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 ‘recruitment agency

How to personalise your LinkedIn URL – Guide to #Job Hunting

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LinkedIn These days, it’s not just having a good CV that gets you noticed in the jobs market.

LinkedIn now plays a critical part in the jobs market.  It is a major information source for recruiters, consultants and prospective employers.

An up to date LinkedIn profile should be an important part of your job search strategy, whether you are active now or plan to change jobs at any time in the future.

You can promote your LinkedIn profile on the signature of your email address, your website, your blog and business cards. You should also add a link (URL) to your CV as an additional resource employers can go to in order to scope out your experience, knowledge, skills, and connections. It is also a good way to give them an additional method of contacting you. Having a strong network on LinkedIn can unlock exciting opportunities that may not always be in the open jobs market.

One of the most important things you can do is to personalise your LinkedIn URL.

By default, when you set up your profile on LinkedIn, you are given a temporary LinkedIn ID that may look like this:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname/0/000/246

This is a temporary LinkedIn ID. A temporary LinkedIn ID typically has /pub/ and numbers that follow it.

It is a good idea to personalise your LinkedIn ID to something that is more memorable. It is lot more prfoessional ,shorter to use and creates a far better impression.

For instance: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/cathyrec/

Changing your temporary LinkedIn ID to a personalised one is simple and takes only a few clicks of a button.

Here are the easy steps you need to take to personalise your LinkedIn URL:
(Note that LinkedIn keeps changing their interface so there may be differences between users).

  • Sign in to LinkedIn and select Edit Your Profile.
  • At the bottom of your profile box you should see your LinkedIn ID.
  • Click on Edit next to the temporary ID.
  • This should open a box to the right of the screen called Customize Your Public Profile. Under it, there is a box for Your public profile URL.
  • Select on Customize your public profile URL. Now, you can enter how you want your permanent LinkedIn ID to appear. It may be your name or some variant related to your profession or field of work.
  • You now have a private LinkedIn URL that can be used to further promote your experience, knowledge and skills for job opportunities.

If you have a common name, then try to add something that defines you. In my case, I used my first name and rec to separate me from all the other Cathys on LinkedIn.

Keep in mind when creating your permanent LinkedIn ID to keep it to something that is timeless. You know using your name is a safe bet and you likely won’t have to make changes to it in the future. While you are allowed to change your URL at any time, LinkedIn will not redirect anyone clicking on an old URL you have created previously.

Creating a personalised LinkedIn URL allows you to enhance your personal brand. It is particularly helpful to use on your CV. There are limitations on the depth of information you can offer on your CV. So when you can include your LinkedIn URL, employers have the opportunity to learn much more about you through the recommendations you have received, skills and expertise endorsements and other information that’s available on your LinkedIn profile!

 

CAT Magazine announce more developments for Parts Alliance and CRA

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PA article

To all our special people, on Valentine’s Day

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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.
                         
We must communicate to you
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!

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!

 

Is big really better?

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JigsawRecently, I have followed a lengthy discussion on LinkedIn about whether it is really worthwhile entrusting your livelihood to a Recruitment Consultant when you are looking for a new job. Dare I say, the overall consensus was rather negative. The overriding opinion is that Recruiters are sales people first, and this means that job applicants are simply a means to an end. There is a lot of disgruntlement about service levels, and how applicants are treated.

Of course, this perspective might be different from the recruiting client’s side. They pay the bill so naturally, that is where the recruiter’s affinities will lie. But no doubt, even here it is not that difficult to uncover a real dissatisfaction in service levels, delivery of expectations and value for money.

There is a real drive for volume in the recruitment industry - KPI’s relate to sales calls, number of new vacancies, number of CV submissions, etc. This relates directly to turnover through the traditional sales funnel effect: High numbers put in at the top result in more results coming out at the bottom. The larger the business, the higher the overheads, leading to  needing even more CV’s and vacancies to keep the funnel sufficiently full.

The economics that apply are no different to a manufacturing company selling boxes for example. The more turnover they need, the more units have to be produced, the more raw material is required, the higher the production costs, the more units must be sold. It’s an ongoing cycle. The difference is that boxes don’t have feelings, families, and futures like human job seekers.

The credit crunch of 2009 has dramatically changed the face of recruitment in the UK, with the high levels of unemployment and fewer jobs available protracting the industry and creating more competition. That has not really changed now, in 2014. In addition, an approach in larger corporates to drive costs down by commoditising recruitment through purchasing has somewhat removed the human aspect from the their recruitment processes. At the same time, many recruitment SME’s have established themselves in the market, with experienced consultants either being made redundant due to the downturn, or simply getting fed up of the treadmill and seeking a better work / life balance.

I think (hope!) that this will have a knock on effect on service levels. Independent recruiters work for themselves, so ownership of service delivery and relationships will be crucial to their success. This is in stark contrast to commoditised, dehumanised recruitment processes.

There will be, by default, a far more personalised approach in the business relationship, the fees are likely to be a lot more flexible and delivery probably of a higher standard. Of course there will still be the ones who sell very hard to simply get “bums on seats” in return for fees. But in my experience, there is a far higher degree of business consultancy  and commitment in an SME because to the self-employed recruiter, every opportunity is a luxury not to be wasted.

There is still the perception, especially in larger corporate companies, that the larger recruitment brands represent stability and best practice. I would challenge this paradigm.

Giving a recruitment SME an opportunity to prove it’s worth keeps the economy moving and creates diversity in a market that is in danger of getting bogged down by corporate giants. The potential benefits to gain totally exceed the risk factors.

And it will find more spaces on shelves for “boxes” at better fees!

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!

Happy Christmas everyone!

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Cath13If you haven’t noticed, its Christmas! 2013 has sped past in a blur and barely have we recovered from the events of last New Year’s Eve when Christmas seems to have crept up on us again.

At Christmas, I sometimes get a bit philosophical. Maybe it has to do with most of my family spending their Christmas on a hot beach in South Africa. Maybe it has to do with my own children growing up. This means that our Christmas is changing to accommodate different geographic locations, evolving relationships and generally, life and its changes. Maybe it has to do with all the yoga I do so regularly – Perhaps I am turning into a philosopher through head stands! All that blood in one’s head must have some eventual impact!

Whatever the reason for my philosophical turn: This year, I feel immensely grateful about Christmas. I am grateful for health, for people who love and care for me, and for finding out that life can be totally brilliant when you least expect it. I am grateful for so much that listing them here will be impossible.

Sometimes, we forget about the little things. Christmas can be so “BIG” that we overlook the really important little things while we try to live up to expectations. Those expectations are totally imposed on ourselves by ourselves. And then, when everything is over and the wrapping paper disposed of, we are left empty and disappointed because nothing can ever live up to those unrealistic expectations.

This year, I am taking Christmas easily. I am enjoying the twinkling of lights and the off-key sound of the choir at the carol concert. I am loving my Christmas jumper. I am enjoying the reactions of my loved ones to gifts that are, for a change, thougthful and useful, rather than expensive and impressive. I am taking time to taste the mulled wine, to feel “Jingle Bell Rock” tickling my toes, to enjoy every bite of rich celebration food. I will worry about the thousands of extra calories next year!

For this, I am most deeply grateful: Discovering that being mindful of the little things, make the big things so much easier.

And this is my Christmas wish for everyone I know: That you may be blessed with the time to enjoy, to be jolly, and to make the best of this festive season without judging or false expectations. Just have a simply wonderful, blessed and joyful Christmas!

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

Guide to Job Hunting – The lingering Death of the CV

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RIP

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):

1) The top ten searches on your name on either Google or Bing,

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.

Guide to job hunting: How to shine at interviews Part 1

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fallen runnerIt’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…
4. Explore

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

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