Last week I explored the advantages of having an American cousin if you needed a job on the J1 Visa. But what if you don’t have a wealthier, better looking version of you to help out and you are looking for a job in this country – where vacancies are rarer than hen’s dentures? A good CV is an important first step in getting a foot in the door.
What’s in a name?
Here’s a quick test. Try saying your name in the sentence “This is [insert name] reporting for Sky News, Baghdad” How does it sound?
Having a catchy name improves your chances immeasurably. Of course it depends on what kind of vacancy you are applying for. For example, if the job you want requires someone who operates alone, treading the fine line between what is legal and what is natural justice, you will not get the job if your name is Finbarr Carmody or Nora Flanagan. Consider changing it to Danger Fontaine.
Some well-placed hyphens could be a key differentiator. Despite what many say, Ireland is still a very hierarchical society and Cork in particular still has its merchant prince classes. Try hinting at how well-connected you have become over the generations, as your family pursued a series of advantageous marriages, by introducing yourself as Victoria Crawford-Barry-Musgrave. This should cover up to a quarter of the commercial activity in the city. Note, only use Victoria if your age indicates that you are not named after Victoria Beckham. And if you are currently female.
Whatever you do with your name, don’t undermine your good work with a frivolous email address. No employer will ever send an email beginning with the sentence “We are delighted to inform you” if the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In theory, most jobs are awarded on merit but if you’ve been to a school with a lot of ‘good goys, roish’ use it. If you haven’t, lie. Put a posh school on your CV. If you’re challenged in the interview about whether you knew So-and-So, take So-and-So’s surname, add the word Meister to the end of it and say the following sentence: “What a teotal ledge-bag. Used to teotally stink aout the changing reooms before the final of the S. Think he’s with Ernst and Young now or moight have gone working for the Dad.”
Your online presence.
Prospective employers routinely google candidates so find out what the internet says about you. Make sure your Facebook profile is private and also ensure that any comments you put on other pages are appropriate. For example if you are applying to work in a big-city firm, perhaps remove your comment from the Jeremy Kyle Facebook page which says: “Hey Jezz, u shud totes hv mi on d sho. My hole famly r mntl LOL ROFL.”
On the subject of spelling, most word-processing software should highlight any obvious mistakes in your CV or your letter of application. However it will not catch issues like the use of “would of” instead of “would have”. You should also be aware that, under new leglisation currently being prepared by my Fantasy Dáil, writing “would of” could lead to a lengthy prison sentence and a beating with birch rods.
Once you’ve cleaned up your online act, you can use the Internet to make yourself sound more impressive. LinkedIn is a rapidly growing, professional network website. It’s like an online CV but an extra plus is that you can ask people in your network to write you a testimonial that everyone can see. If you don’t have anyone who can vouch for you, no problem. Make some up.
“I worked with Colm on the Omega Project. Throughout the whole process he was on top of his brief, a joy to work with. And when he saved those people from those terrorists, he ensured the project got delivered on time.”
There are a number of strategies to take when describing your previous work experience. You can adopt the buzz-word approach, which involves liberally sprinkling details of your past roles – no matter how mundane – with terms which have a high level of faluting. These words include Espousing A Philosophy of Constant Self-Improvement, Visionary, ‘Driving’ (unless you were actually driving, in which case you were implementing a mechanical-based forward motion strategy). You may also note that you are ‘passionate’ about what you are doing. Employers love passionate people, as long as they’re not at it in the office.
If buzz-words make you ill and your whole being recoils at the emptiness of such terms, why not describe your work experience in the language of mythologicial epics: “Such was the power of my photocopying, it was said it would take ten men driving a team of oxen a whole day to do what I could achieve in half an hour.” “Princes and kings would travel from far and wide to stand and gaze at the Powerpoint presentation I made on Implementing Growth Strategies For Horizon 2020”
Or you could write a ballad: You’ve heard of Mick Barry, You’ve seen Thady Quill/ But after my story today, your tea you will spill/ For A man named Tom Murphy, of Him they would say/ Would write all his status reports, four in one day.
Finally, your interests and hobbies tell a lot about how you will get on with your fellow employees. Try to avoid references to possessing an extensive collection of anything. The last thing an office needs is someone who is excessively protective of objects which may not interest others. Don’t give them any chance to suspect you will be standing on your desk shouting “SOMEONE BETTER TELL ME WHERE MY STAPLER IS OR PEOPLE WILL DIE”
Follow the pointers above and there is a good chance you will be called for an interview. When you do, make sure to schedule it after next Friday when I share my top tips for interview success