CV Writing Tips to Get That Job
to Get That Job
to Get That Job
You are great, you know that, but how others see you in the Health, Social Care or Education job market is up to you, and what you say about yourself. The tone of your CV should always be honest and accurate but also positive. Try and think about things that you have achieved and learned whilst in an organisation. Tell people about the impact that you had on the people you care for and support, and what the positive outcomes this made on their lives and those close to them.
This is one of the most important points to take into consideration especially within Health, Social Care and Education sectors. The ability to demonstrate where you have been and for what period of time is paramount. You need to make yourself appealing and a CV with gaps all over it may make employers suspicious and not give you the benefit of the doubt. If you have been unemployed- state it, Maternity leave- state it, travelling, well you get the idea.
You will probably have heard that a good CV should be no more than two pages long, while this is a general rule of thumb don’t sacrifice valuable content in order to stick to this “rule”. Employers spend, on average 35 seconds looking at any one CV. Make sure the skills and experiences that would make you attractive to an employer are clearly displayed as early as possible.
If you want an example then please check out our CV Template available on Candidate Resources page.
This is a great way, in a 1-page overview, to say what’s best about you, and why you are right for the job. You can explain your motives for applying in a little more detail and use this as another chance to sell yourself into the role.
If you want an example then please check out our CV Cover Letter available on Candidate Resources page.
You should keep your CV up-to-date whether you’re looking for a job or not. Every time something significant occurs in your career, record it so you don't forget something that could be important at a later date. This can be additional training courses, continuing professional development (CPD), or even updates and changes in legislation you have been trained on.
Most employers experience large numbers of applications to their job adverts, giving them the excuse to dismiss your application because of avoidable errors is not going to help your cause. Make sure you proof read your CV, use spell checker, get someone to read it and give you feedback.
At Vetro we are happy to give you feedback and support, just submit your CV here.
There is a myth that everyone becomes bit creative with the truth on his or her CV’s right? Wrong! Telling the truth at the start of the process is the only way to progress. You need to be able to support all your claims at the interview process and once you have started the position. If you have been over exaggerating your skills and experience you could find yourself in hot water (See point 1 about how to sell yourself).
Numbers may sound slightly boring but they are a great way to bring your claims and achievements to life. Where your input has driven an outcome that can be measured, don’t be afraid to say so.
Take some time to make your CV as visually appealing as possible. Use bullet points, try to avoid large blocks of text and keep sentences short and punchy.
In short, make it easy for people to see your key skills and link these to the key words that are in the job description. You can tailor your CV to individual jobs, especially if they use different terminology.
Find out everything you can about the company. Study their website, brochures, email newsletters, annual reports and strategic plans to get a really good grounding in the business. If there is anyone within your professional network that works, or has worked, there, find out what you can from them – you will certainly get a valuable insight into the culture from an employee angle. And make sure you know what is going on generally in the sector, are their developments that may impact on what the company is doing?
Yes, it’s an obvious point to make but essential all the same. Depending on distance, you could do a trial run and make sure you leave plenty of time as contingency. The last thing you need is to arrive with no time to spare and go into your interview stressed and flustered from the journey.
Plan what you’re going to wear and make sure your outfit is smart and shoes are polished. Do you need a haircut? Remember, first impressions really do count – from the moment you enter the interview room you are being assessed. So look professional, dressing well will also help you feel more confident too. Carrying a briefcase also helps create a professional image – make sure you pack a notepad too, it’s always useful to have one with you and shows that you are well prepared.
There is nothing more intimidating than walking into an interview to discover a panel of six people on the other side of the table. This would be intimidating anyway, but if you’re prepared for it you’ll be able to deal with it more calmly. So find out beforehand if it’s a one-to-one interview or a panel; if it is the latter, try and find out who is on the panel. Equally, if you have been asked to attend a session at an assessment centre, try and find out what tests will be used. You can then source online resources to familiarise yourself with techniques such as psychometric tests.
Analyse the job and person specification and identify how it relates to your career history. Think about experiences that will demonstrate key skills or expertise that the interviewer will be looking for.
It can really help to make notes and write down your thoughts and then speak them aloud – recording yourself is even better. Listen to how you come across. It’s okay to pause to think but lots of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ won’t come across well
It’s almost inevitable that you’ll be asked to ‘tell me about yourself’, so there’s no reason to not be ready with a two-minute summary about your career experience to date and a statement about what you have to offer. Other typical questions might include ‘why have you applied for this job?’, ‘what are your greatest strengths?’, ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘why do you want this job?’.
Most interviewers like to throw in a few challenges. Whether they ask you to explain a gap in your CV or how you would explain their business to a child, expect to be asked several questions that could potentially make you feel uncomfortable.
First interviews are not the place to discuss salary and perks! Think of questions that will impress the interviewer – a logical approach is to use all that background research you’ve done, show that you understand the business and what more you’d like to know. If you can show that you are genuinely interested in the company you will win brownie points. It’s also perfectly legitimate to ask about the clients you may be involved with, training that’s available and so on.
Your interviewers will also be observing your body language during the interview. Remember to smile without forcing it, maintain eye contact when you’re talking and be aware of what your body is saying. Arms and legs crossed will translate as ‘closed’ or ‘guarded’; body language can set alarm bells ringing if you are perceived to be feeling defensive. Get a friend of family member to conduct a mock interview to get their opinion on how you come across.
Interviewers will sometimes start an interview with an open ended question like "Tell me about yourself." It's a way to break the ice and make you feel more comfortable during the interview process. It's also a way for the hiring manager to get insight into your personality to help determine if you're a good fit for the job.
Sharing too much or too little information isn't a good idea. The interviewer doesn't want to know everything about you, but disclosing too little can make him or her wonder why you aren't more open.
What to Share With The Interviewer
Although it might be tempting to share a list of your most compelling qualifications for the job at hand, a more low-key approach will probably help you to develop a personal rapport with your interviewer.
Try starting out by sharing some personal interests which don't relate directly to your work. Examples might include a hobby which you are passionate about like reading, skiing, tennis, or amateur dramatics.
Interests like long distance running or yoga which help to represent your healthy, energetic side are worth mentioning. Pursuits like being an avid reader or solving crossword puzzles or brain teasers will help to showcase your intellectual leaning. Interests like golf, tennis, and gourmet food might have some value if you would be entertaining clients in your new job.
Demonstrating any Voluntary work you have done is especially good in the Health, Social Care and Education sectors. This demonstrates the seriousness of your character and commitment to the welfare of your community.
Avoid Politics and Controversy
Typically, you would steer clear of controversial topics like politics or religion. It's important to avoid any references to topics that would cause concern about your ethics, character, productivity, or work ethic. You also don't need to share personal information about your family. There is no need to discuss spouses, partners, children, or any other strictly personal information.
Transition to Professional from Personal
After sharing a few interesting personal aspects of your background, you can transition to sharing some key professional skills that would help you to add value if you were hired for your target job. Consider using phrases like "In addition to those interests and passions, my professional life is a huge part of who I am, so I'd like to talk a bit about some of the strengths which I would bring to this job."
Share Your Expertise
Be ready to share three or four of the personal qualities, skills and/or areas of expertise which would help you to excel in the job for which you are interviewing. Ultimately, you will want to share several other strengths before the interview is over.
Make a list of your strengths before you go into the interview, so you know what you will share. Look at the job description and match it with your skills. Then share the top few skills which make you an ideal candidate for the job.
However, be careful not to overwhelm the interviewer with too much information. After mentioning three or four strengths, you might mention that you have several other assets which you would like to discuss as the interview unfolds.
At first, you should only mention the asset and allude only briefly to some proof of how you have tapped it to your advantage. For example, you might say that you love to share your passion for painting with the Children you care for and the joy and happiness this gives them.
Later in the interview, you will want to be more specific and detailed in discussing situations, interventions and results flowing from your strengths.
I found myself bored with the work and looking for more challenges. I am an excellent employee and I didn't want my unhappiness to have any impact on the job I was doing for my employer.
There isn't room for growth with my current employer and I'm ready to move on to a new challenge.
I'm looking for a bigger challenge and to grow my career and I couldn't job hunt part time while working. It didn't seem ethical to use my former employer's time.
I was made redundant from my last position when our team was cut due to a restructure.
I'm relocating to this area due to family circumstances and left my previous position in order to make the move.
I've decided that is not the direction I want to go in my career and my current employer has no opportunities in the direction I'd like to head.
After several years in my last position, I'm looking for an company where I can contribute and grow in a team-oriented environment.
I am interested in a new challenge and an opportunity to use my care skills and experience in a different capacity than I have in the past.
I am interested in a job with more responsibility, and I am ready for a new challenge.
I left my last position in order to spend more time with my family. Circumstances have changed and I'm more than ready for full-time employment again.
I am seeking a position with a stable company with room for growth and opportunity for career development.
I was commuting a long way to work and spending a significant amount of time and money each day on travel. I would prefer to be closer to home.
To be honest, I wasn't considering a move, but, I saw this job posting and was intrigued by the position and the company. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and an ideal match with my qualifications.
This position seemed like an excellent match for my skills and experience and I am not able to fully utilise them in my present job.
One of the questions that is typically asked in an interview is "Why are you leaving your job?" or "Why did you leave your previous job?" if you have already moved on.
If you left of your own accord, review these suggestions on how best to answer and tailor your response to meet your particular situation. Be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn't under the best of circumstances.
Don't badmouth your previous manager
Regardless of why you left, don't speak badly about your previous employer. The interviewer may wonder if you will be bad-mouthing his company next time you're looking for work.
Prepare answers to typical job interview questions, like this one, in advance. Practice your responses so you sound positive, and clear, about your circumstances and your goals for the future.
Examples of good responses include:
I have an extremely strong work ethic. When I'm working on a project, I don't want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule. Last year, I was commended for the quality and implementation of new Therapeutic initiative that improved the behaviour of the young people in my care.
I have extremely strong report writing skills. I have a strong attention to detail when it comes to report writing as I understand the importance of this when working in a multidisciplinary team, and the impact it has on the quality of care our patients receive.
I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations. With five years of experience as our customer relationship manager, I have learned to effectively understand and resolve customer issues. On a related note, I also have strong communication skills, which helps me work well with customers, team members, and executives. I am known for being an effective team member with a talent for giving presentations.
"What is your greatest strength?" may seem like one of the easier interview questions you'll be asked, but it is also one of the most important. The interviewer wants to know if your strengths align with the needs of the company and the qualifications for the particular job. Asking this question helps the employer decide whether or not you are the strongest applicant for the position.
When you are asked questions about your strengths, it's important to discuss attributes that will qualify you for the specific job and set you apart from the other candidates.
How to Prepare
The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the job you are applying for. Be prepared to answer by making a list of the qualifications mentioned in the job advert. Then, make a list of your skills that match those listed. This list can include education or training, soft skills, hard skills, or past work experiences. Narrow your list of skills down to 3 - 5 particularly strong skills.
Next to each skill, note a particular example of how you have used that strength in the past. This will prepare you for when the employer asks you to elaborate on a particular strength.
Answers to Avoid
This is not the time to be humble. While you do not want to exaggerate your strengths, you should be comfortable articulating what makes you an ideal candidate. Creating a list of your strengths (as they relate to the job), will help you answer this question with confidence.
On the other hand, you do not want to answer this question with a laundry list of vague strengths. Stay focused on a couple key strengths that relate directly to the position and the company. A focused, relevant answer with one or two examples will impress your interviewer.
Examples of good responses include:
When I'm working on a report, I don't want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the report well ahead of schedule.
Being organised wasn't my strongest point, but I implemented a time management system that really helped my organisation skills.
I like to make sure that my work is perfect, so I tend to perhaps spend a little too much time checking it. However, I've come to a good balance by setting up a system to ensure everything is done correctly the first time.
I used to wait until the last minute to set appointments for the coming week, but I realized that scheduling in advance makes much more sense.
Sometimes, I spend more time than necessary on a task, or take on tasks personally that could easily be delegated to someone else. Although I've never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to know when to move on to the next task, and to be confident when assigning others work.
I've learned to make my perfectionism work to my advantage at work. I am excellent at meeting deadlines, and with my attention to detail, I know my work is correct.
I used to like to work on one project to its completion before starting on another, but I've learned to work on many projects at the same time, and I think it allows me to be more creative and effective in each one.
There are several different ways to answer when you're asked during a job interview what your weaknesses are. You can mention skills that aren't critical for the job, skills you have improved on, or turn a negative into a positive.
Even though the question is about weaknesses, your answer should always be framed around positive aspects of your skills and abilities as an employee.
Discuss Non-Essential Skills
One approach to answering this question is to analyse the key skills and strengths required for the position you are interviewing for and then come up with an honest shortcoming which is not essential for success in that job.
For example, if you are applying for a physiotherapy job, you might share that you are not particularly adept at conducting group presentations. In this case it will be critical to underscore your strength in one-on-one communication with patients, while providing an example of your difficulty with presentations to large groups.
Mention Skills You Have Improved
Another option is to discuss skills that you have improved upon during your previous job, so you are showing the interviewer that you can make improvements when necessary. You can sketch for employers your initial level of functioning, discuss the steps you have taken to improve this area, and then reference your current, improved level of skill.
If you use this strategy be sure not to mention anything that you improved upon that is related to the job for which you are interviewing. You don't want your qualifications for the job to be questioned.
Turn a Negative into a Positive
Another option is try to turn a negative into a positive. For example, a sense of urgency to get projects completed or wanting to triple-check every item in a spreadsheet can be turned into a strength i.e. you are a candidate who will make sure that the project is done on time and your work will be close to perfect.
Note that the term "weakness" isn't used in the sample answers - you always want to focus on the positive when interviewing.
Examples of good responses include:
Pressure is very important to me. Good pressure, such as having a lot of reports to write, or an upcoming deadline, helps me to stay motivated and productive. Of course, there are times when too much pressure can lead to stress; however, I am very skilled at balancing my work commitments and meeting deadlines, which prevents me from feeling stressed too often. For example, I once had three large reports due in the same week, which was a lot of pressure. However, because I created a schedule that detailed how I would break down each project into small assignments, I completed all three projects ahead of time, and avoided unnecessary stress.
I react to situations, rather than to stress. That way, the situation is handled and doesn't become stressful. For example, when I deal with a service user who has become aggravated, rather than feeling stressed, I focus on the task at hand. I believe my ability to communicate effectively with service user during these moments helps calms the situation down in a much more timely manner.
I actually work better under pressure and I've found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment. As a Social Worker, I thrive under quick deadlines and multiple projects. I find that when I'm under the pressure of a deadline, I can do some of my best work.
One common interview question is “How do you cope under pressure?” The interviewer does not want to hear that you never get stressed; after all, everyone feels stress at one time or another at work. Instead, the employer wants to see if you know how pressure affects you, and how you manage it.
How to Answer
The best way to answer this question is to give an example of how you have handled stress in a previous job. That way, the interviewer can get a clear picture of how well you work in stressful situations.
Avoid mentioning a situation when you put yourself in a needlessly stressful situation. For example, do not share a story about a time when you were stressed because you procrastinated and had to finish a project quickly. Focus on a time that you were given a difficult task or a multiple assignments, and you rose to the occasion.
You also should not focus too much on how stressed out you felt. While you should certainly admit that stress happens, emphasize on how you deal with the stress, rather than how it bothered you.
Decisions I have to make within a team are difficult, only because these decisions take more time and require deliberate communication between team members. For example, I was working on a team project, and my colleagues and I had to make a number of choices about how to use our limited budget. Because these decisions involved group conversations, our team learned how to communicate effectively with one another, and I believe we ultimately made the best decisions for the team.
As a manager, the most difficult decisions I make involves letting staff go. Before making those tough decisions, I always think carefully about what is best for the business and my employees. While I do not relish making those kinds of choices, I do not shy away from this part of my job. A few years ago, I had to let some employees go due to the economic climate. This was a hard decision that was ultimately necessary for the good of the organisation and everyone working for the organisation.
There are no right or wrong answers to questions like “What are the most difficult decisions you have to make?” or “Have you ever had to make a really tough decision at work?" Employers simply want to see that, when you face a difficult decision or situation, you are able to handle it. They also want to see what kind of decisions you consider difficult.
These are behavioural interview questions designed to discover how you handled certain situations. The logic behind these types of questions is that how you behaved in the past is a predictor of what you will do in the future.
How to Answer
When answering these questions, give one or two concrete examples of difficult situations you have actually faced at work. Then discuss what decisions you had to make to remedy the situations.
You want to come across as confident and capable of making big decisions. Avoid examples that make you seem indecisive or uncertain. Also keep your answers positive. Whatever answer you give, be specific. List what you did and how you did it.
The best way to prepare for questions where you will need to recall events and actions is to refresh your memory. Skim through your resume and reflect on some special situations you have dealt with or cases you have worked on. You can use them to help frame responses. Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved a difficult situation.
Examples of good responses include:
"I evaluate success in different ways. At work, it is meeting the goals set by my supervisors and my fellow workers. It is my understanding, from talking to other employees, that the company is recognised for not only rewarding success, but giving employees opportunity to grow as well. After work, I enjoy playing Hockey, so success on the field is scoring the winning goal or the team winning.
"For me, success is about doing my job well. I want to be recognised as someone who always does their best and tries their hardest to support Adults with Learning Disabilities live as full and independent a life as possible."
"I evaluate success based on not only my work, but the work of my team. In order for me to be considered successful, the team needs to achieve both our individual and our team goals."
"I evaluate success based on outcomes. It's not always the path you take to achieve success that matters. Rather, it's quantifiable results."
"To me, success is when I am performing well and satisfied with my position, knowing that my work is adding value to the lives of the people I support."
During an interview, your interviewer might ask a question like, "How do you evaluate success?" A question like this gives your potential employer a sense of your work ethic, your goals, and your overall personality.
Focus on the Job
In your answer, you should be aware of the type of job you're applying for. Whereas a large corporation might place all their emphasis on the bottom line, a non-profit would measure success not in money but in social impact.
Do your research before the interview: browse the company's website, research their presence in the news and media, and see if you can find any information about their mission statement. Here's how to research a company.
Of course, you'll also want to include aspects of your own personality in your answers. If there's an area where your values overlap with the company's, then make sure to emphasise that in the interview.
But, you also want to make sure you give a balanced answer, illustrating a dynamic focus on improving your own performance, furthering your company's mission, and making a positive impact overall.
Examples of good responses include:
My long-term goals involve growing with a company where I can continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute as much of value as I can.
I see myself as a top performing employee in a well-established Care organisation, like this one. I plan on enhancing my skills and continuing my involvement in complementary and alternative Medical Therapies for Children with cancer.
Once I gain additional experience, I would like to move on from a team leader position to deputy manager position.
In the XYZ Corporation, what is a typical career path for someone with my skills and experiences?
One of the questions typically asked during an interview is about your future goals. Employers want to be sure that you won't be moving on to another job right away. This question is also a good way for them to determine if your career goals are a good fit for the company.
The best way to respond to the interview question "What are your goals for the future?" or "Where do you see yourself in five years?" is to refer to the position and the company you are interviewing with.
Don't discuss your goals for returning to school or having a family - they are not relevant and could knock you out of contention for the job. Rather, you want to connect your answer to the job you are applying for.
Examples of good responses include:
This is not only a fantastic opportunity to work with a leading Care organisation, but the company is a place where my QCF/NVQ level three in Children and Young People qualifications can make a difference to the Children you support. It contains the challenge to keep me on my toes and is the kind of job that will excite me every day.
I understand that your organisation is growing and your web site says the launch of several Children Homes is imminent. I believe I have the skills to help these homes be a success and contribute to the continued growth of the business.
Why do you want this job? It's a good idea to prepare an answer for this common interview question.
Interviewers will be listening for a response that shows you've done research on the company. Your answer should also emphasise what you can contribute - what will you bring to the position? Be specific about what makes you a good fit for this role, and mention aspects of the company and position that appeal to you.
Even if it's true, do not mention salary, hours, or commute as the primary reasons you want the job.
Examples of good responses include:
You have explained that you are looking for a Senior Support Worker who can supervise 2 other members in the unit. In my fifteen years of experience as a support worker, I have developed strong motivational and team-building skills. If hired, I will bring my leadership abilities and care experience to continue the fantastic service your company is renowned for.
You describe in the job listing that you are looking for a special education assistant teacher with an abundance of patience and compassion. Having served as a tutor at a summer school for dyslexic children for the past two years, I have developed my ability to be extremely patient while still achieving academic gains with my students. My experience teaching phonics to children ages 6 to 18 has taught me strategies for working with children of all ages and abilities, always with a smile. My previous employer often placed me with the students with the most severe learning disabilities because of my history of success. I will bring not only experience, but patience and creative problem-solving, to this position.
When an employer asks you, “Why should we hire you?”, they are really asking, “What makes you the best fit for this position?”. Your answer to this question should be a concise “sales pitch” that explains what you have to offer the employer.
The best way to respond is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job. Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position. Here's how to prepare your response.
Match Your Qualifications to the Job Listing
To prepare an answer to this question, look at the job description. Make a list of the requirements for the position, including personality traits, skills, and qualifications. Then, make a list of the qualities you have that fit these requirements. For each quality, think of a specific time that you used that trait to achieve something at work.
For example, if you list that you are a “team player,” think of a time in which your ability to work well on a team resulted in a successfully completed project.
Keep it Concise
You want your answer to be brief – no more than a minute or two long. Therefore, select one or two specific qualities from the list you created to emphasise in your “sales pitch.” Begin by explaining what you believe the employer is looking for, and how you fulfil that need.
Focus on your Uniqueness
The interviewer wants to know how you stand out amongst the other applicants. Therefore, focus on one or two qualities you possess that might be unique, or more difficult to find, in other interviewees. For example, if you are very experienced with a certain skill that the job requires, say so. This is your chance to tell the interviewer why you would be an invaluable employee.
Examples of Answers
Why i became
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