All posts by UC Careers

CV clichés to avoid

Cli·ché n.  A trite or overused expression or idea

Print your CV out, put it in front of you and grab a red pen. Here’s a list of the most common CV clichés:

1. Team player/people person/customer-focussed
2. Dynamic/enthusiastic/energetic
3. Hardworking/proactive/motivated/strong work ethic
4. Great communication skills/good communicator
5. Proven track record/experienced
6. Problem solver
7. Fast-paced environment
8. Detail-orientated
9. References available on request

If you gasped in horror at A) how normal these expressions seem and B) how many of them are in your CV? Keep reading.

That’s exactly what has happened: millions of people everywhere have used and used and finally overused these expressions to the point where they no longer have any meaning.

Everyone wants to be ‘dynamic’, so they put it in their CV, whether they’re dynamic or not. So how are recruiters supposed to tell if any of these words constitute a valid self-assessment? The answer is they can’t.

What recruiters want you to do is use language that illustrates your own successes. Instead of ‘proven track record’ or ‘experienced’, describe over what period you achieved something tangible and relevant to the employer you’re targeting.

Think about your CV as a character description in a book. Novels, written from the protagonist’s point of view, will never describe the character explicitly. The author uses situations, events and outcomes that allow the reader to infer those characteristics.

Write about something you’ve made, saved, solved, or achieved that will be interesting to the recruiter and will enable them to infer the attributes you want to demonstrate.

Remember, characteristics such as enthusiasm and energy will be witnessed by the recruiter in person if you get to the interview stage, and how ‘detail-orientated’ you are will be apparent by your meticulously spell/grammar-checked CV.

You need to be concise in your personal statement, but it’s not about cramming as many buzzwords into that little paragraph as you can; it’s about choosing your sentences wisely. Your personal statement should be personal, genuine, relevant and, where possible, objectively measurable.

Lastly, recruiters really dislike ‘references available on request’. Either include details of relevant references or leave it off altogether. It’s assumed they’ll be able to contact your references; otherwise, they won’t be offering you the job!

References:  Forbes; Thatsthejob; Sigmar Recruitment

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers

Personal values vs company values

Everyone has personal values – the things you find most important in life. This also extends to the world of work; your workplace values largely determine your working style and preferences.

Similarly, employers will often adhere to specific core values that define the company culture and lead the business. Alignment with them will, most likely, be a deciding factor when recruiting new employees.

Being aware of your personal values and those of the company you’re applying to will allow you to determine whether the job – and the business as a whole – is right for you, as well as discovering how you can be suitable for them.

Here’s how to find out:

Personal values
You might not know it, but your personal values inform many of your day-to-day activities or decisions. For example, you may go to the gym every morning, which can be linked to your valuing a healthy lifestyle. Or perhaps you only buy ethically sourced food, which means you value fairness.

If you take the time to do so, you may be able to identify a whole list of values simply by asking yourself questions like ‘what makes me happy?’ and ‘which goals do I want to reach?’ Ranking them will help you to establish your core values: the ones that matter the most.

Then it’s time to consider how this translates to your professional life. Is there anything specific you look for in a job – flexible working hours, a strong team dynamic, a clear goal to work towards? Use your values as a reference point to narrow down the jobs that would work for you.

Company values
Company values and personal values are much the same because they are both markers of identity, acting as guiding principles for what is said and done. However, while personal values are for us to uncover, company values are consciously chosen and pre-set.

Ideally, they function as a force of unity, creating a healthy working environment where everyone works towards a common goal. Misalignment of values amongst employees can seriously damage working relationships and productivity as that common purpose is jeopardised. Businesses will therefore look for people who all share the company values.

There are some common workplace values that most companies look for, including honesty and integrity, strong work ethic and professionalism. It’s essential, however, that you research each company individually. The company website, social media pages, and job ads hold valuable information through the language used and the posts shared.

Ultimately it comes down to comparing notes. Find out if the job is worth pursuing by asking yourself questions like:

  • Does this job satisfy my goal of (your value)
  • Will it allow me the flexibility to (your value)
  • Is there any aspect that might cause me unease?
  • Is there room for compromise?

Then consider which ways you’d be a good fit for them and emphasise these attributes in your application.

Approach your job search will self-awareness and honesty, maintaining a deep understanding of your personal values and those of the company you’re applying to. This way, you’ll be able to quickly discern between the promising opportunities and the bad, and apply to that dream job with confidence.

References: Mind Tools; Forbes; The Balance

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers

Looking after your mental health in work and life

Caring for your mental health is a crucial career skill, and with World Mental Health Day having taken place on the 10th of October this year, here are five critical aspects of your mental well-being that you can take care of in and out of work.

Mental health work life balance

1. Coping with stress and pressure

A survey by British charity MIND identified work as the number one cause of stress. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, from racing thoughts to a strong sense of dread. Whatever work you’re doing at the moment, acknowledge what’s causing your stress.  Use breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation to calm your mind and find perspective, and talk to managers, tutors, advisors, friends and family to help identify priorities and actions you can take.

2. Looking after your physical health

Although sugar, alcohol, and caffeine are the go-to solutions for most people when stressed, they can cause a crash in blood sugar levels that create feelings of irritability or even depression. A healthy diet of whole grains, vegetables, nuts and natural sugars along with good sleep and exercise will regulate your system, keeping you calmer and more centred.

3. Building positive working relationships

In a post-pandemic world, many of us are still feeling isolated. We need to remember that our relationships are precious, and when it comes to working, the positive relationships we have with our colleagues and peers can make all the difference to our state of mind. So, nurture those meaningful relationships in your life and work: show appreciation for others, avoid gossip, take a constructive approach towards conflict and focus on developing your own emotional intelligence.

4. Balancing work and life

More and more of us are working from home nowadays, making it hard to define a boundary between work and personal life. Prioritising your workload, avoiding procrastination, managing expectations and taking time for proper breaks throughout the day are all key to optimising your productivity, allowing you to finish on time. And when you’ve finished working, switch off completely.

5. Becoming more resilient

Resilience is about your ability to cope with challenges and change and to adapt to new circumstances. That attribute has been tested in the extreme for everyone worldwide in the last year and a half. Along with the above, having a cheerful inner voice and focusing your energy on the things you can change will help you bounce back from any challenges life can throw at you.

Whilst there are many things you can do to help take care of your own mental health, it’s important to remind yourself that help is out there if you need it, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it. So, if you feel like it’s impacting your ability to thrive in work and life, speak to someone you trust about it and consider talking to a professional.

Noho ora mai,

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers Team