We don’t need to tell you how competitive the job market is. Increased competition means that your chances of getting a job could hinge on specific and even unexpected details. This guide looks at the little things that could make a big difference.

CV essentials

It’s always difficult to pinpoint precisely what your employer will want from your CV – but there are a few things you can safely assume they won’t:

  • Odd or extravagant fonts – Use a clear, simple font (Arial, Times New Roman) and straightforward formatting
  • Long and repetitive personal statements – Begin with a short and punchy piece that briefly explains your strengths
  • Irrelevant qualifications – Only provide relevant ones
  • Claims without evidence – Provide relevant work experience with concise bulletpoints that outline your specific responsibilities and achievements
  • Long CVs – Make sure it’s no more than 2 sides of A4

Harmony between your CV and cover letter

All too often cover letters either repeat, or worse, contradict aspects of a candidate’s CV.

Firstly, make sure both documents are customised for the role you’re applying for – employers are very good at recognising and discarding blanket CVs.

Then consider how the content of your cover letter links with your CV. Ask the following questions:

  • Are the claims you make in the cover letter supported by evidence in your CV?
  • Is that evidence easy to find?
  • Do you repeat yourself?
  • Is the font and formatting the same in both?
  • Is the tone the same in both?

Remember that your application should be based solely around the person specification for the role. Your cover letter should show how you meet their criteria, and your CV should expand upon the assertions your cover letter makes.

Online clean-up

Have you ever Googled someone and been slightly surprised, or even put off, by what you have found? When you’re looking for a new job it makes sense to have a thorough check of your online profiles to ensure they make you look as professional as possible.

Check your Facebook settings to ensure only friends can see your posts and pictures, and check that you haven’t posted anything unflattering or controversial on anyone else’s wall. Then check your profiles on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for typos and poor grammar, and in LinkedIn, use a smart and simple profile picture. Finally, Google yourself and remove anything that doesn’t present you in the best possible light.

Common interview mistakes

Being invited to an interview acknowledges your appropriateness for a job, which should always give you confidence. But you can ruin the great work you did in your application by doing the following things:

  • Being negative about previous jobs – It’s a common misconception that your prospective employer would want you to complain about your previous one. You’ll come across in a negative way, so, try instead to be positive about your intended career change.
  • Failing before you’ve even started – It’s a huge cliché, but first impressions really are everything. Don’t be late, dress smartly, smile, engage eye contact and avoid limp handshakes. Research suggests that we make decisions about other people in a matter of seconds.
  • Talking too much – Our greatest fear going into an interview is not having anything to say, and we often overcompensate by saying too much. This never works – people who talk too much usually look like they’re trying to hide nerves or a lack of knowledge. The right answer is often relatively short, and brevity is an impressive skill in itself.
  • Not doing your research – This shouldn’t be something that needs spelling out, but interviewers still regularly cite candidates not knowing anything about their company as a common interview mistake. The solution is really very simple – research the company you may be working for.

If you work with Tate, we’ll provide you with personal support and advice throughout every phase of your job search and beyond. Contact one of our expert consultants now to become a better jobseeker. For more information on how you can attract and retain the best talent in your business, please call your local Tate office on 0845 345 4141.

A guide to job hunting

This post is sponsored by Tate. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

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