Formatting your CV
To make an excellent impression, you need to make sure your CV is formatted properly and the employer can easily find what they are looking for. Divide your CV into clear sections using headings – the employer will be expecting to see your name, personal profile, current employer, previous employers, education and additional information in that order. CV styles differ around the world – in America and Canada people apply for jobs using a résumé that is rarely longer than a page, while CV standards vary from country to country in Europe. If you’ve been away for a while, it can be helpful to look up sample Irish CVs online to make sure you’re on the right track.
Stick to the basics
In some European countries, like Germany and Austria, attaching a photo to your CV is commonplace. This is not advised in Ireland – an employer won’t be used to receiving CVs with photos and will automatically make a judgment based on what you look like. Nothing on your CV should distract from your experience and qualifications – this is what should really make you stand out from the candidate pool. This means you should also avoid using distracting graphics, unusual fonts and coloured text.
Educational achievements and industry training should be expressed in a way that is easy for employers to understand. If you received a qualification in another country, give the Irish equivalent if possible. Draw attention to any other skills you acquired while you were away. In the “global village”, multi-lingual employees are very valuable so emphasise proficiency in any languages you have picked up.
Cutting down your CV
One thing many people struggle with is keeping their CV to an appropriate length. In general, you should try to cover everything in no more than two pages. Don’t be tempted to go into great detail about every job you’ve had since you left Ireland. Instead focus on the roles and achievements that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. Your CV is meant to be an overview of your professional career to date – it’s impossible to highlight every project, award and success. If you’re really struggling, start from scratch, taking the bare minimum of information and working from there.
Potential employers will question what you’re hiding if you don’t explain gaps in your CV. You don’t have to go into great detail but should include a line or two about your time abroad – this will also imply your adaptability, resourcefulness, independence and cultural sensitivity.
Email application writing tips
After spending all that time on your CV, you don’t want to ruin things for yourself by rushing through your email application. Email has essentially replaced the cover letter for most jobseekers and employers. There’s nothing you can do once you hit ‘send’ so it’s important to get things right the first time round. Don’t send your application to the company’s HR department or write ‘Dear Sir/Madame’ – send it directly to the person you will be working for instead. As with your CV, the same rules of impeccable spelling, structured formatting and customised content apply.
The importance of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is currently the second most popular social media platform in Ireland with over one million inhabitants using it on a regular basis. It provides a huge opportunity for jobseekers to find new roles, connect with prospective employers and develop a professional network – so if you’re considering coming home to work it’s where you need to be! Employers will often check your LinkedIn profile before inviting you to an interview to see if it matches your CV – it’s much harder to lie on a public forum where your account is linked to previous employers and colleagues.
Maintain a professional LinkedIn presence and you could be one step closer to securing your dream role. You should also make sure that you ask your overseas employees for recommendations before you move home. Along with reference letters, LinkedIn recommendations will make your work experience overseas much more credible to Irish employers. They may not have heard of the company you worked for in Australia but if they see you have a recommendation from a CEO with over 500 connections, they will be more likely to hire you.