This post was originally published on my personal blog.
I realise there are so many blog posts and sites out there that offer career, application and interview advice but I’m still always astounded how poor the level of applicants appears to be or at least how poor their abilities are represented in their CV or in their covering letter.
The following tips are specifically for people who want to kick start their digital career or to progress their career within a digital agency environment.
Spend Time on Devising a Covering Letter
Let’s start with the covering letter. We always request a covering letter, as I believe it really offers you a chance to show how eager and determined you are and why you are the right person for job.
90% of the time, I only receive applications with a short email intro, saying: “Hi there, please find attached my CV. Best regards, John Doe.” Really? Is that all you can muster up? Even if a covering letter isn’t explicitly asked for, you should always submit one. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd and bring a bit of personality to your application.
Recently I had an applicant who had just finished a 8 year stint of studying law but fancied a digital marketing role. Please enlighten me! No explanation makes me think you might only be interested in digital marketing because it sounds cool. Use your covering letter (and your personal statement in your CV) to explain why.
When we were recruiting for our Head of Online Marketing, I received an application that was addressed to Mr Finkelstein. I mean, who the hell is Mr Finkelstein? Sometimes you also get applications that mention another agency’s name. “I would very much like to work at XYZ agency.” Well, why are you applying for a job at Serps? Attention to detail is for me one of the most important requirements a candidate has to bring to the table. Double check what you submit, it’ll go a long way of getting that interview!
Make your CV Stand out from the Crowd
As Don Draper in Mad Men states “Make it simple but significant.”.
I personally don’t care whether you manage to fit your CV on two A4 pages as everyone preaches. My CV doesn’t fit on two A4 pages, how can I ask anyone else to squeeze their CV into such constraints? Your CV is your ticket to get asked in for an interview. When I recruit I often have to look through 30+ CVs for very specialised jobs where certain language skills are required and more than that for graduate and senior roles. Here are some of the most uninspiring CV mistakes that I have encountered over the past year that make me cringe.
- No chronological order: I often see CVs that either show their first work experience first or even all over the place. This is confusing, bring your educational history and work experience into chronological order – simple!
- Spelling mistakes: No excuse- use your spell checker, print the CV and proof read it again (on screen spelling mistakes are easily overlooked) and get someone else who is a native speaker in the language your CV is written in.
- No clear dates: add when you went to university, not just what you studied, also add exact duration for each job you had. Don’t be vague; it will make an employer suspicious.
- No formatting and design: I’ve had plenty of great designed CVs where candidates went all out on their Photoshop skills but this is not absolutely necessary. Word provides a whole bunch of free templates that look professional and a bit different and give a little bit of colour to your CV. It’s really dire for a recruiter to look at a badly formatted Times New Roman.
- No personal statement: This is where you can highlight your why your passionate about digital, show that you’ve dabbled a bit, that you blog, that you have tried a bit of HTML
- Your social media channels are not up to scratch: A recruiter will check out your social media channels. I know legally that’s not meant to be allowed but digital agencies will take a look at your social media channels. So make sure that if you don’t want anyone to see how drunk you were last weekend, to make your Facebook profile private and ensure that you have a LinkedIn profile and that its details match up with your CV! Also make sure if your Twitter profile is public (which I’d recommend) make sure it puts you in a good light.
It’s really not all that difficult to create a good first impression when sending in your CV and cover letter. But it’s well worth spending a little bit of time on preparation, research and a bit of care and attention to detail; you can secure that initial interview and be on your way to kick start that exciting digital career.
Tell me about your experiences when applying for jobs in the digital arena. I’m also a mentor for graduates who want to start a career in a digital environment, get in touch if you need some help!