Career Advice Job Market Report

Career Forum Oct 2017: Making your CV stand out, with help from Kelly Services

As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”, so a CV in the hands of a potential employer needs to make a quick and positive impression, according to Darren Tay, consulting director at Kelly Services Hong Kong.

“When employers are swamped with hundreds of job applications, the average time spent on looking at a CV is usually no more than about five to seven seconds,” Tay says. A good CV attracts employers with relevant strengths, usually a short personal statement, which should be backed by relevant support including experiences, achievements and extra-curricular activities.

At the eighth Classified Post Career Forum, consultants from Kelly Services will be on hand in their role as “CV Doctors” to help forum participants learn what a good CV should look like. Tay says that, even if forum attendees believe they have a strong one, a second opinion can provide them with peace of mind. Meanwhile, he adds that attendees with CVs which are poorly written, contain too much irrelevant information or are badly formatted can be helped to improve them.

Tay stresses that when it comes to constructing a CV there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some basic rules that are worth being aware of. For instance, tailoring a CV to a specific job or company. “Think from the employer’s point of view: what would you be looking for in a candidate for this position?” asks Tay. He says that, with access to the internet, there is no excuse not to do some research on the company the jobseeker is applying to. Tay advises job candidates to familiarise themselves with the core values of the company they are applying for a job with, and to tailor their CV to show a match of values. He says that if an employer is looking for someone with good organisational skills, the job candidate should highlight applicable organisational experience and abilities in the first part of their CV. “This simple process may decide whether a candidate gets an interview or not,” says Tay.

He says job candidates with little or no work experience can give their CV a competitive edge by highlighting academic strengths, if applicable, internships and extracurricular, charity, volunteering and sports activities. Instead of simply listing these activities, however, Tay recommends highlighting examples of specific tasks accomplished such as details of leadership and responsibilities. “As well as demonstrating a candidate has taken part in extracurricular activities, potential employers will see the person applying for the position is prepared to take on leadership responsibilities,” Tay says. Without being boastful, jobseekers can also include their perceived unique strengths and capabilities on their CV and highlight what makes them a good candidate for a particular position.

Among the common CV pitfalls Tay comes across are those that contain inconsistent fonts and spacing. Others are “too fancy”, deploying too many colours and pictures. Often, Tay says, CVs contain too much jargon and too many clichés. Chronologically, some get it wrong while others are too “wordy” and others still are too brief. Some CVs are written in outdated file formats. “Now and then we still see CVs written using MS Excel instead of MS Word,” says Tay, who admits one of his biggest gripes is CVs that have not been proofread or spellchecked. “If an employer is confronted with a CV full of spelling mistakes and inconsistencies, they are not likely to invite the applicant for an interview,” he cautions.

Chris Davis  

Career Forum Oct 2017: Shadow a CEO: Past Shadows highlight their magic moments


Over the last four years, the Shadow a CEO Programme has opened the eyes and minds of dozens of successful participants as they shadowed one of 30 executives from industries including retail, aviation, engineering, telecommunications, automobiles, events management and NGOs.

Tony Fu, a transportation system engineering student, relished the chance to shadow Ludovic Lang, sales and bids director for Thales Hong Kong, in April this year. He got the chance to observe the workings of a major international systems engineering company at close quarters, sitting in on executive meetings. “Every director presented a monthly overview to the board and discussed how to cooperate to achieve the CEO’s goals.” It was an empowering experience, even if standing up in front of the same executives at the conclusion of the programme to show what he learned was unnerving. “As the shadowing programme lasted only a few days, it wasn’t easy to prepare a slide showing off high-level management tips I’d learned, and I also felt a bit nervous speaking in front of senior management,” says Fu.

Anson Lo See-chai, who is in the final year of a BBA in insurance, financial and actuarial analysis at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shadowed Stanley Yau, director of human resources and administration at Hong Kong Airlines, in December 2016. He found the opportunity to attend executive meetings particularly enlightening.

“The meetings were invaluable opportunities which we normally would not have,” he points out. “We could learn in person how senior executives manage their teams and, within a split second, come up with feasible recommendations for various issues.”

For Moon Yiu Sik-yuet, who shadowed entrepreneur Andy Ann, the founder and CEO of NDN Group, during the same period, the highlight was taking part in the interactive sessions with Ann and the other participants.

“We had a chance to brainstorm ideas for a start-up,” says Yiu, who graduated last year from Imperial College London with a BSc in biochemistry. “This allowed us to create a top-to-bottom mind map of what we planned to do and what we needed, and also helped us decide whether or not our values aligned or if we could each play a different role in such a business.”

Charles Wong, a student in risk management and business intelligence at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, had the opportunity to shadow United Overseas Bank’s Greater China CEO Christine Ip in spring 2017. He says he learned a lot about banking and it also opened his eyes to the effect the industry can have on family-run businesses. “With UOB’s emphasis on regional presence and family culture, it came as a surprise that strong family bonding can impose a significant impact on shaping one’s corporate culture. The fundamental essence of being a team is integrity and honesty, which explains why UOB has maintained its competitiveness.”

Dittie Wong, a graduate of HR and marketing, appreciated the opportunity to travel to Shanghai when shadowing Susanna Chiu, director and group chief representative, Eastern China, of Fung Group, in 2017. “Being educated in an international setting, the environment shapes you into thinking that if you want to achieve something big, you should work for international companies and stay in Western countries. But this programme made me realise that there are opportunities for youngsters like us in China too,” she says. 

Oliver Farry