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Professionalism

Best candidates, best solutions

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Experience

20 + years, 18 countries, 13 languages

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Integrity

High quality, uncompromising standards

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Client focus

Service that exceeds expectations

There is competition for jobs even in a small market like Lithuania. Your CV is your calling card. Whether you’re sending your CV to an agency or directly to an employer, it does affect people’s first impression and whether you’re worthy of a follow-up phone call or interview.
 
Although job seekers are more informed and sophisticated these days, we still see many naïve and even stupid mistakes.  If you were on the receiving side of the CV, what would you think about a poorly written CV; would you invest the additional time to interview this individual.  More importantly, would you want this person to work for you or your client if you’re an agency doing the recruitment?
 
Below is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that will help you make a good impression and get to the interview stage of the selection process.
 
Format: Whatever format you select, you CV should look professional, easy to ready and contain all the necessary information listed in the requirements section of the job ad such as education, experience, language/IT skills, etc. Young applicants with limited work experience should limit their CVs to one page; those with more experience should not exceed two pages.
 
CV Content: This is where you can differentiate yourself from the crowd. Most applicants simply write where they worked. Woody Allen said that “80% of being successful in life is just showing up”; unfortunately in today job market, just showing up (where you worked) is not enough.
 
To get peoples’ attention, at least mention your job title and responsibilities at each work place as well as length of time in the positon.  The ideal would be to list some of your key and relevant accomplishments. If you worked in sales, note any significant accomplishments; i.e., exceeded company goals or improved market share by ___%.
 
Photos: This is probably the area that needs the most work.  When someone downloads, your CV, the photo is the first thing that people notice; if you make a good impression here, it stays; if it’s a bad impression, then everything that follows in your CV has less impact and credibility.
 
If you’re a serious applicant, looking for a serious position at a serious, successful company, a suit and tie photo is the standard for guys and business professional for women. Wearing of sun glasses or leisure attire in photos is not only naïve but in bad taste.

 

During any job search, your first goal is to get to the interview stage, initially with the recruiter if an agency is doing the recruitment or with an HR representative if the company is in charge of the process.

If you get this far, you’ve already accomplished something, but how do you take advantage of this opportunity?  Most prescreening interviews will focus on verifying the requirements in the ad as well as other criteria which may not be that obvious, such as personality and fit.

Showing up on time – Woody Allen once said that “80% of being successful in life is just showing up”. Unfortunately, this is hard for some. If you don’t show up, your chances of getting the job diminish significantly. If you’re late, then you have some explaining to do. The best advice is to plan ahead and try to be a few minutes early.

If the address is new, do a quick map study; plan for traffic, parking, security checks and elevator time. If you’re too early, that’s not good either.  A good rule of thumb is to check in with the receptionist about 5 minutes prior to the interview; this will give you time to hang up your coat and relax a bit before the start of the interview.

How you look and present yourself – First impressions are important and you only have one chance. Assume that the interviewer will always take notice of what you wear, especially if it’s inappropriate attire. If the interviewer has a coat and tie, you will feel uncomfortable if you’re show up with jeans and an open shirt. For most white-collar job interviews, the safe bet is to dress conservatively (coat and tie for guys and smart business attire for women).

Researching the company – Whether it’s a prescreening interview by an agency or the employer itself, they both expect the candidate to do a little research about the company before the interview. It shows initiative and your interest in the company, as a minimum.  This extra knowledge will help you formulate questions and engage in a more productive interview. Besides the company web page, there’s so much information available online, so there’s no excuse today.

Stress questions – For most job interviews, there’s always one or two questions that are either unexpected or uncomfortable to answer. We call those stress questions. Each candidate has his/her own stress questions, so there’s no one question(s) that applies to everyone. To prepare for an interview, write down a list of 4 – 5 stress questions that fit your situation; also write down the answers and practice responding to those questions out loud. Some typical stress questions include the following:

  • Why did you leave you last job?

  • What’s the reason for the frequent job changes?

  • Can you explain the large time gap between jobs?

  • How will you be able to manage the long commute to work everyday?

  • What are your salary expectations for the position? 

Rehearsing the interview – Most initial or prescreening interviews will follow and try to verify the points listed in the job ad. One of the best ways to prepare is to practice the interview with someone else; i.e., ask a friend or colleague to role-play the interviewer while you respond to the questions. An even better variant is to have this mock interview recorded on video.  Use the playback to identify those behaviors that you need to improve upon. What you observe about yourself will amaze you. There’s nothing like seeing yourself on camera.
At some point during the interview, expect the topic of salary to come up. For some it can be a stressful topic but sooner or later it has to be discussed. No matter how talented you are or how much potential you think you have, supply and demand in the market usually determine what the buyer (employer) is prepared to pay in terms of salary and what the seller (job seeker) is prepared to offer and eventually accept.
 
Before going to your first interview, you need to know what your talent and experience is worth in the market.  Most employers are willing to pay a starting salary that’s competitive in the market place if you can demonstrate that you’re worth it. On the other hand, employers want to be careful not to overpay for talent and put themselves in a position where there’s no room to motivate the employee; i.e., with future pay raises or bonuses.
 
That said, there are some things that you can do to prepare yourself on this topic:
  • Research the market to determine what others are getting paid in your field so you have some perspective.
  • If the job responsibilities are not clear, indicate a starting salary range that will give you space to negotiate during later interviews.
  • If you agree to accept a lower starting salary than what you expected, try to negotiate an increase (subject to satisfactory performance) that will take effect at some future date; i.e., once the 90-day probationary period has passed or upon achievement of a specific objective such as a sales target.
  • Most employers, especially those in the sales/service sector, have a performance-based bonus program. Ensure you get the details and understand the opportunities before you start working.
You may not make a career out of your next job but it might be an important first step in that direction…Take advantage of everything that it has to offer in terms of experience, training, benefits and professional contacts. Even if you don’t expect to stay long, consistent, dependable professional performance and behavior are good personal goals to set for yourself.
 
Hard work, dedication and motivation impress people. Managers and colleagues notice.  Who knows when you might need a recommendation either for an internal promotion or, externally, in the final stages of a new job search.
 
Look at every job and work assignment as part of your career pyramid. What kind of a foundation are you building? Have you improved upon what you received or started with at your new job? Did you participate and actively contribute or did you what watch the clock and wait for pay day to come.  We can all pretend to work but sooner or later it catches up to you. Set a personal goal to give more that you take from a company or organization.  Careerists get noticed first but those who demonstrate teamwork and unselfishness win in the long run.