A special message to all the lovely clients, candidates, followers and contacts that make my working life great!
If Valentines Day did not exist, No flowers, gifts or cards, We'd search to find another way To send you our regards.
Appreciation and respect,
Hoping our heartfelt message Has a warm and good effect.
But Valentine's Day is here again, So we send this poem to say: You're extraordinary, special, rare; Happy Valentine's Day!
Last week, I dipped my toe into the dangerous world of personal branding, based on my true belief that soon, the traditional method of applying for jobs with a CV will be something of the past.
Change is one established fact of life that will remain constant. And haven’t we come a long way in the world of recruitment?
Back then, we still sent out applications and searched for jobs in the newspaper and on jobs boards, so we needed a marketing document about ourselves that would grab the reader’s attention and make us stand out from the crowd. I even remember a training course that suggested using pastel coloured, heavy gauged paper so that your CV was visible in the pile!heavygauge
Of course, back in those days we actually used the newspapers to advertise our jobs, and the jobs boards too. There were limits to how exposed certain roles were to the market, and how many people had access to them. It was all a matter of budget and how much the potential employer could afford to spend, to get his job the best possible exposure and therefore, the best possible pool of potential candidates. All these candidates would, mostly, have sent their CV to us to apply for the job. Or they would have applied for other jobs previously, to get their CV on the agency’s database. That’s when agency databases still had value, and having X-thousand candidate records was in fact a selling point, if you worked in recruitment.
Nowadays, one job is advertised a zillion times on the web. It is Tweeted, shared, posted, retweeted, and sent around the globe several times. Candidates come from all kinds of sources. This is mainly because information is very cheap in the current age. We all have access to free communication through channels that constantly develop and give us even more opportunities to communicate.
Nowadays, if you want to be a candidate in this noisy market, you have to know what you are about because there is a real risk of getting lost in the noise.
Because there has been a subtle recent shift in the market: Now, it is not the jobs that are hard to come by. Believe it or not: High numbers of unemployment does not mean that there are lots of people available for work. It means that the people available for work in the market, do not have the necessary skills to fulfill the jobs that are on offer.
So now, the pressure for Recruiters is no longer on finding the job opportunities. The pressure is on finding the candidates. And that means, invariably, going out to the market proactively to build relationships with candidates who are probably not even actively looking for new jobs.
This complicates affairs for active candidates and job seekers, because you are not just competing with others in your same situation. You are competing against the huge unknown quantity of non-active job seekers too.
If you want to find a new job in this type of environment, it is imperative that you position yourself in the places that Recruiters (in-house AND agency) will expect to find inactive candidates: Invariably, all searches start on The Internet. This means establishing an online presence for yourself, being active on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, making sure that people know what you do and what you are about. So eventually, you probably won’t need a CV at all. What you will need, is to be resourceful, engaged and present online.
After all, they have to find you first. And then, they will still ask you to send your CV. Or they can just use your profile, thank you very much!
But sooner or later, I think the CV in its current form is going to be a thing of the past. Only time will tell!
Back in the day, when I first started my recruitment career (And I will have you know it’s not SUCH a long time ago!) such a thing as the Internet or online databases didn’t exist. In fact, we didn’t even have computers, other than for typing up CVs in WordPerfect – A job for which a special CV typist was employed. We hand delivered CVs to our clients, and the advent of the fax machine was a major technological leap forward in our communication with candidates and clients.
I had all my candidates in a hanging file system next my desk, my client contacts where in a Rolodex and clients trusted my judgement enough to arrange interviews directly on the phone with candidates I had interviewed, but whose CVs they have not even seen.
Shuffle on 20+ years (Yes, I am indeed that old!) and the face of the recruitment sector has totally changed. Sadly, trust went out of the window long ago, as soon as recruitment became commoditised and everyone forgot that there is no price to be placed on strong business relationships. However, that is probably the subject of a different, far more wistful blog post! This one is about candidates and CVs, so I will not digress.
Nowadays, if you want to be a candidate and find yourself a new job, you have to be in more than just one recruiter’s hanging files to have a ghost of a chance, at least. Your ksills are now a commodity too. Paper CVs have long gone out of the window and now, you have several electronic versions. In fact, your actual CV may soon be obsolete because technology is developing so quickly that you can now find a job without even having a CV at all, depending on the sector you find yourself in.
Of course, not all industries evolve at the same pace in this regard, and if you are an engineer then your technical skills will probably still be the most important thing. And having these written down on an e-paper CV, honestly and solidly, will probably still be valid for a long time. But if you work in Sales or Management, then I can almost guarantee that your online brand will soon have to be very close to equal your personal one, if you want to excel and do well. And what’s on your CV must reflect what can be found online, support it and extend it.
Because trust is thin on the ground nowadays, expect the recruiting manager or hiring manager to check you out online well beofr eyou even get to interview stage. And who knows? This may even be where they you first, so that you don’t even get to the point of applying for a job or sending in a CV at all!
They are likely to look at any (Or a combination of):
2) The number of Twitter followers you have, the last time you tweeted and what you tweeted about
3) The size and quality of your LinkedIn community
4) The number and quality of recommendations you have on LinkedIn and
5) Your Klout score.
This means that, eventually and in the not-so-distant future, your slightly old-fashioned CV will most likely be replaced by the breadth and depth of your personal brand.
And as candidates catch on to employers’ focus on their Internet presence, they will shift their methods accordingly. Taking the lead from innovative applicants like Shawn McTigue, who made this 2:50 video as part of his application to a Mastercard internship, more workers will take a creative approach to marketing their experience instead of sending out there CVs.
However we do it, we will all have to accept that a one-page summary of our professional histories, expertise, skills, and achievements – that which we think of as a “CV” – will no longer act as our differentiation in the job market.
Start working on your online brand now – Engage, share content, add value. It will be the best investment you can possibly make in your own future.
Finding your dream job is like chasing butterflies with a wide net: You have to cover a whole lot of ground before you bag one!
In last week’s post, I explained the importance of making yourself memorable. Lets take that a few steps further now:
1. Know what you can offer immediately.
Researching the company is a given; go a step farther and find a way you can hit the ground running or contribute to a critical area. If you have a specific technical skill, show how it can be leveraged immediately. But don’t say, for example, “I would love to be in charge of revamping your business development strategy.” Firstly, that’s fairly presumptuous, and then, someone may already be in charge of that. Instead, share details regarding your skills and show how they would benefit the company. The interviewer will be smart enough to recognize how the expertise you offer can be used.
2. Don’t create negative sound bites.
A sound bite is literally a snap shot of what is said. Unfortunately, the human brain seems to zoom in on negative things first, before noticing the positive. There is a limit to how much any person can remember, especially after sitting through several interviews! So any interviewer will only remember a few sound bites, especially the negative ones. So be careful with the words you use when you answer questions. If you’ve never been in charge of training, don’t say, “I’ve never been in charge of training.” Rather say something like, “I didn’t hold the specific title, but I have trained dozens of new hires and created several training guides.” Try to steer away from using negative words and phrases like “I can’t,” or “I haven’t,” or “I don’t.” Clearly, you must be honest – This is not about what you say, but rather how you say it. Share applicable experience and find the positives in what you have done. No matter what the subject, be positive: Even your worst mistake can be your best learning experience.
3. Ask for the job based on facts – Close positively
By the end of the interview you should have a good sense of whether this is the job for you. If you need more information, say so. Otherwise simply “close the sale” and ask for the job. (Don’t worry about appearing pushy: Interviewers actually like it when you ask. It saves them a job!) Focus on specific aspects of the job: Explain you work best with teams, or thrive in unsupervised roles, or get energized by frequent travel…. Ask for the job and use facts to prove you want it — and deserve it.
4. Reinforce your interest with a follow-up.
Email follow-ups are fine; social media connections are acceptable; following up based on something you learned during the interview is best. Send an email including additional information you were asked to provide, or a link to a subject you discussed (whether business or personal.) The better the interview (And the more closely you listened) the easier it will be to think of ways you can make following up seem natural and unforced. And make sure you say thanks — never underestimate the power of gratitude.
So when you see a butterfly, position your net carefully and make sure that when you go for it, you are going to get it. Otherwise, keep going! The right one will soon fall into your net.
It’s crunch time – You have a job interview, so you are in the race! After weeks of sending CVs, following up, getting turned down, following up, speaking to people, leaving messages, following up, you finally have a date and time confirmed. The finish line is within sight and there, just on the other side, is the prize: That job you are after.
But have you ever watched a race, and see someone crash out just before they reach the finish line? What a disappointment!
Sadly, many interviewees fail at interview – Not because they don’t have the right skills or weak CVs, but because they don’t shine in the interview. A good CV can get you through the door, but if you don’t follow through in the interview you will fail. Like that runner in the race, who trained and worked hard to get there in the first place, the job isn’t done until after you cross the finish line.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help yourself along and I will explore these in the next few blog posts.
1. Don’t get over excited!
Relax, think clearly and take some time to make sure exactly why you want this job, and why it’s worth fighting for. Desperation means going in half cocked. Instead, prepare thoroughly and make sure you are relaxed on the day, so that you can perform to your own best advantage. Nerves can be controlled. If you manage to keep yourself calm you are setting yourself up for a fabulous interview.
2. Be likable
Obvious? And critical. Making a great first impression and establishing a real connection is everything. Smile, make eye contact, be enthusiastic, sit forward in your chair, use the interviewer’s name…. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself you possibly can. We all want to work with people we like and who like us. Use that basic fact to your advantage. Coming across as arrogant, conceited, difficult, or simply self-absorbed are likely to trip you up very quickly.
3. Don’t be desperate
Never start the interview by saying you want the job. Why? Because you simply don’t know yet. False commitment is, well, false. Instead…
Ask questions about what really matters to you. Focus on making sure the job is a good fit: Who you will work with, who you will report to, the scope of responsibilities, etc. Interviews should always be two-way, and interviewers respond positively to people as eager as they are to find the right fit. Plus there’s really no other way to know you want the job. And don’t be afraid to ask several questions. As long as you don’t take completely take over, the interviewer will enjoy and remember a nice change of pace. It’s a good idea to take a writing pad and pen, with pre-prepared questions but jot down new ones as you go along, and take notes for future reference.
5. Set a hook
A sad truth of interviewing is that later, the interviewer may not remember a tremendous amount about you — Especially if they’ve interviewed a number of candidates for the same job. Later you might be referred to as, “The guy with the shiny shoes,” or, “The woman with the funny accent,” or, “The chap who grew up in Wales.” These identifiers are known as hooks, and you can use them to your advantage. Hooks could be clothing (within reason), or outside interests, or unusual facts about your upbringing or career. Hooks make you memorable and create an anchor for interviewers to remember you by — and being memorable is everything. The best hooks are work related – For obvious reasons. If you can set something that will make you memorable and remind them of a particular skill, you will have gained a real advantage. An unusual or even humourous story that reflects on your strength areas, or a specific succesful outcome or achievement, will bring light relief to the interviewer and make you memorable for all the right reasons.
NEXT WEEK – Even more ideas about how to shine and be memorable at interview
During 2012, I wrote a guest blog for Jobsite about how job applicants can get the best out of recruitment agency relationships. It attracted a whole lot of interest at the time, so I thought it might be useful to repost the content:
“When I started my recruitment career 24 years ago, I had a set of hanging files containing about 50 candidate records, I knew each one of them and it was my aim to place every single one. Now with the rise of internet based recruiting, agencies have thousands of candidates on their databases and this has contributed to a depersonalisation of the recruitment industry from the candidate’s perspective.
There are of course still many Recruitment Consultants out there who go the extra mile to build relationships and feel responsible for their candidates. However, there is always a lot of negative comment about the industry in this area. There seems to be a general mismatch between candidates’ expectations of the recruitment industry in general, and the reality of their day to day experience.
I hope the following points will assist with managing your expectations during your job search, and to give you more control:
1. Take responsibility for your own career
Agencies do not find people jobs, they search for potentially suitable candidates to fulfil their clients’ hiring expectations. The recruitment industry is hugely KPI and sales driven, so agencies are under pressure to perform. You will certainly still be able to find specialist consultants who are willing to give you personalised advice and assistance, but don’t set your expectations too high in terms of the success rates of your applications. Take charge of your own situation, give yourself the broadest possible exposure and don’t wait for them to call you – You will have to do most of the chasing!
2. Give yourself broad exposure
Register your CV with several agencies, and also post it onto the jobs boards like Jobsite. Make sure you have a lot of search words repeated in your CV as this will give you a higher ranking in the recruiter’s searches. You should also search for online jobs yourself, and if you see something you like send in your CV. Also Google the agency and give them a call to introduce yourself. Recruitment really is a numbers game and you will be successful if you embrace this in your job search, whilst managing the frustrations of making many applications and only getting a small number of responses. Make it easy for agencies to reach you, with ALL your up to date contact information on your CV
3. Don’t apply for jobs that are not relevant
Read the job advertisement and if you don’t fulfil the criteria, don’t apply. If you just apply to every single job you see, you may eventually be seen as an unfocused candidate and could even be taken off the agency’s database. Keep track of the jobs you apply to via the web. Agencies often advertise the same role on different sites, so if you have already applied through one site, do not send your CV again through another. You will save yourself time, your expectations will be managed and you will not create the impression of being desperate.
4. Build relationships
Choose 3 or 4 agencies that operate in your specialist area, and make contact with an experienced consultant. It is better to deal with specialist agencies rather than generalists, as this reduces the level of risk in your application. Introduce yourself to the consultant, explain what you are looking for and ask their advice. Also check how frequently they want you to check in with them for updates, and then make it a habit to have a quick catch up without becoming a pest. Remember, they are targeted and don’t have time to speak with you unless there is a real reason. You want to make sure you are first in their thoughts and on their database for the right reasons!
5. Working in partnership gives you competitive advantage
If an agency calls you, make sure you call back quickly or answer immediately as timing is sometimes crucial. If they arrange an interview, confirm that you have received the details and call them back straight after the interview. Give them your feedback concisely and be specific about what happened in the interview. Give them time to contact the client for feedback before you chase too hard. This all helps to build a relationship with your recruiter and even if you don’t get offered the first role, if you do well in interviews they will certainly put you forward to the next suitable role. If you under perform at interview or commit some of the most common faux pas (E.g arriving late, not grooming appropriately, bad mouth your last employer) they will think hard before including you on a shortlist again.”
Thanks to all who read my blog during 2012. The stats appear to be very consistent and I hope to continue posting useful and valuable content during 2013. If there is a recruitment related subject you want more information on, please let me know and I will be more than happy to give you my views!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Please read what they found out!
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.