If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the market for a new role. Over time, I’ve seen many job seekers repeat the same mistakes when it comes to their CVs and the interview process.
Here are a few tips on how you can increase your chances of landing the job.
Remove your home address from your CV. Not only is it unnecessary, but it can also work against you depending on the biases of the hiring manager.
It’s also not safe to share your home location willy-nilly (identity theft, anyone?). They can know where you stay once they’re actually helping you pay rent.
Unless you were a straight-A student, remove your GPA and high school grade marks from your CV (remove anything related to high school). Seeing those D’s and E’s can negatively alter their perception of you.
Furthermore, nobody cares that you got a C in English or Setswana — and unless you’re applying for a scholarship, nobody in the real world will ever ask about your GPA. I promise.
Include links to your website, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile where appropriate.
Linking to your website or portfolio — especially if you work in the creative arts — shows that you have actual experience and boosts your chances of getting the role.
Linking to LinkedIn ensures that whoever lands on your CV can always view your latest work profile no matter what your resumé says.
Clean up your social media accounts and set everything to “Private.” Employers can and will check your social media profiles — it doesn’t matter whether you think this is “unfair” or “unethical.”
You can complain or beat them at their own game. Your choice.
Nobody cares about your hobbies, Linda. We all like to swim and “hang out with friends.” Unless you have interesting hobbies that’ll spark up a conversation with the hiring manager, save the space for something more important because…
It can all fit on one page.
Keep it relevant. If you’re applying for a management position in your sector, nobody cares that you were a waitress for 2 months in 2011… unless you’re working in the hospitality industry.
If necessary, create multiple versions of your resumé with related roles grouped together. For example, you can have one for Finance and one for Media if you’ve spent some time in both fields.
99% of the other applicants will submit uninspiring Word templates, and HR has seen them all. A different design will catch their eye immediately.
Keep it simple design-wise, label each section clearly, and avoid fancy fonts. Most importantly, include the keywords most commonly used in job descriptions in your field.
Because many companies today use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to filter out CVs and decide which ones to move forward with.
“If a recruiter is hiring for an Administrative Assistant position out of 400 resumés, their first step will probably be a search for “Administrative Assistant.” This will [return a list of] candidates that have done the exact job before. Anyone that doesn’t have that exact term in their resumé is out of luck.”
You don’t want these programs tossing away your CV because they couldn’t find the right keywords.
Here’s how to optimize your CV (and LinkedIn profile) to beat the ATS:
- Type [your role] + vacancy into Google. E.g. “finance manager vacancy”
- Scan the results and take note of which keywords keep cropping up.
- Include those words in your CV.
Go the extra mile. Gunning for that web design position? Do an audit of their website. Applying to be a social media manager? Gauge their engagement, content strategy, and competition.
Show up to the interview with questions about the company, their processes, their big wins, and their bottlenecks. This shows that you’re a smart, diligent candidate who does their homework. This will 100% improve your odds.
Track every job application in a spreadsheet like this one. Doing so helps you know which applications are active, inactive, or declined.
Always tie your pitch to their bottom line.
If you have a plan to increase sales, they will listen. If you have a plan to improve their marketing, they will listen. By definition, this requires you to do your homework about the company. See #10 above.
They can smell desperation. Know your worth — and never accept the first salary offer. They expect you to negotiate, so take advantage of that.
Take whatever number you think you’d be comfortable with and add 30%. The final figure should make you feel uncomfortable. That’s your impostor syndrome rearing its head. Don’t let it win.
Read this excellent piece on how to negotiate compensation during a job application.
Practice before the interview. Get a friend or an interview coach to help you do a practice run. You’ll feel more confident on the day of the interview.
Job-seeking is a numbers game. In marketing, we work with a 3% average conversion rate. This means that for every 100 applications, you might get a positive response from just 3 (unless you’ve got connections within the industry, in which case your success rate will be much higher).
This is why having a spreadsheet is so important — you can know at a glance whether you’re applying enough. Remember: finding a job is a full-time job. Treat it as such.
Good luck with your job search!
In my last post, I talked about how to create content purposefully. Read it:
Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.