Author and career expert Sinead English, from Adare
ONLINE applications, video interviews, and robots scanning for keywords: these are some of the ways in which the world of job applications and job interviews has changed.
But Adare-based career consultant Sinéad English is an expert in this fast-changing field, and she has now put that expertise into a book called CV & Interview 101: how to apply and interview for jobs.
“I was getting the same questions over and over again,” she said, explaining why she wrote the book. “I thought I am just going to put them all in one place.”
And the book that has emerged is that very rare thing: it does exactly what it says it will do.
Broken down under 101 headings, it takes the job-seeker by the hand, moving them step by step through the process; how to set out a CV, what to include in it, what not to include in it and when and how to deal with the trickier aspects of a career such as time out. It is unambiguous, bracing stuff, told in straightforward and impossible-to -misunderstand English. It is, the debut author admits with a grin, very much written the way she talks.
But if you are looking for a sample CV to lift and copy, forget it. “We don’t do samples,” Sinéad is emphatic. They do nobody any favours and can be spotted from a great distance, she says.
The objective of a CV, Sinéad explains, is first and foremost to get you past the electronic robot, the Application Tracking System now used extensively to weed out CVs, and get you to interview stage.
“Over 75% of CVs are rejected by the ATS without ever being seen by a human,” she says. “On a good day, employers will take a maximum of 30 seconds to review the CV and decide if they are interested enough to read on. Some research puts this figure as low as six seconds.”
She gives pointers on how to beat the ATS but also explains that, once past the robot, some 45% of large employers now look for video interviews before face-to-face interviews. For this, Sinéad advises, practice is the only way. And for the face-to-face, practice and preparation are the keys.
“It is about putting on a performance,” Sinéad says of the interview proper. “The person who is best for the job is not always the person who gets it. It is the person who does the best interview.”
The book provides useful tools, such as templates to help job- seekers work out variations of questions they are likely to be asked at interview, based on the job description. And it advises on the best use of trigger words to help them get around the variations.
Sinéad also tackles the thorny issue of telling untruths, advising very strongly against telling lies which can be uncovered, often with a quick online search. The incidence of telling untruths is a lot lower on LinkedIn profiles, she explains, mainly because it is easily accessible and out there.
“A very high percentage of employers will Google an individual at some stage during the selection process,” she continues. “And they’ll find good things and bad things."
Her advice is to keep your LinkedIn profile accurate and up to date and to use privacy settings on other social media. And don’t use your company email when applying for a job with another company! If nothing else, says Sinéad, it shows bad judgement.
The main mistake people make, she continues, is that they don’t tailor the CV for the job they are applying for.
“Having one CV to send to everybody, is not hitting any target,” she says.
The second big mistake that people make is they don’t meet the required criteria. Instead, for example, they apply for a job that is looking for a minimum of five years experience, while they have only two. “And then they are surprised they are not called for interview!”
But Sinéad, a Limerick city native (Clanmorris Avenue) who is also a part-time lecturer at UL, points out that 70% of jobs are never advertised. To counter that, she says, you have to have a plan. Develop your contacts strategically, network and keep that CV up to date, is her professional advice.
For more advice you can buy the book, published by Polaris Publishing at €9.99 or the e-book version through Amazon. Sinéad will launch her book at O’Mahony’s Bookshop, Limerick next Thursday, November 7 at 6.30pm.