Dos and don'ts of online CVs

As an online job seeker, you have only 10 seconds to make an impression on an employer and that's before they have even met you.

As an online job seeker, you have only 10 seconds to make an impression on an employer and that's before they have even met you.

And the right candidates are missing out on their dream jobs because their CVs are not prepared and delivered in a way that says "choose me".

Recruitment agencies in New Zealand say thousands of CVs are stored online and that number is set to grow.

Some agencies receive as many as several hundred emailed CVs a day, which places great pressure on the consultants looking at them.

This, says sales director Rachel Thomas, means consultants are making brutal decisions about the fate of your job application at the first glance.

"High-paced organisations are culling the recruitment process as much as possible to find good people fast.

"Information has to be relevant and immediate - this has implications for those job seekers not online as jobs are being filled even before your mailed resume is received," she says.

"The emailed version has its advantages; but be careful, it can also lead to a number of fatal errors being made and there are many horror stories to be told."

Monster and other agencies report that CVs with viruses attached do not always go down too well. In an instance in Australia, Monster reports a virus-infected CV affected the recipient company's entire network.

"The candidate did not get the job and will be forever known as the candidate that brought the company down," Thomas says.

However, in New Zealand a Monster applicant who did the same got the job, and his first task was to undo the mess he had made.

Monster also reports that one Australian woman sent a photo of herself believing that would boost her chances.

She thought she had sent a head and shoulders shot, but had mistakenly sent a saucy picture of herself in black fishnet stockings and big hair.

"Although she wasn't successful in getting the job, she is still at the company everyday, as a screensaver," says Thomas.

The director of Auckland agency Itec Recruitment, Nick Cardwell, says people who want to send photos should at least smile. He says he gets many that look like police mug shots.

People should also be careful with email addresses.

Another Monster example from Australia is a job application from someone with the email address

"It wasn't until the potential employer went to schedule an interview they realised the immaturity of the candidate," says Thomas.

"A pity - his skills showed he was perfect for the position."

The gifted chap can't have had much luck, as when I tried emailing him last week, my message was immediately returned.

IT & T Recruitment in Auckland also reports "funny" email addresses.

Cardwell says one of his clients also used an "inappropriate" email address. He got the job, but he warns against "bizarre" information as the aim of CVs is to sell yourself.

Agents also offer other tips.

Thomas says it is important people are honest and cover "gaps" in their CVs as employers know what to look for. Employers should also check references.

She says an Auckland applicant fooled an employer with her CV and scored a senior position, until a client went to that company and recognised her as a secretary he had recently fired.

IT & T Recruitment contracts consultant Rachel Heathcote says applicants should send their CV as a formatted Word document, not as a simple email.

They should also make it clear whether they are making a general enquiry or seeking a specific job, she says.

The basics of correct spelling and brevity, with most recent experience listed first, apply.

Cardwell agrees CVs should be easily readable, should show enthusiasm and not contain too many scanned elements that take ages to download.

Personal statements are also out, particularly if copied from Web sites.

"Everybody ignores these completely," he says.

Heathcote says Web developers can also use the technology in their applications to show what they can do with Acrobat, which many already do.

Managing applications is also important, so you don't apply for the same job twice.

And finally, it is better to personalise covering letters rather than sending out general letters.

"We don't want to know you have sent to 30 agencies. It doesn't motivate our staff," she says.

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