Blunders and Beauties

Earlier this year, the Ogden Trust held its first alumni careers workshop, looking at how you should present yourself in your CV and applications. Job Hunting: blunders and beauties considered the perils and pitfalls of applying for jobs in a competitive market place. Highlights from the workshop are now available online.

The event was held at Dulwich College London but was also streamed live online for an alumni audience from further afield. Graduate recruitment expert Liz Lee-Smith MA, Assoc CIPD and ‎Resourcing Operations Manager at Havas People, shared her experience and expertise, including the startling fact that recruiters, on average, spend only 5-7 seconds looking at your CV in the first instance.

The workshop included  information about where to apply and how to present yourself in your CV and applications, and what to include in your cover letter. Liz also talked about interviews and did an exercise about the STAR method - the Situation, Task, Action, Result job interview technique often used by interviewers to gather all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires.

"The Q&A session was very interesting and useful" says event organiser and Development & Alumni Relations Officer Josefina White."You can read some highlights below and alumni can find full details on our alumni website. In general it was a brilliant pilot with positive feedback and we are looking forward to our next workshop, which will be on Writing for the Media. We will share further details as soon as we can."

Q: Is it true that it’s better to have your CV just on one page?
A: Yes -
two sides is always the maximum for a CV. 
If you’re running out of space on your CV:
1) Don’t bother giving the addresses of your referees; you can just say ‘references are available on request’. Nowadays it’s very rare that I would contact anyone’s referees before we make an offer, we just wouldn’t do that anymore. 
2) You can miss out interests. Again I’ve never hired anyone based on the fact that they like running, or cycling, or reading, or socialising with friends or cooking or baking. Those are the sort of things that you can miss off if you’re out of space.
3) Don’t include objectives at the top because you’re telling me what I already know. If you’ve applied for a job with my company, I know your objective is to get that job.

Q:  How good or advisable is it to use LinkedIn or other Social Media platforms?  Does that actually get you to interviews and job opportunities, or how is it?
  There are a good few hard and fast rules about social media in recruiting:
Use LinkedIn for recruiting, yes
.  It is a professional social media. Keep it professional; keep your picture professional; keep your content professional. Use it to follow companies; use it to see job adverts; use it to apply for jobs; be active on it but it is professional and you need to maintain that.....

Q:  In a competency-based interview, should you always give professional examples or is it OK to use personal examples?
  This is dependent on where you are in your career - so for me I should always be able to give a professional example.  I have been working for quite some years now so I should be able to do it. If you are straight from university, you might not have any professional experience and your personal experience might be more appropriate and be better. With a graduate level you should give the most appropriate answer and one that will score you the highest and the one that will show the most indicators that they are looking for. Keep it appropriate to the context.  You don’t need to have a professional example and I wouldn’t try and force one out of a situation if there isn’t one there.