How not to get a job at BIG Partnership

Desperate never to feel the fabric of BIG Partnership’s carpet under your feet? Account director Bryan Garvie shows you how.

I’ve just read 70 CVs. Count ’em – 70. I’ll be honest, I’ve had better days, but in the few moments of respite was when someone took the time and thought to write something in the CV which was actually worth reading.

Unfortunately, these were few and far between. Most CVs read like the applicants had plugged their brains into a 99p online CV-O-Matic which churned out a turgid, uninspiring document which didn’t encourage the reader to make it past the opening three lines.

Harsh? Yup. But when you’re faced with a pile of CVs big enough to jack up a car, a major part of the job is getting rid of the bad ones so you can find the gems. I’ve seen enough stories in the press to realise that getting a graduate job is a grim process, so it’s worth taking the time to at least get yourself in the fight.

It’s worth noting that none of these in isolation are necessarily an automatic fail, but they won’t help. To save your CV ending up in the ‘no’ pile, here are my top tips if you really, really don’t want a job at BIG:

1. Be ‘enthusiastic and hard-working’… or a variation thereof. In my distant, hazy memory of school, I remember being told these are qualities all employers value. Well, durr. But here’s the problem. I could quite easily tell someone I’m a whiz at applied physics. Ask me to prove it and I’d be stuffed. The first 25 times I read this on a CV, I rolled my eyes. After that it just started to get on my wick. Use your imagination, and demonstrate how you went the extra mile once, or how your determination to get the job done paid off.

2. Leave the good stuff until the end… by the time I’ve read how hard working you are, and how you got a grade four for standard grade home economics, there’s a good chance I’m thinking about the next CV in the pile. If you have something to shout about, get it right up the front – a CV is not the place for a late flourish.

3. Make spelling and grammar mistakes… seriously, does this even need to be on this list? Apparently it does. A typo or two you might survive, but if you proudly recall the time you helped ‘a client with they’re social media strategy’, there’s going to be a problem. Two words: proof read.

4. Get the name of the business wrong… Great, you want to work for The BIG Company? You go ahead and get in touch with them.

5. Get an interview, then do no research at all… This actually happened to a client, not me. But the client, the marketing manager of a major B2B organisation, asked for a summary of the candidate’s knowledge of the business, and got a blank stare in return.

6. Fail to stand out in any way whatsoever… Presumably you have a personality. Don’t make the mistake of presenting a CV which doesn’t even hint at one. The best CVs I saw told a story of someone who was more than a marketing degree – that’s a stepping stone, now we want to hear who you are. Talk about your passion, your talents and your experience (if you don’t have any experience, make a pest of yourself until you get an internship somewhere), and use examples which don’t need embellishing. This is a competitive industry, so employers are not waiting for your lacklustre CV to arrive, borne aloft by a choir of singing angels.

On that final point (standing out, not choirs of angels), there was recently a good post on the Harvard Business Review blog on standing out from the crowd. However, we don’t advocate turning up at your interview for BIG dressed like Lady Gaga. At least not in a meat dress, anyway.

For more information on careers at BIG Partnership, see our careers page.