In the beginning of March I will hit my 3rd anniversary in Bulgaria. What brought me here was a job, so I think it would be appropriate to write a few words about career orientation and applying for jobs over here. This post is the planned as the first of a series, so don’t expect me to cover all topics.
Please note I will focus primary on the BPO (‘business process outsourcing’) sector, as this is the area where I am most experienced. BPO includes a lot of processes, but the most popular over here tend to relate to customer care and backoffice/financial administration. Just think of call centers and shared services centers.Of course, I will try to give some general directions applicable to other sectors as well. Keep in mind the most important CV-trick is to tailor your CV to the needs of the audience.
Why the CV?
I will start with CVs, since this is one of the key documents at the pre-selection stage of recruitment. Your curriculum vitae (‘cv’) introduces you to the employer and opens the door for an eventual interview. There are many formats you can use, so getting started can be a bit confusing.
If you have grown up in an European country and/or applied for some youth exchange before, you may have used the Europass CV format. It provides both templates and a cv-builder in all EU languages, so it is a very convenient option to get started. Please don’t use it for actual job applications.
If you have studied beyond high school and held more than one job, your Europass CV will probably run over two pages. Yes, it is a standardised format in 20+ languages. If the job advertisement requires a Europass CV, go ahead and make one. Otherwise don’t bother. You may need to apply with a Europass CV for:
- Government / public administration;
- Other public sector;
- Project work financed with government/EU funds;
- Work or traineeship(s) at EU institutions.
For any other sector, the Europass CV format is a waste of time, space and paper. Don’t delude yourself that a recruiter who’s not impressed by the first page of your resume will read (or print out) the next 2-5 pages with keen interest. Most won’t. So please do make it easy to see your potential for the job.
As general guidance, the CV for a starter position can be just 1 page and list:
- General info – Name, contact details, current availability to start, position you are applying for;
- Experience (if applicable);
- Extracurriculars (if applicable);
- Skills – languages, computer, technical, soft;
- Bonus – hobbies.
For a more senior position, i.e. 1-3 year experience, I would suggest placing experience before education unless your educational background is the main reason why you’re suited for the position. Try to position the more relevant information at the forefront. Skills, PC tools you can work with – all this helps build your professional image.
Personally, I keep a very detailed version of my CV with precise tasks, competencies, etc for all jobs, courses taken at college, projects, extracurriculars, software I have worked with, etc. When I prepare an application, I pick up only the information relevant to the job opening and focus on creating a concise image of the professional they’re looking for. This means I have a separate personalised CV for each job (or job profile) I apply for.
Tips and tricks
- Too much information
Don’t put in the CV details you’re not comfortable sharing. You currently live in one of the poshy suburbs of Sofia? Good to know, but not very useful. Just got divorced? Who cares. Space and attention come at a premium, so stick to the details that paint you as the ideal candidate for the job you are applying for.
- Applying for a new position while working
In general, people who are currently employed are more desirable for employers. There’s no need to throw your current employer under the bus though. Stay professional, don’t disclose information you are not authorised to share and bare in mind your CV may easily end up in the hands of your own HR or line manager. The BPO sector in Bulgaria is a community very focused on human resources and spillovers of information are no surprise.
- Short and sweet
Don’t write a novel if you can rely the information with an ad in the newspaper. Recruiters go through a lot of CVs and making their job easier can help them focus on the substance of your resume. Questions are best addressed during interviews.
If your CV is promising, but falls short on details, you may get a request for a detailed CV before or after the interview. That’s okay, it means your application is on the radar. Good job!
- Salary expectations and current salary
Disclosure of current salary and salary expectations is usually part of the interview process. Companies have budgets and want to assess if you are a match for the position in financial terms. This is okay.
Getting accurate information about the company budget, current salary levels and remuneration strategy can be hard, especially from distance. BPO is notorious for the lack of salary indexation and lack of raises. You get what you negotiate for and this can create issues later down the road. Having a job you love and a salary you don’t is no fun.
My advise is to keep your salary expectations to yourself and wait for the employer to put a number on the table. The better your research on the company, the more likely it is to get a fair offer matchimg your expectations. Your CV is not the place to disclose your current salary and/or future remuneration expectations, as this puts you at a significant disadvantage when negotiating afterwards.
However short or long your resume is, a simple typo can undo all your good work. Re-read as many times as you need to. Print out and re-read on paper. If you are at the university, pair up with a classmate and proofread each other’s CV. If you know someone who already works in the BPO sector, pick his mind about anything that stands out. If your girlfriend/boyfriend is dabbing in recruitment, have her/him take a look. Any feedback can help polish your CV.
- CV in English
If you’re not native in English, be careful about translations of names, job descriptions and competencies. The standard CV in the BPO sector is in English. Resumes may be reviewed by clients as well, so it’s important to be able to relay information in an understandable manner. Keep in mind the cultural differences between English speakers.
That’s it from me folks.
Are you working/applying or planning to apply for a customer care / backoffice/ call center job in Bulgaria? Please let me know what topics would be interesting for you 🙂