The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Archive for January 2013

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.

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Guide to job hunting: How to shine at interview part 2

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Butterfly Catcher 096

Finding your dream job is like chasing butterflies with a wide net: You have to cover a whole lot of ground before you bag one!

In last week’s post, I explained the importance of making yourself memorable. Lets take that a few steps further now:

1. Know what you can offer immediately.

Researching the company is a given; go a step farther and find a way you can hit the ground running or contribute to a critical area. If you have a specific technical skill, show how it can be leveraged immediately. But don’t say, for example, “I would love to be in charge of revamping your business development strategy.” Firstly, that’s fairly presumptuous, and then, someone may already be in charge of that. Instead, share details regarding your skills and show how they would benefit the company. The interviewer will be smart enough to recognize how the expertise you offer can be used.
2. Don’t create negative sound bites.

A sound bite is literally a snap shot of what is said. Unfortunately, the human brain seems to zoom in on negative things first, before noticing the positive. There is a limit to how much any person can remember, especially after sitting through several interviews! So any interviewer will only remember a few sound bites, especially  the negative ones. So be careful with the words you use when you answer questions. If you’ve never been in charge of training, don’t say, “I’ve never been in charge of training.” Rather say something like, “I didn’t hold the specific title, but I have trained dozens of new hires and created several training guides.” Try to steer away from using negative words and phrases like “I can’t,” or “I haven’t,” or “I don’t.” Clearly, you must be honest – This is not about what you say, but rather how you say it. Share applicable experience and find the positives in what you have done. No matter what the subject, be positive: Even your worst mistake can be your best learning experience.
3. Ask for the job based on facts – Close positively

By the end of the interview you should have a good sense of whether this is the job for you. If you need more information, say so. Otherwise simply “close the sale” and ask for the job. (Don’t worry about appearing pushy: Interviewers actually like it when you ask. It saves them a job!) Focus on specific aspects of the job: Explain you work best with teams, or thrive in unsupervised roles, or get energized by frequent travel…. Ask for the job and use facts to prove you want it — and deserve it.
4. Reinforce your interest with a follow-up.

Email follow-ups are fine; social media connections are acceptable; following up based on something you learned during the interview is best. Send an email including additional information you were asked to provide, or a link to a subject you discussed (whether business or personal.) The better the interview (And the more closely you listened) the easier it will be to think of ways you can make following up seem natural and unforced. And make sure you say thanks — never underestimate the power of gratitude.

So when you see a butterfly, position your net carefully and make sure that when you go for it, you are going to get it. Otherwise, keep going! The right one will soon fall into your net.

Written by Cathy Richardson

January 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

Posted in Recruitment

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

2012 in review – Thanks for reading my blog!

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Thanks to all who read my blog during 2012. The stats appear to be very consistent and I hope to continue posting useful and valuable content during 2013. If there is a recruitment related subject you want more information on, please let me know and I will be more than happy to give you my views!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Please read what they found out!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Written by Cathy Richardson

January 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

Posted in Recruitment

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