We asked some of our recruitment consultants to tell us their key tips on what makes a good CV. Here’s 20 things to keep in mind before sending out your CV: 1. Details & Numbers The more detail you give about your work history the easier it is for a recruiter/hiring manager to understand your experience, and know if you are suited to a particular role. Fiona Joyce, Recruitment Consultant, Office Support says “Noting ‘Administration’ for example isn’t enough, you need to include the type, volume, systems used, deadlines/timeframes – go into detail. For example, admin support could be basic paper work (scanning, filing, shredding) or it could be high level admin support (diary/calendar management, correspondence and document preparation, report writing etc.). Not going into enough detail is selling yourself short and letting the competition supersede you.” 2. Specific Timeframes Hiring managers like to see exact timeframes on CVs. Dates on your CV should include month to month time frames, as opposed to year to year. Often people will avoid putting dates on a CV or will try to be vague about the dates. This can look suspicious to employers. It’s better to be honest and give reasons for any gaps instead of trying to hide them. 3. Achievements It’s a good idea to include what you’ve achieved in your professional career. Awards and certificates are very impressive to hiring managers. However, they don’t always have to be job related awards, they can be personal achievements too e.g. completed a marathon, raised money for charity, served on a community or student committee etc. It’s good to show on your CV that you achieve goals outside of work. 4. Key Skills The key skills area of your CV is very important. Alan McLoughlin, Recruitment Consultant, Insurance and Financial Services says, “Don’t just list your competencies. List your skills and beside each one, explain how you gained that particular skill”. 5. Professional Development If you’ve completed any online courses or have studied independently, please be sure to include this information on your CV. Hiring managers love to see this as it shows both an enthusiasm for learning as well as the ability to work off your own initiative. 6. Clarity & Structure Structure your CV so it is easy to read. You can do this by: Arranging your work history and education separately according to date and in chronological order. Keep education and work history in separate sections of the CV. Don’t use borders or tables or strange fonts or pictures/images. Always apply in word format, in standard text form. The formatting should be uniform and consistent If you’re using bullet points, they should all be the same style and alignment You should be consistent in your formatting. If you’re using italics font for each job title and bold font for the name for each organisation you worked for, make sure you do this consistently. 7. Leave Out Graphics & Images Leave out fancy graphics, complicated formatting and decorative pictures where possible. They just tend to make it more difficult for employers to read. Keep things simple, clear and detailed. 8. Visa/Employment Permit Status For foreign Nationals your visa Status is crucial! You must specify what visa you have and if there is an expiry date. 9. Professional Profile – Don’t waffle Your professional profile should be at start of your CV. Use this section to outline your technical expertise, years of industry experience and qualifications etc. Try to avoid saying things like, “I am hard-working and reliable”. 10. Bullet Points Always use bullet points where you can. In your duties section and skills section put the information in bullet points rather than a paragraph. This makes it a lot easier to read and for hiring managers to see quickly and clearly what experience you have. 11. Contact Details You may just assume that sending your CV via email is enough for an employer to contact you but often CV’s get forwarded around and saved on hard drives so the original email you sent could get lost along with your contacts. Always put your email address and contact number on your CV. 12. Targets Achieved Someone with a track record of achieving goals really impresses managers. Setting and achieving targets shows self-motivation and determination. If you have achieved targets in your work experience make sure to include them in your CV. 13. Practical Skills Make sure to list any practical skills like having a driving license, manual handling certificate or fork lift licence. These skills could be really attractive to an employer, depending on the role you are applying for. 14. Tailor your CV to every Job Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for. Don’t regurgitate the same CV for every job. Use the job specifications to guide what you should be mentioning on your CV. 15. Extra-Curricular Activities If you play sport or music etc. (and you have space on you CV), include your hobbies because they can make you stand out. Alan McLoughlin, Recruitment Consultant, Insurance and Financial Services said “I once read a CV that had “I enjoy hill walking” 3 times. Don’t use irrelevant hobbies when you can use that space for something more useful”. 16. Personal Details – Not too Personal It’s good to show your personality through your CV and give the hiring manager a sense of who you are but some personal details are too personal for your CV. Avoid putting your relationship status on your CV e.g. married, divorced. It’s irrelevant information and it could affect you negatively. 17. Be Aware of Length The CV is a recap, not a life story. Keep it brief but comprehensive. Two pages is the norm, but thres is OK. Conor Ryan, Recruitment Consultant, Construction says, “If you’re running out of space, you’re either being too specific and waffling or you’re going too far back in your experience. The rule of thumb is that you don’t need to detail roles any further back than 10 – 15 years. Your cut off point will depend on how many roles you’ve had.” 18. Balance the Info Make sure you’re giving the right amount of information for each role. You’d expect to see more duties listed for a role that you’ve spent more time in. Always keep the information on your CV proportionally balanced. 19. Tools & Systems You should outline which tools/software you’ve worked with previously as most HR managers will run a keywords search so it is important they are listed on your CV. 20. Double Check Always double-check that the information provided is correct. It’s the last step because it’s always the last thing you do, but it doesn’t make it the least important! You could have followed all the above steps correctly but you left a typo on the first page all because you forgot to double check. Following all the steps but forgetting to double check it could cost you a job. Always double check! We hope you found these tips helpful. If you think you need help with your CV or job searching, you can upload your CV to our website and let one of our 125 specialist recruitment consultants give you the help you need.
Searching for jobs is a job in itself. It can be challenging and time consuming but there are ways of making the task a little easier. If you are planning on finding a new job, Sigmar Recruitment has devised a list of top 5 job searching tips to help you in your pursuit of the perfect job. 1. Get Employers to Come to You Uploading your CV online can increase your chances of being seen by employers. Most job searching websites like; Jobs.ie and Monster.ie allow jobseekers to create an online profile using their CV content. This online profile can then be viewed by potential employers and recruiters. There is also an option when you create your account to highlight specific jobs and organisations you’re interested in and receive email notifications when positions become available. This is useful for any jobseeker as it does the hard work for you and allows relevant job vacancies to come directly to you. 2. Update Your LinkedIn Profile The first thing you should do before applying for a job is ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with all your relevant work experience. Often employers will search for you online while reviewing your CV. It’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as it could be the reason you get called for an interview. Extra Tip: If you are unemployed and don’t have an issue with making your employment status public, you may want to update your LinkedIn profile headline to something like, “Currently seeking (insert type of role here) in (insert location here)”. This will let others know that you are currently job seeking. 3. Target the Right Companies It’s important to know what type of company you are looking for. This all comes down to your personal preference. Knowing what you want will make it easier. Would you rather be; “a big fish in a little pond” or “a little fish in a big pond”? By eliminating the type of companies you don’t want in your search, you will narrow down the available jobs suited to you. Extra Tip: If you know of a company you think you would like to work for, search for reviews of the company online. Glassdoor.com lets you search millions of reviews of companies that are all posted anonymously by employees. This is a great way to get an honest appraisal of organisations you’re considering applying to or considering accepting an offer for. 4. Network Use the contacts you have to enquire about available jobs and get the word out that you’re looking for a new position. Often jobs can be found through people we know so it’s a good idea to get in touch with any relevant contacts you may have. Building on your current network can also give you an advantage in your job search. Attending conferences and job expos are a great way to network and find out about career opportunities. 5. Keep Positive Finding the perfect job isn’t easy and may take time. As rejections start coming in, it’s important to always try to stay positive. It’s only natural for you to feel deflated when things aren’t going according to plan but try to use the rejection as a motivation to work harder. The right job is out there for you and you will find it if you stay persistent and optimistic. Don’t have the time to job search? If you find yourself not being able to find the time to search for jobs properly, you can contact us in Sigmar Recruitment. You can upload your details and CV to our website, create an online profile and one of our 125 specialist recruitment consultants will contact you to discuss potential job opportunities.
With the recent revival in commercial construction projects around the country, construction professionals should be updating their CVs in anticipation of new opportunities for site engineers, quantity surveyors, project managers and other similar disciplines. With over 10 years’ experience in recruiting for the construction industry here are some CV tips for those looking for a change. Don’t be a slave to the 2 page CV Construction professionals with over 10 years’ experience will more than likely need more room to describe duties in detail (e.g. not all project managers do the same thing) and also relevant projects. If you are applying to a company specialising in refurbishment works, you’ll naturally want to mention any similar projects you have been involved in. If this takes 2.5 or 3 pages it’s not an issue once you are being consistently relevant in the CV. Explain gaps Some construction candidates leave out 6 month or year-long gaps which they feel are irrelevant; however a brief explanation is generally helpful to an employer reviewing the document. For example a year travelling in Australia with some labouring on building sites can indicate to an employer that you understand the industry from another angle and are willing to “get your hands dirty” in a role. Avoid cross-referencing We often receive CVs where a candidate has one section as a career history and another separate section with a list of projects, sometimes not labelled by time frame or employer. Prospective employers have to cross reference and go back and forth in the CV to get the full context. A better approach would be to briefly list these projects along with the employer and your duties in the employment section. This makes it much easier for a recruiter or employer to understand your experience quickly and coherently. Employer names may need context Engineers and Project Managers coming back to Ireland from Australia or the Middle East may have companies named but not identified or explained as a contractor, client, design company and so on. A busy employer might not want to take the time to look up the company so it’s advisable to include even one or two brief lines on the type of company, scale and typical projects. E.g. “ABC Ltd is a Queensland based mechanical and electrical installation contractor specialising in healthcare projects”. This is the type of information which might tip a CV slightly over 2 pages but is well worth it. Attention to detail This is an old one but still comes up. In recent months one of our clients flatly rejected a CV for a contracts administration position because there were 2 typos in the CV. Make sure you check spelling and basic grammar in the CV. Richard Walsh is happy to speak to construction professionals at all levels about CVs, jobs and other topics of interest – firstname.lastname@example.org
As a recruiter, I have seen some good, some bad and some ugly CVs cross my desk. There are a couple of things which an accountancy CV should always contain and similarly, a few things which should never appear. Below I will discuss in a number of points how you, as an accountant, can grab the attention of the prospective audience i.e. recruiters or HR professionals and secure yourself an interview. Personal Profile The one thing you are looking to gain from your CV is an interview and hopefully, at the end of the process, a job. The first thing we should realise is that a HR professional or recruiter takes only 10-15 seconds to decide whether they are going to delve deeper into your CV and discover what you can offer. So to grab their attention you should include a short summary of yourself which is essentially a description of what an employer would be getting if they hired you. “A highly experienced ACA big 4 qualified accountant with 3 years PQE in a global FMCG multinational. Highly adaptable team member with strong communication skills. Looking for a role with a progressive multinational in a commercial finance capacity.” Qualifications As a finance professional, your qualifications and certificates are some of the first things employers or HR will look for on your CV. For this reason you need to put exact details of your education and how proficient you were in each area, for example: 1st time pass ACA. The same goes with your degree or college achievements. You need to include the level of the qualification, the name of the degree and the name of the college not to mention the dates which you attended. I would also include your leaving certificate points and results here to save the employer looking for them later in the process. Experience and Achievements When listing the companies you have worked for, my opinion is that you should use the same format every time. The experience should be listed from the most recent back to the beginning of your career. Each role must list the company name, dates employed, industry, monetary turnover and your position. If you have worked in a number of roles in the one company, you need to clearly specify the continuity of your time there and the different positions you held. For each role I would separately list your responsibilities and achievements and list them in the third person. Describe your responsibilities according to the requirements of the job specification you are applying for. As an accountant or finance professional, the more senior you are, the more important your achievements become. Potential employers want to see where you have run projects, cut costs, improved processes and generally exceeded expectations. IT and Software Skills These are extremely important to have on your CV as a role with a prospective employer could depend on the systems exposure you have had. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of times I have had to do a specific search for an accountancy package or system and began my search from there. If you happen to be a super user of any system, again have it noted in black and white. It could be the difference in you or someone else getting the job, and I have seen it happen. Skills and Hobbies This area of an Accountancy CV is difficult to advise on. I would recommend that skills such as fluency in a language should always be included and even have their own section but if you would like to list them here that is also ok. I would not recommend you put skills like “fastest pint drinker” on your CV but at the same time, an innocent skill or achievement like being a beauty pageant winner or Ireland’s strongest man can alienate you or intimidate the interviewer so always be careful in that regard. The reality is, you will not do yourself any harm leaving hobbies off your CV altogether but this is something to take on a case by case basis and speak to your recruiter if you are unsure. Proof Reading 9 out of 10 recruiters will agree with me when I say that seeing a CV with a number of grammatical or spelling errors is a major annoyance. The opinion is that if a candidate cannot take care while writing their CV, how much care and effort are they going to put into the role? Your CV is a ticket to an interview and can get you in front of the right people so there are no excuses if you cannot do a simple spell check before you send it off.
One of the easiest questions to fall down on in an interview is answering the question “What would you consider to be your greatest strength?” The reason the interviewer asks this question is to help him/her decide whether or not you are the strongest applicant for the job. People tend not to like talking themselves up but this is the perfect opportunity for you to do just that. When you are asked the question about your strengths it is important to pick attributes that will qualify you for the job. Candidates often make the common mistake of saying the generic strengths like “I’m hard working” or “I’m a perfectionist” but this is not the best way to answer the question. You need to make it specific to you and relevant to the job for it to carry weight with an interviewer. Make sure you pick a strength that you actually possess not one just because it is in the requirements as you will be caught out if the interviewer decides to probe you a bit more. When answering this question in an interview you should use the job spec as a guide. All job specs will have a list of requirements or attributes needed for the role so before the interview take time to match your strengths to the requirements of the job. Tips on how to answer the strengths question: Describe your strengths in detail Go into as much detail as you need to best sell yourself. This is a chance to put your best foot forward and show the interviewer you are the best candidate for the job. Use the job spec as a guide The job spec tells you exactly what they are looking for. Use it as a guide when coming up with your relevant strengths. Use examples Use examples to back up your answer. It’s all well and good telling the interviewer your strengths but you need to back them up with examples. Examples help to show you have the experience required. Common mistakes to avoid: Lack of preparation Most candidates who answer this question poorly fail to prepare sufficiently. Prepare your answer in advance and it will be much easier to articulate in an interview. Picking vague strengths Not picking a strength unique to you. Try not to mention a strength that anyone off the street can use. Pick a strength that is personable to you but also that is relevant for the role. The trick to answering this is in the same way you would any other interview question and that is by preparing your answer in advance. If the job you are interviewing for fits your skills set and personality then answering questions like this should be easy to answer. It is important you never miss a genuine opportunity and the greatest strengths question could not be a more perfect setting for selling yourself.
In a tough candidate market, where HR is overwhelmed by CVs, a common concern for jobseekers is how they can make their CV stand out from the hundreds of other applications. Whilst in recent years we’ve seen great examples of creative CVs, such as ‘Jobless Paddy’ (the Galway man who landed a position with Paddy Power after his high profile billboard and social media campaign to help him find a job) – unless you are in a creative industry it’s best to stick to the basics when creating yours. 1. Good Base All good CVs begin with a good base and by base I mean structure. Employers spend about 20-30 seconds scanning your CV so you need to make sure your CV can be easily digested. Resist the urge to cram everything into 1 page and have a layout that is broken down into appropriate sections, with a clear font, consistent formatting and adequate white space. Cramming too much into your CV will make it overwhelming to an employer so use concise sentences and bullet points. Using bullet points makes your CV easier to read and encourages you to only list the important points of your past experience. 2. The Main Ingredients – Experience and Achievements A lot of candidates have a tendency to just state their duties and responsibilities when writing their CV without outlining their performance. You are not the only person applying for a job so how do you differentiate yourself from the competition? By demonstrating your achievements of course! An employer not only wants to know you’ve got the necessary skills for the job but that you can add value to the role. So take a second now and think about your role, what have been your proudest achievements? What challenges have you had and what did you do to overcome them? Aim to have at least two achievements – specific examples, rewards or performance to targets or in relation to others in team. 3. Tailoring In my eyes not tailoring your CV to a specific job is a cardinal sin. Vague, general CVs just don’t cut it. You need to target your CV to each job sought. Get your hands on the job description for the role you wish to apply for and then write your CV to suit this job description. It is crucial that your CV lists what is relevant and recent, or you lose the interest of an employer. Apply the “so what?!” test to every line of your CV. If it is not mirroring a requirement of the job you are applying for, kill it! Irrelevant detail is a waste of space. It may sound time consuming but making the effort to tailor your CV will greatly increase your chances of securing an interview. 4. Finishing Touches If there was ever a time when perfectionism is warranted, it’s when writing a CV. The biggest bug bear of employers and recruiters alike are spelling mistakes and typos. Spell check does not catch everything so make sure you proofread and get a second pair of eyes also. Nothing shows lack of attention to detail like spelling mistakes. As well as checking spelling and grammar, make sure your employment dates match up and that you’ve provided the right contact details.
Much like doctors not taking care of their own health or accountants having bad personal finances, recruiters when applying for jobs themselves consistently have the worst CVs. As a specialist HR recruiter I coach all types of HR and recruitment candidates on improving their CV for their job search. Again and again it is my candidates who come from a recruitment background who most under-represent their experience. This is quite surprising when you consider that they see more CVs than any other jobseekers out there. So if you are a recruiter and are considering applying for a role take the time to read through the below. These tips are based on the direct feedback I have received from the hiring managers of tech companies, financial services, public sector clients etc. Tips for your Recruiter CV Explain what type of volumes you have worked with such as multiple vacancies in a specific ramp up campaign. Demonstrate how many roles and what type of roles you have placed. Working on a job is not impressive, placing the successful candidate in the job is. Include job titles and numbers of placements. Whether in-house or agency, recruitment is fast paced and target based. Does your CV show how you have performed against targets in the past? When it comes to creative sourcing methods, how have you thought outside the box before? Advertising and using social media is the norm, what have you done that is different? Have you had to maintain reports and metrics either for a hiring manager, a client or for your own manager? What type of clients have you worked with? If you can list company names then do, especially when they are well known brands or corporations. Give the range of salaries you have recruited for, this shows if you have hired both junior and senior level candidates. Recruitment requires administration skills. You should list any applicant tracking systems, HR systems or Excel skills that you have. Are you a problem solver? Do you show initiative? Include any examples of process improvements. Technology companies particularly seek these competencies. From a client perspective what different stakeholders have you had to deal with – list the range of job titles such as Managing Director, HR Manager, CFO etc. This is relevant to anyone but again recruiters seem to forget it; include work and personal achievements e.g. Employee of the month, promotions, volunteering. If you are an in-house or agency recruiter, a recruitment administrator or a HR person I would be happy to talk you through the Irish job market. Please email email@example.com or call Kate on 01 4744 646 for a confidential chat.
In order for you to put your best foot forward at interview you should always be prepared to answer questions in relation to gaps on your CV in a truthful and accurate manner. In my opinion, having a gap makes very little difference in obtaining an interview. What matters more is how you explain a gap, be it in your CV, cover letter or at interview. The best advice I can give is to simply tell the truth. Recruiters and hiring managers want to understand what you did during that time away and how you stayed connected to the business or sector that you are interviewing for a job in. Make sure to incorporate into your CV any volunteer work you did, any classes or courses you attended, and any qualifications you earned. Include skills you learned and experience you obtained during this time, to help demonstrate why you’re qualified for the job you’re seeking. There may be some gaps in employment that you feel you don’t need to bother explaining – those that lasted only a month or two, or gaps in employment that happened a long time ago. If you are confident that these gaps don’t need to be addressed then the easiest way to avoid these sorts of gaps being highlighted is to only give the years for your employment on your CV rather than the months. If you have taken some time off in the past to go away and travel, then it’s more than likely that there will be a gap on your CV that needs addressing. This does not have to be considered as a disadvantage by any means. In fact many employers believe time spent travelling abroad bring a sense of cultural awareness and independence that will prove invaluable to you in your future career. Perhaps you were able to acquire another language during this time or learn a new skill and, if so, these should also be included in your CV. Never be tempted to extend the length of time you were in employment to cover any of these gaps because an employer is more than likely going to take references from your previous employers and you don’t want to come across as dishonest. Whatever the situation is, just be positive and try to incorporate it all into your experience as opposed to avoiding it. Very often these gaps on CVs can become the elephant in the room and this is not what you want in order to make sure you are coming across enthusiastic and ready for work. Make sure never to underestimate the importance of interview preparation. Know your strengths and weaknesses and apply them to the job on offer. Do more research than your competition, know more about the company and the job than anyone else and always, always, always use an interview as an opportunity to show your passion and enthusiasm!
For many people starting their job search, writing a cover letter can be a daunting task. It’s hard to know where to start and how to sum up why you are the ideal candidate for the job in just a few short paragraphs. Follow these five tips to make sure your cover letter makes you stand out from the crowd. Be Specific Most people’s cover letters are very general. In order to make your application stand out, you need to be specific about why you want that job in that particular company. Make sure you state clearly the job you are applying for as a hiring manager could be hiring for countless jobs at one time. A cover letter is your chance to show that you have done your homework on the company and show a true desire to work for the company. Most importantly, make sure that if you are stating a company by name, you have the correct name in the Cover Letter. Hiring managers know you are probably applying for roles in various companies but it shows sloppiness and no attention to detail. State Your Strengths I’m not talking about the cliché strengths everyone gives – strong communication skills, brilliant team player and hardworking etc. Focus on strengths specific to you that can be supported with evidence. Whether it is your extensive work experience in a relevant area, or your academic achievements, make sure you state them clearly. Cover letters are a time to be boastful even if Irish Culture has trained many people to be overly modest and to not sell themselves to the fullest. Keep it short and to the point Cut down on any information that is irrelevant to the job you are applying for. Hiring managers have to review dozens of Cover Letters and CVs. The vast majority of the time they will not read your application; just simply skim it for the relevant information. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) by writing paragraphs of irrelevant information to the job. Clean Formatting and No Grammatical Errors First impressions really count when you only have 15 seconds to make an impact with your cover letter. Read and reread your cover letter to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. It’s always a good idea to get a family member or friend to check it over with fresh eyes. Typographical errors also leave a lasting impression, and not of the positive kind. Make sure your font and text size is consistent throughout your cover letter. Make sure to use punctuation where needed, and have clearly structured paragraphs. To Sum up Restate your interest in the job, and thank the hiring manager for taking the time to consider you.