50 Words That Can Unlock Interviews
One of the most important and often overlooked elements of your CV is the personal statement. Convention dictates that people expect to see it at the very start of your CV and this makes it a powerful tool to draw the reviewer in and tell them why they should find out more about you, why you're the one they're looking for and crucially, why they should interview you first.
Remember that getting you an interview, a chance to meet the hiring team and show them why you should get the job, is the primary purpose of your CV. This means your CV needs to make a great impression and since the time spent initially reviewing a CV can literally be seconds for a busy hiring manager, you need to make that great impression fast.
Here are some practical tips on how to make your personal statement work for you, not against you, in those crucial first moments.
Keep it short. A common theme in job hunting and recruitment is that time is short and attention spans even shorter. Make your personal statement brief and concise but make sure you still manage to get your key messages across. If necessary, draft your statement in a separate document so you can see the word count of your statement alone. Write down everything you want to say and check the word count. Edit, edit and edit again until you have been as concise as possible, with a view to keeping your statement at 50 to 60 words maximum. Then paste it into your CV when you're happy with it.
Avoid cliched statements.
Phrases like 'team player', 'strong communicator' and 'people person' have lost all meaning. In fact for many people, seeing them in a CV has taken on real negative connotations as many of them are baseline attributes that everyone should be displaying in the workplace. Cliches like these in your personal statement imply that you've not bothered to think specifically about the job you're applying for and since the reviewer will read them time and again in other people's applications, yours needs to stand out for not serving up the same old lines.
Do some research and find out what the most cliched statements are - it changes all the time - and change your personal statement to make sure you avoid them.
No one cares what you want.
A common mistake in CVs is trying to put across a message about being ambitious and driven by telling the reader what your career goals are. The sad but unavoidable truth is that no one cares. The person reading your CV has a specific requirement. They need to find someone to perform a function. Telling them your career goals is not what they want to read about at the point they pick up your CV, so from your perspective as an applicant, this kind of statement is a waste of words and space that you should be using to tell the hiring manager what they desperately want to hear: that you're the person they should hire, and why.
Tell them what they'll get from you.
Because you have a very short time to get their attention and you've avoided cliches and irrelevant career objectives, you can get right to the point. What can the hiring manager expect to get from you? Link your skills to something important in the role. What do you use your communication skills to achieve? Tell them. Can you build effective relationships because you're a people person, and will that mean you can attract new clients or create a team environment that encourages performance and innovation?
Look in the job ad for the problems they are trying to solve by hiring and make sure your statement tells them you can solve them.
Use the hiring company's vocabulary.
Do some homework on how the company speaks to its customers through its website and even to its own employees. Each company has its own vocabulary, especially large corporations, that it uses to talk about its services, products or values. Sometimes this vocabulary is common to the sector they operate in. Take some of that vocabulary and weave it into your personal statement to demonstrate that you already speak their language.
Some of this will be evident in the job advertisement, so make sure you use the hiring company's words wherever appropriate.
Don't repeat yourself.
Many people make the mistake of telling a reviewer about their experience in the personal statement. The Employment History section of your CV should provide more than enough detail on this subject and so repeating yourself in a personal statement is also a waste of valuable words, space and time.
Tailor the statement for every job application.
If every job has different problems that it's intended to solve and every company and sector has its own vocabulary, you can quickly see why it's important to tailor every personal statement to the role and company you're trying to get the interview with, so make the effort and write a new statement for every application.
Article Added: 30/07/2014
Posted By: Paul Docherty