If you are starting your career or if you have reached a certain point where job change is necessary then you must do some homework beforehand if you want to reach positive outcome. Practice has shown that without preparation you are bound to fail and you will lose both valuable time and money.
This page has been created to help you make your first steps to begin your career or help you bravely take up new challenges. From pointers you will find useful information on how to write your CV as well as different points on how to successfully apply for a vacancy.
If you need help in writing your CV you can always turn to CVcenter.az team. Our team is here to help you every step of the way.
- Looking for a new job
- Invisible job offers
- Who will you become after graduation?
- How to write a proper CV
- 10 typical mistakes in a CV
- CV writing rules
- How to write an outstanding CV
- Covering letter – what is it and what is the purpose?
- Contents and formatting of the covering letter
- Five things to remember when writing a covering letter
- Types of job interviews
- Questions during a job interview
- Questions to ask the interviewer
- Mistakes made during the interview
- Preparing for the job interview
Looking for a new job
Changing a job is a normal step in every person's life. There are few people who work their whole life at the same place at the same post. It is said that every person fulfills himself on one post on average in 4-7 years. This is the time in which one develops everyday routine and the person is no longer capable of working in such a way that is required for that post. After the 7th year it is high time to start thinking about changing your job.
Of course in life there are situations in which case you have to change jobs due to other circumstances: illness, layoff, company’s bankruptcy, changing place of residence, etc. In either case you are facing a problem: how to find a new job?
We will hereby emphasize the main rules that will help you find a new job in a short time. Workforce flow means that there is always some company who is looking for a new employee. Your task is to make yourself aware of those possibilities and that your information as a job seeker is made available for the employer. You should approach the matter from different angles:
- Study the company’s surrounding environment. Find out the nature of the company; what does it produce/which services does it offer, how many employees does it have, it’s cash flow, profit, owners, location, personnel manager in the company. This kind of information will have positive influence on you during the job interview: you will be aware and educated about the company, your efforts will be noticed and you will have set yourself apart from all other candidates.
- Newspapers. Use the job ads published in newspapers very wisely. Every job ad is your chance if you use it properly. Act exactly according to the instructions given in the job ad: you either call, send a CV by post or via e-mail. Generalize your search and also go through old newspapers as well. It often turns out that the job in the job ad was not filled with the candidacy and a new one has not yet been announced.
- The internet. Internet usage is becoming more and more important in our everyday life. The number of job ads posted on the internet is also increasing constantly. When looking for job ads on the internet you should focus on those web pages that are concentrated on job mediation. Then you can be sure that you will be offered the best opportunities for planning your career.
- Job fairs. A good chance to find a job is at a job fair, where there are hundreds of job offers all in one place.
Invisible job offers
There are always invisible job vacancies which are not filled using public channels. That kind of information about new vacancies is spread around in the company which enables to use personal contacts to find a suitable candidate. Also the vacancy can be unfilled because the employer for some reason has not yet had the time to start looking for a new worker through public channels.
If you want to discover these invisible vacancies you have to be active in finding out just the right people and companies that can offer You the right information. To do that you need to:
- Ask your family members, friends and acquaintances about new possible vacancies. Inform them as precisely as possible about your wishes.
- Turn directly to the potential employer that interests you (by knocking bravely on the personnel manager's or the executive's door) regardless of whether they are looking for a new employee or not.
- Turn to the potential employer in written form (by sending your CV with a short motivation letter about your competencies, values, special skills).
- Call the potential employer that you are interested in, if you have information about a possible job offer in that company; Call the potential employer that you are interested in, if you have information about a possible job offer in that company.
- Publish your job seeking ad in a newspaper or/an at the database of a human resources company.
In addition to being active it is necessary that you have the skills to present yourself to the potential employer. But don’t forget that praising yourself and giving inaccurate information will come out sooner or later. You do not want to damage your reputation!
During the job seeking period it is beneficial to keep yourself up to date about all job ads that have been posted by using various kinds of information channels and at the same time using the active personal initiative ways to find possible vacancies.
The invisible vacancies are usually filled with such personnel that have been found using electronical databases. Therefore it is necessary that your CV would be available at these databases. Many companies use the CVcenter.az database every day! You can be one of the lucky ones that gets a new job through this channel.
Who will you become after graduation?
After graduation the students are happy that: “Its all over now!” but actually this is just the beginning.
Nowadays not all are accepted to universities after high school graduation. Not all want to go either. And not everybody has friends or family members that will help them find a well paid job after school or provide an opportunity to study abroad. Then you have to start looking for a job yourself.
It can seem quite hard and stressful to find your first job without previous experience. Obviously not all get to be highly paid company executives. And that is good. Otherwise who would build houses, fix our cars or sells us products at the supermarket.
What kind of job would suit you the best? Be honest with yourself. You can look for a job in advertising or sales marketing but if you don’t have the capabilities or potential for it then you may not reach the desired result.
- What did you do on your spare time after classes? Why did you choose these activities? Is there a job where these activities could come in handy?
- Why did you choose this major/second major? What important skills/knowledge did you gain from that?
- Which subjects did you like the most? What did you achieve in these fields?
- Do you prefer more a job that requires social skills or do you prefer to work alone?
- Are you capable/willing to do office work 8 hours a day or do you prefer a moving job?
- Should the job be physical or mental?
- Should your first job be your job for the rest of your life? If not then the upcoming choices are easier.
- How much do you HAVE to earn? How much you COULD earn?
- Ask your friends-acquaintances (maybe even your school teacher, couch or someone that knows you well) for advice. On what profession do they see you working? Be ready to hear strong criticism.
If you know what kind of job you are looking for then you are a step closer to a new challenge – looking for a job.
How to write a proper CV
No matter how good your CV is, it does not automatically guarantee you the job. Nevertheless a well constructed and attractive CV will certainly attract the employer’s attention and will thus create a chance for an interview. The purpose of the CV is to show that you are a problem solver and with your previous experience you can fulfil exactly those tasks that are required on that job. If the employer understands on the basis of your CV that you are competent then that increases your chances on getting the job.
Think of the CV as your personal advertising material. You have to present in it all your achievements and all your capabilities. You have to select strategic key words that characterise your desired job offer.
A proper CV also indicates your communication and organizing skills. It is like a reminder to the employer which shows what a good employee he/she has. But a poor CV on the contrary will be cast aside right after reading.
10 typical mistakes in a CV
Before sending another CV make sure whether your CV contains any of the following faults:
- Cheap paper. Do not cut back on the paper you send your CV on. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or coffee stains. Ask your friend to read the CV, because usually another person notices the mistakes that you may have overlooked.
- Too long. If your career history does not fit to a maximum of 3 pages then we suggest you create a document that will reflect better you experiences and accomplishments.
- Making up has its consequences. Do not give false information in your CV about dates or professions or try to hide the fact that you have been unemployed for some time or changed jobs too often or that you had a low paid job. If the future employer begins to look into your background and finds out that you have lied then you can say goodbye to the job.
- Too monotonous. Do not base your CV only on the necessary guidelines. You will have an advantage if your CV has individuality: bring out some special accomplishments, percentages of growth or profit that you directly helped increase, prizes won etc.
- Constant excuses. Do not bring out reasons why you left previous jobs. Phrases like "the company went bankrupt", "the boss was an idiot" or "I quit because they didn't pay me enough" are absolutely unnecessary.
- Expired data. Although a CV can be sometimes longer, there is no need to add all the previous jobs. Usually the employer is interested in your working experience in the last 10 years, therefore concentrate on the most recent relevant job experiences.
- Fortune seekers CV. Do not send your CV to every single job ad. If you do not meet some necessary criteria for the job then don’t apply. Read the job ad carefully through and if you are certain that you have the necessary skills and the motivation for the job then send your CV.
- Too personal information. There is no need to include in your CV your tough childhood, religious or sexual preferences etc.
CV writing rules
If you start writing or have already finished your CV then pay attention and check if your CV corresponds to the following main rules:
- The employers have a lot of things to do and they do not wish to read or focus on very long CVs. Your CV should fit on 2 pages or maximum of 3 pages if it is absolutely necessary in order to describe your skills and competence.
- Make words work for you. Your language skills are extremely important when writing a CV. Don’t use very long sentences and paragraphs. Everything you say should be short, to the point and succinct. Stress your accomplishments and problem solving skills. Use words that indicate your competency.
- Bring out specific numbers if possible. Do not just write "I made sales more effective" but instead use "I increased the sale 30% and the number of clientele increased during my working there from 100 to 160". The employer will sense your value through numbers.
- Be honest. There is nothing worse than lying about nonexistent accomplishments. Lying could increase your chances at first, but the loss of the job later on is guaranteed.
- CV gives the first impression of you and therefore it is necessary that it is written without spelling mistakes. Employers expect to receive CVs in the same language as is the vacancy ad so make sure you send your CV in the right language.
- Eliminate everything from the CV that is not necessary. Do not write for example your weight or your height. If you have hobbies then mention those that you do in reality and regularly.
How to write an outstanding CV
Your CV does not have to be a long list of every job you have ever had. It is just a tool to sell you on the job market. If it helps you find a job, it has fulfilled its task. If you are thinking about what to write then keep this in mind – less is more.
- Choose carefully the keywords to show clarity, awareness and eagerness. Guide the reader's eyes intentionally. Some outstanding keywords: quick adjustment, good analyzing skills, cooperative, ability to put knowledge into practice, development capacity, personal initiative, goal oriented, persuasive.
- Leave out unnecessary words or expressions that have no additional value. For example "I arranged office work" is much clearer than "I was responsible for running the office". Powerful keywords and accurate descriptions leave a better impression of the CV.
- Use present tense when talking about your current job, past tense about previous jobs.
- Sentences should be short. Don't write long descriptions of your accomplishments only a short and to the point sentence gives the best overview of your skills.
- Think about how You can make a difference on the new job to increase the employers overall success? This is important for every employer.
Covering letter – what is it and what is the purpose?
Writing a covering letter is as important as writing your CV. You may have a perfect CV but the covering letter is what completes your CV. A good covering letter enables you the opportunity to go to the interview but a bad covering letter erases your chances.
While your CV’s purpose is to show who you are and what kind of experience you have, the covering letter’s purpose is to answer the employer’s question why this person is the right one for the job? The covering letter gives a short overview of your professional skills that coincide with the requirements for the job. In addition the covering letter is addressed personally (if the person is listed in the job ad) to the person responsible for the recruitment. The importance of the covering letter lies in its simplicity. Basically it is a paper that on the one side has the requirements and on the other side has your skills that meet exactly those requirements.
Contents and formatting of the covering letter
The purpose of your covering letter is to present yourself in the best possible way to the potential employer. You should never send a CV without a proper covering letter but you must remember that they are two totally different things. A CV is your curriculum vitae; a covering letter is a list of skills you have that are necessary for that specific job.
- Present yourself and the reason why you are sending your CV, why you are interested in their company and what are your wishes. If you are working in the same line of business then show them that you have previous knowledge about the company and the specifics of the position.
- Sell yourself efficiently. Show them in short how your skills meet the company’s requirements.
- Don’t be passive at the end of the covering letter. Thank them politely for the attention and let them know that you are willing to answer any additional questions they may have and mention that your contacts can be found in the CV. You can also mention that you would like to come to a job interview to discuss more closely about the job and any questions they may have. Be politely aggressive.
There are no concrete rules for formatting the covering letter but there are some certain guidelines you should keep in mind:
- The first two paragraphs should cover who you are, which job you are applying for and why you are applying for the job.
- If you don’t know for certain who is going to read your covering letter then try to find that out or use a formal title of profession like Dear Human Resource Manager.
- You may use a “bold” font but do not overuse it.
- Always end the covering letter with a positive emotion – wishing you all the best or hope to hear from you soon - and also leave room for your signature if you are mailing it by post.
Here are some keywords for writing the covering letter:
- be positive and self-confident!
- express yourself simply!
- be polite and professional!
- check for spelling mistakes!
- do not write the letter by hand!
- leave yourself a copy of the letter!
- be reachable for the employer!
Five things to remember when writing a covering letter
If you have trouble composing the cover letter then try to think it through step by step. Here are 5 questions which answers make up the key points for your covering letter and help you write it.
- What are the needs and interests of the future employer?
What kind of skills, knowledge and experiences are required for the job.
- What are your goals?
Are you applying for a job that you want the most or are you hoping to get at least to the interview or are you interested in getting any job.
- What are your 3-5 good qualities that you have to offer the employer?
When applying for a job that has certain requirements then your qualities should meet these requirements. If you are counting on sheer luck with you candidacy then think which qualities and experiences are generally valued.
- How to connect your previous experiences with the job vacancy?
What are your at least 2 accomplishments that relate to the qualities pointed out under question no 3?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
What do you know about this company? Which of their products, services, business philosophy, mission, company’s culture, goals and needs coincide with your experiences, values or goals?
When you have thought about all the questions mentioned above, you are ready to write your covering letter.
Types of job interviews
During the job seeking period you will soon find out that there are different types of job interviews. We will describe the different types and give advice on how to behave during different interviews.
- Pressure interview
Pressure interviews are a deliberate attempt to find out how can you manage in a stressful situations. The interviewer will be sarcastic, intrusive, will ask provoking questions or let you wait. Be prepared that if the interview is pressuring you then do not take it as a personal assault. The most important thing is that you remain calm and you have thought your answer through before you answer the question.
- In depth interview
The purpose of an in depth interview is to find out whether you fit into the working environment and if your skills and abilities are coherent with the company’s expectations and what is your knowledge in daily subjects. An in depth interview is not a typical question-answer type of interview because the subjects change constantly. Your task is to follow the discussion and create an image of the interviewer. Once you have accomplished that you will find it makes the interview much easier and more comfortable.
Pay attention to the keywords in the interviewer’s speech. Does he interact with you freely or officially or is he speaking to you like to a friend? Does he speak out loud? What kind of information does he want to “squeeze out” of you – general, professional or personal? Once you have found his general behavioural model you can go with the flow and act according to his expectations. Don’t forget to be positive. Make friendly compliments and comments to the interviewer. Talk in the same tone and rhythm as she/he does. Be a good listener. All this will help you achieve a peaceful environment and create a bond between you and your opponent. Be open and friendly and when you leave then don’t forget to smile and keep an eye contact when you shake hands.
- Control interview
The purpose of this type of interviews is to filter out the unsuitable candidates. Your job is to stress the facts about your skills and abilities. The interviewer has prepared a summary of points that he/she wants you to give answers to. Give direct answers to these questions and don’t give a lot of excess information.
- Interview over lunch
The same rules for the interviews carried out in an office apply to this type as well. Although the overall atmosphere is more relaxed don’t forget that this is a business lunch and you are carefully being watched. Take the opportunity to create an image of the interviewer’s behaviour and act accordingly. Do not forget the general rules of etiquette.
- One-three interview
This is the most common type of interviews. You will meet several key persons of the company who will decide upon your suitability. When you are talking to several people then focus on the person that posed the question. You may be asked to demonstrate your problem solving skills by presenting you a hypothetical situation and then asking you to solve it. You don’t have to offer the final solution, because the aim is to test your ability to react quickly.
- Group interview
Group interviews are used when it is necessary to filter out a potential leader or a public relations worker from the candidates. The selected candidates are invited to a casual discussion type of interview. The purpose of the discussion is to find out whether you can cooperate with others, use your knowledge and skills in order to persuade others that his solution is the best.
The telephone interviews are similar to control interviews as their purpose is to filter out unsuitable candidates. Your task is to get selected for the face-to-face interview. In order to achieve that you need to know some tips about the telephone interview:
- Try to predict the dialogue of the telephone interview. Write down the questions that you think they are going to ask you and your answers to them. Focus on your skills and abilities. Keep those notes close to your phone.
- Place your CV, information about the company and other important keywords that you have prepared next to your phone. In case of an unexpected call you are ready to answer and your self-confidence is higher. Also keep a pen and a notebook next to the phone to make quick notes.
- Keep your answers short and concise. You shouldn’t make long monologues during a telephone interview.
- Don’t start talking about salary numbers. If necessary you can give a pay range for instance 500-1000 manat per month. By proposing the wrong number you eliminate yourself from the competition immediately. It is better if you answer: “I hope there is a salary range in the job instruction that we can discuss.”
- Stress the fact that you are willing to come to an interview in the upcoming days. You can say "I am very interested in this position in your company and I believe I am the best person for this job. When would be a good time for us to meet?”
- When you have answered an unexpected call then try to arrange a suitable time for you to call them back and add that it is not the best time for you for the call, because you are at another meeting.
Questions during a job interview
Try to find answers to possible questions already before the interview because it will make you look more confident and you can show to the company why you can be useful for the company. Here are some examples:
- “Tell us something about yourself!”
Give a short summary of your education and your accomplishments and explain how you could be useful for the company.
- “Why do you wish to work in our company?” or “What attracts you in our company?”
These are one of the most important questions therefore give them a clear and enthusiastic answer. Show them that you are interested in their company – you can bring out all the facts and knowledge you have about the company. Never answer that your interest is money, that won’t take you anywhere.
- “For what reason did you leave your last job?”
The interviewer wants to know if you had problems in your last job. If you had no problems then you can always tell the reason why you left your job like the company went bankrupt, it was a temporary job, there were no career opportunities, I wanted a job that would meet my potential etc. if you had problems then be honest. Show that you have learned from your mistakes and take the responsibility. You can talk about the problems but use positive connotation. Stress that you have learned from that experience and you will avoid making any mistakes in the future.
- “What are your best capabilities?”
Now is the time to list all the qualities that are required for the job.
- “What are your main weaknesses?”
Be positive and turn your weaknesses into strengths. For instance “I worry a lot about my job” or “I get upset when my co-workers goof-off and they come to work only to pass those hours”.
- “Do you prefer working alone or in a team?”
The answer shows how flexible you are. Find out if the job requires teamwork or not. Bring examples how you have managed in both situations.
- “Do you wish to make a career?” or “What are your future plans?”
The interviewer wants to see whether your plans are in coherence with the company’s plans. Let him know that you have goals and you wish to develop with the company. Give him an overview of your future plans and methods how you plan to achieve your goals.
- “What are your hobbies?” and “Do you work out?”
Hobbies often describe person’s capabilities. If you play chess then it shows you have an analytical mind. Reading, music and painting show your creativity. Sport shows your determination and endurance and if it’s a team sport then it shows your ability to work in a team.
- “What are your salary expectations?”
Never answer with a concrete number. Ask “What are you offering?” let the employer make the first step. Nevertheless you have to be aware of the salary range for that position.
- “Do you wish to add anything?”
Use the opportunity to sum up your positive skills and capabilities in order to express your suitability for the job. Assure them that you are the best candidate for the job and you would really like to work for them.
In addition try to find answers to these questions:
- Why should we pick you?
- What are your professional skills that would be suitable for this job?
- Which skills have you acquired latest?
- Bring an example of where you showed initiative in your last position.
- What is your highest achievement?
- What is the most important thing for you in this job?
- What would you want to do in five years time?
- Do you consider yourself successful? How have you achieved your success?
- How does it fit with your career planning?
- What are your expectations for this job?
- What kind of working time is suitable for you?
- When can you start?
Your job experience
- What have you learned from your previous jobs?
- What were your biggest responsibilities?
- How is your last job related to this job?
- What do you like the most/the least about your current job?
- Who could be your references?
- How is your education related to your work?
- What was your favourite subject in school?
- Why did you choose this major?
- Do you wish to continue your education?
During the interview the interviewer can ask you a question that is not related to the job. You can always answer every question if you wish and to such questions that are not job related, if you wish. If you answer such questions then present the answer in a way that it would be related to the job. For instance: “If you are on a business trip then who will look after your kids?” you can answer: “The offered working time is suitable for me and also business trips if the job requires them.”
Questions to ask the interviewer
At the end of the interview they can ask if you have any questions and the usual answer is “No, you explained everything very clearly“. That is a wrong answer and by saying that you have missed a great opportunity to ask questions about the jobs suitability for you.
But what kind of questions should you ask? If you ask about holidays or sick leave then it might leave the wrong impression to the employer and he might think you are interested in skipping job as often as possible.
The first interview’s purpose is to get to know the future employer and job tasks not pay raise options and bonuses. You can ask about salary at the end of the interview. It would be appropriate to ask about the job tasks, company culture and its development plans. You can ask what their next half year plans are because that shows that you are interested in the company and the employers love to talk about their plans and visions. It can turn into a lively discussion and leave a positive impression of you.
An interview should be information exchange – what does the company need and what do you have to offer them. But it is also about your needs and what the company can offer you.
It is also important whom you are talking to. Human resources manager knows more about job description and tasks, the necessary personal characteristics and about the inner culture of the company. You can ask the owner or the CEO of the company about future plans and expectations about the job.
Don’t ask something that has already been answered during the interview. Don’t ask questions that might leave the impression that you are interrogating them. Here are some examples of appropriate questions at the beginning of the interview:
- Would it be possible to get a copy of the job tasks?
- Why did this job become vacant?
- When will you make the candidacy decision?
Mistakes made during the interview
You have the chance to meet our potential future employer face to face. However no matter how confident you are about getting the job make previous preparations because insecurity or a accidental inappropriate comment can decrease your chances.
Here is a list of the main mistakes:
- Hesitation upon greeting
First impression of the person is made within 10 seconds. If you pronounce your name unclearly, speak very quietly or give a lumpy hand – the first impression is negative. The way you present yourself and how you communicate gives a crucial image of you. Be attentive and polite – if you couldn’t remember the employer’s name then ask it again politely or ask for a business card and if you are mistaken then apologize.
- Lack of preparation
Collecting background information shows your attitude towards the future employer. The worst possible thing is if you don’t know anything about the company and the job that you have applied for. Get to know the subject field and possible job tasks.
- Inappropriate clothing/behaviour
Always wear correct clothes to a job interview. It doesn’t matter to which job you apply whether a cook’s position or a sales person’s position – correct clothing and behaviour is crucial.
- Presenting inaccurate information
Hiding or lying about important information will work against you. Praising yourself won’t be very useful. Those facts that you can successfully defend are convincing. For instance if you didn’t get along with your last employer then there is no need to lie about it because they can contact your previous employer to do a little background searching. Describe the reasons for your disagreements and show that you regret that you did not manage to get along very well. If you are really interested in the job then be enthusiastic about future job tasks, ask relevant questions and reason why your personal characteristics would be suitable for this job.
In addition to the previous faux pa’s here is a list of some typical mistakes:
- being late for the interview;
- inappropriate appearances;
- slouching on the chair;
- avoiding eye contact;
- unable to relate your abilities to the requirements;
- praising yourself with no examples;
- unclear or vague answers;
- lack of enthusiasm;
- only “yes” and “no” answers;
- calling the interviewer by a wrong name;
- vilifying your previous employer;
- when asked “Do you have any questions?” you answer “No”.
Every job interview is a valuable experience. By avoiding these mistakes you can take your risk of failure to a minimum!
Preparing for the job interview
If you have not yet looked for information about the company then do it now. The more you know about the company and the vacancy the bigger are your chances. Usually the interviewer is pleasantly surprised if you have previous knowledge about the company and it gives a positive impression of you. You can look for information in the internet, newspapers or current or previous workers.
Keywords for preparations:
- Collect information about the company’s location, products or services, clients, history, latest developments, economic figures etc.
- Answers for potential questions. Also prepare some questions you want to ask the employer.
- Practice the interview with your friend or your spouse. Remember that you have to give the best positive overview of yourself in 15 minutes. You can also record and listen to your story in order to better see potential mistakes.
- Prepare the necessary documents before you leave.
- Dress professionally and comfortably. You will be judged by your appearance as well. If you can’t decide what to wear, then go for a more conservative look.