Have you ever stopped to think… really think… what are the employers looking for?
When looking for a job, we generally browse the advertisements in the newspaper or on the web and read the few words contained in the ad just searching for the job title that interests us and then checking if we fulfil the requirements… sometimes we just have a look at the requirements and send our CV wherever we see that we fit the profile. However, we should take into account several things when we look at the ad and customize our letter and CV accordingly.
Employers don’t want to lose time
When there’s an opening in a company this is generally because they need someone right away, and they want the process of finding that employee to be cheap and fast.
- They don’t want to waste time reading hundreds of CVs.
- They don’t want to waste time interviewing hundreds of people.
- They don’t want to waste time and money training the new employee.
So, they do a pre-selection of CVs just browsing at the hundreds they receive, lowering the pile fast and leaving just a small percentage to take a look again.
What do employers aim at when they first scan CVs?
The aim of the employer changes according to the type of job opening. You have to read the ad carefully and then customize your CV according to it.
Let’s look at this ad:
Insurance office seeking a personable P/T Contract Receptionist. The selected candidate would be responsible for answering the telephones, creating and maintaining spreadsheets, corresponding with clients, setting appointments. 3 years of prior office experience required. 4 hr work day.
Your CV will be pre-selected if you detail your Work Experience carefully right after your Contact Details so that this is the first thing they see, explaining briefly, but purposefully, what your previous jobs involved. The employer is essentially looking for a candidate with previous experience.
Your CV will not be pre-selected if you make a long list of all your Qualifications and then include at the end a very short list of previous jobs, stating only the job title, the date and the place you worked. Employers will not waste time asking you to go for an interview to find out if your experience is relevant for this vacancy.
Now, let’s look at this second ad:
Private Pre-School is hiring a Lead teacher for our Infant classroom.
- Applicant must have First Aid and CPR training.
- 2 yrs previous teaching or assistant teaching position with a public or private school system, a quality preschool, child care center or church nursery is required.
- Degree related to early childhood or preschool or elementary education.
Your CV will be pre-selected if you detail your Qualifications right after your contact information, as degree and training is the most important in this case. After they see that you are qualified, they will search for he type of work experience you had.
Your CV will not be pre-selected if you list your Qualifications in a sloppy way, for example without stating the place where you got your degree or training clearly. If you are looking for a job in a foreign country include the web page of the institution as well, and the translation of the degree using an equivalent if possible. Also, if after working in this field you had other types of job and the related experience is “buried” in an endless list of jobs, the employer may miss it and disregard your CV.
Study the company behind the ad, and customize the format of your CV
Having an idea of the type of company that is behind the ad will give you extra clues regarding the format and layout of your CV.
For example, advertising agencies will probably be looking for creative people and will therefore react positively to a CV in a special font with some colour and in an innovative style. However, a Law Firm will be looking for more conservative people, neat and serious, and will therefore appreciate a CV in a lean style with classic font and black and white.
So put yourself in the employer’s shoes and think about what information you would be looking for in a CV. Then customize your CV and cover letter in consequence.