How to get the interview – and the job
Make sure your CV does not contain any typos and that it highlights your strong points
Josephine Walsh: “Get the bones of your CV in order, and then, when you see a job you like, tailor it”
Employers may get about 80 CVs for every job. The recruiter’s first job is clear: get rid of the vast majority of them.
“First up, don’t have misspellings on your CV,” says Mark Mitchell, director of Gradireland. “If you get the company name or the branding wrong, it’s straight into the bin. If you have typos in an application, it may even be automatically screened online and won’t make it to a pair of eyes. Check your work, and then get someone else to check it.”
How long should a CV be? “I don’t subscribe to the idea that it should be no more than 2 pages. If you have done project work that is relevant to the job, and you don’t include it, you’re doing yourself no favours,” Mitchell advises.
Josephine Walsh, a careers adviser with NUI Galway’s career development consultancy, urges students to get their CV together long before the pressure of finding a job looms. “Get the bones of it in order, and then, when you see a job you like, tailor the CV.”
Walsh said students should look at the language in the job ad and reflect it. “Some people might include a personal profile on their CV, but simply stating that you are ‘a team player with excellent communication skills’ is bland, because it could apply to anyone.”
Instead, graduates should give solid examples of how they have proven themselves to be a team player or how they have demonstrated excellent communication skills. It’s not okay to lie on the CV, but it is okay to highlight some areas a little more than others; if, for instance, you got particularly good marks in a relevant subject.
“Experience in college clubs and societies can be valuable, but it’s often buried away in the hobbies and interests section,” said Walsh. “If you’ve been involved in recruiting new members to a college society, that can go in the work experience section even though it was unpaid.”
“Interviewers understand that people may be a bit nervous, but the more practiced you are, the more you will flow and be less likely to freeze. Practice talking out loud,” said Walsh.
But practice what? “If you look at the required competencies in a job ad, it is easy to predict the questions. They may be looking to see that you can tackle problems, so have an example ready to illustrate how you did this.”
Candidates should be clear why they are applying for the role, particularly if, for instance, you are an arts graduate going for a finance role.
“Don’t say that it’s because the job is in Dublin and that’s where your girlfriend is; you might instead explain that the area looks exciting to you and that you’ve researched the company and it looks like a great place to work.
“They may ask for strengths and weaknesses, so have some language to be able to describe your personality. There’s a very useful personality profiling test on the Gradireland website.
“Don’t give them a weakness that shoots yourself in the foot; they’re looking to see that you have enough self-awareness to know that you’re perfect but enough get up and go to do something about it.”
In partnership with the Association of Higher Education Careers Services, Gradireland will be running a free CV clinic as part of the Gradireland fair in the RDS on October 7th. Specialised career advisers will give one-on-one guidance about your CV and what you can highlight.