Improving Your Employability in Hard Times

When you are applying for a new position, it is more important than ever that you stand out from the crowd as a good candidate for the job. Because of the current uncertainty surrounding the impact of the Coronavirus, there has been a much higher redundancy rate, resulting in a greater number of active candidates in the marketplace than would otherwise be the case. This has created a huge problem in the employment market, especially for school leavers and people with only limited work experience.

In addition to the current employment crisis, businesses are not hiring as they would normally do, with many implementing recruitment freezes or recruitment restrictions until it is clear when normalcy will be restored and the lockdown will be lifted. Working from home has become commonplace, which does at times create security issues for companies.

There are many things you can do to improve your chances of being hired as a candidate, and it all starts with your resume, which is the first thing a prospective employer will be looking over when they are reviewing your application.

Keeping everything to read and understand is essential when creating a CV. We would highly recommend for you to keep it concise, relevant, and no more than two A4 pages in length. We recommend keeping the format simple and using a traditional font, such as Arial in size 10-11 and in black, to make a strong first impression. Be sure to explain all gaps in employment and double-check that all of your dates are correct; do not exaggerate or embellish the truth, as this could compromise your employment at any point.

An experienced interviewer should be able to identify any discrepancies in your CV with relative ease. Make certain that the format is consistent throughout the document and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors; you would be surprised at how many typos even the most professional candidates fail to notice and fix. Writing your CV in a program like Google Docs will help you sort out grammatical errors and spelling mistakes before they become an issue.

A well-written and professional CV is essential when searching for the ideal position. It should include a thorough and accurate description of your education, work experience, and skill set. If you are looking for the next step in your career or want to stand out from the crowd, you will need to ensure that your CV is accurate, strong and to the point.

Q: What Should My CV Include?

First and foremost, your CV should include all of your personal information, including your name, address, phone number, and email address, so that employers can quickly determine how to contact you and where you are located.

Personal statements should be written after that, and they are an excellent way to make your CV stand out. An overview of your skills and experience, as well as what you are looking for in your next position, should be included in this section. Do not over-communicate, and make it relevant to the types of positions you are applying for by emphasising your abilities such as time management, being a good team player, paying close attention to detail, and computer skills, among other things. Make an effort to keep this section under 150 words.

Education should be listed next, with the most recent and highest level being listed first. Example: University name, subject and grade are followed by the name of the school or college attended, as well as any qualifications obtained. If you have received any qualifications in the past that are not relevant to your job search, try to avoid listing them all. However, please include any noteworthy accomplishments that occurred during this time period. For example, being School Captain or having sporting accomplishments that demonstrate leadership and teamwork skills. This is especially important if you are just starting out in your professional life and have a limited amount of work experience.

It is essential that you list your work experience on your CV one role at a time because it is the most important section of your resume. The majority of employers scan CVs quickly, looking for relevant company names and industry sectors, job titles, and length of service within a particular employer’s organisation.  CVs do not make a good first impression if it looks like you jump from job to job, so if you have held multiple positions within the same company, it is a good idea to list each position under the same company name to avoid creating confusion. You are also demonstrating your internal advancement, which is a positive indicator to potential employers.

For those in the early stages of their careers, consider any additional transferable skills you may have gained while working in your gap year or participating in voluntary international projects, such as teamwork or client-facing skills.

Hobbies and interests should be listed at the end of your CV, but they are not always required to be included. In this section, you can mention any particular interests that you have that are related to the companies that you would like to work for. However, these interests should be something that you actually do because they can become a talking point at the end of the interview.

Interview Stage!

Upon receiving notification that your CV has been selected and that you have been invited to an interview, the next stage of preparation and research begins. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so it’s worth taking the time to do it right the first time. This will ensure that you are representing yourself in the best possible light and that you have the best chance of achieving your professional goals.

Interviewing is a frightening prospect, and different companies conduct interviews in a variety of ways; there is no one right or wrong way to conduct an interview.

Companies are increasingly conducting interviews based on competency-based questions in order to gain a deeper understanding of you as a person and the experience you have gained. Most people are uncomfortable with competency-based interview questions, but as long as you are well prepared, there should be no reason why you cannot stand out and take advantage of this type of questioning in your favour.

For many people, being directly asked for examples is less difficult than answering the more general question of ‘what do you do in your current role?’ in which they may forget to provide specific examples or may even waffle on about more irrelevant aspects of their current role that are not necessary for the position they are interviewing for.

The interviewer will be looking for specifics in your responses. They will want examples of specific tasks and detail; rather than simply stating that you “supported a team,” break this down into specifics such as how many people were in the team, which team you supported, and what exactly you did to assist them. How many specific projects, for example, and to whom did you report – are all important questions to ask.

Preparation is essential. Make sure you do your homework on the company, the position, and the people you will be meeting. The company website or LinkedIn profile is frequently used to showcase employees’ accomplishments. You never know, you might have attended the same university or grown up in the same town as someone else, and this will be beneficial when attempting to distinguish yourself. It is also worthwhile to check the company’s website to see if they have received any recent press coverage. This knowledge will demonstrate to your interviewer that you have done your homework and are serious about working at the company in question.

Make sure you are familiar with your CV from top to bottom – you would be surprised how many people do not! In order to avoid confusion, make a schedule and write down your reasons for leaving each position. It is important to keep these positive and professional; being negative about previous employers will only imply that you will do the same when you leave the company you are interviewing to join, which no one wants! It is ALWAYS better to be positive about a previous job than negative.

Interviewers who use a competency-based approach frequently ask you difficult questions. Occasionally, you may be asked about a mistake you made. Never say that you haven’t made a mistake because everyone has! (Even me!) The reason you are being asked is that a future employer is interested in how you handled the situation and what you learned as a result, they want to find out who you are as a person and how you handled pressure or problems you came across. Was it so bad that you couldn’t continue working there? Did you manage to rectify the situation, did you admit your mistake and everything was forgiven? What did you take away from it, and how would you put it to use in the future?

These questions are intended to provide insight into your working style as well as your personality. Questions may throw you off your game at times, but this demonstrates your ability to perform under pressure. If you are asked what your ‘biggest achievement’ might be, and you do not have a work example, make sure the answer you give is relevant to the question, and if possible the role you may be applying for.

Another frequently asked question is the question about one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Once again, it is about overcoming a weakness or explaining why a strength is relevant in this situation. Often, we are taught to pick a weakness that isn’t really a weakness, but people can see right through this. For example, saying that being early or being a perfectionist is a weakness can be seen through by others. Choose something that is true, but explain why it is no longer true, or explain what you are doing to compensate or counteract the situation. Turn a negative situation into a positive one and use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your abilities.

A common question asked at the conclusion of any interview is whether you have any questions you would like to ask. Once again, this is something you can prepare for, and you should have one or two questions ready to go when the time comes. If you believe that you have covered everything about the position and the company during the interview, move on to asking the interviewees questions about themselves, such as ‘what do you enjoy most about working here?’

In addition to preparing for the interview itself, it is critical that you arrive on time and dressed appropriately for the occasion. Some candidates will conduct a reconnaissance the day before the interview so that they are familiar with the location of the offices and can plan the best route to take to avoid being late for the interview. When it comes to what to wear, different industry sectors often have different dress codes, and you may be unsure of which one is the most appropriate for your particular situation. It is always preferable to be overdressed than underdressed, and no matter what you are wearing, it is essential that you appear well-groomed and professional. Hair that is neat and groomed, clothes that are clean and ironed, shoes that are polished, and so on. Before the interview, try to get a good night’s sleep to ensure you are alert.

Following proper etiquette will also be beneficial and will portray you in a positive light; for example, when the interviewee enters the room, stand up, give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and smile broadly at him or her. Thank them for their time at the conclusion of the interview, and if you were given a business card, you may also want to send them a quick email to express your appreciation in writing. You want to distinguish yourself from the crowd, and these small details can have a significant impact.

Nowadays, many employers use recruitment agencies in order to headhunt quality staff members. You might want to look at some of your local recruitment agencies and see how they can help you find work!

Sam Keeling

I am a content writer and blogger working for I have an interest in the employment sectors, artwork, magic and cryptocurrency.