Consultant Mike Morrison provides a guide to job hunting and explains why you should never appear desperate for a position.
Ever wondered how a person got a job that you didn’t, even though you have more experience and skills?
I have seen an increasing number of professionals asking for guidance as to what they should do to gain employment after redundancy. Whether you are looking for a job because of redundancy or you just fancy a change, the following will help you be better prepared. Let’s look around the job search field and explore the ‘tools of the trade’.
Get your CV in shape
Never underestimate the power of a good CV. CV styles have changed over the years and there are as many styles of CV as there are books on how to write them. Reading a book about writing CVs is one thing, applying the ideas is quite another – what they all miss is the fact that few people are trained to read them!
What is the purpose of a CV?
Many people think the role of a CV is to get them a job. That is not what happens in reality. The role of a CV is simple; it is to get you a first interview. That is all. You and the interview get the job, not the CV.
More on CVs will be covered in part two of this article.
Make it known that you are on the market
Contact anyone and everyone you know and tell them you are on the market. Make use of structured networking tools, like a href=”http:// www.linkedin.com” target=”_blank”>Linkedin
(free at a basic level). If you are a member of a professional network, CIPD, CMI etc go to networking events. Build relationships. Ask for help from people. If you do not ask you will not get. That person you spend half the meeting talking to may be about to place an advert for a role you could fill. Save them time and get yourself ahead of the game.
Internet and Web Boards
Put your CV on Monster, Reed, Totaljobs and other boards – then up load a ‘fresh’ copy EVERY weekend. Most agencies using these boards do not look at CVs older than one week (and guess what, they check them on a Monday!) Many job sites are listed at Paler.com
If you post and forget the jobs will pass you by.
Go through back issues of the sort of publications that you have seen adverts for similar roles – go back two to four years – then speculatively call the company. This was by far the best strategy I found. Websites like Wayback machine
also do this for websites!
There are many to choose from, my personal favourite is Tough answers to tough interview questions by Martin Yate. I have several editions of this as I have found it a particularly useful resource over the years. The questions and sample answers are themselves good – but there are other techniques listed which are rarely mentioned in other publications.
Most people interviewing are ill prepared and poorly trained (on both sides of the desk). Your role is to be better at interviewing that the person on the other side of the desk. You need to control the interview with them believing that they control what is going on. Peter Landau of Intelligent Dressing™ talks about taking PRIDE when meeting people. This can also be used in preparing for interviews (internal and external).
Prepare and plan – what questions might they ask? What answers would you give? Have a couple of answers or examples for any given scenario.
Ask a colleague to run you through a mock interview – practice makes permanent – so make practice right! You need to be comfortable in an interview situation, if this is your first for a long time you are risking a lot by not rehearsing it. You do think that an athlete goes to the Olympics without training or warm up competitions? So as a candidate in ‘job search’ mode you need to follow the principles of the very best in a given field. Prepare, rehearse and rehearse.
This may be stating the obvious but the less work the interviewer does, the easier it is for them to say yes – providing you ensure they have all their questions asked and appropriately answered. Talk too little and you will not engage with the interviewer, talk too much and you will not know if you have answered all of their questions.
The stuff most books or agencies won’t tell you:
Wanting a job too much
Never, never be too desperate for any single job. Remember when you were looking for a date – nobody wanted you (or was that just me?) and then when you are in a relationship everyone is interested – well the same thing happens when you look for jobs – if a particular role is important to you – you will appear too desperate and the interviewer will see this and cross you off the list! Get one offer and often others come in at the same time. If you get your applications right you will have a choice of roles – rather than juts the first. Better to get and accept the right role than just to have a role. If you are not happy, your work will suffer and sooner or later, you will be job hunting again. This puts you on the back foot. You need to put yourself in a position of strength not in defence mode.
Make appointments to meet representatives from a number of agencies. Build a relationship with key people – and talk to them at least once a week. Remember people buy people, they are more likely to put you forward for a role if they know who you are. Make sure your name and CV is at the front of their mind.
Remember these ‘young things’ (well many of them) that work in the agencies are sales people. They really do not care about you. They are employed to hit targets. They will take the easy route if they can. Often they will reject your application and they may say something like ‘you lack the experience our client is looking for’. When this happens – be cool, ask for specific experience the client is looking for (it is never on the JD or advert!) and then sell yourself. Remember your goal here is not to get the job but to get put forward. They are often on commission so help them (the recruitment consultant) understand HOW you can help them get their commission!
Using a Coach
Increasingly people are hiring a coach to help them with the job search process. Many of us benefit from that external, independent support. Before hiring a coach check out there background, track record and references. Remember like any service provider you can agree price, like staying in a hotel – most of us never pay the ‘rack rate’. Personally I prefer to use close friends and colleagues. Have an agreement with one or two to help check on your progress and give you a gentle nudge every now and again.
Putting it all together
A planned approach
Job hunting is and should be almost a full time job when being done properly. It requires investment in time, effort and intelligence. You are in the role of sales person. Your product is you. Think like a sales person. Set clear targets, weekly and daily goals. In the warm weather, it is easy to go to the park or sit and watch sport. Your job is to submit x many applications. Make phone calls to keep in people faces (in a good productive way). Keep networking and catch up with old contacts, to do your research on potential employers.
Setting goals is vital, you need to get out there – rarely will people come to you unless your name is known. Remember there will be some recruiters that will Google you to see if you have any history of contributing to your profession etc. If you have a personal blog – be careful what you write – it can come back when you least expect it! Best to use a nick name.
Whatever your chosen route I wish you well.
Mike Morrison is director of RapidBI Ltd. A consultancy specialising in helping individuals and organisations improve their business performance through people and organisation effectiveness.
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