Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Writing a Successful CV – Part 1

When it comes to applying for a new job, your CV is the ticket to get you that initial foot in the door and secure an interview – but how do you ensure your CV is added to the interview pile rather than thrown straight in the bin?

Putting together a successful CV is easy once you know how. It's a case of taking all your skills and experience and tailoring them to the job you're applying for. MAC Scientific has put together the following tips (part 1 of 2 posts) to help you get started in creating a successful CV and securing your first (or next) job.

Get the basics right

There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common sections you should cover. These include: personal and contact information; relevant skills to the job in question; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; own interests, achievements or hobbies; and details of some referees.

Don’t feel you have to keep your CV to 2 pages but remember that all the information in your CV should be directly linked to the job you are applying for. For example, if you have both chemistry and microbiology industry experience and you’re apply for a microbiology role make sure you put more emphasis on your microbiology skills and only briefly touch on the chemistry experience.

Presentation is the key

A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented. The layout should always be clean and well structured. If your CV is not laid out clearly or is poorly edited the recruiter will question your computer skills.  Avoid using the spacebar to position text.

Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter's eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there, for example this is the best place to put your key skills and experience related to the role.

It is important to remember that, as it is so easy to apply to roles online, recruiters are now inundated with applications. Recruiters allegedly spend less than one minute reviewing a CV; during this first minute they are looking for key skills and experience directly related to the role. If these are missing they will not read any further.

Adapt the CV to the role

Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You don't have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they're relevant.

Remember, there is less value in a generic CV. Every CV you send to a potential employer should be adapted to reflect your relevant skills and experience to the role. It is worth the extra effort as your adapted CV will be more likely to get you on the shortlist. A generic CV is always obvious to spot e.g “I am looking to establish a career in Regulatory affairs” when in fact you are applying for a Quality role. This can show disinterest in the role, i.e. you have not bothered to read the job description and adapt your CV to make the most of your relevance. So take the time to tailor the CV to the role and show the recruiter that you are interested enough to make that extra effort.

Understand the job description

The clues are in the job description, so read the details from start to finish. Take notes and create bullet points, highlighting everything you can satisfy. Then look at your CV, are these skills clearly shown? If not, make sure they are for example; in your key skills section.

If there is a skill that you are lacking, try to link it to a transferable skill. For example if the role is looking for supervisory experience think about skills linked to supervising i.e.  have you trained other staff, provided cover for a team leader, or organised workloads for other staff or apprentices?

Part 2 coming soon

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The best CV format for online applications

Your choice of CV format could put you at the front or the back of the queue!

Did you know it takes less than 1 minute for your details to be processed at MAC Scientific?
Yes from your application arriving in our mailbox to you being fully registered or your existing records updated and the acknowledgement email sent it takes from 30 - 50 seconds.

To be a winner it helps to be first out of the blocks
We have invested in data parsing systems that assist us with applicant reception.
The Exchange Server, the data parsing system and our state of the art SQL Server based system all combine to rapidly present you to the consultant dealing with your application.

From there we can contact you by SMS, Email or TAPI call to your mobile, work or home number as is you prefer.
Consultants can be reviewing your CV within 60 secs of your application.

Our systems are also smart enough to hold a CV if it is not sure if it's an updated version or a newly registered person's CV. All this is rendered useless if your CV get's held up for manual checking because the CV is illegible or poor or over complex formatting such as tables confuses the parsing software.

Here's a quick list of pointers about the format to speed you along:
  • Always send a CV in MS word format.
  • Try to avoid PDF's they look great but take longer to edit
  • Don't use tables as they affect the order in which the data is parsed
  • Always send a CV as a word Document, never use a skydrive link to a document or your application will not have a CV with it. (All the other applciants will be there done and dusted before anyone goes searching for your CV and then it has to be manually added into the system for scans for future roles.)
  • Europass CV's look good until you edit them, they can cause delays

If you have more time then read on.

Background info
Applications for a role can number in the hundreds, it is not unknown to receive over 1200 applications for a basic lab tech role!   You have competition and never moreso than in the current climate!

Logistically our Recruitment System and processes are developed to cope.
We have state of the art reception software to be able to process bulk applications that come from job boards, websites, careers sites etc.  That process involves automatically extracting the data in your CV to be analysed and submitted to the database whilst simultaneously emailing the Consultant(s) to alert them to your application.
That takes seconds!
So what can go wrong?

MAC Scientific as a reputable agency will never send your details to a client without your express permission.

In accordance with best practice no agency should submit your CV to a client without your permision, this applies in respect of each particular role.  They should also sanitise your CV by removing your personal details and those of your referees.
Therefore some editing (sanitising) must take place to remove these details.  That is not as simple or quick for an agency to do with PDF's and or skydrive docs.  So don't use those if you can help it.

It is policy at MAC Scientific to never alter the content of your CV unless you agree to it.  Minor changes such as typing errors etc are something we would take care of for you but we will never alter the content for fear of altering the context.

So, as PDF's are more difficult to edit they usually get passed to someone else to edit, this will delay an application.
Skydrive docs have to be retrieved by someone so your application will have no CV with it, whereas CV's that came as Word Docs will have been processed and actioned before your gets looked at.  Many clients only allow a limited number of CV's so you do not want to have your CV delayed for any reason or you may find the applications limit is reached.

Upon arrival at my desk I have often had to review 60 or more applicants for one job that came in overnight.  The PDF or Skydrive based CV's are all needing further attention yet we have filled the client imposed quota of applicants for the particular role concerned.   For instance each agency may only be allowed to submit 5 cv's.
Some clients allow only two or three applications at a time so having your CV delayed is not a good tactical move.   You do not want to be fourth!

Skydrive docs have to be downloaded whereas CV's emailed to us as an MS Word attachment are loaded, dealt with and viewed by the consultant at the click of a button.
PDF's require editing in Acrobat which our SQL based system cannot do itself, although processed it's the sanitizing that takes time.  By the time we get a revised CV's back in a workable format we may have submitted our quota of applicants.

You might ask "How does this affect me?"

Quite simply you can be ahead of the game by following the advice in this blog or you can be left sidelined or your application delayed, if you do not follow these basic principles.

Why "One Click Apply" to job baskets is not good for you.


Let's assume that it's 6pm, you've had a bad day at work and were wishing you'd not had another lengthy or difficult trip home.  You yearn for a new adventure, a betterjob, a more interesting job, anything but the job you are in.
Image result for free image of frustrated worker

(Let's face it, unless you are very lucky,  most of us have been there at some stage of our career.)

If you have not already done so, you settle down and proceed to check your emails and Facebook messages when you notice you've got three job alerts from various jobsites that you recently registered with.

One alert politely continues "Do you wish to apply?" 

You are probably thinking 'Hell yeah!'  So you apply for the roles because the keyword that triggered the alert was "Analyst".

The jobsite then, in processing these applications, politely enquires "do you wish to add your saved CV?"

Once again you are probably thinking 'Hell yeah!'  After all you really have had enough of that other job.

So in a couple of clicks you have applied for at least half a dozen roles and you will soon be released from your torturous job and be taking that next step on the ladder of success.  WRONG!

Job boards provide you with a tempting basket of jobs.  They tell you to use OCA their "one click to apply" for all function that puts your saved CV for all the jobs in a flash.     Hey presto you have applied for a basket full of jobs in seconds and hey it's cost you nothing.  You could be forgiven for asking     "What could go wrong?"

The answer to that is plenty.

Let's look at the possible downsides to using this very efficient way of making your application weaker.

Generic CV's are good for CV banks NOT for specific jobs

Firstly, when you saved that CV onto the job board it was most likely a general version designed to have the widest appeal.  Otherwise why bother?
However, when applying you should always adapt your CV according to your relevant skills and experience.  The more experience you have the more work you need to do to make the CV relevant, after all you probably cannot fit everything onto it.
We are not suggesting that you invent things,  it must be truthful and accurate.

Written for the wrong role

All too often we see an applicant sending in a CV with a summary stating that he or she wants a career in this or that but not the role they are applying for.
e.g. "I am looking to embark on a career in Regulatory Affairs"
Fine you might say but not if the role the person has applied for is a QC role. 
A good Consultant will reject the application there and then because they should not be putting people forward to a role that the applicant is not really interested in.
So a generic CV or one written for a different role will probably not get sent to the client.

Edit your CV for each role.  

So it takes a bit longer but you must realise that you are in competition with other people, your CV needs to be as good as you can possibly make it.  We will publish an article for that shortly.

A very wise person once told me that, lazy people tend to do what is convenient and they rarely do what is appropriate.  That was a generalism and perhaps it may seem harsh but there is an element of truth to that belief. 
One could say the same of people who are very busy and short of time etc.   That covers most of us!

"So what do I do?"

In April 2013 one job board alone claimed to have have almost 6 million people registered.  So it seems safe to assume that a rapidly growing percentage of professionals and grads have either registered on business social media and one or more of the job boards.

That job alert basket was most likely filled with a mix of advertised roles from companies looking to hire directly and from Recruitment Agencies who represent other companies who currently remain anonymous.
What you would have successfully done is to alienate most people receiving and looking at your CV.  
Busy professionals are not there to process applications from people who cannot be bothered to read the job specification or to be honest with themselves or simply avoid applying for some of the jobs.
How can we consider applicants for roles when they apparently have lost the ability to read?

Applicants need to apply only for those roles that suit their background and qualifications.
This requires that you do two things:
  1. Read the job spec - very thoroughly.
  2. Apply only for relevant roles and only then after reviewing and amending your CV.

So, take time to edit your CV and apply for each role with a specific CV and make sure that you keep a copy with a record of when you submitted the CV and for what job etc.

Good luck, we hope that our advice will help you get that plum job.

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