In my years as administrator I have received my fair share of badly written and just as badly presented CVs, resumes and cover letters.
Candidates might have all the skills and talents required for a position but because they do not take measures to ensure their paperwork is in order or because they make little preparation for the interview, they lose out on the opportunity to land what could be their dream job.
Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to help you put your foot through the door as it were:
1.Research the company or establishment you are applying to. Even if you believe you know all there is to know about them make the extra effort of finding out more about their history, their achievements and their rating in the industry.
Look up their website or blog or their social media presence to update yourself with any latest information regarding them.
2.Make the effort of getting the spelling of their name right!
Do not write their name with an “I” if it is spelled with double ‘ee’. If it is Jameel Cosmetics then do not write “Jamil’ Cosmetics in your cover letter.
It shows, at the very least, a lack of respect for the establishment if you could not be bothered to get their name right!
3.Keep the cover letter short and concise. Prospective employers and/or human resource managers have no time to read three handwritten A4 pages! Make your handwriting is clear and legible and avoid cancelling out a word or writing over it.
If you are sending your testimonials via the internet then the cover letter should be in a serious, practical and professional font. A cover letter is not the place to use flowery or bleeding type.
4.DO NOT FORGET TO INCLUDE A PROPERLY LAID OUT RESUME OR CV with your testimonials If you have no clue how to design an eye catching curriculum vitae, ask for help from someone who does or you can search for ideas online.
It bears repeating that you should not send your testimonials, copies of your certificate of degrees or diplomas without an accompanying CV or a cover letter. Unless you include your birth certificate with the rest of your documents (do not do this, please, unless asked) no one will take time off their busy schedule to figure out from your certificates how old you are or that you went to the local university or that you worked at the rival company for many years.
When planned properly, CVs take the headache out of finding your personal details and professional experience so take extra care with it.Use decent writing paper for both your CV and cover letter. Do not, ever, under any circumstances, tear out a page from an exercise book for your cover letter. Invest in good quality materials and you will be glad that you did when you get the job.
5.Use decent writing paper for both your CV and cover letter. Do not, ever, under any circumstances, tear out a page from an exercise book for your cover letter. Invest in good quality materials and you will be glad that you did when you get the job.
6.Write the cover letter yourself. There is no harm in seeking help by searching online or consulting a friend. Just make sure it is a not a copy paste job. It is easy to tell when the letter is fresh and when it has been ‘borrowed’ if you cannot explain any of the points you included in it.
1.Dress the part: if you have done your homework well then you are probably informed about the company dress code. Be decently dressed, smart and relevant. Do not show up to an interview looking like someone you would not want your little sister associating with. Many candidates cheat themselves out of lucrative jobs just by putting on inappropriate clothes.
2.Have all the required documents with you on the interview (even if you have submitted copies of them prior to it). It shows a sense of focus and precision on your part when certain papers are called for and you are able to produce them on demand.
3.Show up for the interview at least a quarter of an hour before the scheduled time. This will give you a few minutes to catch your breath and calm your nerves. It will also show your interviewers that you are an organised person who schedules her time well. Many a promising interviewee fails before she has even started by showing up late.
4.Smile! No matter how nervous you are, just smile! You do not have to show your teeth or give a big goofy grin. It will not seem ingratiating if you put your best foot forward by having a cheerful countenance.
5.Shake hands with a firm grip. Be aware of people’s religious affiliations and err on the side of discretion. Shake hands with only the members of your own gender if you are unsure how to handle greetings.
6.Do not sit until you are asked to and for Allah’s sake do not help yourself to anything on the interview table until you are asked to. Sometimes interviews have to be paused briefly (each establishment has its own protocol) but that is not a license for you to use your phone or poke around. One very promising interviewee lost the vote of one member of the interview panel when she picked up a random document from the table and proceeded to have a look at it during a pause in the interview.
7.Again no matter how nervous you are, inject some confidence into your voice, sit up straight and give clear audible answers. Mumbling does not help you get the job.
8.Show the company or institution what you can do for them, how you can add value to their product or service and not the other way round. Do not declare that you want to advance your skills without adding how those skills will be useful to them.
9.Once they have indicated that the interview is complete, thank them for their time. You may also take the opportunity to inquire when you should expect to hear about the outcome of your application.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Finally, once the interview is done let go and let the Almighty take over. If it is to be then He will make it happen. You can take comfort from the fact that you gave it your best.However, that does not mean there is nothing you can do in the meantime.
1. Usually, the interviewers will let you know when you can expect to hear from them even if you did not inquire about it. Again depending on the length of time they take to respond to their candidates (their website should be able to furnish you with the details) they will let you know accordingly.
2.However, if the duration given expires and you still have not heard from them you can send them a follow up email inquiring about their decision. This shows you are still interested in the position. The email itself should be polite and to the point. It is also a good decision to thank them for giving you the opportunity to interview with them.
If you did not inquire and they did not tell you when to expect a response from them and there is nothing on their website about it give it five working days and then email them or you can:
3. Call. You can also follow up on the results of your interview by calling their offices after the appropriate length of time. State why you are calling and be gracious whatever the response is.
4. If you have been accepted (congratulations!) then the company/institution will instruct you on what to do next. The same care you have taken during the interview and application process should be put towards starting your new job and beyond.
5. If they felt you were not a good match for them some companies will let you know why they have rejected your application while others will just thank you for the interest you have shown in them without giving the reasons why.If you feel you need to know be prepared to hear what they have to tell you and do not take it personally. The worst thing you could do is insult them.6. If after sending an email or calling, you still do not receive any feedback from them after two working days close that chapter and apply elsewhere.
It is only a matter of time before you land the job of your dreams!