CV Writing? The Absolute DONT’s

“Have a better CV”.

“Change the titles”. 

“Make it shorter”.

“Use an attractive font”. 

These are common phrases I use in my day to day work as a Recruiter after speaking with a candidate who has great potential but sometimes, not such a good CV. The advantage they would have is that the Hiring Manager would listen to me since I have done the initial screening. However, were we to base our decision on the CV alone, the candidate wouldn’t stand a chance.

The reality is that not all companies use Recruitment Agencies and sometimes candidates must follow the application procedure set down by the Hiring Companies, meaning their CV will either be the tool to give them an interviewing opportunity or not.

So what are these mistakes that could be your downfall in a job search?

Typographical Errors (Typos, grammatical errors)

Spelling

I think this tops the list of the No-Nos when it comes to your CV. Such a mistake will take your application to the trash/reject folder faster than it landed in the inbox folder. Some of the things to do to avoid this deadly mistake include;

  • Proof read the CV.
  • Print out and check again.
  • Have a friend check for you because, let us be honest, it can be hard identifying your own mistakes.
  • Use other tools like Grammarly.
  • You can create your own resume proof reading checklist, or you can use this one that I found pretty interesting. In simpler terms, there is no excuse for such an error.

Lack of Consistent Formatting

Once you have made sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors, then you need to check your formatting.

Have a  form of consistency. From the font used, sizes, headings etc. Let there be a sense of a flow.

When not sure, look for templates online. There are a thousand of them that you can customize. Let the Recruiter want to read through your CV at just a glance of the CV.

Some of my favorite fonts that I have used so far include;

  • Gill Sans
  • Cambria
  • Garamond
  • Calibri
  • Georgia

This goes to show you there are fonts that are not as attractive; rather they would dull your CV. Take time to research more and also remember that a Photographer’s CV would be very different from an Accountant’s CV.

Customize the format to your line of career and craft.

Gaps in your CV 

GAPSIt is encouraged that you write your CV in a chronological order including the years and months of the start and end of each employment.

Whether you took a sabbatical leave, time out to raise family, to venture into business, to do certain projects, take care of sick family member/relative etc, find ways to explain the same in your CV so that there are no gaps.

When you have gaps, it tends to leave an impression that you could be hiding something.

Irrelevant Information

It is advised that you do try as much as possible to keep your CV sweet and short yet giving a clear picture of who you really are.

Some of the things that are considered irrelevant:

  • Personal Information (Age, Marital Status, No. of Children, Gender, Religion etc).
  • Career Objective/Vision (Can only be useful if changing the industries completely hence a short summary why).
  • Copy pasting your current job description as tasks/responsibilities
  • Your Interests/hobbies (Unless it is in line with the position you are applying for).

Cliches and overused words

Instead, do find action words to use to display your competencies.

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Exaggerated information aka lies in your CV

Those who exaggerate or tell lies in their CV do somehow get caught.

My main question though is; why let a lie be the end of your career in the long term as your integrity comes into question?

Basically; what else have you/will you lie about??

There are other things to avoid such as listing too many jobs, too many bullet points, CV lacking sense of direction and progression of skills, qualifications not clear etc but I think they may not be as suicidal as those mentioned above.

A parting shot; when you get to the interview panel stage, make sure you can explain your CV in detail. Lack of doing so may just mean the end of the interview in that very moment. Master your CV, know it, every little detail and defend what you have written. 

For those in the job search, check our page for latest jobs and hopefully, with your great CV you get yourself an interview?

Do come back soon for the “Must to Do” for your CV to stand out.

 

Speak Up!

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Robert

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My inspiration for this short post came from a candidate whom I interviewed and during the assessment, it was clear he did not stand a chance against other shortlisted candidates, and I told him as much.  However, that did not deter him from asking, “Can I at least get an internship opportunity with the client?”

Well, I told him we would check with the client if they are open to having an intern on board, and when we did check, client was available to have a meeting with the candidate.

My point, he did speak up. He did ask.

I have come to note that some companies do encourage a culture of speaking up yet in other companies, this is foreign to them. Whatever the management decides is final and what such companies fail to realize is that this becomes a reason for employee turn over as they leave to seek better companies which will appreciate their voice and their ideas.

speak upSo yes, as much as is a two way street, you can always start speaking up if you haven’t been doing so.  An article by Forbes gives 6 reasons why you must speak up at work to thrive, i.e Command Respect, Better Your Performance, Strengthen Your Influence, Solidify Your Brand, Find Unexpected Opportunities and Accelerate Your Career.

If you are not fully convinced, see what this writer has to say on why you should speak up; 

“You Wouldn’t Have Been Hired if Your Boss Didn’t Want Your Input,
Even Half-Baked Ideas Can Start Important Conversations.
If You Don’t Speak Up, Nobody Will Speak Up for You”

Perhaps you really do want to speak up but do not know where to start?

Here are a few tips that I really liked as they are actionable and very thoughtful.

Challenge yourself today to speak up. Let your voice be heard, let your stand be known.

And if you need to change your jobs to get into an environment that listens, talk to us or check available opportunities on our website.

 

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A – Z Career Nuggets

Focus On The Goal

A – Adapt to new situations and changing environment. The today’s business world is always changing at a faster rate than ever before.

B – Be Brave; Speak up and not out when you are not happy about something at work. Also, be brave enough to share your new ideas and embrace your team’s ideas.

C – Care for your work, your team, your peers. Show genuine interest.

D – Delegate when you can especially if you are in a leadership position.

E – Excell in your tasks. There is no need to be mediocre when you can be excellent.

F – Follow-up; an important skill to have. Develop it. Be great with follow-ups, be it with clients or your team or your own pending tasks.

G – Grit; Start something and stick to it till its accomplished.

H – Humane; Remember we are all humans and prone to make mistakes.

I – Integrity; Do not compromise your reputation. Fight for what you believe in.

J – Judicious; Try to be that person that people can come to for advice, the Go-to person.

K – Knowledge; Keep learning and endeavor to be an expert in your career/field of interest.

L – Listen; Teach yourself to listen to understand and not to respond. 

M – Mystery; As much as you try to be open, keep your private life private. That is your business.

N – New things; Do not be left behind when something new is happening and especially in the face of new innovations.

O – Opportunity favours the bold; Be on the lookout for new opportunities to make a difference and to advance your career.

P – Plan ahead, be prepared for the unexpected. 

Q – Quick, ‘Speed is the new currency for business’

R – Rest, your body needs it. Take the company paid vacation and rest. Remember you can only be as productive when your whole being is as healthy. 

S – Simple, ‘Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication’. Keep things simple.

T – Trust, do not break it. It is costly.

U – Unique; Never forget that you are unique as an individual. Embrace that, be proud of who you are, and if you are not, then chart out a path that will get you there.

V – Valiant; Show courage and determination especially in the face of adversity because tough times will come.

W – Winning; Always strive for a win-win.

X – eXcited; Find out the one thing that eXcites you and go for it whether personal or professional.

Y – Youth; Stay young at heart.

Z – Zeal; Use this well. Not too much, not too little. Just enough for every situation. 

The Salary Question – Important yet Tricky!

 

Over the years as a Recruiter, I have interviewed many candidates and a majority do stumble when you ask them their Salary Expectation.  It seems to be one of those questions that candidates would rather not be asked. hard

Perhaps, a reason is that there is no specific way on how to answer the question. So it becomes the tricky question that keeps popping up in your interviews. I mean, you may quote a figure too high and lock yourself out of a Job Opportunity or you may quote a figure too low that you end up being miserable when you start work and realize you could have gotten a better deal. The question can get harder to answer if it is an electronic job application where you must give a figure before moving to the next steps.

So, what are some of the easiest answers to give when asked about your salary expectation?

with wordsOne of the common ones, ” My expectation is in line with my skills and experience and also in accordance with your compensation structure” – This answer leaves room for a bit of flexibility where one is not tied down to a specific figure. In a sense, if the pay graded structure is low when compared to your skill set, then you can negotiate upwards. And if the company’s pay structure is above your expectation then you still win and as you did not lock your self out.
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There are those who would target a fair rise from their current employer e.g 30% more to their current Gross Remuneration. The challenge with this is that more often than not, it forces the candidate to disclose their current earnings. We have debates on whether to disclose current earning or not or if it should be a factor during the hiring process. The market averages for increment when bench marking from current salary is usually 20% – 30%. When giving this type of answer, remember to give a figure that you are comfortable with.

compare.jpgAnother possible way to answer is by benchmarking with similar companies, or similar positions in the industry. Hence you can say, “I understand that positions similar to this one pay in the range of X to Z in our Country / Industry. And with my experience, would like to receive something in the same range.” – This answer gives you an opportunity to negotiate based on the findings and on your skills. It also shows that you did your research and have a rough idea of how the market is.

A few things to remember:

Some companies have a strictly structured pay scale hence they may not allow any form of negotiation. It would be prudent for you to conduct your research before hand to know whether the company you are interviewing with has such strict policies and if your expectation falls within their scale. This is because such a company can only give you an offer within their range and mostly start from the lowest so as to allow room for yearly increments. 

Majority of the Employers start low, meaning if you are to give a range, then more often than not their offer will start from the lowest range that you quoted. Be sure to quote a minimum that you will be happy with if offered the same.

Be comfortable in putting a value on your skillset and talents. As long as you have done your research and are sure you are worth what you are asking, do not hesitate to give your answer. 

Be sure of the job requirements and the responsibilities before quoting a figure. If not sure, ask the Hiring Managers to elaborate their expectations of the candidate to be hired. With a clear understanding of what is required, then you can determine a value as a salary target.

Lastly, if and when the Hiring Company contacts you with an offer and you are not sure, check out this article that can shed some light on what to do. 

 

We at Crystal Recruit walk with our candidates during the entire hiring process hence the advantage of knowing if your salary expectations are within our client’s budget.

Write to us and we will get back to you on your career journey. 

New Job Offer but Low Salary? NEGOTIATE!

We all get excited at the prospect of a new career and the benefits that come with it.

So, you go through the interview stages and finally they say they like you and want to make an offer. However, when you hear the offer your heart sinks as is not per your expectations.

What to do? Negotiate.

We negotiate on a daily basis whether we realize it or not and so you do not have to be a Master Negotiator to get the salary you desire or benefits package you hoped for.

Before turning the offer down or accepting the job offer to quickly, here are a few things to consider;

Your initial salary will determine your subsequent increments;

imagesnegotiateIt is commonly agreed that you would rather get a good package at the beginning than try to negotiate for a change half way. At the onset of making a hire, the Employer wants you on board and hence they are more flexible to your demands.

Most companies offer yearly salary increment based on performance and if you are to negotiate a better salary at the beginning of your employment, it would lead to increased earnings as you progress with your career and continue being a performer.

Look at the whole package

This is very crucial when it comes to jumping ship. Do not be too fixated on the base salary that you forget to put into consideration all other benefits such as medical cover, insurance for self and family, pension, allowances, bonuses etc.

There are also other nonfinancial aspects to think of when negotiating such as the work culture, flexi-working hours, the career growth prospects, training and development and company values in general.

You want to work in a company where you are excited to be in everyday being that we spend more of our time at the work place.

Project into the future

Put your imagination to use.

What will you gain having that company in your CV in let’s say 2-3 years time?

Does the opportunity provide a spring board to propel you further in your career?

Are there new skills that you will acquire in the new job?

What type of problems are you going to solve and how will this impact your career?

These are questions to generally ask when changing career so as not to make a plateaued kind of move where you find yourself stagnated, just a different location.

In essence, if the career benefits are overwhelming, and you accept the Job Offer,  you will have positioned yourself at a place that future employers fight for your kind of skill-set.

Watch out for ultimatums

Avoid giving the Employer ultimatums and also watch out when such is given.jumpship

Don’t be rushed into accepting a job offer because they said for example, “the offer expires in 1 day”. Ask for more time. And if they are not willing to give more time, then, in my opinion, they perhaps don’t deserve you?

The negotiation period should be a time where both parties are exploring best possible compromises and as much as time is of the essence, it shouldn’t be a ridiculous ultimatum.

Talk to Someone

As much as changing jobs is an individual decision, sometimes it does help talk to those who have gone before you. If possible, a mentor or a peer or a close friend who actually knows you well especially when it comes to your career.

You could use platforms like glassdoor and pay scale to gather intel but these alone can be misleading as could be an aggrieved employee writing negative material.

Have the Employer’s Needs in mind

Different companies have different pay scales and this is determined by several factors. Some could be at the start up phase, some are medium sized, others are restructuring etc. Hence is important to do your research to know the Employer’s current position when it comes to salaries and compensation and how that compares to their industry. This means then that you have to know the Employers needs and their priorities and if their priorities do fit with yours.

To note, a company can pay high salaries but their employees operate in a high pressured environment, or a company pays relatively average salaries but with a relaxed work environment.

I usually tell candidates that I work with that choosing an Employer is the kind of relationship that you want to be of value beyond monetary gains.

In conclusion, therefore, when evaluating what you are offered, visa-a-vi your current job, compare them from all possible angles before saying a quick Yes, or a regrettable No.

 

NB// We at Crystal Recruit work with candidates by connecting them to great career opportunities with Potential Employers. Reach out to us via Email and let us talk about your next career move.

Fear not, Resign Already!!!

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One of the hardest hurdles of a Recruiter’s life is when a candidate has accepted a new job offer but then accepts a counter offer from their current employer. And that takes you back to the drawing board if you did not have a back up plan. Anyway, I am digressing. So back to my main issue today, what do you do when you decide it is time to resign yet it becomes an insurmountable task and you are filled with doubt, or after you have handed in the resignation you contemplate on the counter offer given?

I do understand from personal experience that handing in a resignation, not to mention drafting one has never been an easy task (unless of course the Employer is terrible and you cannot wait to get them off your hair).

The focus of this article is however resigning from a great Employer; a job that you actually enjoy but then time has come to move on to something else, or just a break, whatever the reason is, you simply need to leave your Employer.

You think long and hard of the aftermath.

Others feel it is betrayal of sorts especially if the company was their first employer.

The first question to ask, “Will the company be just fine if something were to happen to you”? and the answer, a resounding YES.

We are all dispensable.

Having that simple knowledge gives you some morale to pick the pen and paper or just type your letter with intent to give notice. Knowing that there are actually people out there who can do your job way much better and probably cheaply should be more than enough to accept that your time is up and something greater awaits.

A major impediment to resigning is fear of the unknown for the new opportunity is an unfamiliar territory, new process and policies, new products, new colleagues, probably even in a  new country/location.

We as human beings are conditioned to resist change, we prefer the comfort zone, the predictable. And therefore, some rationalize, “why take on the new job with all the uncertainty, read ‘excitement’ yet can stay in the old with a better salary than before”?

I will be quick to point out that it is true some use the new job offer to negotiate for a better salary. (story for another day).

If you are in a such a place, ask yourself why you accepted the new job offer in the first place, or the journey you had to take to decide it is time to move on. Write down a comparative list on what you are gaining and losing by pursuing the new opportunity and what that means if you were to stay.

At the end of the day, resigning is an individual decision regardless of your ‘love’ towards your employer as reality has it; if the company shuts down , you equally lose that job, or if it downsizes and you are affected, you still lose job.

So in essence, work with facts, have the future and the bigger picture in mind and for a moment, put your emotions aside.

That should help you resign and if you are still not sure how to go about it, feel free to contact us  or through our social media page for further advice and support for Crystal Recruit is Kenya’s best Staffing and Recruiting Services.

Know Yourself??

who-are-you

Perhaps it is that moment to take back a seat and evaluate who you are, what you are made of and what you are capable of doing. 

I think this is key when it comes to career mapping and planning as we are better off being in a career / carrying out tasks that utilize our strengths. I came across an interesting perspective of the different types of workers in any successful project HERE and figured I share the same insight.

Hares

These are the creatives. They love to come up with ideas, no follow through, easily get bored with their ideas once they have thought through it. They are random in their thoughts and they do not seem to focus or concentrate

Owls

These individuals are practical and logical. They have to plan every step, they are great at getting people on board, will plan a strategy and mobilize people around it to achieve the goal. They are the go-getters.

Turtles

Just as the name suggests, they are slow and steady. Very suspicious of new ideas, take their time before accepting changes. Basically, the conservatives, believe in tradition, in tried and tested methods. They kind of see the problem even before it is encountered. 

Squirrels

They need structure, work in a methodological manner, step by step process both in their thought and action. They get things done as long as the expectation is clear. Highly organized and basically keeps the machine moving. 

 

Do you spot yourself? Can you see how that may influence your current output at your workplace or in any task you do?

Write back to us at Crystal Recruit, the best staffing company in Kenya and we can help you through you career planning and change.

 

 

Random CV Writing TIPS

 

Maybe it is time we did a recap of what we know when it comes to CV writing?

Below are random tips that I think can help your CV stand out you can get that desired job or an interview invitation at the very least.

Your name and contact details should obviously be at the top of your resume.

There is no need to include your home address really.

Leave out your personal information such as date of birth, religion, marital status etc. (There is a reason we have employment laws against discrimination in regards to age, race, religion and the like.)

When it comes to Email address, try keep things professional and avoid the ‘hotprettydude@youremail’ et al. Ideally use your first and last name.

Be careful on the long list of carefully selected key words used to describe yourself. Some get read but can work against you if you do not know for example how to explain “your strategic skills” in an interview and in most instances they rarely get read.

Volunteer work, involvement in clubs/societies and in the community; definitely include that.

Awards and scholarships – brag all you can. A resume is intended to sell you.

Experiment with a unique font other than the usual New Times Roman.

On the experience part, write more about what you did achieve as opposed to what you do/did.

And lastly for today, make it short and sweet. Try 2-3 pages tops and if you are new in a career, one page is actually fine.

Bonus tip: Tuck away your references till when asked about them as you want to be aware when they are being contacted and by whom. 

 

PS, Got more questions? Hit my  Twitter and our  Facebook so we talk.

 

A Career in Recruiting?

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From my interaction with many human resource professionals, I have come to learn majority of them started out as Recruiters / Talent Acquisition Specialists. After all, how will you go on accomplishing all the functions relating to the staff members if you do not participate in hiring them in the first place, or having an idea of how they join the company?

Interesting thing is that you do not need to study human resources to be a recruiter in the Recruitment Agency world, but it is  a good foundation to have nonetheless.

Formal education aside, you need to have a deep interest in people, a curious mind and a knack of understanding business as a recruiter basically solves business problems by getting Employers great candidates. An awesome personality can go along way too.

So for all of you out there wondering how you can be a great recruiter, below are tips from my personal experience (I am sure there are many more our there).

Genuine Interest in People

Recruiting is about people and you need to be deeply interested in them as their careers affect their livelihood. There is nothing as heartbreaking as a candidate starting a new job, thanks to a recruiter only to discover the Employer is not worth to be called an Employer. When you care deeply for people’s careers, it means you will go an extra to research about potential Employer before presenting the opportunity to candidates.

Know the Labour Laws

All countries have employment and labour laws. You want to work in line with those guidelines, so do your homework, be on the look out for amendments etc. You will stand out as well as you are also a consultant to Clients and Candidates alike.

Hone your sales skills

So, sales skills are key and they include but not limited to; ability to quickly form a good rapport on phone and in person, great written and verbal communication skills, negotiation skills and basically lots of follow ups with business leads and candidates. In other words, ‘Be a Rockstar’.

Patience is a virtue

If you think you are patient, then give recruiting a try and wait till Clients take forever to make a  job offer, or a candidate has longer notice periods. As much as ‘speed is the new currency of business’, you will need lots of patience in the world of recruiting.

Have Fun in the process

There is a lot more to recruiting that we can build on, but for now, have fun. Enjoy it all. And all the best.

Follow me @KenyanRecruiter and let us engage on other things that make a recruiter great.