Job Hunting: A how to guide…
I have been thinking about how I might be best placed to assist most of those who are in contact with me, often asking the same queries, around how to best present themselves, their CVs, basically how can they make their job search the least painful process possible. Now for those who are looking to ladder climb they might derive some enjoyment from this process, but for the rest it isn’t going to be on your top 5 most enjoyable tasks to do…
Now there are a lot of factors that are constantly changing in the job market, and to be completely up on the play of what is happening you are going to need to get in touch with a recruitment consultant, or perhaps a knowledgeable friend who works in HR – this goes for both candidates and clients alike. But generally speaking I think there are a few areas which for myself at least seem to hold static, and sharing this information – I am hoping – will help give the many a much greater level of comfort throwing yourself into the great unknown of job hunting.
First of all I will start with CVs. I have spoken about these previously within other posts I have written, but for those who have not scoured through the multitudes of pages before this I will run over what I consider to be the most important parts.
Less information is not necessarily more.
Now I get told constantly that in the UK, and various other parts of the world a 2 page CV is the way to go. Now I can’t speak to the UK market from where I am currently standing, but particularly if you are moving to a new country and looking for a new job you need more information rather than less. Whilst someone locally might instantly recognise what a CSR role with XYZ Insurance company would entail – why would someone on the other side of the world automatically be privy to that kind of information? Sometimes best practice is actually to spell it out. Now by token of the same gesture I don’t want a novel either. I want you to notate the functions you performed, maybe give me some background (read some, NOT all) around the projects and environment you were working within, and your achievements within this role. If this takes you to 5 pages instead of 2, so be it, I can guarantee it will be more likely to lead to an interview than the guy who condensed 6 years into 1 sentence. Really 6 years and you have nothing to say about it?
You need to provide a carrot for whoever it is you are sending your CV through to, to actually call you, but you want to leave enough breathing space that there are additional topics to cover when you do sit down to chat with them.
Reverse chronological order, is always the right order
Now this might just be down to learned behaviour, but if I open a CV with the first job showing as working at McDonalds 4 years ago, that doesn’t exactly set my world on fire. Your most recent role should always be the most recent one showing, and working backwards from there. Also if you have been working for 20 years you really don’t need to state where you went to high school, or those first few low level roles you held. I understand that it shows progression, and tenacity on your part – but it isn’t really relevant anymore to the role you are applying for today. Now if you are going for a role that requires accounting knowledge, so you want to let them know you started your career in Finance, then absolutely this is relevant. However if this background has no relevance to the role in question that you are applying for my advice would be to drop it. You can always cover yourself by writing “Information on roles prior to 2000 can be supplied upon request”. In the same manner with which you would approach referee details.
A picture paints a thousand words
If you work in a discipline in which people will want to see examples of your work, provide this at the start rather than trying to use this as an incentive to get someone to call you. It shows a pride in your achievements, a willingness to share, and an openness – all of which are very attractive traits for a potential employee. Not to mention you could blow their socks off and fast track getting in front of the decision makers.
#3A – Actually including a picture of yourself on the other hand, not necessarily such a great idea.
Make sure your CV is legible
Spell check exists for a reason folks, and it’s not so that it can be ignored by job searchers. If there is one time when perfect spelling is an absolute must it is now, and having spelling errors only shows a lack of care, and attention on your part. In the same vein make sure you are using the same font throughout, and if you aren’t make sure you are at least consistent with how you switch between them. Also make sure that you use bullet points for what they are designed for, to clearly display numerous facts – rather than just lumping everything into a single, hard to read sentence. And consistent font size is also greatly appreciated, you don’t want your CV to take more than an hour to actually comprehend your skill set, or make the reader go cross-eyed in the process.
These are really the key bug bears that most recruiters/hiring managers have with CVs. And if you start with these you should be onto a winner in no time!
Recruiting a Good Recruiter
It seems to me, that a lot of people don’t know how they would be best placed to work with a Recruitment Consultant during their job search. Now this isn’t a cut and dried approach – your engagement with a recruiter is going to differ depending on the skill set you have, how far progressed in your career you are, and indeed whether you are looking just at permanent job opportunities or at more contingent/interim contracts as well. But for a bit of an overview that is likely to help the majority, you should work with a recruitment consultant in conjunction with your own efforts to secure work. Particularly if you don’t have a current role, have recently been made redundant etc.
Unless a recruiter has specified that they would like to work with you exclusively, and that they have a range of opportunities, with businesses they have specifically named to you, I personally feel it is unwise to just flick your CV across to someone and expect they will find your dream vocation. Particularly if you are in a rush to find something new. If you have the luxury of waiting for something awesome to come along this approach could certainly be the way to go however.
Recruitment Consultants, wait scratch that, GOOD Recruitment Consultants are BUSY! Much to your horror they won’t just be working with you until you find a role, they will be working with hundreds of candidates. That’s not an exaggeration, or me just being dramatic by the way… Whilst we truly have the best of intentions when it comes helping you out, in the heat of the moment names do from time to time slip our minds. I’m not a cyborg, so I don’t have perfect fact retention unfortunately. Although if someone legitimately manages to make those ‘Limitless’ pills, definitely drop me a line! I’ll be your first customer! So if we post an ad that you see, and think, ‘Hey, that looks exactly like a bit of me!’, give us a call or drop us an email. If nothing else it is confirming to us that you are still available and looking. Communication as they say is key!
Now this pearl of wisdom doesn’t necessarily stretch to me suggesting you should register with every Tom, Dick and Harry recruiter in the country. If you do you will find out the hard way that for a lot of roles the larger corporates in particular call multiple agencies to assist, and you will find yourself being slightly harassed. Although not by me, I’m very amenable. I would suggest maybe talking to 1 or 2 agencies – and I personally would ask at registration who their key clients are, so you know you aren’t talking to 2 agencies who would only ever be looking at the exact same roles. Again if you are more senior, and have a hard to find skill set – only talking to 1 might be the ticket!
Just a bit of a PSA for all those out there currently searching, and potentially pulling your hair out. We are here to help, and if we can we certainly will, but at the end of the day we don’t want to see you miss out. Just my little pay it forward, and hopefully next time you are out searching you will come full circle and give me the first heads up call!
The follow through
Keep track of what you have applied for, and if you don’t receive a response follow up. If you have gone to the effort and trouble of sharing your details for a role you certainly deserve a response, so make sure you get yours.
Also though, keep track of your applications so that you don’t end up applying for the same job 6 times. There is nothing more unattractive when seeking out a new employee, than someone who obviously isn’t paying attention to what they are applying for, and therefore are clearly applying for anything slightly relevant, or completely irrelevant, to their skill set. It also reeks of desperation, which is obviously never ideal.
And also, always remember your manners when it comes to your job hunt. I would sincerely hope that you conduct yourself in the same manner in an interview, as you would on a first date when you really want to impress the other person. Put your best foot forwards, dress up, show up, and let your qualities and experience shine. To do anything less you are only doing yourself a disservice.
Happy Job Hunting!