The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market in the 21st Century

Posts Tagged ‘marketing recruitment

My Easter message

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EasterEaster has always been a time of reflection for me.

Where I grew up in South Africa, Easter falls in the early autumn. It starts getting cooler, the nights draw in and mothers start cooking vegetable soup. It’s a time for slowing down, for taking respite and for re-calibrating.

Here in the UK, Easter is a time of re-awakening. It’s early spring, the daffodils and crocuses bloom and everything is springing back to life after the winter. We all rejoice in British Summer Time!

Of course, we all know that Easter is not really about hopping bunnies and chocolate, Easter bonnets and chocolate, and more chocolate on top of the chocolate we already ate.

Easter has it’s own meaning for everyone. For me, it’s about being grateful and taking time to contemplate how generous life is with it’s gifts. I seem to be getting a lot more philosophic as I get older. And I like it that way! It has improved my quality of life immensely.

So my Easter wish for you and yours is that you may have the luxury of making space for a bit of gratitude. (And of course, chocolate!)

I am grateful for so many good things – Physical, professional, emotional, spiritual, both business-wise and personal. The list will go on forever! So instead of boring you witless, I would simply like to wish everyone a truly blessed Easter.

 

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting: Get your CV spotted online

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I'm onlineDo you have a “One size fits all” CV?

Writing a CV with a specific job in mind, is relatively easy because it can be targeted. Getting your CV ready for online is quite another story.

The fact is that using your standard CV for all purposes is not the best way to get found by recruitment agencies or employers online. And the entire jobs market is online, if you see what I mean!

There is a specific reason for this. Registering your CV with an online jobs board, or sending your CV to an employer or recruitment consultancy has one particular element in common: A database.

1. How does it work?

An electronic database is an effective way of managing and storing vast amounts of data, in this case thousands of CV’s. Think of it as a huge storage facility into which all the electronic data is poured en masse, identified only by little tags of data that will help the database administrator dig the information out again when it’s needed. These little tags are key words or phrases.

When a recruiter wants to find a list of potentially suitable CV’s for a job, the databases are searched through using key words or phrases that will pull out suitable CV’s from the huge numbers stored in the database.

This isn’t dissimilar to a Google search: The jobs boards will categorise search results in order of suitability that is usually based on the numbers of times the key words appear in the CV. The more frequently the word appears, the higher up it is rated in the search criteria.

Of course, other search criteria also apply: Geographic location, salary range, qualifications, temporary or permanent, etc. but key words, in my view, is the most important way to find well-matched candidates. There are usually boxes to tick for these general search areas and this is automatically searchable.

When you apply to an agency directly, the likelihood your CV being stored on yet another database is very high and even though it might be additionally coded in this way, the agency will still need to know what your background is. You don’t always get the opportunity to discuss this first.

For this reason, writing a personalised CV for a database is not appropriate. There is in fact very little human interface until your CV is read AFTER it has been found on the database.

Obviously, if you are looking for a job it is important for your CV to rate very highly in database searches. The more “hits” you get, the better your chance of being successfully matched to a job and proceeding through the recruitment process.

2. Think like a Recruiter

As a recruiter it is to my advantage to find the best possible candidates for the job I am trying to fill through searching the databases. But without some really creative thinking on my part it is often very difficult to dig them out. I am always surprised how few candidates actually mention obvious information like the industries they work in, or the products they work with, on their CV’s.

With the databases jammed full of CV’s of any kind, getting your own to the top of the pile is really important. Sometimes stating what you might think is the obvious, makes the difference between being overlooked or not.

Recruiters get thousands of CV’s in every search. Improve your chances of being spotted by imagining you are explaining what you do to someone who has no idea of what you do. Write all the descriptive words down, and use them in your CV. Remember, a non-intelligent electronic system is going to be matching on these words. Then, they will be cross-examined with human intelligence. When I look at hundreds of CV’s, it is much easier if its obvious that the CV represents a basic fit, rather than having to dig too deep too quickly.

Most recruiters will use the first trawl to draw up a long list to investigate deeper the second time around. This is usually done quickly, perhaps by a quick scan only. You might be excluded during this scan, even if you do match the job, if your CV makes it difficult to find and process the information.

3. Optimise key words and phrases

Using the above ideas, you should have a good idea of what to include, but the following words MUST appear in your CV:

  • The industry you work in. Don’t just tick the box on the registration screen, mention the words in your CV. Be specific and if there is more than one descriptive word, use them all.
  • The products you work with. Do you design engines? Do you sell guitars? Do you service front end loaders? These are all key search criteria – The words that must appear in your CV.
  • Jargon, acronyms and technical words. This is particularly important for technical jobs, or jobs in industries like Automotive, Aerospace or IT / Telecoms where acronyms abound. In automotive, words like JIT, QMS, FEAD, etc have become part of the vernacular and that is what recruiters might use to search.
  • Job titles. Especially if there is more than one descriptor for what you do, make sure you cover the bases. For example Sales can encompass Business Development, Key Account Management, Telesales, etc. that all describe a variation on the same theme. Make sure these appear in your CV in such a way that they describe very specifically what you do or want to do.
  • Specialist areas. For the same reasons as above, the more your specialist areas appear in your CV the better your chances of standing out from the crowd.
  • Brief company details. In a very short paragraph, describe the industry, product, methods and systems to optimise key words whilst also explaining to someone who is not familiar with the company exactly what the organisation did, and in turn cast light on where you fit into the context.
  • Systems and processes, especially if they are widely used or have specific names. For example, a system like SAP is very widely used and this might be a search word. If it’s not mentioned, the assumption would be that you don’t have the experience.

4. Less is not more

Sometimes it is not possible to squash all your skills and experience into the confines of 2 pages. Especially if you are a specialist or senior manager, I believe that making a CV too short might be to your disadvantage if it is stored on a database.

Write what you have to, but use bullet points to shorten the text and make it easy to find the information. Put your best attributes at the top of your CV, where it can be read first. Use figures and data to prove your abilities rather than just statements. Numbers in a CV is attractive, especially in commercial or sales jobs, as it provides a measure for your efficiency.

However, no Recruiter wants to read War and Peace so if the CV is too long, its likely not to achieve your objectives for you.

5. It must still make sense

Never forget that sooner or later, your CV will be read by a human being again. Optimising the search words is a means to this end, and the electronic search is the hurdle you have to cross in order to achieve this objective.

Don’t just list the key words. Use them to describe, concisely and intelligently, what you did and how you did it.

These tips should help you write a CV that is online friendly. Good luck!

 

Guide to Job Hunting – New Year, New You, New Job?!

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New Year

At the start of every new year, we all make resolutions of those things we would like to do or change during the next year. It’s a bit like spring cleaning: Sweeping out the tired old year to allow the new year to bring in a fresh outlook, new challenges, and renewed energies.

Often, finding a new job is at the top of our list.

But is it wise to simply just cast yourself into the job market, without being aware of what exactly it is you want to change?

Without actually understanding and being clear on why you are looking to leave your current job, you may not recognise what it is what you are looking for in a new employer.

Does money matter?

Better compensation is very rarely the true reason for people to leave jobs.  In most cases, it is only a symptom of a more complex issue. We need to work in a place that is fair, trustworthy, and deserving of an individual’s best efforts in order to feel valued, respected and secure.  Through the recession, your employer may not have been able to provide the pay increases you were able to achieve in the past.But often, people will stay employed in jobs that are underpaid because the other elements are provided for sufficiently for money not to be an overwhelming issue.

Where is the crunch?

Before you decide to leave, consider the following statements about your job and employer:

  • I am able to grow and develop my skills on the job and through training.
  • I have opportunities for advancement or career progress leading to higher earnings.
  • My job makes good use of my talents and is challenging.
  • I receive the necessary training to do my job capably.
  • I can see the end results of my work.
  • I receive regular feedback on my performance.
  • Competition is constructive, and colleagues are not pitted against each other to perform.
  • The communication channels are clear and open. I know how to address problems, and I’m confident that they will be addressed fairly and objectively.
  • I’m confident that if I work hard, do my best, demonstrate commitment, and make meaningful contributions, I will be recognized and rewarded accordingly.

Yes or no?

The above details the most common reasons, through research by Forbes magazine, of why people leave their jobs. They should give you a pretty good idea of where your niggles lie. If you can’t argue with any of them, make sure you have a clear reason for moving. Possibly, your issue might be sorted out without taking that serious final step.

However, if you do find areas that you are not comfortable with, then make sure you research any potential new employer to make sure you don’t walk into exactly the same situation again.

Happy new year!

Once you have cleared this with yourself, and you understand your own expectations, good luck! The jobs market is dynamic at the moment, and hiring in 2014 is set to be competitive, especially for candidates in scarce skill areas. Find a good Recruitment Consultant who can give you industry and career advice, and who will support your endeavour.

Everyone deserves to be fulfilled in their working life. Go for it!

Guide to job hunting: Get your Elevator Pitch sorted out!

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Image“Tell me about yourself ….” How often is this question asked in job interviews?!

It appears in most of the “Worst interview questions” lists. But simplistic, general and non-specific as it is, its is also a clever question used by the astute interviewer to assess a myriad of selection criteria. Especially when attention to detail, getting to the point quickly and focussing on what is important, appear high on the selection agenda.

This question is usually asked at the start of the interview. With this in mind, there are ways to prepare for it properly, so that you can get into the more detailed parts of the interview. Answering it well will make a good impression early on, but waffling and getting it wrong might shoot you in the foot totally, or set you back apace.

Getting an Elevator Pitch is a good way to approach this. Wikipedia defines an elevator pitch as a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. So you have now become your own product, with features and benefits relevant to the job specification!

There is also a strong likelihood that the follow-on questions will be based on the way you answer this question. So delivering a strong answer through your Elevator Pitch will certainly assist you in directing part of  the interview, or at least give you a chance to introduce yourself fully and mention some working strengths early on in the interview.

Where to go with this:

1. DO start with you:

Obviously! But keep it short. Don’t start way back when, just give very broad brush strokes about the personal stuff because this is a job interview, so you should focus on your working background. But it is good to give a warm introduction to yourself, to personalise the meeting and to display your well-rounded background.

2. Do talk about your education:

Where you studied, what, and why you chose those subjects in particular. Especially if you are an Engineer or if you are being interviewed for a technical job, this is highly relevant. Again, broad strokes are better than finite detail, just give them a flavour so that they can probe it later on.

3. Do mention your experience:

This is where you can direct the interview, to a point. This is really the detail that the interviewer is after and they might interject with questions. Invite questions by talking about your relevant skills or experience. Allow the first question to develop into the rest of the interview as it follow a natural conversational course.

What not to do:

1. Don’t talk about salary at this point. Wait for the question to be asked.

2. Don’t go into unnecessary detail. Value your interviewer’s time.

3. Don’t  waffle on. Use your elevator pitch and allow the interviewer to drive the conversation

Definitive guide to Job Hunting: When did you last Google yourself?

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So why didn’t you get called for that job interview you so wanted? Or why did the job offer not turn up as anticipated?
 
When did you last Google yourself?
 
The reality is that it is becoming very commonplace for job applicants to be “checked out” online before proceeding with the recruitment process. And it is absolutely crucial to make sure that what people find online supports the image you are portraying during your job search.
 
Google favours social networking sites so it is likely that your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profile will trend highly in the search rankings. And regardless of the security protocols you set (Interestingly, many Facebook profiles are public) they will draw conclusions from what they find.

So what are the pitfalls?

 

1. Inappropriate Pictures

Pictures of you in full party mode, chugging it down or falling over in the gutter might be a laugh to your friends. But that is NOT what you want a prospective employer to see!  Unless you make sure that your security settings are watertight, especially on Facebook, simply don’t put them online.

2. Complaining About Your Current Job

You’ve no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it could be found by others is not the best career move. Use this measure: If you won’t say it out loud in front of your boss or colleagues, then don’t post it online for the world to see.

3. Posting Conflicting Personal facts

Disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. Make sure that you are honest about your background and qualifications, and support this with the information you post online. Don’t over – or under state your experience, job title or qualifications. Inconsistencies mean a high risk factor to potential employers and they are likely to simply avoid it by cutting you from the list.

4. Statuses You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss to See

Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances of landing a new job. We have all heard of people losing jobs because of inappropriate statuses like the Receptionist who posted “I’m bored” during working hours. Worse even, are things like “Planning to call in sick tomorrow” or “I hate the time this project is taking”. It doesn’t only put your current job at risk, but future employers are most likely to avoid you too.

Manage your online profile

You can manage how you are viewed online by simply checking yourself out from time to time. If you see something that is risky, even if it was posted by someone else, just get it changed. The future investment will be worthwhile!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 26 – Ask the Experts how to use Recruitment Agencies

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I am very excited about being invited by the Guardian newspaper to be part of an expert panel on their Career website on Wednesday 17th August.

The main subject of the webcast will be Recruitment Consultants, how to deal with them, what to expect from them and, ultimately, how to get the best out of them.

I often meet job applicants who are totally disillusioned by the job hunting scene. People who feel that no one cares to listen to their problems, nobody responds back to their job applications and there seems to be no interest in their plight to find a suitable job. And I am sure, regardless of how hard I try personally to deal with my own candidates, thatsome of them too might be fed up by trickling information streams and a lack of suitable positions.

I am always very upfront with candidates: I am not able to help everyone. If only I was Superwoman – I would flash my cape and jiggle mybelt and there would be jobs, feedback and opportunities for everyone. But the reality of today’s employment market and the continual commercialisation of the recruitment process means that having one brain and two hands seem to be a real limiting factor to us humans!

Listening to and participating in the Guardian Careers podcast might dispel some of the myths and give candidates real advice on how to best engage with the recruitment world.

Join us on Wednesday 17 August between 1pm and 4pm – advance questions are welcome – on http://careers.guardian.co.uk/recruitment-agencies

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 25 – When did you last update your CV?

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Yes, when DID you last update your CV?

If you are actively looking for a job, it makes sense to have your CV as current as possible. However, I often find that, when I speak to candidates, the CV’s posted online or used to apply to jobs are, in fact, sometimes well out of date! This means that, before your CV can be sent in to a job, it has to be brought up to date. Obviously, we have to supply a recruiting client with fresh information but more importantly, the information LEFT OUT of your CV might actually be the stuff that could get you the job. And wasting the time to get the updated details sorted out, might actually cost you dearly in terms of time. How disappointing if you are pipped to the post for the job of dreams because your CV was out of date ….

1.   Starting and leaving dates

If you are made redundant, make sure the date when you left the last employment is on your CV. This makes it clear that you are immediately available, and also opens up opportunities for temporary or interim work. This will be overlooked by recruiters seeking people currently NOT employed; If you don’t have a leaving date on your last job, the assumption will be that you are still working.

2.  Add your current activities

If you did suffer redundancy or left work for a different reason, mention this on your CV, with the dates. If it was a while ago, make it clear what you have been doing since. It is true that people who are gainfully occupied seem to do better in the recruitment stakes. If you mention nothing and your leaving date is not recent, the assumption might be that you have been twiddling your thumbs – Not a good impression to give those who are in control of selection processes! They are likely to choose people who show resilience, pro-activity and a willingness to work so mention what you have been doing and make it clear that this is just an interim solution until you find “proper” employment again.

3.  Update targets, regions and figures

Any recent changes in your job should be reflected in your CV. This gives the recruiter an idea of exactly what your current skills are. This might also cast light on your reasons for looking to move on. If your role was restructured, point that out. Numbers are always a good idea in a CV anyway, so make sure they are fresh: For example, how many people you manage, how large your region is, how you are targeted, etc. This will give a clear picture of the context of your job and responsibility, as well as achievements.

4.  Contact details

It seems illogical, but amazingly I often get CVs with out of date mobile numbers or email addresses. Worse are those that have no contact telephone numbers at all!  There is no point in leaving your contact details off your CV, or not keeping them fresh. Under pressure, the recruiter will try once or twice and then move on to those candidates they can actually contact.

5.  Courses and qualifications

Again, make sure that your CV contains all your qualifications. If you do any courses, these should be mentioned as well. It might give you an unexpected competitive advantage so add them in as soon as you have proof of obtaining the qualification. If the qualification is still in process, mention the anticipated finish date in your CV as well.

6.  Update the jobs boards

When you upload a fresh CV onto an online database, it’s really important to check that the active online CV is your newest one. Delete old CVs to make sure that only your freshest information is on file. This means that only the freshest information will go out to prospective jobs, employers or recruiters.

Not actively job seeking?

Having a fresh CV is still  very important. You can use it during your probationary or appraisal meetings to discuss your progress, or to apply for internal roles that will give you career progression. Or what if an unexpected headhunt call comes in offering you an opportunity that you might not have anticipated? Taking time to prepare a CV might lose you the opportunity!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 24 – Why you must use social media

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The world of job hunting has totally changed in the recent past. 3 years ago, you would have bought the Thursday edition of a well-known daily newspaper to look for your next job. I bought the same paper a few weeks ago to prove this point  to a recruiting client: There were less than 2 full pages of jobs! And those were mostly government contracts – A truly disappointing show, had I been desperate to find a commercial job for myself.

There is no doubt that the entire vacancy and recruitment advertising industry have made a fundamental shift to online several years ago. And the volumes of advertising response on online vacancies prove that the candidate market has twigged that fact – If you want a job, you must post your CV online. However, this market is rapidly becoming so oversubscribed that agencies and employers are now finding it difficult to deal with the sheer volume of responses and this in turn, has a knock on impact on time scales and cost. This is probably one of the reasons why job applicants become so frustrated with the lack of response from the recruitment industry. But the reality is that very few agencies have the resources to respond to every single application because the volumes are simply too large. For this reason, many online ads now carry disclaimers stating that only successful applicants will be contacted.

And as with all things online, the market is responding to these pressures by moving on!

Although the jobs boards will undoubtedly still be around for a long time, recruiters need to find a more ready resource pool of candidates – A source that is targeted, specific, cheap and easy to reach. So it makes sense that they would go to online networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (Amongst others) to find the people they need to fulfil the jobs they have.

Finding a new job is essentially about promoting yourself, your skills and abilities. It is, fundamentally, a sales and marketing exercise. So putting yourself in places where potential employers or recruiters can find you, is a sure-fire way of increasing your visibility and therefore, your chances of getting the job you want.

This means getting a full and up to date profile on LinkedIn, and making sure that your Facebook page does not contain pictures of drunken brawls or content that might detract from your personal brand. But most importantly, it means that you have to ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE because that is what social media is all about. 

If you sit waiting for something to happen, it most likely won’t. And as with everything in life, how much you put in is what you are likely to get out. And yes, it does take some time to deliver results.

However, if you want to find a job, career or employer spend your time wisely: Invest in building up a social media profile. It will be a sound investment, if you keep working at it!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 22 – Successful Telephone Interviews

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Often, telephone interviews are used at the first stage of recruitment processes – And the selection process can be ruthless! These are usually scheduled in bulk and the interviewers have to wade through many interviews to find the candidates they want to invite for a face to face meeting, so time is usually of the essence. To facilitate this, they would normally use a highly structured approach to get the particular pieces of information from a candidate required to either select or deselect.

Telephone interviews are also often used where there are large distances involved but generally, the rules of engagement are the same.

Always remember that, because there are no opportunities to include body language to build rapport or emphasise strengths, telephone communication is different to personal conversation. The importance of listening and answering concisely are magnified. So are bad communication habits like using continual filler words or veering off the subject, so be careful!

1. Conduct the call in a quiet place

Select a place where you will be uninterrupted for the duration of the call, free from kitchen noises, crying children, barking dogs or noisy televisions or radios. This will help you to hear them clearly, and for them to have a better sound from your side.

2. Preferably use a landline

Mobile service can sometimes be unreliable and you don’t want to lose the connection in mid flow! Landline reception is also generally more reliable for clarity. If you must use your mobile, make sure you are out of the wind and that you have full battery and a good signal.

3. Give your undivided attention

Tone of voice is magnified on the telephone - If you are distracted by documents or a computer screen it will translate in your voice. Also, listen very carefully so that you can give concise and targeted answers.

4. Prepare, prepare!

Review the company website, make notes as the interview continues and have questions ready. Keep your CV and the job spec at hand. Waffle, time lapses or quiet moments are magnified on the telephone so avoid them by preparing properly and maintaining your focus.

5. Sound enthusiastic and well-mannered

Without body language, facial expression or non-verbal signals to rely on, the interviewer will listen out for vocal signs indicating passion, professionalism and enthusiasm. Allow them to get a sense of your personality but never be too casual in your choice of words or tone of voice. Standing up and smiling is a telesales technique that holds true: the smile translates in your voice. On the telephone, it’s not just what you say but how you say it that is magnified, especially if you are not blessed with a melodious speaking voice, perfect diction or flawless accent. Be aware of these, speak slowly and clearly and don’t rabbit on too much once you have answered the question.

6. Closing and Follow up

The same rules count as for normal interviews: Ask about timescales and next steps, and later follow-up with a thank you message. Here, you can summarise the conversation and reinforce our best selling points.

Where have all the UK Automotive Aftermarket BDMs gone?

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We are currently recruiting for a number of regional sales positions across the UK.

Our customers are all well-respected, key OE brands supplying the independent automotive aftermarket. The traditional routes to market are followed, with business relationships through all the major buying groups (Parts Alliance, IFA, GA, CAARS and Rapid) as well as all the major distributors and range builders (FPS, ECP, Unipart, Firstline, ADL, etc).

All these roles offer some form of career advancement opportunity, whether  in the short term due to planned growth or in the medium term due to succession planning. The product ranges are diverse, ranging from exhausts and catalytic converters to spark plugs, engine electrical parts and steering / suspension components, all targting the passenger car industry.

I would be happy to speak to anyone working in a sales role in the aftermarket to find out if these roles will tick your boxes, and whether you have the skills and experience to fulfill my clients needs. Please call me on 0845 269 9085, or send your CV to recruitment@cathyrich.co.uk so that we can have an informed conversation.

Or, if you are not actively job searching yourself, what about referring your friend? We offer £350-00 for quality referrals that result in placements – More information can be found in the candidate area of  our website at www.cathyrich.co.uk/

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