recommendations are key to making your LinkedIn profile stand out. Employers want to know that others have approved of your work.
Keep your page active: LinkedIn is more than an online resume, it's a networking social media site, to get the most out of it, you need to remain active. Check out what other people are posting, engage them with thoughtful comments, and like and share posts that strike you as helpful.
Your personal profile, otherwise known as your personal statement or professional profile, is one of the most important aspects for both your CV and LinkedIn profile.
A short paragraph to sit beneath your name and contact details, your personal profile gives prospective employers an overview of who you are and that critical first impression.
Ensure your profile is tailored to the roles you are applying for, highlighting specific qualities that make you a match to the employer and the opportunity.
Employment History & Experience
This section of you CV or LinkedIn profile gives you the opportunity to outline your previous roles and work experience.
Ensure to list this in reverse chronological order, making your most recent role the top of the list as this will be your most relevant employment experience.
When listing each position, state your job title, the employer, dates you worked in that position and a line to summarise your role. Next bullet-point your responsibilities and key achievements, bolstering each point with precision, showcasing the positive impact you had with facts and figures to support.
It is helpful and transparent to put reasons for any gaps in your CV (e.g. six months' traveling).
Education & Qualifications
Detail your education, qualifications and training, in reverse chronological order, like your employment history.
Employers do like to see exam grades, and where you studied. Highlight the most relevant to the opportunity you are applying for.
It is recommended that you supply the details of at least two referees (name, address, contact number, email address), preferably recent former employers. When supplying these details ensure to notify your referees that reference requests may be coming through to them and ask if they could action these promptly for you. In some cases, you will not be able to start a new position or have your application processed until your references have been received.
Saving & Sending
When you are confident with the final version of your CV, save it as a Word, or similar document for your own benefit, but PDF the version you submit with your application, thereby locking in your formatting and ensuring recipients can easily access the final version.
Once created your LinkedIn profile is live for employers to see, so start building your connections, developing your network and utilising this platform to broaden your career prospects.
Your next step is interview preparation.
Interview Preparation Advice
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, our team of consultants are on hand to support our candidates, adapting to new and modern ways of operating, using video interviewing technology, ensuring remote working or workplace restrictions are not hindering recruitment processes, fully realising the importance of interviews.
Whether via video technology, face to face or over the telephone, interviews are your chance to make a good first impression on a new employer and hold the key to your new opportunity. If you prepare for this stage, you are more likely to be the kind of forward-thinking, hard-working, committed employee the employer is looking for.
Research plays an important part to all interview preparation. Ensure to focus your research on;
The Employer: demonstrate you understand the business beyond the basics, showing a genuine interest for the employer and their brand.
The Role: It's vital you can explain why you want this new role, that you understand the opportunity and, even more importantly, why the employer should choose you over other candidates.
The Questions: consider how you would answer common interview questions, as well as preparing several questions you’d like to ask the interview panel.
While many employers still expect candidates to dress smartly, a growing number encourage casual wear at work, making it more difficult than ever to choose an interview outfit for that all important first impression.
If you're unsure on the dress code, ask before attending the interview - however it is much better to be too smart than too casual. Only opt for a more casual outfit if you're absolutely certain that's acceptable and if there's any doubt, always go for smart business attire.
What you'll be expected to wear depends on factors such as the size of the company, the industry it operates in and the culture it promotes. Whatever you choose, remember, that first impression often creates a lasting impression.
Knowing the interview logistics is crucial in your preparation;
Date and time: make sure you know when your interview is (it sounds basic, but you'd be amazed at how many people miss interviews because they hadn't accurately noted the date and time)
Location: make sure you know where the interview is and how long will it take you to get there.
Accessibility: whether virtual or face to face, make sure you know how to initially access the interview and should you need any specific accessibility adjustments, speak to our consultants ahead of your interview.
End on a High Note
As your job interview comes to an end, the final impression is important. Don't rush out of the room. Make sure you find out when you'll be informed of the outcome and thank the interviewer for giving you the chance to attend.
Afterwards, quickly make some notes about the questions that were asked and how you answered them while the interview is still fresh in your memory. This will help you prepare even better for any future interviews and any follow ups.
Contact our consultants to discuss the interview and your impressions of the employer as they’ll be on hand to support you through the next stages.
Competency Based Interviews
Competency based interviewing is used so that a candidate can best show how they would demonstrate certain behaviours and skills in the workplace by answering questions about how they have reacted to and dealt with previous workplace situations. By using past experience, a potential employer is seeking to predict future behaviour.
As more and more employers use competency frameworks as the basis for their HR and recruitment strategies, you are increasingly likely to face competency-based interviewing.
Questions you could be asked
You will be asked to give examples of situations or tasks which led you to take a certain course of action. Probing questions are then used to determine the course of action you took and what changes were created by those actions, and the effects of those actions on others.
Many organisations analyse jobs by breaking down key competencies. These may well include planning and organising; innovation; personal drive; problem analysis; and decision-making.
Preparing for Competency Based Interviews
You can prepare for the interview in the normal way by researching the company, making sure you are able to talk through the work and skills that you have described on your CV. However, most candidates will find this type of interviewing much more interactive and it is likely that the interviewer will be able to encourage you to be more open than in a traditional interview.
If you have a job description for the role that lists the competencies required, try to think of examples where you have demonstrated those competencies in the workplace.
How you will be measured
Employers will look for real-life evidence where you have demonstrated certain behaviours or skills, termed positive and negative indicators.
Competency-based interview questions are designed to let every candidate have the same chance to demonstrate their ability by giving examples of what they have done and what was achieved. This should result in a fair and objective recruitment process, because candidates who are good at interviews will still need to provide real examples of where they have demonstrated the relevant skills, and candidates who are less confident in interviews will be guided to talk about their skills and experience through focused questions.
Psychometric testing assessments are used to assess the characteristics of a candidate, providing profiles of their suitability for a position.
These assessments are not usually stand-alone decision-making tools, but instead guides used in conjunction with other assessment methods such as interviews.
This style of testing is not something you can specifically prepare for, as unlike exams, psychometrics are not testing your knowledge or memory.
Also known as cognitive, ability or intelligence tests, these do not examine your general knowledge but test your critical reasoning skills under strictly timed conditions. A typical test might have 3 sections each testing a different ability, for example, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and spatial reasoning.
Your score on these tests is compared to a group of results, usually made up of existing job holders.
These measure your personal characteristics and qualities such as: how you relate to other people, your work style, your ability to deal with emotions (yours and other people's), your motivation, determination and general outlook, alongside your ability to handle stress.
There are no right and wrong answers. It is important to be yourself. If you attempt to guess what the employer wants you to put, you will distort the results and may end up doing more harm than good.
Find out more
For further support and guidance speak to our consultants today or utilise online search for more information on sites such as;
The STAR Method
This useful technique allows you to create a simple, easy to follow story that brings out your full experience by explaining a situation and resolution.
The STAR method provides a format you can use to tell a story by laying out the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
This technique can be used to plan your answers to an interview question or to showcase your skills and experience within a CV, application form or LinkedIn profile.
How to use the STAR method
Situation - Define the context of the situation in order to set the scene.
Your goal here is to paint a clear picture of the situation you were in, so the interviewer can understand the rest of your answer. Keep things concise and focus on what’s undeniably relevant to your story and the interview question you’re answering.
Task - Describe the role or responsibility which you had in the situation. Make sure that you are specific in the part you played as an individual, rather than what was done as a Team.
This piece is dedicated to giving the specifics of what your responsibilities were in that particular scenario, as well as any objective that was set for you, before you dive into what you actually did.
Action - Explain how you handled the situation, the steps that you took and your response to it.
Now that you’ve given the interviewer a sense of what your role was, it’s time to explain what you did. What steps did you take to reach that goal or solve that problem? This is your chance to showcase your contribution, and it’s worthy of specifics.
Result - Conclude by stating the outcome of your actions and what lessons you learned.
Here is your time to shine and explain how you made a difference. The final portion of your response should share the results of the action you took, ending on a high note.
Key things to remember when using the STAR method
When you use the STAR method, remember:
• You can use examples from any aspect of life
• Keep your answers short and to the point
• Do not appear too rehearsed and get your points across in a conversational way
• Be prepared to answer follow-up questions about any examples you mention
An example of an interview question being answered using the STAR method
“Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how you handled it.”
Situation – I was working as an administrative assistant within my previous company.
Task – My manager asked me to draft a letter to a client, using a letter previously sent to another client as a template. I wrote the letter, changing all of the relevant information and sent it onto the Client. Unfortunately, I had omitted to amend the name at the end of the letter underneath the section where a signature was required and had left the old name on there. The client emailed back to state that they could not sign and return as the letter contained someone else’s name.
Action – I told my boss about the mistake I had made, and immediately rectified it by sending an amended letter to the client with the correct details on.
Result – The Client signed the amended letter and sent it back to me, and my boss was pleased that I had acted quickly to resolve the error. I have learned to double check everything and have not made the same mistake since.