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 philosophy

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!

 

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting – Do you have the bottle? I mean, do you really?

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courage_skiEvery so often, something happens that reminds me that people can be quaint. In fact, people can do some really strange things indeed! And it’s only after the event that one can actually reflect and marvel at how a lack of forethought can scupper individuals.

Courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”.

Working in the modern day business world requires courage. Certainly, working in sales demands a certain personality type. The gladiatorial struggle to win business in adverse and competitive conditions leads one naturally to expect an element of courage and bravery from those who do these jobs. Especially in those that rise to the top, work their way into senior roles, and become visible.

Would you expect that those vying for regional and director level roles come with a natural shot of courage? I would, and I did. Until I was proven wrong last week.

Last week, I experienced a career first: A senior level executive turned down a job offer with an excellent increase in package and really achievable prospects for career development, on the basis that he didn’t think he had the ability to do the job.

He had discovered this after 2 months in the recruitment process. He had every opportunity, at every step of the way, to pull out or to indicate that he felt uncomfortable or out of his depth. He had all the support in the world to help him make the right decision. He had all the time he needed to trust his own judgement, and to act on the courage of his conviction. He had an opportunity to move into a more senior role, not miles away in responsibility from his current one, but with an increase in stature and responsibility. He had a rare chance, a once in a lifetime opportunity, to add experience to his CV that executive 20 years his senior would kill for.

What he lacked was the trust in his own abilities to make a leap of faith, based on a very well-calculated assessment of his own very impressive track record of achievement. He has never failed at anything, career-wise. Every year, he improves on his delivery targets. He has enjoyed a meteoric rise to a senior role, within a large national organisation. He has outstanding references from his current employer to support his claims. He has enough potential to re-float Titanic.

What he doesn’t have, is sufficient insight into his own abilities to make the best of what he has. Because potential, unfortunately, is totally worthless if it is not developed. And we own our own potential. We have to make the decisions about whether we do, or whether we do not take that tiny leap of faith required to move forwards in leaps, rather than in baby steps. We have to decide whether we stay safe and secure with little growth, or whether we take that leap in order to grow and develop to achieve our full potential.

He made his decision, and that is ok in principle. The problem is that, once you expose yourself to the vagaries of a senior role in a small industry, your personal brand becomes an invaluable commodity. Your word becomes your bond. If you make a deal with a customer, they expect you to stick to it. If you accept a job offer, you have a responsibility to stick to your decision. Coming back to admit that you have simply lost the bottle, will not add value to your personal brand. It will destroy any credibility you have gained. Taking the safe option actually puts you at a more stringent risk: That of becoming institutionalised in your current environment, because your lack of courage to stick by your decisions or to speak up during the process has totally destroyed the trust that is so valuable in a closed industry.

I would urge every executive to think very carefully about this. Headhunters are rife and using media like LinkedIn exposes everyone to a huge range of opportunities. Unless you are thoroughly convinced by why you are speaking to a headhunter, don’t. If you are not entirely comfortable with the risk involved in moving onwards and upwards, don’t accept the call. Because sooner or later, you will have to make a decision. If it is the wrong one, causing damage in terms of time, investment and respect, you will be worse off than when you started.

But if you do get a rare opportunity to advance, and it makes your mouth water, then grab it with both hands. Opportunity favours the few. Those that take the risk and the leap of faith, will always excel.

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.

 

A view from my new Apprentice

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SJ

To help me with all the admin and resourcing work generated by the Parts Alliance and my other brilliant clients, I really needed some help! I had a choice between finding an experienced person, or helping a young person into work.

I decided to go for the latter option, and I am very pleased that I did! Welcome on board Sarah-Jane Palazzo. I really look forward to working with you, and imparting at least some of the experience I have gained over the last quarter of a century.

I will let Sarah-Jane tell you herself how she is getting on. Hopefully, you will understand why I selected her to join me!

“On the 1st April I started working for CR Associates as a Recruitment Assistant. I was desperately unhappy in my previous employment, and was thrilled to receive a job offer from Cathy.

I do not have the most lucrative CV, nor the most experience in recruitment. However I was fortunate enough to meet Cathy, who saw what skills I do have and the potential I have to progress to a high level.

I’d applied for similar roles before and it’s taken me a while to finally land the job I want. The best factor in my new role is the potential to grow: In 3 months time I see myself in full apprenticeship training, hopefully placing candidates into motor factor branches, and being completely comfortable with all the tasks my role requires. In 1 year I see myself being a fully qualified Recruitment Consultant for CR Associates and creating the building blocks to leave my mark on the recruitment industry.

I have only just completed my first week at CRA and have already learnt so much: I have learnt what makes a good CV, the difference between a good candidate and a GREAT candidate, I have learnt that being kind and helpful goes such a long way and most importantly… How Cathy likes her tea!

Enjoying your job makes you feel good about yourself, it makes you feel important and needed. The difference I have noticed in myself is astonishing: I’m eating healthier, I’m taking more pride in my appearance, and apparently I’m ‘glowing’!

I have an amazing job, and an amazing boss. I am very aware that I have been incredibly lucky to be given this opportunity. However, I know that I would not have been given this opportunity if I was not confident, enthusiastic and determined. So I urge those reading this, if you don’t feel that way about your current job: Take a risk! Strive to be the best you can be! If I can do it, you can do it too!”

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!

5 interview questions asked by great candidates

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Panel interviewI have organised thousands of job interviews for candidates during my career. If only I had a penny for each time a good candidate ruined a job interview by asking the wrong questions – or worse, not even asking any at all!

The problem is that most candidates don’t seem to prepare for the inevitable interview question: “Do you have anything to ask us?”

Great candidates ask questions because they’re evaluating the interviewer and the company– and whether they really want the job. How you ask these questions may make or break the outcome of your interview.

Here are five questions great candidates ask:

1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

Great candidates want to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend weeks or months “getting to know the organization.” They want to make a difference–right away. And they want to show the interviewer that they have thought about how they will achieve this.

2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Great candidates also want to be great long-term employees. Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations. Maybe top performers work longer hours. Maybe creativity is more important than methodology. Maybe constantly landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Maybe it’s a willingness to spend the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end equipment.

Great candidates ask this because they want to know if they fit, and if they do fit, what will make them a top performer.

3. What are a few things that really drive results for the company?

Employees are investments, and every employee should generate a positive return on his or her salary. (Otherwise why are they on the payroll?) In every job some activities make a bigger difference than others. Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference. They know that by helping the company succeed,  they succeed as well.

4. What do employees do in their spare time?

Happy employees like what they do, and they like the people they work with. This is a difficult question for an interviewer to answer. Unless the company is really small, all any interviewer can do is speak in generalities. But this candidate wants to make sure they have a reasonable chance of fitting in, and that is a very important quality.

5. How do you plan to deal with…?

Every business faces a major challenge: technological changes, competitors entering the market, shifting economic trends, etc. And well-informed candidates will be aware of all the risk factors. They hope for growth and advancement. If they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because the company was forced out of business.

For example: I’m interviewing for a position at your bike shop. Another shop is opening less than a mile away: How do you plan to deal with the new competitor? Or you run a poultry farm: What will you do to deal with rising feed costs?

A great candidate doesn’t just want to know what the prospective employer thinks; they want to know what the prospective employer plans to do – and how they will fit into those plans.

Asking questions like these will help you stand out from the crowd, proving your real interest in the job and the company. Hopefully, the answers will also give you a pretty good idea of whether the role and company is right for you or not.

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!

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