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Tips on job applications/CVs (European/NGO perspective)

 
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 03:56 pm
I think the passport photos might be a good idea.

If there is going to be any sort of prejudice-in-hiring the applicant won't waste time.

The winnower of the applications can feel as though he's dealing with people and not just factual sheets of paper.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 08:10 pm
Noddy24 wrote:
I think the passport photos might be a good idea.

If there is going to be any sort of prejudice-in-hiring the applicant won't waste time.

The winnower of the applications can feel as though he's dealing with people and not just factual sheets of paper.

Hmm, I really dont know.

I mean, its true that it certainly catches your attention. Does liven things up a little.

But yeah, its going to influence you. And I just dont think that someone's appearance should influence your choice. I mean, beyond questions of, you know, proper hygiene and proper dress (for whatever your office's standards are) - but those arent things photos are going to betray anyway, not the kind people stick on their CV.

So all you can tell from them is a) whether someone is "hot or not," to put it crudely, and b) well, what colour someone is and the like.

And yes, sure, if its a pretty girl I do a double take and focus my attention -- but that shouldnt be happening, you know? It's like.. cheating, kinda.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 08:21 pm
When describing your past work experience and its relevance in your letter, be concise but also specific enough. E.g., this is NOT specific enough:

    "I have worked on the ways in which European institutions approach the issue of [etc]. I have been involved in the process of negotiation between [country X] and the European Union, with a particular focus on European perceptions of [country X]."
That just makes me go, "how?" How were you involved, how have you worked on it? It's true that the CV is for the details, but now I already have to cross-compare with what parts of the CV this refers to even just to get a basic idea of what kind of thing we're talking about. It raises the suspicion that there's no there there.

(That was confirmed in this case when I couldn't find anything about the negotiations part in the CV other than that she did research into it and presented a paper on the subject.)
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 08:23 pm
A lot of applicants focus almost exclusively on the subject of the work. That's great - it is definitively a plus if you can demonstrate both genuine enthusiasm, prior experience, and academic knowledge on human rights and our particular issues.

But what we would really want to know more about is your experience and qualifications for the kind of work you'll be doing. Eg, are you good in filing things online? Have you done any work editing websites? How's your knowledge of databases? Have you had to do a sleigh of summarizing, during research work for example? Etc.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 08:25 pm
  • If it's a part-time job and your CV makes clear that you're about to complete your studies - your PhD, for example - then the employer will be concerned whether you're still going to be available part-time afterwards, or whether you'll leave as soon as you can get a full-time job upon graduation. Address this in your letter.

  • Different countries have different conventions on what to put on top of CVs, and it also depends on the stage of your life/career you're in: do you put the list of your educational qualifications on top, or the list with your work experience? Or (in America I think), do you opt to start with a more free-form (and more meaningless, IMO…) list of "skills"?

    Whichever way, one thing to keep in mind is that if your education was not thematically related to the job at hand, and your work experience was, then don't fill page 1 with education stuff and only come round to your work experience on page 2. And vice versa.

  • Ignore the atrocious English in the following for a second, and consider this: if you are going to start out your letter with a sentence about why you are uniquely motivated for this job, it's got to be a whole lot better than boilerplate like this:

    "My decision to apply for the position of [..] is caused by my desire to have a part time job [..], which will contribute to my future with useful experience in the interesting sphere."
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 08:34 pm
And more on some rather petty notes:

  • "It's worth mentioning that currently, I live in [..], and have 24 hour computer and internet access at home which could enable me to do the job efficiently."

    Um, no. That's not worth mentioning actually. That's taken as a given, that you either have it or will make sure to have continuous access otherwise. It's 2007.

    (In her defence, the applicant was originally from a country in Transcaucasia, where things are surely different. And otherwise it was a good letter.)

  • Make sure your use of font is uniform across - that a few words or a name are not suddenly a point smaller for example. That rouses suspicions about copy/paste jobs. Especially if the bit that's in a different font/size is the name of the organization you're applying at...

  • So, the job opening is for a one-day-a-week, data grunt-type job. Sending an application consisting of a cover letter (1 page), letter of intent (2 pages), short CV (1 page) and long CV (4 pages) is definitely overkill.

    A 6-page CV (work experience: 3 ½ pages; education and training: 1 page; personal skills and competences: 1 ½ page) is also. And so is a 7-page CV. And so is - <swears under his breath> an 8-page CV.

    Just sayin'.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Oct, 2007 08:36 pm
And.. we have a record.

In an email that came with CV attached: 10 typos/spelling mistakes in six lines. Really.

From someone with a fairly high position in the unit of an East European government that manages EU structural funds, too. Haste, carelessness, arrogance? Dyslexia?
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 04:46 am
nimh wrote:
  • ...

  • Different countries have different conventions on what to put on top of CVs, and it also depends on the stage of your life/career you're in: do you put the list of your educational qualifications on top, or the list with your work experience? Or (in America I think), do you opt to start with a more free-form (and more meaningless, IMO…) list of "skills"?

    Whichever way, one thing to keep in mind is that if your education was not thematically related to the job at hand, and your work experience was, then don't fill page 1 with education stuff and only come round to your work experience on page 2. And vice versa.

  • ...."


There are 2 (3?) kinds of resumes in the US -- chronological and functional (there's also hybrid, which is the kinda, sorta 3rd). I don't have too much time to go into detail about it right now, but the functional is the kind with the skills on top and is really only good for technical (IT, engineering, that sort of thing) types of positions. There, it's very relevant. I agree with you re the education/experience thing. That's kind of true with everything on a resume. Mine is two pages long and I fully expect most hiring managers will only read the first third of the first page and then skim the rest, unless what I say in that top third (or in my cover letter) grabs them.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 06:32 am
Jes jumped in with the point I was going to make, about different kinds of resumes; but also, resumes and CVs are different, here. CVs are mostly academic and are much, much more thorough than resumes. (For example, E.G.'s lists every major talk he's given and every paper he's published, and runs about 8 pages long... he's not expected to trim that, it's standard for his field. Resumes, on the other hand, are supposed to be one page pretty much no matter what, with two pages being OK for highly technical fields like Jes'.)
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 01:44 pm
jespah wrote:
There are 2 (3?) kinds of resumes in the US -- chronological and functional (there's also hybrid, which is the kinda, sorta 3rd). I don't have too much time to go into detail about it right now, but the functional is the kind with the skills on top and is really only good for technical (IT, engineering, that sort of thing) types of positions.

Yeah it's the functional one that I'd never seen until I read up, that time, about resumes in the US and elsewhere and in other disciplines.

It's spreading, apparently, definitely not just for technical jobs, because I've seen several now -- they seem to emanate from the business/managerial type of perspective. Lists of what skills they claim to have ("outstanding communication skills", "managed complex projects", etc), illustrated, if you're lucky, with examples from workplace achievements ("streamlined the flow of..", "achieved 35% increase in.." etc).

The unchronologicalness (that's not a word) of it makes it very hard to get a grip of what someone's actually done, what his work history's looked like, but it must be de rigueur, or becoming so, in parts of the commercial sector.

I think I also saw it recommended, in one of those guides, for if you're a young ambitious professional but you dont have much in the way of a beefy work experience yet. (It shows.)

sozobe wrote:
CVs are mostly academic and are much, much more thorough than resumes. (For example, E.G.'s lists every major talk he's given and every paper he's published, and runs about 8 pages long... he's not expected to trim that, it's standard for his field.

Yeah there was a bunch of those in this batch, which was odd considering the kind of job we were advertising.

I guess it's because we appeal to people from all kinds of different disciplines, and they all write the application that is standard in their field. I mean, it's interesting too, definitely, all these completely varied experiences: journalists, PhD students, activists, people who are working in some government agency, there was a TV producer.. (many of them overqualified, but again thats probably because our name and because the modest pay is actually a nice extra if you're in Macedonia or the like.)

Yeah, so, it's fascinating, but ideally people would write a resume adapted to the conventions/standards of the job. This job is ambiguous enough to be tolerant, but otherwise, people..
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