0 Will You Beat the Sifter?

Will you beat the sifter? The CV Sifter. Can your CV carry you through to an interview for a great job? Maybe you are looking right now for your first full time job, or maybe you are hoping for a new job elsewhere? Whether you are looking or not - it might be wise to locate your current CV to see if it needs updating - just in case a good opportunity arises, and your CV has to beat the sifter.

In this article, Trainer and Careers Counsellor Frank Newberry offers some useful tips on what to include in your CV as well as how it can be configured to give you a better chance of getting the job interview you want.

Read on for details of how to get free sample CVs to help you get your CV just right!

My view, over the years, has not changed. The job of the CV (Curriculum Vitae or Resume) is to get you a job interview. Simple as that. Whereas the job of the CV sifter (who may know nothing about turfcare practices and skills) is to make sure that the interviewers see only those people the employer thinks are the most suitable.

The reality is that there could be eighty or more applicants chasing the vacancy you want, and the CV sifter may have been told to sift through them all and get the number down to just ten applicants for interview. Some employers only want to do four final interviews.

The CV sifter spends just twenty seconds reading each CV

The CV sifter begins by reading at least part of each of the eighty CVs in order to weed out the less suitable candidates. The employer will have set the sifting criteria to be followed, e.g. only select people with the same rank as the vacancy for interview, or only those with certain qualifications, or only people with a certain number of years' experience etc.

This first paper sift is often done at very high speed. It has been said to me many times over the years that, when there are a lot of applications, the sifter will spend on average just twenty seconds reading each CV.

Your goal, at this point, is to get past this first sift. You can do this by giving a good impression of your suitability in the first half page of the CV. That done, the next goal is to get the sifter to put your CV onto the small pile of CVs whose owners will get an interview.

The CVs of the unlucky ones who did not pass that 'good first impression' test could then be placed on the 'reject' pile - after just twenty seconds reading! It gets worse. The interviewers themselves might not even read the rest of our CV until just before the interview.

Standard CVs used to be convenient and popular

Let us look at your two main options: a standard CV or a Customised CV? Standard CVs used to be convenient and popular in the days when most people did not have access to laptops, PCs and printers.

Convenient that is, if you did the same work year after year and only changed your CV when:

1. your existing job changed (and perhaps you had to be retrained)

2. you moved to another department

3. you changed to another employer, or

4. you got promoted internally - out of your existing job

The aim of the standard CV was to be a true and accurate record of your employment and work experience.

When you applied for a job, the practice was to send out a CV with a cover letter that drew the reader's attention to the skills you have that matched those wanted by the prospective employer. The CV stayed mainly the same; it was the Cover Letter that changed with each job application.

This approach made sense if you have a really impressive CV and the jobs you applied for were generally of the same type.

However, with so much flexibility and sometimes turmoil in the job market these days, this approach is somewhat out of date. A concern about standard CVs would be that your rivals for a vacancy could be getting more interviews than you by closely matching the content of their CVs to every vacancy for which they apply.

Rather than making the prospective employer search through the document for the relevant facts - the customised CV places all the essential information employers need on the first half page. Employers will not search through the long documents when they have 80 or more of them to read.

Customised CVs

A 'customised CV', with all the information about your suitability in the first two paragraphs, will dramatically increase your chances of being interviewed.

That said, you will still have to write a covering letter, so you may consider reproducing parts of the suitability or 'profile' paragraph of your CV in the letter itself (see the customised CV layout below).

You can get sample CVs from me on request. Just click on the Contact tab at www.franknewberry.com and then complete the 'request information' box and send it off. Please take a moment to include your current job level, i.e. Groundsman, Supervisor, Head Greenkeeper etc.

You will not be able to write a meaningful CV if you do not know what employers are really looking for in their ideal candidate. If the job advertisement doesn't tell you much, then call the employer and ask politely for a copy of the 'job description' and the 'employee specification'. They will almost certainly have a job description for the vacancy, but they may not have an employee specification.

The job description will tell you what the job involves, and the employee specification will tell you the type of person the employer sees as the ideal candidate. Armed with that information, you can write a cover letter and CV that should fit the vacancy perfectly. And this is the drawback of the customised CV. They take a while to write, and you will probably have to change them with every vacancy. My view is that they are worth your time and trouble.

The first third of the first page of a customised CV

1. Many busy employers make speedy hiring decisions. This quick decision is usually based on getting a good early impression from a CV. This makes the first third of the first page of a CV a key area as far as appeal is concerned

2. I recommend you put your energy into getting a really positive career profile (suitability statement) at the top of your CV, so that employers do not have to search for very long for the information they need

3. Just one short paragraph that summarises your key skills, experience and disposition in positive (not modest) language will draw the eye of the employer, who can always look further down the CV for more detail

The Customised CV Logical Sequence

As previously mentioned, sample CVs are available from me via my website. They are based on real CVs used by people in our sector. They contain positive phrases and statements that could enhance your CV.

1. Begin the document with the words 'CURRICULUM VITAE' in large print

2. Just beneath the heading 'Curriculum Vitae' write your name, address, contact numbers and perhaps a flattering photo of you, then the following sequence:

3. Profile (a suitability statement/pen picture of you)

4. Achievements (specific work achievements linked to the requirements of the job vacancy)

5. Employment History with duties, responsibilities and dates - going back a maximum of 10 years. If you have something great to say about yourself from over 10 years ago - put it under 'Achievements' (see 4 above)

6. Vocational Educational Qualifications, e.g. NVQs

7. Relevant vocational and technical training

8. Licences, certificates and accreditations etc.

9. Hobbies, pastimes and family details

Remember, your customised CV can be created from scratch, or an existing one can be reconfigured. It can really super-charge your career. So good luck beating the sifter in order to get that great job!

For now - stay safe - until we meet again in these pages.

© 2021 Frank Newberry

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