Listening Level : MID / HIGH – Writing Your CV
This is a three-part listening activity designed to help you with writing your CV. Some important and knowledgeable advice from Carl, who has had a rich career in multinational companies.
Match the words below with their meanings and then check your answers below the transcript.
a) To successfully reach/obtain a result
b) How passionate staff feel about their jobs
c) The action of reading or examining something
4. Brief / Succinct
d) Presentation of CV for a job
5. Accomplish / Achieve
e) Read very fast / read for main points.
6. Employee engagement
f) In few words / in a short time.
Probably one of the most difficult jobs people face in life is preparing their CV in application for a job. I know I’ve always hated doing it but over the years, having been in industry for a very long time now and having interviewed literally hundreds of people for job in all levels, from the entry level though to directors, there are some things, that if you bear them in mind, make the writing a little bit easier but also make the CV much more effective.
I´ll share a few with you if you don´t mind. I think one of the things that people don´t realise is that their CV is going to be in front of the person reading it for around 90 seconds before that person decides yes or no. Yes being, we will go on for further perusal or no, not this time, thank you. Now, 90 seconds is a very short time, even for people who can speed-read. So, the things that you want to get across the person who is going to do the first processing of applicants needs to be right up there, up front and brief. Even if it´s bullet points, it´s fine.
Now I know there’s plenty of CV proformas around, you can get them on the internet from, I mean even if you use Microsoft word, that has I don´t know how many … 30-40 templates for CVs. So, choosing the one that you like, there’s no problem. But the ones that I know I looked at mostly, were the ones that started very clearly, just with the candidate’s name, the kind of job they were looking for and then went straight on to explain their experience in relation to things they had accomplished.
So, I do recommend CVs that start that way, there´s no harm in putting your name in big capital letters right at the front at the top but underneath that, and again I suggest in bold and good-sized letters, should be what you are looking for. For example, I am looking for a job in industry, in IT, in catering, whatever … and I am really interested in… just put down the things you want the job to be interesting in. For example, a lot of people, in this place, put what they would like to achieve in that job. In my recent CVs for example, it says ´I would like to support industry in improving it´s employee engagement and improving the output, the business output, or the success of the organization through that. If you can´t say it in two sentences, then it´s not succinct or brief enough. Please limit that first paragraph to maximum two sentences and one if you can.
ANSWERS : 1-D, 2-C, 3- E, 4-F, 5- A, 6- B
Match the expressions below with their meanings and then check your answers below the transcript.
1) flip through
A) The first one mentioned ( of two)
2) So on and so forth
B) Look quickly at some pages of something
3) Tie up together
4) The latter
D) The second one mention (of two)
5) The former
E) Join things
The next thing is to start listing your experience in terms of the jobs or roles that you´ve had in any organisation, in reverse order, so the latest experience first and then progressively through back until the start of your experience.
If you´ve had a lot of experience, it isn´t necessary that you list every single job except that there should be no gaps in the CV timeline. Most interviewers, most people sorting CVs, very consciously just flip through the CV first of all to make sure that the start dates, and the end dates all tie up together because a gap in a CV very much indicates something that needs to be explored about that candidate’s career or past experience.
And then, in each organisation or each job that you’ve had, what did you achieve? And just bullet points, make it very simple; I reduced costs by this amount, I led teams of this number of people, and so on and so forth. Just so, very quickly, the person looking at the C.V can tell ´Ah, this person is a leader, or this person is an excellent team player, this person is very much company conscious, this person wants to contribute and does contribute´.
Those things come from just the facts that you put down. 10 words, 12 words for each bullet point maximum, juts to give the feel for (the person reading it) the feel for what kind of experience you´ve had and also, whether you are somebody who is coming to work just to do the job or somebody who is coming to make progression in the organisation, to make advancement. And normally, I have to say, the most people, in their CVs, are looking for the latter rather than the former.
Very very importantly, each bullet point that you put down, you should be prepared to discuss in some detail to provide the background, facts, the details of what you did or how you did it, or how you accomplished the improvement, or whatever that you are talking about because the CV will be used by the interviewer as a prompt for the final questions that they ask you and how they explore more detail about what you said. So, make sure that you don´t put anything down there that doesn´t prompt you to be able to tell a very clear explanation about that item. It´s better to leave an item off than to put it in there and also, please be very sure that everything you put down there is factual.
People who put down incorrect items on their CV will get found out during the interview, for sure. And if not then, certainly when, if it´s successful during the interview, the employer checks for references with other companies.
ANSWERS: 1- B, 2-C, 3-E, 4-D, 5-A
Match the words/expressions below with their meanings and then check your answers below the transcript.
a) Be prepared to do something
2) Be willing to
b) Read something quickly for main points
3) up front
c) think about when making a decision
4) bear in mind
d) in advance
Avoid long sentences, long paragraphs, in any CV…nobody has time to read them. Every little bit of effort that you can put in to writing the CV in short bullet points is well worth it. Try to include as many concrete facts as you can. Especially numerical results that you have achieved, rather than general good intentions or general good statements of activity.
Of course, if you don´t have any concrete results, then those things are fine. Employers are also very much interested towards the end of the CV as they skim down to the end of the job experience…they really are interested in hobbies, interests etc because that tells a lot about a person. And it´s really good to know, for example , if somebody is very keen on any particular sport or has some long term hobby or has something outside their normal work organisation which tells a lot about what kind of team player or kind of perseverance that person has in their things that they try to do.
It´s also a very good thing to indicate on the CV either at the start or at the finish the kind of flexibility that you have, for example, I am willing to relocate anywhere in the known universe or actually, I´d rather get a job in my town and I don’t want to move anywhere. These things are important to know up front and the more flexibility can often open more doors to different kind of job proposals than with less flexibility. But, employers do understand that life commitments, can tie somebody to a location for a certain time.
If there is a certain salary range below which you would rather not be considered, it´s helpful to put that. If you are flexible in that regard, it doesn’t matter. But also, bear in mind that sometimes, being over-qualified for a position can make a prospective employer nervous. So if the position you are looking for is maybe a little bit less demanding than the one you are currently holding or that held before, it´s better not to put too much information in the CV tha demonstrates that your capability is beyond that being requested.
Of course, these things may come up during the course of the interview if you get through but at least then you have the opportunity to explain why it is that you are happy to apply for a position that otherwise doesn´t seem to be ambitious compared with your previous experience.
I think those are the key points that I´ve learned over the years in dealing with CVs and interviews and perhaps later on I might do a little talk on what’s important during an interview and what´s the employer, or prospective employer looking for in the person that is sitting there in front of them.
So, just let me wish you the very best of luck in writing your CV and the very best of success in any job application that you go for. Bye Bye.
ANSWERS : 1) B, 2)A, 3)D, 4)C