TABLE OF CONTENTS
Curriculum Vitae: Tips for a Job CV Resume Format
What constitutes a perfect job CV format? How to write a CV – Curriculum Vitae for a job interview? Applying for a job in Belgium is like warfare. You are likely to have several other job applicants as your strong opponents. Especially so when a job position interests many people and is not one of those in a niche labour market.
You get only one chance to impress when applying for a job. The biggest obstacle is clearing the CV so that you can cross the gate and get that chance to sit face to face with the interviewer. Even if you are certain that you are the perfect candidate for the job, without getting the opportunity to impress the interviews personally, the job search has failed.
The interviewers normally take 50 seconds to screen every job resume. Therefore, it is vital that your relevant experience stands out immediately from the beginning as the eyes scrolled down the CV.
During one of my Social Integration Class, the instructor arranged for a few external speakers to give us a talk. The most enlightening speech was by Miss Eugenia Khodakovska, a Ukrainian expat who works in Melexis Technologies NV. The company is an MNC with 1,100 employees in 14 countries since 1988 with headquarter in Belgium.
Eugenia works as a Global Talent Acquisition Manager in the Human Resource Department with the company. Needless to say, the responsibility of screening candidates’ resumes and interviewing them are her fortes. Possessing a rich experience of screening countless Curriculum Vitae and conducting over hundred of interviews, she is undoubtedly the best person to advise the dos and don’ts for job application in Belgium.
Besides giving tips on how to write a job CV, she shed some lights on how to read the questions asked by recruiters during the interview process. She also provided valuable insight into what to say and what not to say during a job interview. Behind every question lurks a motive which the interviewer wants to hear the appropriate response.
Indeed, an eye-opener for new expats searching for jobs in Belgium and knowing how to manage expectation of the Belgian employers. Do check out the second part of the article on Common Job Interview Questions later. Read on.
Get Your Job CV Template Right
Make Your CV Template Reader-Friendly
In another word, your job CV format has to look presentable from the first glance.
- Use appropriate font size (not too big and not too small).
- Eliminate fanciful or weird font designs that are difficult to read.
- Avoid use of colours and clipart too.
- Use paragraph and line spacing so that the texts do not look cluttered.
- Avoid long sentences. Use commas and full stops where appropriate.
Maximum Two Page Job CV Resume
How long should a resume be? Keep the resume to a maximum of two pages. Do not over-stuff information into these two pages even if you have a lot of work experiences to highlight.
- Sort your work experience chronologically.
- From the current to the past work experience.
- Most relevant job experience to the less relevant. Highlight your most relevant experience for the position that you want to apply so that the recruiter can identify it immediately.
- State your academic qualification after your work experience unless you are applying for a teaching job position such as professor or teacher.
- Additionally, some job positions in a niche market single out highly educated professionals. In this circumstance, prioritise the education qualification over the work experience.
- Put your contact detail in the footer (or header) of every page like your name, contact number and email address.
Proofread Your Resume
It is a very unpleasant experience to read a job CV full of grammatical and spelling errors particularly when you write the resume in a foreign language. It does not reflect well especially when report writing is one of the requirements in a job scope. Errors tell the recruiters that you make no effort to check your work.
- Ensure no grammatical and spelling errors.
- Get a native to proof-read your job CV if you have to write them in Dutch or French which are not your mother tongue.
- If you do not have anyone to help you, here is a list of grammar and spelling checkers websites that you can help yourself online for free. At least, making use of some online language tools is better than none.
Save File Attachment with Description
Label your saved file attachment with a descriptive title or a file reference number if the recruiter indicates it online. Enter in the description such as your name and position applied. The company might have several advertised positions. Hence, it would help them to identify your interest immediately when they save your file together with others. On a subconscious level, the recruiters evaluate little detail like this to form an impression of the applicant organising ability.
What Not to Do on a Job CV Template?
Here is a recommendation of “Do Not Do” list to pay attention when applying for a job in the Belgian Labour Market. Some points are essential to note as they are instant deal breakers when you put on your CV template.
You do not know how the recruiter will judge you and what are they thinking off when they look at your photo. This rule is not applicable unless you are applying for some glamorous jobs where you have to sell your face. Eg. Models.
If you insist on putting a photograph (like me… it is my habit), attach a more professional looking headshot that has a clear image and will stand you in a good stead.
Date of Birth
Is it necessary to fill in your Date of Birth on a job resume? This piece of information is not helpful. You do not want your prospective employer to discriminate you based on your age.
Do not give information that is irrelevant to the job. You are taking up more space within the ‘two-page resume rule’. The recruiter also spent more time reading detail that is not helping you. Again, this is an indication of a lack of structuring by not providing a clear and concise description.
Requirements that are Expected by Default
First example: “I am helpful to my colleagues.” Can one even survive in an organisation by not supporting his colleagues? That goes without saying.
Second example: “I am a plumber who fits and repairs pipes.” Well, the job scope of a plumber is of that. Therefore, a default requirement associating with a job position has not much value to the recruiter as well.
Images or Creative Visual Design
Do not use images or creative visual design unless this is your professional portfolio. Graphic Designers will most likely escape from this rule since they have a valid reason to demonstrate their creativity skill by making the job CV more impressive.
For most people, this is not advisable. Some people try to stand out from the rest by putting the logo of their former company. For the recruiters, the image does not serve its purpose. Instead, it clutters the space of the job CV and takes their focus away from your job resume.
Abbreviation and Industry Slang
Always use the full term accompanied by the use of abbreviation. The person looking at your job CV might be a general administration staff of an employment agency who may not understand the term of those alphabets that you use.
Neither to a Human Resource (HR) personnel since their role is to recommend suitable candidates after the first assessment either by your CV or after the job interview. Besides, many working in the HR Department may not understand their industry slang because their roles do not require them to do so. Anyway, it is common to have more than one round of interview in Belgium.
You can demonstrate your industry jargon later when you get a chance to go for the interview with the correct person whom you might be working together in a team.
Cliché, Vague or Sophisticated Language
Use simple phrases and terms that are easily understood by everyone. The use of bombastic words may not deliver the right message across to the interpreter. Eventually, the meaning of the sentences would turn ambiguous. At its worst, misinterpreted by the interviewers and lost your chance for a job interview through the wrong choice of words used.
One of the most common clichés used is (I am a) “team player”. How does that sentence help you? Everybody has to be a team player when it comes to working for a corporate organisation. The sentence will not give you an edge over the rest of the job applicants.
Exaggerated Sentences or Lies
Do not exaggerate about things that you cannot do or have no experience. Needless to say, the outcome is obvious. One does not need to put himself in an embarrassing situation later when the lie is exposed.
Controversial or Bizarre Hobbies
Some weird hobbies and pastimes are better left unsaid if they do not strengthen your work capabilities. In fact, it may do more harm to the job applicants when they put strange things on their resume.
Just imagine if someone wrote in the resume, “My hobby is keeping snakes” or “I love to collect exquisite knives from all over the world”. (Personally, I would be afraid to have such a colleague. What will happen to me if I were to offend him? So much left to the imagination.)
References upon Request
It is not necessary to put in any references unless the recruiting company asks for it. One can merely state in the job CV ‘References upon request’. If the prospective company ask for references later, the best referrals are your previous boss, supervisor, colleague and HR. Most importantly, they should be the people whom you had worked with earlier and willing to vouch for you.
Inappropriate Email Address
You can email me at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Self-explanatory. Those email addresses do not impress you, isn’t it?
Links to Your Social Media Account
One of the things not to do is to offer your social media account links voluntarily except if you are a social media marketeer. Your social media accounts belong to your private life which your future employers do not need to know.
On the contrary, it may be in your best interest that the lesser they know about your social life, the safer you are. We are not sure what the employers’ reaction would be if they see certain posts or images. If the employers want to know more about you, they will have a way to check on you discreetly.
If you place external links on your job CV for your research or work as references, make sure the links still work or have been updated.
How long ago have you graduated from the school? Leave out the information relating to the school unless you are applying for your first job. In the corporate world, the interviewers want to find out more about your prior working experience and how you can contribute to the growth of the company with your knowledge.
Avoid providing information that are decades ago. The glory of yesterday may not stay the same way today other than something that you can relate to the current job.
An illustration: You had been elected in school to represent the country to compete in a Physics competition worldwide. Now, you want to apply for a job that is specifically relating to physics. Your intelligence in the subject matter tells a lot about your innate talent when you were younger.
My Job Application Experience in Belgium
I did not follow a few of the CV tips above. I always use a headshot photograph when emailing my CV over to the recruiters not knowing the ‘CV guideline’ in Belgium. Nonetheless, the companies still contacted me up for two interviews after two months of arriving in Belgium. Subsequently, I for my first short-term contract job.
During the job interview process which I got the job eventually, the interviewer told me that my CV was too long. She advised me to shorten my future CV to a maximum 2-page instead of 3-page (excluding the cover letter).
To conclude, the above tips are guidelines. Even with a photograph attached to my CV, the interim agency and the company called me up for interviews. As for the 2-page CV format, it is better to adhere to the guideline. Anyway, most interviewers will not read all the information if they are not relevant.
The next article will provide interview tips on how to handle questions and answers during a job interview process.
What is your experience in finding a job in Belgium? Are there any of the tips above which you agree or disagree? Leave us a comment.