Archive for the ‘CV Tips’ Category

How to deal with recruitment agencies


With over a million people this year expected to find jobs through recruitment agencies then, love ’em or hate ’em, they will invariably form part of your job hunting strategy.

Recruitment agencies work by acting as a filter for employers by shortlisting candidates they recommend for interview to save their clients time and money. Often their fees to their clients (the employers) work on a sliding scale and if you decide the job is not for you then they will have to refund their client a percentage of the placement fee. Therefore it is in their interests to place the right candidate. However, be wary of those unscrupulous agencies that try and fit a square peg into a round hole to hit their sales targets. If you don’t feel the role they are putting to you is suitable, then don’t be pushed into it.

Put keywords in your CV: Agencies receive many CVs from prospective candidates which are entered onto their huge database of candidates and coded up using keywords. When a recruitment consultant receives a vacancy from an employer they then search the database using  keywords e.g. engineer+manager+cambridge specific to the job requirements. This produces a list of potential CVs. If you want yours to be one of these, then you need to ensure that it contains all the relevant keywords you might expect a consultant to use in his or her search.

Meet the agency: As this CV logging process is so impersonal it’s vital to become a human being and not just a reference number lurking on a database. So, make sure that you phone the agency to check they have received your CV (or walk in to deliver it personally and ask to speak to someone) and get the name of the relevant consultant. They are sometimes difficult to get through to (unless you are a client with a vacancy then suddenly they are rushing to the phone!) so having their name really helps get past the administration staff screening calls.

If you can arrange to meet the consultant then you are more readily borne in mind for vacancies that come in. At the agency I used to work for, for every candidate we met we had to canvass call three prospective employers to “sell them in” while the candidate was still there. That may be three more employers than you otherwise would have been able to approach, so meet your consultant!

Be persistent: It may not be in your nature to be pushy, but in order to get noticed and keep your CV on the consultant’s desk you need to phone them regularly to see if there are any suitable vacancies. That way they immediately think of you before trawling the database.

Dress to impress: You should treat an interview with a recruitment agency as you would an interview with a prospective employer. Don’t forget they are the first line of interviews – if they don’t think you are right for the role they will not put you forward. So, dig out your smartest suit, clean your shoes, and sort out your nails! You need to sell yourself to the agency so they put YOU forward. (See the Personal Marketing article on what to wear for interviews)


Creating your own CV website

If  you are job hunting and have a portfolio of work you need prospective employers to see, then you should consider creating your own website.

You can use a website to demonstrate your talents much better than a plain CV. You can include examples of your work and testimonials from clients or previous employers.

This approach is ideal for the following creative professions and in many cases a website is expected from you:

  • Graphic designers
  • Website developers
  • Designers (Interior, Fashion etc)
  • Actors
  • Artists and photographers
  • Models
  • Anyone planning to go freelance in any field

One of the advantages of this approach is that you can circulate the link to your site on the internet – through jobs noticeboards, social networking and emails.

Other advantages include:

  • You can include all aspects of your work using photos, sound and video to demonstrate your creativity
  • You don’t have to carry a portfolio of your work around with you
  • You can include the website link on your business cards at networking events
  • You can drive traffic to your website to save you some footwork in approaching prospective employers
  • Other people may see your website and recommend you to a friend/colleague

There are some things you need to consider though:

  • To do a good job, and unless you are a web designer yourself, you will need to pay a professional to create the website for you. Prices can range enormously so make sure you have the budget!
  • Creating a website is not a five minute job and takes planning, testing and maintenance.  It can take many weeks to establish depending on the complexity of the site
  • You will need to ensure the content is up to date and fresh
  • You will need to include a link to your traditional format CV so will need to ensure that  too looks professional
  • Make sure that the website is clear and easy to read and has no errors, dud links or spelling mistakes
  • You will need to choose domain name that is available and will have to pay a fee to register it. You can find domain name checkers on the internet

Your site should include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your credentials (qualifications and skills)
  • What it is you do – sell yourself! Don’t just expect your work to speak for itself.
  • Examples of your work and projects you have worked on
  • Testimonials from satisfield employers/clients
  • How to contact you (very important!)

As with your traditional CV, do NOT include any information that could potentially be used by criminals for fraudulent purposes!

Click here to see the Personal Marketing blog entry on what personal information NOT to include on your CV website.


CV do nots!!


Did you know that most employers take between 10-15 seconds to scan read CVs when sifting through a pile of job applications? That’s not long to grab their attention!

Here in brief are some of the CV “crimes” I have seen over the years. I impart this information to you because, as they say on the cop shows, knowledge is power…

1. Do not include a photo of yourself. It can work both ways. If you are attractive you may be seen as a bimbo (men included!);  if you are, let’s say, less than an oil painting your CV will be met with “Jeez…” and possibly put to the bottom of the pile. It’s sad but it’s true.  Let your skills and achievements speak for themselves.

2. Watch your spelling. Spelling mistakes will make you look like an illiterate fool.

3. Keep it brief. Don’t waffle on page after page. Try and stick to two sides. (The only exception :  If you have a very senior management/specialist job history)

4. Don’t use a silly font. Stick to Times New Roman or something similar. Nothing swirly or illegible that would not be easily scan read.

5.  Always put your contact details on your CV and make sure that you include your email address. However, make sure that your email address isn’t something like “Ivegot”, make sure it is sensible!

6. Don’t put, under the hobbies and interests section, “drinking and socialising”. This screams that you will be too hungover to turn up to work. I have seen numerous CVs that ONLY have this under hobbies and interests!

7. Don’t make stuff up. You will quickly get found out at interview!

8. Don’t criticise your last employer.  It doesn’t look professional and make you look like you have an attitude problem.

9. Don’t list your salary you earned for each job. This can mean that you may under price or over price yourself before even getting an interview.

10. Don’t attach your CV to an email to a prospective employer without a “covering letter” within the body of the email. “Hi, please find attached my CV, thanks, Dave” is not going to encourage an employer to open your CV. You need to whet their appetite with a brief outline of what you can offer them. And don’t, DEFINITELY DON’T end your email with xx. I’ve seen it many times! People really do!


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