So much for globalisation. It turns out some things aren’t as internationally standardised as we’d like to think – like writing a CV, for example.

Each country or region has their own take on this most important of application materials, right down to what they call the document itself. Before submitting your CV (or resume), it’s important you take note of which school of thought your prospective employer subscribes to if you want to maximise your chances.

Here are some of the key things to watch out for:

CV or resume?
This is one thing you don’t want to get wrong. In Europe (including the UK) and Latin America it’s strictly “CV”, whereas most Americans use the term “resume” (“CV being reserved solely for medial and academic professions). The latter ruling also applies in Canada and Australia.

Across Asia and the Middle East it’s more blurry – if you’re an expat applying to a multinational organisation you may well find that an American culture pervades; it’s worth checking the wording and spelling of the company website for clues.

Photos
Different countries have vastly different opinions when it comes to putting a picture on your resume – ignore these at your peril.

In the UK you would never normally attach a photo, whereas in most of continental Europe you would. Many Asian countries also include pictures with their applications. In the US and Australia it’s not recommended nor encouraged.

Personal information
Many countries disagree on the kind of information you should supply to prospective employers.

In Mainland Europe and Asia it is typical to see the candidate’s nationality, date of birth, gender and marital status shared with the employer. Recruiters in France and China, for example, want all of the above plus the ages of your children. Spain requests your marital status and age, passport number and driving licence details.

In South Africa, additional personal information such as ID number and ethnicity (the latter to clarify one’s BEE or affirmative action status) is required on top of the above.

In Australia, the UK and the US stricter privacy laws render most of this personal information unnecessary. In the US, an employer has no legal right to know your age (unless local, state, or federal law requires that employees be over a certain age).

The staples
Fortunately, there are some things that all countries can agree on. Generally, your CV or resume should include your name, address, phone number, email address, professional experience, education and interests, with the sections in reverse chronological order. And unless you’re going for a wacky infographic CV keep it to no more than two pages in length and use black ink on white paper.

While the many of the differences above may appear subtle, don’t ignore them. As tends to be the case with job applications in general, avoid anything that makes you appear out of step with the culture of the organisation you’re applying to. Play it safe, do your homework and give yourself the best possible chance of being hired.

Reference: BBC; Expat Arrivals; Abintegro
11 Jan 2017
CV

It’s the start of a new year and the humble CV, you’ll be pleased to know, is still very much in fashion, with 98.5% of recruitment professionals deeming a CV or resume to be essential application material in a recent industry survey.

Fashions do evolve, however. What might have been considered standard CV etiquette 10 years ago may not be doing you any favours with the employer or recruitments manager you’re hoping to impress.

Here are our tip 8 CV errors to avoid in 2017:

1. The words “CV”
Avoid planting “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae” at the top of the page – at this stage, anyone reading it will have a clear idea of what it is they’re looking at. Include your name at the top instead.

2. Photos and personal information
Unless you’re an actor or model, there’s no need to include a photo of yourself. The same goes for personal information (other than your basic contact details).

3. Personal aims and objectives
Employers today don’t particularly care what you want – it’s all about their needs. If you do decide to reference what you’re looking for, make sure that it’s an exact match for what they want.

4. Jargon and buzzwords
Recruiters appreciate plain speaking, so there’s no need to litter the page with industry jargon, especially if it’s not relevant to the sector you’re hoping to work in. The same goes for “best-in-class”, “synergy” and all those other generic buzzwords – they’re not going to impress anyone.

5. Everyday hobbies
The fact you enjoy “reading, gardening and socialising” isn’t exactly going to make a recruiter swoon. The interests section can really make you stand out, but to do so it needs to add another dimension to who you are. This is a chance to show your passion, the diversity of your interests and skills. If you can’t get think of anything besides going to the cinema consider skipping this section altogether.

6. Political affiliations
Avoid references to memberships or affiliations with polarising (or arguably any) political groups, unless these are specifically relevant to the job.

7. Fluff
Unless you’re going for a role as an artist or graphic designer it’s best to keep the frills – infographics, wacky fonts, fancy headers and footers etc. – to a minimum.

As eye-catching as they are, they’re also likely to distract from the real “meat” on your CV and may also confuse the applicant-tracking systems that many employers now use. Stick to a simple, modern font like Arial.

8. “References upon request.”
It’s clear you will provide references (otherwise you wouldn’t apply for the job), so either include the names and roles of your references or de-clutter your CV and remove it.

While CV trends come and go, there’s one overarching rule that never changes: don’t include information that doesn’t directly pertain to landing the job. Less is always more – so before sending your CV out into the big wide world do a double take to make sure everything on there is relevant to the person who’ll be reading it.

Reference: UK Press; Abintegro
05 Jan 2017
CV

Working overseas can be a great career option at any stage in life. However, following through on dreams of working in exotic locales can be tricky.

Depending on where you’re planning to ply your trade, you may well find yourself having to navigate the process of securing a work permit or visa before you jet off to your dream destination.

There are different ways around this – here we outline some of the routes you can take:

1. Pick where you want to go
First things first: decide where in the world you’d like to work. Do your research and make sure you’re aware of any cultural or religious sensitivities. Ideally you’ll also have a sprinkling of the language. From here you can begin making enquiries to that country’s local embassy or consulate about the procedures involved.

2. But ideally go where you’re needed
A sensible tactic is to identify where your skills and qualifications are most in demand. Logic dictates that the more sought-after your profession, the easier it will be to find work. Healthcare professionals and, increasingly, IT specialists tend to top the majority of most wanted lists. However, every country has specific needs – engineers are in high demand across the Middle East, for example – and some may have a fast-track vetting process for key industries.

3. Apply to an employer in your home country with overseas offices
By far the easiest way to navigate the work permit application process is to bypass it altogether by applying for a transfer to an overseas office from an organisation in your home country. So although it’s more of a long game, if you want to work abroad it might be worth considering applying to work for a business within your own country that has offices overseas.

4. Find a job in your target country
Bear in mind that you will usually be required to do this in your home country before arriving overseas. You will then need a formal guarantee that an employer is willing to hire you (and sponsor your work permit) before a work permit can be granted. A word of warning: some countries require you to present a notarised employment contract before issuing a visa, whereas others just ask to see a written job offer.

5. Sneak in through the back door
Should you fail to secure a permanent role, you could try Plan C, which is to find work on a temporary or seasonal basis. There is huge demand for English teachers across Asia and Latin America, for example; using this as a launch pad, it’s often possible to make enquiries to employers in situ. The likes of Australia and New Zealand run temporary, two-year work visa schemes for under 30s, and a number of people have had success finding longer-term work once on the ground.

It’s worth reiterating that each country will have its own rules and procedures around gaining authorisation to work there. Red tape and bureaucracy are unavoidable obstacles for international jobseekers – so make sure you fully understand what you’re facing before you embark on the process.

Reference: About.com; Transitions Abroad; Abingetro
05 Jan 2017
career options

Having canvassed a wide cohort of global businesses, the social media platform LinkedIn has released its list of the top skills employers are looking for in 2017. With the New year just around the corner and resolutions beginning to surface for consideration, this is a list worth consulting. However, if you’re a technophobe you might want to look away now…

Not surprisingly, there is a strong technology bias to the list, with 19 out of the 25 competencies listed carrying a clear tech focus. The upper-end of the list, in particular, is dominated by cutting-edge technical disciplines including cloud computing, software development and online security.

The more traditional skills of previous years have been bumped down to make room: marketing campaign management, SEO/SEM, and channel marketing were in high demand among employers going into 2016; however, most have since fallen out of the top 10.

Without further ado, the top 10 skills (according to LinkedIn) are as follows:
1. Cloud and Distributed Computing
2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
3. Web Architecture and Development Framework
4. Middleware and Integration Software
5. User Interface Design
6. Network and Information Security
7. Mobile Development
8. Data Presentation
9. SEO/SEM Marketing
10. Storage Systems and Management

You could be forgiven for assuming the skills listed above are reserved for those from an IT or computer science background, but, nowadays, technological proficiency is now a key requirement across most industries and roles. For example, analysis by PayScale, suggests that HR workers familiar with Workday software can expect an additional 10% in their pay packet each month.

The good news for those coming from a non-technical background (eg your typical arts or humanities graduate) is that achieving a good level of proficiency in these areas is not as far-fetched as it might seem.

LinkedIn now offers its own learning portal, with 5,000 different course options on offer, catering to the whole spectrum of technology users, from digital novices to IT specialists. This platform is just one of a growing selection technical courses that today’s job seekers can avail of, either online or offline.

To be sure, regardless of how and where you ply your trade, the need for technically-proficient workers is only going to grow and grow over the coming years. For those willing to broaden their skill set, a blend of technological and business-friendly competencies – such as critical thinking, problem-solving and communication – can prove a potent, career-boosting combination. If you’re stuck for a new year’s resolution to focus your efforts on, you could do a lot worse than invest in a spot of upskilling.

Reference: We Forum; Business Insider; Time; Laser Fiche, Abintegro
15 Dec 2016

This is one of the more awkward questions you can expect to face as an interviewee. It also happens to be one that employers love to ask (note the reason for this below).

Everyone has their own unique approach when it comes to interview prep, and while you may not want to reveal all of your trade secrets, it’s important that you’re able to reply to this question in a logical and concise way.

Here are some handy DOs and DON’Ts to help you:

DO
Read between the lines

If you hadn’t already realised, this question is really about motivation; the assumption being that the more time and effort you expend preparing for the interview, the more likely you are to want the job. By extension, this means that the more rigorous you can make your preparation appear the better.

Cover the basics
There are tried-and-tested preparation techniques that your interviewer will be expecting to hear about. Step one inevitably involves reviewing the job specification and company website thoroughly. That’s not to say you should stop here, but eyebrows may be raised if you don’t tick off these crucial steps.

Tailor your response to the role
Different personal qualities are obviously required for different jobs, and the kind of preparation you do (and how you do it) will speak to your suitability for the role. A salesperson, for example, could be expected to spend longer researching the company’s products or services and the types of clients and customers the business has. They should also understand its USPs and how it ranks against competitors in the marketplace.

DON’T
Play it too safe

As mentioned, the staple preparatory techniques are important, but don’t limit yourself to what everyone else is doing. For instance, you could mention that you’ve attended a presentation by the organisation at a recent event, read its latest whitepaper or analysed its most recent financial report. It comes back to going the extra mile and showing how driven you are to get the role.

Exaggerate
A note of caution: you need to be able to back up the various things you claim to have done, particularly as your interviewer may well ask you to expand on what you’ve discovered during your research. Your memory can only hold so much information, so make sure to take notes of your findings during the due diligence process.

When it comes to talking about your interview preparation it’s really a case of more is more. While remembering to be honest and concise, the more evidence you can give of your scrupulousness and motivation the better.

Reference: abintegro
08 Dec 2016
interview

Is it better to work for a large or a small company? As with most things in life there is rarely a simple or straightforward answer to the above. Each option brings its own advantages and disadvantages; when making this decision it is important to weigh up the pros and cons and see what conclusion you arrive at.

Advantages of large companies
Perhaps the best advantage of working for a bigger company is job security. A large, established business is far less likely to dissolve and far more likely to offer better benefit packages. These employers also typically have clearer structures in place, with patterns of career advancement that are more certain. In addition, a larger employer often means more opportunity and exposure. This includes the ability to transfer to a different job within the organisation, or to draw from better resources. You may also have access to a larger network of clients and co-workers.

Disadvantages of large companies
Generally speaking, the bigger the business the harder it is for you to exert influence. An employee’s role is a lot more fixed and, though not impossible, it is more of a challenge for you to assert your voice. Although there are benefits to having many co-workers, it also increases competition, and you’ll be expected to truly excel in order to stand out.

Advantages of small companies
The more intimate setting of a smaller business offers many benefits: your successes are more apparent and therefore carry greater significance, and you are likely to have a closer relationship with upper management (which makes it easier to pitch your ideas). A smaller workforce means less competition and your responsibilities are likely to be more fluid than in a larger company – it’s all hands on deck and there will be opportunities to try your hand at different things.

Disadvantages of small companies
The small structure of a company can have its downsides, however. While your successes are more visible, this also applies to your mistakes. You are more likely to work longer hours, with fewer benefits and less job security than you would receive in a larger company. There are also often no legal or HR departments in smaller businesses, which are useful in providing a bridge between employer and employee.

As you can see, there are clearly positives and negatives to both options. Whether you’re more swayed by the security and structure of a large company or inspired by the opportunities and intimacy of a small company, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of what’s on offer and of the environment you feel works best for you.

Reference: IT World; Forbes; Abintegro
01 Dec 2016
career options

Your cover letter can be the introduction to you that makes a recruiter’s eyes sparkle with interest or glaze over with indifference. So it’s worth thinking about how you can use it to really stand out and get you and your CV noticed.

The tips you regularly hear for creating cover letters always include ‘don’t cut and paste it’ (either from someone else’s cover letter, yours to another employer or from the job description); ‘watch your grammar and punctuation’ and ‘err on the side of formality’.

Those tips are all completely valid and important, but they won’t make you shine. Here are some to help you sparkle:

– If you have the name of a mutual contact, include it in the first paragraph of your cover letter. It shows you have a relationship to the employer and automatically sets you apart.

1. Try to use your cover letter to showcase your personality. The recruiter needs to get a true sense of who you are. Yes, you need to explain why you think you’re right for the job and what you can bring, but you shouldn’t be copying it straight out of your CV.

2. Demonstrate your passion and knowledge of the industry. Maybe including a cool historical fact or the event or person that got you interested in the industry in the first place.

3. If you can relate your desire for the job to an anecdote or story then do it. It shouldn’t be long-winded though. In fact, your whole cover letter should be three paragraphs/half a page or less.

4. Summarise how your experience will help you do the job and always finish by saying how and when you’ll get in touch.

When you’ve written it, read your cover letter as the recruiter. Does it interest you? Does it make you want to speak to the person that sent it? Does it make you smile?

Remember hiring managers and recruiters are people, not automatons. They do need facts, but they also need to know the person behind the facts.

Reference: Forbes; Abintegro
23 Nov 2016
applications