NO! Recruiters will not Read your CV/Application

pexels-photo-128421I was to write about interning after we posted 2 intern opportunities with our clients. However, as we shortlisted, we were appalled and I felt I must write this as a reminder and more for those who may be wondering they have sent out 200 plus applications with no response.

I know, even a ‘regret’ is better than never hearing from the companies you applied to.

If you do not hear from us or do not hear from recruiters after you apply for an opportunity, this could be one or all of the reasons!

Shoddy CVS. 

This cannot be overemphasized.

See what we shared earlier about having a great CV.

So let us say it again, take your time. Write a great CV even for an internship. Sell yourself. How do you stand out from 800+ applications, like what we received for the Office Assistant Intern position in just a week?

The only thing standing between you being shortlisted for an interview, getting a regret or never hearing from the Recruiters is your CV and application letter where applicable.

Google is your friend, if not, then you better start making it your close ally.  Know what to avoid, and do exactly that.

Not Following Instructions 

If a job is for a certain nationality, please do not apply. It is not funny when a recruiter scroll down CVs to find a +254 yet they want a +255. Unless of course you are a citizen of that country and want to go back home.

If you cannot follow basic instructions in the job application process, why should the hiring company think you would follow instruction once hired? And trust us, there are so many instructions to follow.

Sending CV to multiple Employers on the Same Email.

Deadly sin here.

But why would you send your CV to 10 companies on the same email?

Not Including a Body on the Email. 

This is another that actually tops the list where if you have a good CV but do not have time to write something about yourself and the job you are applying for, how would we know? The chances of a Recruiter opening that CV is pretty slim unless of course, they have some extra time or they did not get enough applicants for the specific job.

We repeat; pay attention, someone will pay attention too.

It is simple; You don’t want to put in time when applying, why would someone else spend their time checking your CV trying to figure out what sort of job would be of interest to you or what skills you have, yet you can simply include that in short paragraph?

No Subject, or the subject line, “CV” 

My guess is as good as yours, ‘hit ignore button’.

No one will even bother responding to this. There is a reason people study Coms 101? And letter writing and there is a reason the emails have a subject line?

So let us get something straight.

Junk In, Junk Out.

You do not expect to get a call for an interview with either a junk CV or a junk application and especially not in a market where Recruiters have deadlines, KPIs and pressed for time to sieve through all the CVS. Yes, some must go through all CVs to create longlist before creating a shortlist because of audit purposes.

downloadResults.jpgParting shot:

When you are a job seeker and you include a phone number, email address or skype ID, be sure to be available on those channels. Do check your emails on a regular basis. If you don’t and you miss a deadline, you have yourself to blame.

We as a leading Recruitment Agency in Kenya have several assessment stages and for large volumes of applications, we rely on provided email contacts to reach the applicants.

Be Intentional in your Job Search and see the rewards.

 

Do you know what sort of Interview You are Attending???

 

Interviewing is a skill that one perfects over time. Not only do you need to prepare, but you need to find out what sort of interview you will be attending. Knowing beforehand means you get to prepare well to ace the said interview. If you are working with a Recruitment Firm, always ask them to specify the kind of interview you have been invited to, the Hiring Company’s expectation and who will be the panelists.

There are various types of interviews:

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  • Phone/Skype Interviews
  • Structured Interviews
  • Unstructured Interviews
  • Stress Interviews
  • Behavioral Interviews
  • Competency Based Interviews
  • Case Studies
  • Panel Interviews
  • Group Interviews
  • Simulation Interviews
  • Lunch/Dinner Interviews.

Today, we will to focus on the Structured Interviews and incorporate a format of how that would look like.

Structured Interviews are very consistent in nature as they ask the same questions and they have preempted answers in the case of a competency-based module.

They have a grading system and are scientific in nature.

They are majorly done by a panel of interviewers as they would want to get the average points on the candidate’s performance.

Companies are adopting this interview style due to its consistency format. Some will mix it with case studies for senior roles.

How would a Structured Interview look like, especially sample of a type of a Competency-Based One?

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The first section would be about yourself: This is more of your schooling, the grades, any awards, any professional qualification related to the job etc.

For example, If we have two candidates for a Marketing Job; Both have undergraduate degrees in Marketing with First Class Honors and one of them has the CIM Certification; the one with the extra certification automatically scores higher in this section of Academic Professional qualification.

The second section is usually created to determine your competencies;

Sticking to a Marketer Role: Some of the Competencies they may want to interview on are;

  • Technical Knowledge (Marketing)
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Financial Literacy
  • Team Leadership / Collaborative

Once they establish the relevant competencies, questions are set around the same with the generally expected answers. The best way to answer them is always linking the answers to your actual experience.

For instance, if asked about Commercial Awareness in Marketing – You would answer then demonstrate that by giving previous examples of projects worked on.

Keep in mind that it is not the length of your answer, but the content as the Interviewers do have a guide on what to expect for set questions.

This part is very important as is the only way the panel can determine if you really can do the work or not. They will be basing their decision on your ability to demonstrate the competencies from your previous experience.

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Third Part would be a Behavioral Component.

Each job usually has a behavioral component and some companies even adopt specific behaviors they want to be exhibited by their employees. E.g Friendliness, Team-spirit etc

Most of this questions would seek to understand how you did react in a certain situation. E.g if they want to check friendliness, they may ask “Tell us a time that you used your friendly nature to calm an irritated customer Or to influence a team member”

If you are well prepared, you will have several examples.

It is advisable to think through your career history and in line with the Job Description, write down examples for each of the competency components of the expected behavior trait that you feel may be asked. This way you will be ready when the questions are asked.

 

images (6)The fourth Part would be where you get to ask questions:

Yes, they do grade this!

So have your questions ready. Otherwise, you will lose points and even a 0.5 mark makes the difference on whether you move to the next stage or not.

They will want to know, were your questions thoughtful? Relevant? Did you do your research about the Company? Are your excited about the Job and more so joining the Team?

The final part is where they ask about your salary expectation, notice period and if you have any benefits you would want to be matched. This is not graded.

This process is repeated for all invited candidates, and each Interviewer does their own grading. They may want to compare notes once done e.g if there is a big disparity and get to discuss why someone gave higher marks and another gave way lower marks for the same question answered by the same candidates. They will then hand over the individual results to the HR department who will tally and prepare a final report. Based on the final report, the highest scoring candidates move to the next stages i.e Reference, security vetting and background checks if that was the interview or to the next interview stages.

Other candidates who did not make it will receive a Regret email or call as a best practice in Recruitment.

In our next articles, we will look into the Common Behavioral Questions and how to answer them.

We at Crystal Recruit do walk with our candidates and make sure they are well prepped for interviews with our clients.

You can check our latest Jobs Here

 

Is your CV selling you? Try These Tips!

First, the basics – Correct Contact Details.

Your contact details must be up to date, and correctly spelt. Remember that errors can cost you  a Job?

It is not uncommon to get CVs of candidates whose contact details are incorrect or the emails are miss pelt hence bounces. That is a straight ticket to missing out on an interview.

Furthermore, when job hunting and you get a missed call of an unknown number, please do call back. Sometimes, when there are so many job applicants, the recruiter moves on to available candidates. A call back also means you can make follow ups which is a plus in itself.

 

Second: Read the Job Specification then respond like for like

Are they looking for a Customer Service Executive? Do you have have similar skills? Any achievement around retaining a client or up-selling through your outstanding customer service? Highlight that.

Use keywords specific to that job you are applying for.

That means if you were to apply for an Account Manager position, then you would rewrite your CV to capture your Client relationship skills.

Basically, one CV is not one fit for all jobs. And if it is not an entry Level position, then be selective in putting your energies in positions that you are confident if hired, your would excel. What we mean is, if you are sending out your CV to 5 different jobs with different job titles and you have the right skill set thus are sure you can do either of the job, then you will be writing 5 cover letters and 5 CVs highlighting why you are best suited for the different roles.

 

Third: Beauty lies in the Eyes of the Beholder

This is all about formatting, spacing, fonts, layout and length. We did share a few fonts that are most attractive in the last article.

Your CV body font should be between 10 and 12 points and the headings to be 14 and 18 points. When it comes to margins, a 2.5 cm is decent enough. The right spacing does bring out clarity and professionalism.

We have seen CVs that are 16 pages long. The common rule of the thumb is that your CV should be at a maximum of 2 pages . If possible one page.

What is the length of your current CV?

To let you in on a secret, a CV gets on average a 90 seconds view and from there it is either, “Trash, Consider Later or Good to Shortlist” . So next time you are writing your CV, try picture where you want your CV to land and what you can do about that

It is advised to save your CV in a PDF format unless advised otherwise. This is because a PDF document will maintain its formatting no matter the device used to open it.

Furthermore, another reason to save your CV in PDF format is that most PDF files can be easily opened online thus you get a faster view visa-a-vi a word document file that must first be downloaded before viewing. When recruiters are working against time and they get great pool of applicants from those already viewed online as their CVs are in PDF files, the rest may have to wait for another day.

 

Fourth: The Content

This is where the rubber meets the road. The meaty stuff in your CV will get you the well deserved interview.

Your CV should be written chronologically including both years of graduations and work experiences.

If you have been out of school for 5 years and less, then you start with your education then go to experience.

If you have been working longer, then the experience takes precedence and later include your education details.

Do not exaggerate or falsify information for either the work experience or education. The best of recruiters will sniff you out once they do their reference and background checks.

Do highlight your honors and key achievement.

Focus on your wins. Think through your career as you write your CV and do put effort into demonstrating your most significant achievements that could have led to getting awards, recognition, rewards etc.

Avoid too many bullet points and listing “your previous job description word for word”.

When talking of your work experience, try to think numbers and metrics. Be clear on the measurable and the quantifiable e.g, Instead of saying you were a Regional Manager at Company Y,  you could say you were Regional manager implementing new systems across 3 countries while managing 6 cross-cultural teams.

As for extracurricular activities, do focus on those that are most relevant to the job, in that they will add a special touch to show you can indeed do the job. It is a nice to demonstrate that you can manage a team as you hold office in a Not for Profit Community Organization and you have been instrumental in implementing the organization’s mandate even if you may not be in a managerial role in your current employment.

 

Final: References

Unless asked to include, you can always write a line, “To be Availed Upon Request” or remove the line altogether if you no longer have space.

Bonus Tip;

When submitting your application via an email address, please remember the following:

  • The Subject Line should be the Title of the Job you are applying for.
  • Do not send blank emails – share a little bit more about your suitability for the role on the body of the email
  • Follow instructions – if told to include a cover letter, do include a cover letter.

If you are working with a Leading Recruitment Agency, do ask questions about the potential employer and their expectation of interested candidates.

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.

 

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. 

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.

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.