To email or not to email, that is the question

Q: When applying for jobs advertised in newspapers, where it says ‘email or post your CV and details to…’, does it make any difference which way you apply? Email is handier obviously, but I sometimes feel an email can very easily be discarded, whereas a hard copy is harder to ignore or overlook. What are your thoughts? (Martin, email)

A: There is no hard-and-fast rule on this, and the fact that an organisation is willing to accept both means you have both options. However, we would urge email as the better option, and here’s why: it’s easier for a person working in the company to circulate an email to other members of the organisation than it is to circulate a hard copy.

Hard copy requires photocopying or scanning, where at the touch of a button, an email can go to the key people. It is also easier to file and store.

A few tips on emailing: put your name and the title of the position you’re going for in the subject line, paste your cover letter into the body of the email and add the CV as an attachment, and include your contact details at the bottom of the email.

I wouldn’t worry about your CV being overlooked. Somebody in the organisation is charged with going through all the applications. Concern yourself more with ensuring your CV catches their attention early with a strong first half of the first page. Stimulate them to invite you in for an interview.

Cutting to the chase

Q: My CV currently runs to five pages. Is this too long? (Angela, email)

A: Almost certainly. There can be exceptions, and in some jobs they will expect a five-page CV, or even longer, but, by and large, it is a huge amount of information to ask an employer to process.

Also, there is the danger in a five-page CV that the employer will not notice the key information you’d like them to see. If they are looking for a salesperson who has previously sold B2B, you run the risk of having that information overlooked if you give equal prominence to your experience selling to consumers, or working as a mechanic.

The trick is to isolate and highlight the details that are relevant to the job being advertised. A five-page CV is trying to do too much – it is trying to tell the full story of a working life, whereas it is better to push selected, relevant highlights in front of the employer.

By all means, leave no gaps, but not every job requires equal prominence. I bet if you go back over your CV, asking yourself a simple question: “Does this amount of detail here help to convince the employer I am the right person for the job?”, you will be able to knock 2-3 pages out of that CV no problem.

We notice that sometimes the most experienced of people have the shortest CVs. They have learned to list what really matters in their experience, and stripped out everything else that could confuse, distract or even annoy the potential employer.

This week’s top tip from Sli Nua Careers

It’s something we touched on briefly before – sending a ‘thank you’ after you’ve been unsuccessful in interview. We had a number of enquiries from people about this, and we have put together some samples of possible ‘thank you’ letters.

If you’d like a copy of those samples, email with ‘thank you’ in the subject line.

Sli Nua Careers (Watson’s Lane, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, tel 094 95 42965, carry out CV Preparation, Mock Interviews, Interview Training, and Career Direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips,

Online CV Preparation and Interview Training services provided in Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Derry, Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow