Advice Resources Analysis Help CV
Analysis and planning
Now is the perfect opportunity to take some time to think. There are tools you can use to structure your planning. Try writing out a personal SWOT analysis, and working through the questions here.
- What do you do well?
- What should you work to get better at?
- What opportunities can you see around you?
- What barriers are in the way of your progress? And what could you do differently?
Work’s much more enjoyable when you’re doing something you’re good at, so take some time to think about your key skills and interests.
What kind of things are you good at? Even if it doesn’t seem like something you’re currently qualified for, knowing where your attributes lie will help you identify a clear career path – whether you need to take a course to get there, or simply make the most of your transferable skills.
Are you looking for a stop-gap job to pay off bills, or do you have a career plan?
Have you progressed as far as you can in your current job and feel you need a new challenge?
Are you seeking promotion and opportunities for career advancement?
After you have listed your strengths & skills, look through various job descriptions and see which match.
Talk to people in your industry of interest.
Once you have an idea of the industry you’re interested in, or even a potential role, reach out to someone in that position and see if they’ll chat with you about what their job is like. Be sure you come prepared with questions, but take the time to find out about their day-to-day responsibilities, the potential career trajectory, and what kind of person they feel succeeds in their kind of role. While this is just one person’s experience, talking with someone in-person can give you some more context outside of your own personal reflection and internet research. If you can, try reaching out to multiple people to sit down and talk with them about the key characteristics of their careers.
Make sure you consider your travel time before you apply for a job. Think about transport links, how long you’re prepared to travel to get to work and what kinds of services you’ll want nearby when you get there. Also, consider whether you’d be willing to move home.
Working for a large company, there may be scope to progress internally. Working for a small company, you may gain experience more quickly. Working for a well-known company may bring opportunities or benefits.
Think also about training opportunities and the right company culture.
Try to work out what salary you should be looking for. Though you must also be prepared to look for jobs paying slightly below and slightly above the rate you’d be happy to earn. Be realistic without selling yourself short.
If you’re offered a job, you’ll usually have the opportunity to negotiate your salary to some extent.
What do you do well?
What should you get better at?
What can you do differently?
What barriers do you face & how can you overcome them?
- Keep it real! Usually a CV should be no more than two pages. Keep it punchy, to the point, and save the details for the interview.
- Tailor it Take time to change your CV for each role that you apply for. Research the company and use the job advert to work out EXACTLY what skills you should point out to them.
- Include a personal statement Use a short personal statement to explain why you are the best person for the job.
- Don’t leave gaps Leaving obvious gaps on your CV immediately makes employers suspicious. If you’ve been out of work, put a positive spin on it. Did you do a course, volunteer work or develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork or project management? If so, shout about it!
- Keep it current You should keep your CV up-to-date whether you’re looking for a job or not. Every time something significant occurs in your career, record it so you don’t later forget something that could be important.
- No typos Employers DO look for mistakes on CVs and if they find them, it makes you look really bad. If you’re unsure then use a spellchecker and ask someone else to double-check what you’ve written.
- Tell the truth Lies on your CV can land you in a whole heap of trouble. The last thing you want is to start work and then lose your new job for lying.
- The maths When writing your work history, don’t just say that you increased sales; tell them you increased sales by 70% over a six month period. Make your impact clear.
- Make it look good We live in a world where image is everything, and that also goes for your CV. Use bullet points and keep sentences short. Use the graphic design trick of leaving plenty of white space around text and between categories to make the layout easy on the eye.
- Make it keyword friendly If you’ve uploaded your CV to a job site so recruiters can find you, keywords are very important. A search engine needs to pick out your CV from the pile. If you’re not sure, have a search online and see what words are commonly mentioned when you input your job title.
A personal profile, also known as a personal statement, career objective and professional profile, is one of the most important aspects of your CV. It’s a short paragraph that sits just underneath your name and contact details giving prospective employers an overview of who you are and what you’re all about.
You should tailor your profile to every job you apply for, highlighting specific qualities that match you to the role. Aim to keep your personal statement short and sweet, and no longer than a few sentences.
To make the most of this section, you should try to address the following:
- Who are you?
- What can you offer the company?
- What are your career goals?
- Why do you want to work in this industry?
- What skills make you right for the role (hint: use the job description)?
- And where do you want to go in your career?
School leavers should always focus on the latter – and what you can bring to the business, as well as focusing on the knowledge and skills gained through education, rather than employment history. Soft skills are also a great place to start.
Example: A highly motivated and hardworking individual, who has recently completed their A-Levels, achieving excellent grades in both Maths and Science. Seeking an apprenticeship in the engineering industry to build upon a keen scientific interest and start a career as a maintenance engineer. Eventual career goal is to become a fully-qualified and experienced maintenance or electrical engineer, with the longer-term aspiration of moving into project management.
Every part of your CV will be judged by employers, so it needs to reflect your professionalism at all times.
If you’ve labelled the top of your CV with an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org, it won’t create the best first impression.
Use a simple font: Don’t over complicate your CV by using an over-elaborate font.
Keep your font simple to allow easy reading and a professional outlook.
Unless you are applying for an acting or modelling job, a photo is unnecessary and can even look a little cheesy.
List your roles in reverse chronological order. Employers are mostly interested in your recent work to assess your current capabilities, so start your CV with your most recent role to ensure it receives immediate attention.
Take some time to look into the role you’re applying for and the company – and use this information to tailor your cover letter accordingly.
When writing a cover letter, you should find out:
- What does the company do?
- Who are its competitors?
- Who is its target audience?
- What does the role involve?
- What are the essential skills?
Once you’ve found answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make it clear in your cover letter how your skills and abilities match up with what the employer is looking for.
Not only will doing research give you the knowledge you need to tailor your cover letter and CV to the style of the company, it also demonstrates that you’ve got a real interest in the specific role and company.
Keep it short, use a simple, professional font, and send it as a PDF so that you know it will print the way you want it to.
Never ever, ever use the following phrase: “My name is ___, and I am applying for the position as ____”.They already know this, and you’ll sound inexperienced.
Telling stories from your career is a great way to demonstrate your skills and give hiring managers some insight into your personality and work style.
When looking for the right stories to tell, always look to the requirements for the position in the job description.
It is also helpful to research the company further online to get a sense for the company’s culture. Before drafting your cover letter, compare your skills with the requirements for the position.
Do not send a generic cover letter. They can be spotted a mile away.
Finish off by quickly (and I mean quickly) explaining how your experience or worldview will help you at the job. That’s key. That’s the closer. And it can be done in one to two sentences. If it goes any longer, you’re just rambling.
Reiterate your interest in the role and why you would be the right fit for the role. It’s also a good time to indicate you’d like to meet with the employer for an interview.
End your letter with a call to action that is polite and open ended, suggesting that you are excited to offer more information and that you’re looking forward to talking with them.
How to apply
A job application is a formal document that summarises your education and experience for your potential employer.
When you try to submit your CV to a company, you may find that they ask you, instead, to fill out a digital application. Other times, companies may ask you to come in and fill out an application by hand, often during the interview or onboarding process.
Your job application is a legally-defendable document. It’s important that the information included is thorough and accurate.
Other times, recruiters will include a digital job application as part of the application process, where you are asked to submit additional items like your CV, references and cover letter.
It’s clear that the most common way to search for jobs in your field is to do an internet search. Websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster or Reed make it easier to connect with employers who are looking for your skills and experience.
Make sure to research every company that you are considering applying to. A strong starting point is to go online to the company’s ‘about’ page. You should also perform a search query on the company name to look for any news, current events or reviews about the company.
Use networking tools (like LinkedIn) to connect with people who work at the companies you are applying to. You may gain insight to overall company culture.
Readying your CV for the application process means making sure it’s up-to-date and optimised for the job you are applying to. In a chronological resume, most recent education and experience should be listed first in each section.
You can optimise your CV for the job you are applying to by reviewing the job description and using relevant keywords that apply to your skillset throughout.
We have more advice on writing CVs and cover letters above.
After preparing your CV and cover letter (if applicable), you may need to go online and fill out an application where you can attach your external documents.
Avoid copying and pasting directly from your CV into the online application form because that can lead to formatting issues. Instead, answer each question thoughtfully and shape your answer to the needs of that company.
Hiring managers will need time to sort through the many submissions they receive. While you may be tempted to follow up soon after applying, wait about two weeks before reaching out to check the status of your application.
This allows time for the company to sort through candidates and makes you look more professional. You can submit an application follow-up letter in the form of an email to the hiring manager if you have that information. If not, you can call the company and ask to speak to the hiring manager for that position.
Before you apply for work, check your social media. Make sure your privacy settings are set how you want them and that anything visible to the public is appropriately professional.
There are some fabulous resources out there that you can access online.
Request sample cover letter:
There are many events in life that can knock our confidence. It is completely and totally normal to experience low self esteem at times.
There are things we can do to help give ourselves a boost.
Avoid negative thoughts – learn to replace them with positive thoughts. Recognise what you are good at, build positive relationships, be kind to yourself, learn how to say ‘no’ to people, and set yourself a challenge.
Realise that you have the right to feel good about yourself. You can like and value yourself as a person; believe in yourself and the things you can do; stand up for yourself when under pressure; be willing to try new or difficult things; move on from mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly; believe that you matter and you are good enough. You deserve happiness!
Discover your strengths and celebrate them.
What can you do to maximise your chances of making a great impression at interview?
Just as before your application, take time to research the company online so you look interested and informed. What is the job? What do they need you to do?
Ask yourself, in advance, how will you get there? And how will you get there on time?
What will you wear for the interview to be comfortable and make the right impression? Prepare your outfit in advance.
Time spent before the interview may well get you the job!
You will need to demonstrate that you have:
- good communication skills
- willingness to learn
- ability to work in a team
- customer focus
- ability to work hard
- problem solving mindset
- smart & flexible thinking
Be confident, be prepared, be yourself!
If you need help with demonstrating any of these qualities, you can ask for advice or training through your job centre. We have included some top tips in boosting your confdence, as well as links to external resources here.
- What do they want you to do?
- Is it full-time or part-time?
- Is it employed or self-employed?
- What are the hours?
- Where will you be working?
- What will you be doing?
- What is the pay?
- Can you talk me through a normal day?
- Do you promote from within?
- Do you offer training?
- What is the best thing about working here?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
- When do I start?
Make sure you have thought in advance about how you would answer the following questions:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why should we employ you?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What attracted you to this role?
- What can you tell me about yourself?
- What weaknesses do you have?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- What motivates you?
- Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
Remember that they are not allowed to ask you any questions relating to your race, age, religion, place of birth, disabilities, marital status, family or plans to have a family. Though you may need to prove that you are entitled to work in the UK.
You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression! Use it!
- Dress appropriately
- Be confident
- Give good answers
- Ask (a) good question(s)
Out of work?
The first thing to say is that many people go through periods of unemployment, for a variety reasons. It is nothing to be ashamed of! It does not change your value or worth as a person – though it is entirely normal to feel that it might.
Be kind to yourself!
The following pages contain resources that, we think, may be helpful. And feel free to use the form below to contact us.
Brent Advice Matters
Advice on coping with being out of work, and where to find help
Essential support for the under 25s on surviving unemployment
How to contact Jobcentre Plus to access government support & benefits
Make sure you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to