A few days ago we did an interview with the Pronunciation School, a wonderful consultancy, helping immigrants to get rid off their heavy accents to find jobs in a new country.

Olga Barrett, Founder and Managing Consultant at
CV Wizard of OZ

1. How did you get started CV Wizard of OZ?

I started this business 6 years ago soon after our arrival in Western Australia. By that time, I already had 13 years of experience in HR and recruitment in big corporates across Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and worked with candidates and employees all around the world.

As soon as I arrived, I jumped into networking and, considering the slowdown in the jobs market in Perth in 2013, I was getting lots of requests from people I met at events – can you have a look at my CV?

Having been a recruiter for half of my life – I could easily identify the flaws in their CVs, but it was not good enough!

I wanted to establish know-how, a fool-proof approach that would work for clients from every walk of life. So, after a while, I came up with a very specific methodology for CV writing, that combines elements of job functional analysis, to-be and as-is job descriptions and STAR system.

The name of the business is a combination of ‘cv wizard’ – which means we do things fast! And ‘wizard of oz’ – which means that we achieve magic results at times (true story!) Not to mention a nod to Oz, or Australia, where my company is located, and most of my clients want to find work.

The idea came to me one late evening that might or might not have involved a few glasses of wine 😊

2. How do you come into contact with clients?

You know, content is king. I am a bit fond of sharing information and knowledge with anyone who cares enough to read or listen, and it happened to be the right way to attract our clients. We post a lot of content, it’s real, raw and edgy – and people love it.  We have a super active community on Facebook and do quite a lot on LinkedIn as well.  Also, I work with a few Meet Ups whose organisers tolerate me enough to hand me a mic 😊

We have heaps of happy clients that are coming back every now and again and, they are glad to recommend us to their friends and colleagues. Of course, we send a few sneaky newsletters now and again to ping people – the more, the merrier.

3. Can you describe your clientele?

We work with immigrants quite a lot. They are one of the most unrepresented and vulnerable groups in society. Being an immigrant myself and having worked in very different countries and cultures, I can relate to the challenges our clients are facing. One of the most demanding services in our company is coaching immigrants on how to approach the job search in a new country.

Some people come to Australia wholly unprepared. They concentrate primarily on getting here, as it’s presumably a promised land. They don’t bother doing their homework, hoping that things will figure themselves out, cos everything is so fruitful and abundant here.

There are a lot of mistakes immigrants make, starting from ‘spray and pray’ approach – sending tons of generic CVs and poorly written cover letters, to completely misinterpreting social and cultural context – and here we are to guide them through all that jazz 😊

Seasoned professionals, who come across as overqualified. Quite often, I coach people with 20+ years of career history and consequently 10+ pages CVs. We help them to sharpen their sales pitch to identify primary areas of expertise. Sometimes candidates’ seniority works against them, as there is a bit of prejudice going on – recruiters and hiring managers at times believe that senior professionals don’t want/forget how to be hands-on. We help to fix that.

People that are coming back to work after a break.

It’s scary, you have been away a minute, and already people are offering you a lesser salary than you used to earn! We help parents that are struggling to get back to work, people who lived abroad for a bit and are finding it hard to get themselves back on track in Australia or New Zealand.

In fact, it’s hard to categorise all the clients that we are working with – they come from very different cultural and professional backgrounds, but of course we at CV Wizard of Oz, are happy to help them all.

4. What is your point of difference, what makes you stand out?

  • First, CV Wizard of Oz’s know-how that is based on job functional analysis, keywords optimisation and making as-is and to-be job descriptions meet.
  • Second – our quality control system. Though lots of our consultants are native speakers, we have people doing proof-reading for us professionally.
  • But most importantly, all our consultants worked in recruitment, both as internal and agency recruiters. Why is it important? We all are limited by our own experience. I often come across advice that career coaches are offering, which might be questionable and can be very confusing for job seekers.

Suggestions like ‘Never send your CVs in pdf format’ or ‘Always print your CV before an interview’ or ‘Your CV shouldn’t be more than 2 pages’ say a lot about the adviser. Yes, agencies prefer word format, you need to print your CV if you interview in small retail and a graduate would not need more than a 2-page CV, but is it applicable to all situations? Not at all.

So, we engage consultants with experience in various sectors, those who not only can write CVs, but whose former or current career and reputation rely on reading and interpreting CVs from a hiring perspective.

5. Can you share some success stories with us?

Do you have your Kleenex ready? 😉 We have quite a few. Job search can be quite traumatic for people, and it’s actually scary to think that your life, possibly marriage and mental health depend on a piece of paper. One of my favourite stories is about a client who worked as a truck driver for 2 years, though he was a brilliant SAP consultant. The truth is that no one in Australia had ever read his 12-page CV that was written in 8-size font. The sad part – no one had ever told him, was that that was the problem. We did our CV Wizard of Oz magic, and he’s flying now.

Another one – a client located in the US, who we helped to get a role in Facebook Ireland. That was very thrilling indeed!

6. Who would be people you won’t be able to help?

Anyone who thinks that if they engaged us for a fee, we would guarantee them a job. One can’t shift responsibility for their own life on other people, whether they are coaches or mentors. Regardless of how much you pay.

7. What’s your geography coverage?

We work with our clients across the whole APAC region, and the majority comes from Australia and New Zealand. We also have quite a few clients in Emirates and Israel, at times we work with clients in Western Europe and the US.

8. Do you have any advice for people looking for a job?

  • Write your CV for those who will read it, not about yourself for yourself.
  • Pay attention to homophones – there-their, than-then, lose – loose.
  • You can live a full, happy life without ever using semicolons.
  • Please, don’t write etc. or ‘and others’ in CV.
  • Don’t duplicate responsibilities.
  • Don’t write the word ‘responsibilities’ (and anything else that is painfully obvious for that matter).
  • If you cannot write a terrific cover letter – don’t bother writing anything at all, send just a CV, or engage a professional.
  • Want to get used to the Aussie accent? Call strangers. Gumtree, your bank, insurance companies, solar panel sellers, marketers and scammers. It will help you to get used to different accents and fight phone anxiety.
  • Don’t send your CV to recruiters on LinkedIn without being asked for it but also don’t say ‘Hi, how are you?’ and wait for a reply for ages (they won’t reply).
  • Install Grammarly.
  • Never talk for longer than 2 minutes in one burst at an interview.
  • Listen to questions.
  • Don’t blame just the recruiters for your troubles with job search! There are many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit together in order to secure a job.

And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself! Keep trying and you will get there 😊

Good luck! And if you are stuck – give us a nudge, we are here to help!

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