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.
Online Marketing has been an area of significant growth over the last few years. Seeing as your CV is your first point of contact with potential employers, many jobseekers have been utilising their CVs to convey their creativity and suitability for online marketing roles. Used well, a creative CV can really give you the edge over the competition. Not only does it reflect your personality, it speaks volumes about your creativity and problem solving skills. A well designed CV is the first impression a future employer will get of you, your style, and your methods of working. However before you run off and start working on your CV masterpiece bear the following in mind; Don’t skimp on Relevant Information Whilst it’s easy to get carried away on a creative buzz, don’t skimp on relevant information for the sake of design. An effective creative CV finds the balance between design and information. It’s important for employers to know what you’ve achieved and where you’ve been so make sure you stress your experience and include all relevant information. At the end of the day, it is the most important factor. Don’t overdo it It is very easy for the design to overwhelm your CV, so show a little bit of restraint and taste when it comes to designing your CV. Content is king at the end of the day so make sure it’s easy to read, well organised and clear. As previously mentioned the competition for jobs in the online marketing sector is strong and each candidate is fighting a new fight with each application. You can be one step ahead of the competition by highlighting your CV through creativity; from there it is down to your experience and your ability to perform in the interview process. But being 1-0 up before you get to that process is of great benefit!
Find out how to turn the contents of your professional career into the perfect CV in 4 steps. 1. Good Base Like all good soups, a CV begins 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. Whilst in recent years we’ve seen great examples of creative CVs – unless you are in a creative industry it’s best to stick to the basics when creating yours. 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. Season to Taste Soup without seasoning is a cardinal sin in my eyes, the same way not tailoring your CV to a specific job is. 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.
Your CV is your sales document. Make sure to target your CV for each job you apply for. Your CV should mirror the job spec of the job you are applying for, ticking all of the requirements for the role. Create a first draft Write all your qualifications, experience, employment history, personal history, hobbies and interests, including all relevant information under headings. Now write down everything you’ve gained personally from these experiences – skills, insights, personal growth (in paragraphs). At this stage just write as many pages as you need to get the brainstorming process done – only later on will we be concerned with cutting it down. Filter out the unimportant You can’t tell potential employers your entire history, but you can highlight the important details for them: these will include skills, insights and abilities that you have been able to develop, as well as your academic qualifcations and what you gained from your studies and experience. Keep it concise Eliminate unnecessary details. HR departments have lots to do, so don’t make the mistake of asking them to read through an unnecessarily long CV. HR departments won’t read a lengthy CV if they are short on time, short on patience, or have a lot of CVs to wade through. Remember that there may be a pile of CVs a foot high for some positions! CV’s should be around two pages in length, although it may be longer if you have to describe a lot of relevant work experience. Even a two page CV is of no advantage if it’s full of information that isn’t reasonably applicable to the position you’re qualified or applying for. Use the space only if you need it to fully disclose your accomplishments. Include the Basic information Even if you have entered this information into this site, you should still include it on your CV. When the recruiter makes the call to say you have been accepted, your CV is the only document he or she will hold in their hands. Make sure it at least has all your personal information such as: Name Address Telephone Number Date of Birth Nationality, including visa and work permit status Languages (level for both written and verbal Driving License (if you have one) State long term objectives What are your short and long term career aims and objectives? Do you have any preferences for the type of work you want to undertake? (Don’t be too restrictive. It is better to be general about your career aspirations at this stage, for example, Business Related, IT). Don’t include short term objectives Your short-term objectives should be clearly articulated in your cover letter. If you do include objectives, be specific. Vague statements, such as “Looking to utilise my marketing skills” or “seeking a rewarding position” add nothing to a CV and may in fact make you appear insincere. Include your Employment history All your employment is important whether it is part-time, temporary, voluntary, vacation work or Saturday only. It should be presented in reverse chronological order, most recent first. Give dates, name of employer, job titles etc. Include your Education history List your most recent qualifications first, including: Dates, Institution – Name of Degree Course etc Degree Classification. It is not necessary to list all the modulesyou have studied Technical qualifications Achievements / Positions of Responsibility Include Hobbies / Interests Be Positive! Use “power words” such as “developed,” “managed,” and “designed” to emphasise your accomplishments. Stick your chest out and don’t be afraid to tell people what you’ve done. Produce a well-organised professional document You’ll generate a better response from your curriculum vitae if it is well organised and is packed with relevant information to match and support your professional, academic or career objective. Be honest! There is a huge difference between making the most of your experience and exaggerating or falsifying it. A falsified CV can be easily spotted by a recruiter or employer (if not immediately then certainly through the interview process), and if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the job, it will cost you the job later on. Use good document layout Make your CV easy on the eyes. Use normal margins (one inch at the top and bottom, one and a quarter inch on the sides) and don’t cram your information onto the page. Allow for some “white space” between the different sections. Avoid unusual or exotic font styles; use simple fonts with a professional look. Do not use more than two fonts throughout the entire document. If you aren’t sure of the fonts to use, try a sans-serif font like Arial or Helvetica for the headings, and a serif font such as Times Roman for the rest of the text. Put the good stuff at the start One big mistake that job seekers often make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions. As you compile statements for your CV, prioritise them by importance, impressiveness and relevance to the job you want. Remember that a strong statement, which uses power words and quantifies, will affect every statement under it. Re-read! Read through your CV. Ask someone else to read through your CV carefully once you are finished. When you have been working on your CV for hours, it can be difficult to spot the errors.
Wit industry and business booming in Ireland companies are flooded with job applications and CVs every day. The competition can be tough out there. Your CV is just a piece of paper telling the company what you are all about, but sometimes it is really the only thing that is stopping you from getting your foot in the door and getting to the next stage – the interview. According to Recruit Ireland, content is king. Their advice is that ‘bells and whistles’ CVs might not always work and that often clean and simple CVs are the best. Research by job-matching service The Ladders found that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing your CV, stating ‘it’s important to make every second count’. However, many people feel that innovative CVs will grab more attention. Ireland has seen some of these creative characters thinking outside the box. One of them is UCD graduate Jordan McDonnell, who posted his alternative style slideshow CV online. It quickly went viral, getting more than 90,000 views. He received job offers from around the world, but accepted a job as an account manager with Twitter in Dublin. ‘I’d worked in the finance sector, but I wanted a change of career into something more creative. I sent out traditional CVs, but as I had no experience or creative background, I wasn’t successful in getting interviews. I looked into some alternative style CVs and when I put mine together, it really was a last resort for me,’ he said. ‘It was a total shock when it went viral. I actually got the position I have today by my manager trawling through CVs and going on Twitter to tell people to stop sending in four-page-long CVs with spelling mistakes. Someone tweeted him my CV saying, ‘I don’t suppose this guy has any hope so!’, because my CV was 33 pages long. Anyway, he liked it and invited me in to meet him and he offered me a job.’ Jordan recommends being creative when applying for a job, saying: ‘Do something a little different, do something creative and something that is you – that should work.’ Féilim Mac An Iomaire is another Irish jobseeker who decided he wanted to get noticed. He took out a billboard ad, dubbing himself the ‘Jobless Paddy’. As a result, he landed a role at the Paddy Power betting company. In Ireland, #jobfairy is another resource people are using to advertise and seek jobs. Whether you decide to be creative or simple, there is key advice not to be ignored when submitting a CV. Tara McMenamon, executive consultant in accountancy and finance with Sigmar Recruitment, said: ‘What matters is what the hirer thinks of your CV. His or her opinion will be made by comparing your CVs with the others he or she has received. So think about what the other “competitors” are likely tohave on their CVs.’ According to McMenamon, some of the golden rules are: use bullet points and use spelling and grammar check, make every effort to get your hands on a job spec for a vacancy and explain all gaps on your CV. Irrelevant detail is a cardinal sin, says McMenamon. ‘Everything must be relevant to the job for which you are applying and you must remove anything that is not relevant as far as the reader is concerned,’ she said.‘The reader has absolutely no interest in what you have to offer to the world. He’s interested in the resource that he wants to buy for his company at this moment.’ Most importantly, she added ‘the job must be one that really interests you and you must have a realistic chance of winning it. Otherwise, you will be generating a CV for something that you cannot obtain.’
After reading countless CVs day in, day out here at Sigmar, there are many a CV cliché that makes our eyes glaze over. Phrases such as ‘motivated, hard-working, team player’ and ‘enthusiastic individual with experience working in a fast-paced environment’ are white noise to us as recruiters yet we still see them appear on numerous CVs every day. The problem for many job seekers, is that whilst the have accomplished many career goals and achievements, when it comes to writing their CV they can’t remember any of it. So when in a rush to throw a CV together they end up using the same words and phrases as everyone else. Your CV is your marketing tool for getting you an interview and you need to utilise it to distinguish you from the other candidates. As recruiters, we want to see career progression, concrete examples of achievements and your growth within the company. Anything else is considered filler. Rather than listing your skills and job duties, demonstrate your accomplishments with specific examples. Providing examples will allows us as recruiters the ability to relate you to a specific role. Whilst some clichés are unavoidable here’s our guide to working around the most common offenders; Team Player Probably the most overused phrase of the lot is ‘team player’, ‘thrives in a team environment’, ‘loves working as part of a team’. Don’t state one of these phrases, rather talk about an accomplishment that shows you’re a good team player. For example; ‘Headed up a team of sales people to create a new sales model that increased sales by 41%’. Proven Track-Record In what? What did you do to get this track record? Have you saved your company money? Have you reached ambitious targets? Quantify your results; ‘Over a period of 6 months, I brought in €150,000 of business and 15 new clients’. A company would be far more impressed with this statement than a vague comment. Hard-Worker/Highly Motivated Well, you’re not going to write that you’re a bit lazy are you? You’re not the only one using these clichés, so clean up your CV by stating how you go that extra mile. Did you take a class to improve your skills? Did you meet some really tough deadline? Show the HR manager what makes you this person with a strong work ethic, instead of using another cliché. As you can see strong CVs make claims but then back them up with evidence. Smarter job hunters realise that trying to sell your personality on paper sets you up to fail. So to sum up make fewer claims and offer more evidence matched to the employer’s shopping list.