Is a professionally prepared CV and cover letter all you need to get a new job?

In a word – no.  A professional CV and cover letter are not magic documents that will get you into any role that you want!  There are quite a number of factors that come into play when you are hunting for a new role and the more that you can prepare to overcome them, the quicker you will find success.  Here is what you need to be aware of when applying for a new role:

Internal applicants– this is one of the hardest aspects to overcome.  Employers tend to prefer internal staff as they are a known quantity and it is a lot more cost effective for them than taking on someone new.

Experience– it surprises me that a number of clients have wanted me to prepare letters for them for roles that they have little or no experience in.  

Meeting the role criteria– again I have had clients wanting to apply for roles that specify the candidate must have knowledge of certain technical programmes, for example, and they have no experience with them at all.  Pay particular attention to the wording in an ad: if they use the word “must” or “essential”, then you are wasting your time applying if you do not meet these criteria. This is one of the most important parts of your job search – the more closely you can show employers that you have what they are looking for, then the more likely you are to be chosen.  I almost always include a section in a cover letter that shows how the client matches the job description.

Realistic career step– if you have three years’ experience, you will most likely not be successful in applying for senior level roles.  Look at roles that would be the next natural level for your career pathway.

Interview skills– I cannot stress enough how important it is to put a lot of research and work into this aspect of your job hunt.  Interviews are not easy to come by, so you should always come into them prepared and confident.  I advise all my clients to look on YouTube for “Interview Training” videos – there is a wealth of information out there from industry experts and seeing some live examples of both what to do and what not to do, can make a world of difference to your confidence and your success.  Even if you feel you do well in interviews, being armed with preparedness will make you a prime candidate.

Location– the further away you are from a role, the more likely you are to be put to the back of the pile unless you can demonstrate exceptional skills.  If you are applying from overseas or out of town, make sure that you let them know you are able to relocate at short notice if successful in the role.

Your CV and cover letter are a very important part of the process, but not the only ones.  The people who find success the quickest, are the ones who address as many of the above aspects as possible.

The Key Elements That Are Missing From Most CVs

It would seem to go without saying that a winning CV should have correct spelling and grammar, and be visually and aesthetically appealing.  Yet of the hundreds of CVs that come across my desk every year, I see very few that meet even these basic criteria.

You need to put yourself in the employer's seat for a moment:  you're about to invest tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars into a stranger, in the hope that they will prove not only to be worth the investment but will enhance your business.  If this stranger cannot even be bothered to present their details in a clear, concise, and accurate manner, what does that tell you about their attitude and capabilities to do the job?

We live in a highly technological world that is computer driven and the need for instant information is critical. Today’s employers are used to living in this tech world and know that if they don’t see what they want from looking at your CV for a few seconds, they can easily find it in the next one. Some of the larger companies are using ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) that search for key words and eliminate CVs before they are even seen by a human being.

As a CV writing business, we are seeing more and more that people with CVs which at first glance would seem to be quite well set out and have strong histories, are not getting interviews.  Employers are becoming more discerning and cautious, and are looking for more "proof" of a candidate's potential. CVs that are primarily skills based are no longer cutting it in the marketplace and achievements based CVs are now seeing better results. Anybody can state on a document that they are a “team player” - but if you demonstrate this through showing that you were a key member of a team that drove a new initiative, which resulted in savings to the company, then you will get noticed.

The two key factors that we find are achieving the best results in the current employment climate, are to present employers with an aesthetically perfect document that provides them everything they are looking for quickly and easily (it doesn't need a distracting flashy format) AND shows the employer what the candidate has achieved for other employers.  This is what turns an ordinary CV into a powerful marketing tool.

Again, put yourself into the shoes of a potential employer:  you have received 50 applications - some are 6 pages long (you don't have the time to read a book!) - some have incorrect spelling and grammar (I'm not going to let that person prepare my important business documentation!) - some are full of big claims (where is the proof?) - and then there's one that clearly and concisely provides the information you are looking for, with facts and figures to demonstrate what the candidate has achieved for other employers (let's get this person in for interview straight away!).

It's as simple as that :).