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Creating a persuasive CV is the first step
Anthony Thompson
update on Saturday, November 28, 2009

A young woman who is looking for a job is carefully choosing a pendant in a crystal shop. A friend has advised her to wear a crystal necklace as a lucky charm that is expected to bring calmness and clarity to her mind in the upcoming job interview. "I tend to get very nervous in an interview and cannot really articulate my ideas," she said.

To increase her chances of succeeding in the interview, she has also decided to follow the tips offered in a fung shui guide. She intends to write down the names of the companies she has applied to on a piece of paper and place it on the window sill at home facing the direction from which good fortune will supposedly flow. And she will wear green, her lucky colour on the day of the interview.

Like the young woman, some people are adopting all sorts of tactics to secure a job in a market where professionals with a few years of experience are facing especially keen competition. 

Employers are still hiring, but in most cases their recruitment at junior levels has reduced because of the downturn. The hiring process is taking longer and getting more competitive. 

If you are a junior professional looking for a new role, what matters most is to create a persuasive resume to get your foot in the door, and to thoroughly prepare for the interview when you are given the opportunity.

When chronicling your employment history in the resume, start with your most recent position and work backwards. As a junior employee your career history will be limited so it is important to make the most of the experience you have. 

List your achievements in the role in addition to the standard description of your job title and responsibilities. By giving practical examples, potential employers will better appreciate what you can add to their business. 

Supplement your career history by mentioning any internships or work experience. Just because you didn't get paid for something doesn't mean it is not genuine workplace experience. This is an effective way to strengthen your job application.

It is important to tailor your resume each time you apply for a role. Read the job advertisement carefully, identify the key requirements and then structure your resume accordingly. Make sure you give prominence to the skills and experience that align most closely with the job specifications. Where possible, use the same keywords and terminology that appear in the advertisement. When potential employers scan your resume, they will be looking for these keywords so it makes sense to use the same language.

From a formatting perspective, use a common program like Microsoft Word and avoid including graphics or coloured text in your resume. Keep the length at two to three pages with plenty of white space to make it easier to read.

Preparation is the key to a successful interview. Spend a few hours researching the potential employer's website to learn as much as you can about the company. This will show you are enthusiastic and have a keen interest in the role. 

Familiarise yourself with your resume and be prepared to answer questions relating to your academic record, work experience and chosen career path. Prepare a few of your own questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview. It is a good way to show you are serious about the company and the position.

There are a number of common sense rules you should follow during the interview to make the best possible impression. To begin with, greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile. 

During the interview, you should maintain eye contact and sit comfortably in your chair (without slouching). Try to relax and remind yourself that you have been selected for the interview because the company thinks you are a high-quality candidate.

Don't forget to listen carefully. Think before answering and speak with clarity and confidence. Close the interview with a handshake and a genuine thank you to make a positive last impression.

Write down a summary of the discussion while it is still fresh in your mind. Note the areas in which you feel that went well, and any questions you found difficult to answer. This will help you prepare for a second possible interview with the company, or with future interviews for other roles.  

Handy hints

When creating a persuasive resume, you should:

  • list your achievements in your previous jobs
  • mention any internships or work experience even if they were unpaid
  • tailor your CV each time you apply for a role

To be successful in an interview, you should:

  • research the potential employer's website to learn about the company
  • be familiar with your CV
  • mind your body language and think before you speak during the interview
  • prepare questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview

Anthony Thompson is managing director, Hong Kong and Southern China, for recruitment firm Michael Page International


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