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13 verbs your CV needs to succeed October 24 2016, 0 Comments

13 CV verbs for success

Every word you write in your CV is important.

But the verbs you use are arguably the most important words in your CV.

Verbs are commonly known as “doing words”. They are used to describe actions.

And it is crucial that your CV verbs accurately describe how your personal actions have benefited your employers, so that hiring managers can see the benefits of employing you.

Verbs quite literally tell employers what you have done

So here at StandOut CV, we have surveyed 150 employers across all major industries to find out what the most impressive verbs to include in your CV are.

We have focused the study on generic verbs as opposed to industry specific verbs, so that you can apply these verbs to your CV no matter what profession you are in.

So take a look at our list of the most valued CV verbs and see if you can fit some of them into your own CV.





Management skills are crucial in business, regardless of your profession or seniority. However this is not strictly limited to staff management.

This could also include time management, supplier management, process management, stakeholder management… The list could go on forever.

The definition of management is “the process of controlling things or people” – so to include the term managed in your CV, shows recruiters that you have control over your responsibilities and are able to drive the results that your employer needs.

So it’s no surprise that 92% of employers surveyed rated managed as a very important verb that they would want to see in a CV.





Businesses like employees who deliver.

Whether you deliver sales, cost savings or large projects; it’s essential to show recruiters the end product of your work by explaining what you have delivered.

For example a project manager CV might include:

 “Delivered £1m relocation project ensuring successful set of 300 new employee work stations and IT setup”

Or a teacher may include:

 “Delivered 20% increase in class attendance average exam results for 95% of students"

So be sure to include some examples of the results you have delivered in your own CV.




To improve means “to make or become better” so it’s obvious why hiring managers love to see this verb in CVs.

If you’re an employee who can be brought on board to drive positive change within an organisation, you will be invaluable to an employer.

So whether you have improved processes, compliance records, sales figures or any other quantifiable metric for past employers; it should definitely be mentioned in your CV.

Try to include some tangible figures to show readers the scale of the improvements you have made, for example:

“Improved ticket logging process resulting in a 30% increase in customer satisfaction" 




Reduction is often perceived as a negative term, but there are plenty of positive ways to implement reductions in a business.

Reducing company spending or resource use in particular is hugely beneficial to an employer.

So if you have been involved in any cost or time saving activities, then get them in to your CV.





People often assume that negotiation is purely a tool for sales staff; but actually it can be applied to many areas of business.

When dealing with suppliers, it’s important to negotiate the best prices.

When leading a team, it is important to negotiate a fair work load between team members.

65% of employers surveyed said that they would like to see the term negotiated somewhere on a candidates CV, so try to think of a way you can include it in your own.





Planning is the backbone of success, so it’s vital to show employers that you are capable of methodical and effective planning.

Your CV should contain solid examples of how you have created work plans and directed them through to completion in order to achieve your employers’ goals.




Showing that you can support others is another way of proving that you can be relied upon.

Whether you support your clients, line manager or team members – ensure that your CV shows how your actions benefit those who you interact with.

Most business exist to solve problems and help others, so being capable of support is hugely valuable.


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The ability to influence others is a necessary talent for getting things done in any industry.

From influencing potential customers to believe in a new product, to influencing senior staff to provide resources for a key project – the power of influence is always in high demand.

If you have been able to use your influence to the benefit of previous employers, then detail it in your CV.





The ability to train others is appreciated by employers for two reasons

Firstly it shows that you have plenty of expertise in your field along with the gravitas and communication skills to deliver training sessions.

Secondly, staff are a business’s most valuable asset, so anybody who can be relied upon to further strengthen a team will always be of benefit.




Businesses face problems every day that need to be resolved

So it stands to reason that if you can prove your ability to resolve issues, you will impress recruiters with your CV.

So whether you are resolving client complaints or internal work process problems, use your CV to explain how you can identify and resolve issues to ensure the smooth running of your employers' business.





Public speaking of any kind can be a daunting task but it’s a hugely valuable skill for any employee to have.

From presenting findings of research to an internal stakeholder, to presenting a new product to a crowd of potential customers; presentation is necessary across most businesses.

If you’ve got any presentation experience at all, ensure that you include it in your CV if you want to make an impression.




Data is a vital currency in any organisation, but it’s worthless without staff who can analyse it and understand it’s implications.

If you have the ability to read data, understand how it affects your employer’s business and utilise it to drive positive change, then it will bolster you CV’s effectiveness greatly.




Development drives progress and advancements across all aspects of life.

In business there is a constant need for the development of new solutions, new technologies, new services, new products and more.

If you can use your CV to draw on specific examples of ideas that you have initiated and developed from inception through to completion; you will prove to recruiters that you have the potential to create a real impact with your work.



Use tailored verbs to boost your CV

You probably won't be able to add all of these verbs to your CV but consider how you could add as many as possible in order to show employers the impact your actions create.

For further help you can download our free CV template or even get a bespoke professional CV via our CV writing service.


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Quick guide: 10 essential CV writing verbs

10 essential CV writing verbs

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Five easy steps to negotiating a pay rise October 24 2016, 0 Comments

Negotiating a pay rise

The pay rise. A thorny topic at best. Common wisdom dictates that women are particularly reticent about asking for one – but are they really? Some studies suggest that it’s not for lack of asking that ladies fail to secure that extra £2k. And, to be honest, it’s not just the gals; when it comes to money, most young Brits have a head-in-the-sand attitude.

Here’s a handy guide to show you what measures to take – and which to avoid at all costs…



Know what you’re worth

First things first. Is your current salary too low and, if so, by how much? It’s useless walking into a negotiation and just saying: “Pay me more.” You need to know what you’re asking.

Do some research. Google is your friend here – peruse, or quiz any colleagues you have who are willing to share their salary info. Get multiple perspectives, so you can list your sources if asked. Your goal is to determine what somebody doing your job is usually paid, then make sure you receive that or more. If somebody doing the same tasks as you at your company is receiving a higher wage, you have an excellent case for a salary increase.

Another thing to consider is your company’s growth. If the company is performing well, your salary should reflect that. If it is suffering… Maybe now is not the time.

Once you have landed on a number, decide on your tactics. Is your current wage so bad that you are ready to walk if negotiations fall through? Tell nobody, but remember that for future reference. Are you willing to accept a compromise from your boss and, if so, how low? Determine the limits of your flexibility beforehand and you are less likely to cave in the actual meeting.




Evidence. It’s not just good for the law court – hard, quantifiable data is the easiest way to prove your value to a company. If you ask for a raise and your boss asks you why, you need to have reasons ready. Nailed a lucrative deal recently? Get those numbers somewhere you can see them. Have a strong ally in your direct manager? Ask him if he will support you if your boss approaches him for a reference. As well as knowing what you actually get up to, co-workers who like you will confirm that you are a team-player who fits in at the workplace.

Now is the time to plan your approach. Don’t be tempted to drop your request into the last few minutes of a team meeting; ask your boss for a separate sit-down, where the only item on the agenda is your salary. That way, you have her full attention and can come fully prepared.

Finally, practice. In the mirror, on your friends, on your partner – practice. When you calmly suggest that your boss may want to raise your wage, you want to sound cool as a cucumber. Confidence is key to presenting a good case.



Understand the risks

Obviously, asking for a pay rise is an awkward situation to be in. While it can pay dividends, there are risks involved which you must understand.

A pay negotiation opened at a difficult time is doomed to fail. If the company’s financial performance is dipping, or you have made a recent blunder in your everyday work, give it another month or two before raising your head above the parapet. Make sure you’re asking at an appropriate time in your workplace environment – after you’ve locked down a big deal, or around any company pay round/Performance Development Review periods.

You must also understand that, in any negotiation, the company as a whole does not want you to win. They want to employ you at the lowest possible salary; it’s good business. While you shouldn’t view your boss as an enemy or give that impression, you must realise that they are not going to say yes easily. You must give them good reason.

In this vein, you must prepare for failure as well as success. If your boss refuses your requests and offers no compromise, you must decide whether you are going to stomach the negative response or walk. Do not speak aloud of your intention either way; your contingency plans are for you to know, not your colleagues.



Negotiate wisely

The negotiating table is not the place for ultimatums or emotional language; these toxic behaviours will not benefit your cause. Always give your boss room to say ‘no’ – it will make her feel more open and relaxed towards you. You are trying to gently lead her towards the conclusion that you deserve the raise; bullying and game-playing will not help you

If, following your initial request, you are presented with a counter-offer, resist the temptation to answer there and then. Ask for time to consider the deal. In general, do not be tempted to skip to the ‘yes’ part – the longer negotiations take, the more likely it is that your boss with come over to your side. It is not to your advantage to force her to a conclusion. Prioritise a good outcome over keeping the process short.



Final showdown

When you finally accept an offer, or hear that your request has been denied, you must respond appropriately. Respect and dignity are key here; make no comments which you would later regret. Shake your boss’ hand, thank her for her time and return to work. If the decision was negative and you later decide to leave your position, you can do so quietly, through the appropriate channels.


Susanna writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.

6 CV writing tips for graduates October 18 2016, 0 Comments

As a graduate or school leaver, the task of writing your first professional CV can be daunting. How should you format it? What information should you include? Where do you start?

Whether you’re looking to land a graduate scheme with a corporate bank, or an internship with a leading media firm, you need a CV that will grab recruiters’ attention and show that you are the best candidate for the job.

We've teamed up with leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns, to bring you 6 essential CV writing tips for to guide you through to your next big interview.


6 CV writing tips for graduates

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Keep it simple

  • Keep the design simple so that all recruiters and employers can read and understand your CV
  • Don’t use an over-elaborate font that could be hard to decipher – use a simple clean font
  • Don’t use logos and images – focus on the content of your CV


Do your research

  • Browse through adverts for your target roles on job websites
  • Study your target employers’ websites
  • Make a list of the most important candidate requirements

Be sure to work these requirements into your CV when writing it


Create an instant impact

Recruiters will only spend a few seconds on an initial skim read of your CV before deciding whether or not to read it in full.

In order to make sure you pass this test:

  • Create an easy-to-read structure by using short sharp paragraphs and bullet points
  • Define sections with clear bold headings for simple navigation
  • Highlight your most valuable talents at the top of your CV so they are instantly seen


Compensate for your lack of work experience

One of the biggest challenges that graduates face, is their lack of work experience – but there are several ways that issue can be combatted:

Detail university projects to show essential workplace skills such as

  • Organisation
  • Planning
  • Teamwork
Highlight work placements or voluntary work to demonstrate workplace exposure, or start a professional course and list it on your CV. You can also take practice aptitude tests to equip yourself with vital skills and ensure you are interview ready.


    Sell yourself

    To make you CV stand out from the crowd, you need to explain why you should be hired above all other candidates.

    • Head your CV up with a powerful personal statement, that summarises your most valuable skills and knowledge
    • Prove your value by showing the impact you have made on previous employers
    • Be sure to include a cover letter to ensure that your CV gets opened


    Expand on your interests

    Often recruiters won’t have much to compare graduate candidates on other than grades, so adding some impressive interests to your CV can really help to set you apart from the competition.

    Some good interests to include are:

    • Personal projects e.g. writing a blog, creating art, designing a website etc.
    • Sports teams or personal sporting achievements like marathons
    • Organising and supporting events such as charity fund raisers


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    7 ways to successfully work with recruiters September 28 2016, 0 Comments

    Working with recruiters

    It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your job search, and there are professionals available to help you with your hunt for the perfect role. There are different types of recruiters out there, from internal, agency, contingency and retained, but all you need to be aware of is that recruiters can provide excellent support in finding your next job. As a result, we’re here to offer you our exclusive insights, provided by our very own CV-Library expert recruiters, Roxanne Fitzpatrick and Gemma Devis, to help you successfully work with recruitment professionals.


    1. Understand a recruiter’s role

    Recruiters work on behalf of employers to find candidates for jobs, and although they are there to help you, they also have to bear in mind the demands of their clients. As a result, you must ensure you realign your expectations and understand that they cannot always guarantee interviews and job offers.


    2. Proof read your CV

    It’s absolutely essential that you proof read your CV. A recruiter’s biggest bug bear is a CV littered with spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure you know the difference between there, their and they’re; intern and in turn; where, were and we’re – they’re really common CV mistakes.  If you’ve got grammatical errors in your CV, at the very least you’re going to disappoint the recruiter because even they know you’ve probably got great potential and qualifications, but spelling mistakes translate as unprofessional and unreliable and so they’re unlikely to refer you to an employer.


    3. Know your job-hunt process

    Make sure you know exactly what jobs you’ve applied for and when. That way it saves the recruiter the embarrassment of pitching you to an employer for a job you’ve already applied for. You can use a job application tracker to stay on top of your job hunt.


    4. Be honest and direct

    While you might feel awkward talking about your job expectations and salary requirements, these are required conversations when working with a recruiter. Experienced recruiters are used to these conversations, so don’t be embarrassed to be honest; it’s the best way forward. Therefore, make sure you know what you want from a role, salary, development opportunities etc. and tell the recruiter directly – no beating around the bush please! It can be really difficult when recruiters make an offer to a candidate, and suddenly their salary expectations have changed (in some cases by £1,000s) because the candidate wasn’t completely honest, and so an agreement can’t be met. The result is a huge disappointment for everyone, so ensure you’re honest from the start.


    5. Do your research

    Make sure you research every little detail of working with a recruiter and the hiring processes. For example, all too often job hunters don’t review the location of interviews and end up withdrawing from the recruitment process because a complex train journey isn’t what they signed up for.


    6. Communicate effectively

    Good communication is key for a successful working relationship with a recruiter. If you can’t make it to an interview or no longer wish to progress in the process, then you must notify the recruiter. We all appreciate that people change their minds, but to not show up to an interview and then turn off your phone, or not pick up when a recruiter is trying to find out what has happened, is not only  negative on you as a job hunter, but can look bad for the recruiters reputation.


    7. Keep in contact

    Regular contact with a recruiter is the sure-fire way to keep you at the forefront of their minds. Try dropping them an email or giving them a call every couple of weeks so they know you’re still looking, that way they can regularly check if you’re suitable for any roles they have. If you keep in regular contact, you’ll build some real trust with a recruiter. This is hugely valuable for you as a recruiter will now know exactly what you want from a role, and it will enable them to match you with companies and positions you maybe wouldn’t have considered. Don’t call every day though; this could be a bit over the top.  

    If you’re a contractor and regularly work with agencies, you should also drop recruiters an email now and then to let them know when you’re back on the market. Overall then, it’s essential you keep recruiters in the loop with your job search, especially when you’ve accepted an offer, in order to have the most efficient working relationship.


    Recruiters are an excellent tool to aid your job search. Follow these tips to help you successfully work with recruiters and you’ll be sure to find that perfect job in no time.


    About the Author:

    Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for leading UK job board, CV-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

    For more advice on creating an interview-winning CV, check out Andrew Fennell's interview with Paysa


    CV of Richard Branson August 08 2016, 0 Comments

    When it comes to inspirational figures, there aren't many better than self-made, British born entrepreneur Richard Branson.

    As founder of the Virgin Group, investor, philanthropist and world-record holder, Branson has achieved a great deal in both his work and personal life. We've put together an infographic CV showing Branson's life from early entrepreneurial promise, right through to global business domination.


    CV of Richard Branson
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    Quick Facts

    Born – 1950 – Blackheath London

    At 10 years old - invested £5 in Christmas tree seeds but, they were eaten by rabbits before he could sell them as trees

    At 16 Branson’s headmaster told him “I predict you will either go to prison or become a millionaire”

    1966 - Launched The Student Magazine from a friend’s basement – interviewing stars such as Mick Jagger

    1970 – Uses The Student as platform to sell music records by mail order which allowed him to provide considerably lower prices than high street stores

    1971 – Opened his first record store on Oxford Street, London

    1972 – Launched Virgin Records and brought a country estate in Oxford which he turned into recording studio for fledgling artists

    1979 – Purchased Necker Island (British Virgin Islands) for $180,000 where he now resides

    1984 – Launched Virgin Airways

    1992 – Sold Virgin Records to EMI for £500 million

    1993 – Launched Virgin Trains

    1999 – Launched Virgin Mobile

    2004 – Launched Virgin Galactic to bring commercial space travel to paying customers

    2004 – Broke the world record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle in 1hr and 40 mins

    2006 – Landed a cameo role in James Bond Casino Royale where he can be seen passing through customs in Miami Airport

    2006 – Reported as ninth Richest person in UK in Sunday Times rich list with an estimated fortune of £3 billion


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    The 9 deadliest CV mistakes June 12 2016, 0 Comments

    When writing your CV; the things you omit can be just as important as the things you include.

    Our latest infographic shows the 9 deadliest CV blunders that will almost certainly see your CV rejected.

    From misplaced content to formatting errors, make sure that you don't have any of the following mistakes in your CV.

    9 Deadliest CV Errors

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    Job Hunter Opinion Survey 2016 May 12 2016, 0 Comments

    Job Hunter Survey 2016

    As a job hunter, you are probably sick and tired of reading articles that tell you what recruiters demand to see in your CV and how employers expect you to behave in interviews…

    But what about your thoughts and opinions?


    What is it like to be a candidate in today’s job market?

    Is it easy to land a job nowadays?

    How are candidates treated by recruiters and employers?


    Does anybody even care what job hunters think?

    Well we do… So we have surveyed over 1,000 UK job hunters to find out your opinions of the job market in 2016.


    Download Survey


    What did we learn?

    The 31 question survey covers everything from CVs and job applications, through to interviews and feedback, so we’ve gathered a fair amount of data.

    We also made sure that we had a fair spread of demographics to ensure that the make-up of the survey reflected the UK population roughly in terms of earnings, employment, sex and age.

    So here is what we’ve learnt about candidates’ thoughts on the UK job market


    Getting a job is not easy

    Tired Job Hunter

    The days of sending off one CV to your dream employer and starting work with them the next week are well and truly over.

    Our results found that whilst it’s obviously not impossible to land a job, it can be tough out there.

    The average job seeker spends 6.5 hours per week searching for a new role (nearly a whole working day)

    They apply for 16 jobs per week and it usually takes 27 job applications to secure 1 job interview.

    So it’s not surprising that 26% of the candidates we surveyed, find job hunting extremely stressful

    Among the most stressful elements of job hunting are:

    • Dealing with recruiters
    • Finding time to look for jobs
    • Getting time off for interviews


    Candidates don’t feel they get a great service from recruiters

    Unhappy candidates

    Recruiters play a vital role in the employment game and often face many challenges in securing the best talent for hiring managers.

    But our results showed that job hunters don’t feel they are getting a great deal in the candidate-recruiter relationship.

    The main issue that faces candidates is a lack of response from recruiters when applying for jobs, with only 23% of candidates being confident that they will get any kind of response when applying for jobs.


    Download Survey


    It seems to be the norm for unsuccessful applications to be ignored rather than responded to and declined, with 76% of candidates saying they rarely get a response to inform them when they have been unsuccessful.

    In fact, not one candidate from the 1,000 surveyed claimed to receive a response from every job they apply for.

    89% of candidates feel that employers should be doing more to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants – and feedback is valued because 58% of job hunters find it very helpful.

    In summary, 67% of candidates are not happy with the service they receive from recruiters.


    Interviews are generally well run

    Good job interview

    With 78% of candidates feeling that employers prepare them well for interviews, and 81% feeling that interviewers make an effort to make them feel comfortable; much of the interview process runs smoothly.

    However, only 28% of job hunters are happy with the flexibility that employers offer when it comes to arranging job interviews, with 72% feeling that feeling interviewers aren’t understanding of their current work commitments.

    Upon arriving to an interview, most candidates do not have to wait longer than 14 minutes to be seen by the interviewer but 18% have to wait longer than 20 minutes.


    Once employers have found the right candidate, they act quickly

    One key finding from our questions about job interviews, is that 90% of job offers are made within 1 week of your final interview.

    And if you are still waiting for that offer after 2 weeks, there is only a 3% chance that it will happen.


    CV expectations are still unclear

    CV Questions

    With only 47% of candidates confident that they have a strong CV and 32% of people finding it very difficult to write their own CV, it’s fair to say that many candidates are still unsure on CV writing guidelines.

    And the education system doesn’t appear to be helping much…

    Only 8% of people surveyed were taught about CV writing during their education and 90% think that schools should be doing more to prepare young people to write a CV and find jobs.

    76% of people turn to their friends for help with their CV with only 15% finding online CV advice very helpful.


    People still lie on their CVs… And some get away with it

    18% of those surveyed admitted to lying on their CV with the most popular fibs being exaggerated exam grades and role responsibilities

    Very few candidates were prepared to go as far as adding a whole job that they never had or lie about IT system knowledge.

    Of those who admitted to lying on their CV, 73% claim to have gotten away with it scot-free.

    And for the minority who did get caught lying, 3 in every 10 of them say it had no negative consequence to their application.


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    How recruiters read your CV May 05 2016, 0 Comments

    In order to land a job, it’s likely that your CV will have to be reviewed and approved by a recruiter.

    If you understand what recruiters look for in a CV and the challenges they face in securing good candidates; you will stand a much better chance of creating an interview-winning CV.

    We’ve created this simple infographic to show you how a recruiter reads your CV, and how to adapt it accordingly, if you want to land more job interviews.


    How a recruiter reads your CV

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    Firstly, recruiters must be persuaded to open your CV

    Recruiters receive an average of 118 CVs for every job they advertise so it’s sometimes impossible for them to open every one they receive.

    When a job is popular and completion is high, a strong cover note is needed to ensure that your CV is opened.

    So every time you apply for a job, you should take a few minutes to craft a cover note that is specifically tailored towards the role.

    The goal of the cover note is simply to persuade the recruiter to open your CV

    • Keep it short and sharp to hold readers’ attention; 2-3 sentences should be enough
    • Explain how your skills match the job requirements to show your suitability and the value you can add
    • Address the recruiter by name and write in a friendly tone to start building a rapport


    Recruiters scan for relevant content

    With high volumes of applications and strict deadlines to fill vacancies, recruiters can’t read every CV from top to bottom.

    So, they spend 6-10 seconds on an initial scan of your CV and decide whether it is worth reading in full.

    Essentially they will be checking to see if you have the basic requirements for the role before they invest any more time into your CV.

    For your CV to pass this preliminary test, ensure that you are making it easy for recruiters to see that you are a strong candidate for the role:

    Ensure that your CV is easy to read and looks professional

    • Use a simple clean font
    • Clearly divide the sections in your CV for quick navigation
    • Break text up with short sentences & bullet points

    Ensure that key information is highlighted on your CV

    • Relevant skills and experience should be prominent, especially at the top of your CV
    • Show how your work impacts employers to demonstrate the value you can add


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    Recruiters focus on your current role

    The area of your CV that will receive the most attention from both recruiters and hiring managers, is your current or most recent role.

    Your present role gives employers the best idea of your current abilities, so it will be studied in great detail.

    Make sure that you include lots of detail to give readers a well-rounded explanation of the role and what you have achieved for the organisation

    Elements recruiters will be looking for include;

    • Your position within the organisation
    • Overall goal of your role
    • People you interact with (managers, suppliers, customers etc.)
    • Tools/software used (IT packages, machinery, hardware etc.)
    • Work produced (reports, websites, physical products etc.)
    • Targets and achievements


    Recruiters look for numbers

    Recruiters like to see the value that a candidate can bring to an employer in the form of facts and figures.

    If you can quantify your achievements, it gives recruiters an idea of the scale of value you can add

    The following quantified achievements are good examples

    • Generated 150 unit sales in 3 months
    • Resolved 95% of complaints in 24 hours
    • Cut department spending by 15%


    Recruiters scare easily

    Recruiters have to maintain good relationships with hiring managers and clients by providing high quality candidates to vacancies.

    Providing just 1 bad candidate to a hiring manager can ruin a recruiter’s reputation and sometimes even deter the hiring manager from working with the recruiter again

    For this reason, recruiters are very careful about the candidates they recommend and the smallest errors or inconsistencies can deter them from shortlisting you.

    The types of CV mistakes that will scare recruiters include:             

    • Unexplained gaps in employment
    • Spelling and grammar mistakes
    • Unprofessional CV formatting


    Now that you have had an insight into the world of recruitment, you should be able to make some improvements to your own CV.

    For more help, check out our Ultimate CV Writing Guide with free CV template or speak to us about our CV writing service for a full professional re-write of your CV.


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    The STAR Interview Technique April 22 2016, 0 Comments

    STAR Interview Technique

    For this post we've invited Interview and Career Coach Margaret Buj to share her advice on preparing for competency based interviews with the STAR technique.

    Here's Margaret...

    One thing I’ve noticed while working as a recruiter and interview coach is that a lot of my candidates and clients struggle with answering competency-based (or behavioural) interview questions.

    In fact, many times, the main reason a candidate gets rejected after their interview is the fact they didn’t provide relevant and detailed examples in their responses.

    Even if an employer hasn’t told you that you’ll be involved in a behavioural-style interview, you are still likely to face behavioural or competency-based interview questions. Here’s what you need to know to handle them successfully:


    Traditional vs. Competency-Based Interviewing

    Traditional interviews present you with traditional interview questions such as, “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” “Why do you want to work here?” or “What motivates you?”

    The process of competency-based interviewing is much more complex. A prospective employer will try to make a prediction of your future success by understanding how you’ve handled certain situations in the past.

    While in a traditional interview you can usually get away with somewhat generic answers; in a competency interview, you will be asked for very specific examples of past achievements.

    Be prepared to be asked for details, including names, dates, budgets and outcomes. The interviewers are likely to ask you about lengthy projects you’ve been involved in — you’ll need to tell them how your role has evolved and how you handled deadlines, pressures and difficult personalities.

    When you give examples from your work experience, the interviewer will probe you to try to understand how you think and how you determined what steps to take and in what order.


    How to Answer Competency-Based Questions

    The questions will start with, “Tell about a time…” or “Describe a situation…” Once you’ve answered, you might be encouraged to elaborate further with questions like, “So, why did you decide to do this?” or “What made you decide to do this?”

    The interviewer will try to establish what benefits you will bring to the company, and where you’re stronger than other candidates interviewing for the same job.

    Therefore, when giving examples, I’d recommend that you use the STAR statement format:

    S – Situation

    T – Task

    A – Action

    R – Result

    Here’s how it works,

    • Situation/Task: Describe a work-related situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. Be very specific and give details, but keep it short and concise.
    • Action: Describe the action you took, and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you’re discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did, not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do or would do; tell what you did
    • Results: Describe what you achieved. What happened? What feedback did you receive? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? How much time/money did you save?

    Take the time to develop and practice your S.T.A.R. statements. You’ll want to have at least 6-8 S.T.A.R. statements at the tip of your tongue when you go into an interview.

    Create S.T.A.R. statements from the jobs on your resume that you want to bring attention to. As you use these statements as examples, your interviewer will become familiar with the various positions you have held and will get a good idea of your track record of success in those various positions.

    The result segment is the most important part of your answer, because a successful outcome proves that your actions were effective. If possible, offer statistics or figures that highlight the magnitude of your success, mention positive feedback you received, and talk about what you learned and how this learning will help you in the job you’re being interviewed for.


    Margaret Buj is an interview and career acceleration coach who specializes in helping professionals get hired, promoted and paid more.

    What to eat before a job interview January 04 2016, 0 Comments

    What should you eat before an interview?

    A good diet can improve focus, sharpen your memory and even help to fight depression and anxiety, so it pays to eat well in the lead up to an important interview of you want to perform at your best.

    By now most of us know the basics of job interview preparation; research the role and company, practice some common interview questions and polish your CV.

    But what about dietary preparation?

    Check out StandOut CV's pre-interview diet infographic to find out what the best foods to fuel your body and mind are before a crucial interview.

    What to eat before a job interview

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    What to eat before a job interview

    Nutrition is important in every aspect of life so it shouldn’t be overlooked when preparing for an important interview. Your body and mind need the right nutrients to be able to perform optimally and only by eating the right foods, will you provide yourself with these nutrients. A poor diet can lead to lethargy, tiredness, demotivation and even depression; whereas a balanced healthy diet can improve focus, memory, mood and alertness.

    In the build up to your next big interview, make sure that you pay attention to what you’re eating (and what you’re not eating) to give yourself the best chance of having a balanced mind and well-functioning body.

    Key Take Aways

    • Stock up on omega 3 fatty acids such as those found in salmon, cod liver oil and eggs; they help the body to build brain cell membranes and promote new brain cell formation. Benefits include mood improvement, improved memory and sharpened focus… great for any interview situation.
    • Take plenty of B vitamins on board as they support the production of serotonin, dopamine and GABA which balance your brain chemicals to keep you calm during a tense interview. B vitamins are found greens such as peas, broccoli and spinach, as well as eggs and meat.
    • Eat plenty of wholegrains found in brown cereals, brown pasta and granary bread; they release glucose into the bloodstream which is the main fuel source for the brain. Benefits of wholegrain consumption include increased concentration and focus.
    • Drinking a moderate amount of coffee before an interview can certainly have benefits but approach with caution (especially if you are not a regular coffee drinker). Caffeine found in coffee causes the release of adrenaline which increase alertness, sharpens vision and reduces tiredness after 20 minutes of consuming. Effects will wear off after 3 hours and cause a “crash” so time your coffee consumption correctly before your interview. Caffeine has been known to have a laxative effect on around 3 in 10 people, so if you fall in to this category, it may be best to avoid coffee all together.
    • Avoid large amounts of carbohydrates like bread, potatoes and pasta just before your interview, as they cause the brain to release lots of tryptophan which reduced alertness and can even cause you to doze off.
    • Odorous foods like garlic and onions should be avoided for 24 hours before your interview as they not only cause bad breath, but can even be secreted from your sweat glands, which won’t create a great first impression.
    • It’s essential to stay hydrated but too much water before an interview will have you running for the bathroom between every question. Drink a little beforehand and ask the interviewer for a glass to stop your mouth from drying during the interview itself.

    Tasty brain boosting pre-interview meals

    Eat between 1-2 hours before interviewing to allow proper digestion

    • Salmon, broccoli and brown pasta (flavour with low-fat pasta sauce)
    • Chicken and kale wrap with (with seeded wrap)
    • Scrambled eggs and spinach on granary toast.

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    6 firms with secret hiring messages in their web code January 03 2016, 0 Comments

    If you're looking for an alternative to traditional job hunting this year then you might want to check out these hiring messages that some global brands are hiding within their web code.  

    We've scoured the web and found 6 hidden vacancy adverts from leading employers, that you won't find on the job websites.

    StandOut CV - firms with secret hiring messages

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    Have you found any more secret hiring messages online? Comment below and let us know.