Job Search Lessons

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 - career coaching, career planning, career transition, CV Tips, Employment, job search, recruitment, redundancy, tutorial


Job Search Errors

giant stack of resumes

What is your excuse for not being able to get the job you want?

  • It’s the economy
  • It’s the market
  • It’s where I live
  • It’s my skill set
  • I am too old/young, etc

Can I be straight with you? It is probably less to do with the above, and more to do with the fact that you have forgotten how to apply for jobs.

Having spent 10+ years in your last institution – be it a school or a work place – you got comfortable with life: and I and your employer don’t blame you. But now the colder times are here, old job seeking ways – and most often, old CV’s – just won’t cut the ice

It is also pretty useless applying the same techniques you did when job application was via the local newspaper and the phone to the internet age. But more importantly than that, its the basics of finding and applying for a job that you have forgotten.

As a recruiter, I have to say that I would never have been able to see all of these issues. Its only since offering Professional CV Writing services that it showed me wholly why 2/3rds of job applicants in an average market – let alone the 3/4’s+ currently in this rising unemployment market – are rejected before even being telephone interviewed.

Job Search Lessons

  1. Be prepared to exit: no one knows what is going to happen in this market, but just because your employer offers you a big fat redundancy cheque doesn’t mean you are instantly ready for employment. Be prepared and have an exit plan, based on the ability of answering the question of what you want to be doing in five years time? Then when the next employer asks you in interview why do you want this job, you know exactly why
  2. Mentally accept your are job seeking: around 2/3rds of CV writing clients I engage with can’t accept they are job seeking, and want a better set of reasons as to why they are in the situation they are. Accept it, get over it, and don’t divert your mental focus or physical efforts from anything but finding the next job, not forever exiting the last one. If you don’t grasp this, be positive and take action, there is only one way mentally – and its far darker
  3. Revamp your CV: to a professional the 100day old CV is out of date, so the one you had 10+ years ago is best kept in a museum. The skills you have used in the last 3years are the ones that HR people for future employers will most recruit for, value and assess. Those used in the last five year are useful. Beyond that, it is more of a career history
  4. Job seeking is not just job boards: Monster and the other job boards make it so easy to apply for jobs. You simply upload your CV, and they send you a daily eMail of opportunities. The reality of click to apply, in an average jobs market, is one telephone interview in 10 applications: in this market, I have seen ratio’s as low as 1 in 1000. Job boards show you some jobs, but one third of jobs are placed internally in organisations, and one third are never advertised as the employers already know/have found the ideal candidate. When writing your CV, think about your references who can verify that experience, and then contact them via a Social Media networks like LinkedIn to ask for their help in possibly acting as a reference. Someone will know of an opening and put you into the wider jobs market, at the bigger your network both the happier you will feel through this process and the quicker you will get the job you want
  5. Read the advert, do your research: when you see a job, apply the simple why was I rejected test before you get a “Thank you for your application” letter. 1/3 of applicants are rejected because they don’t have the required skills, 1/3 because they can’t communicate them in their Cover Letter or CV. Once you know you have the skills to do the job, do some research on the company: are they public or private, how many employees, how much revenue, which markets do they sell to, and what does their press coverage say they want to achieve in the next five years? Knowing all of this means when you do apply, you know what they want of you, and can show evidence of your wider engagement with that company. You can also pick six companies you would really like to work for, and do research on them: adhoc job applications do work if you know who to write to and on what agenda
  6. Always be thinking about the employer: you are a great person, and if you don’t believe that read this sentence again until you do. But, much as though you are great, as the employer has probably spent around £3000/$5000 and 100hours plus creating the job advert, the first thing they want to know is do you have the core skills – normally around five, all written in the job advert – that they want? The fact you have additional skills on top of these is of no interest to them until you have proven you have the core skills on which the job description is written, and the job advert is derived from. You are great, and those additional skills and competencies you offer will be useful later, but to get past first sift and all the way to the interview, always be thinking about the employer
  7. No need for a full verbal history, just answer the question: in a telephone interview, the HR professional or recruiter has called you because they think you have the right skills to do the job from reading your CV/resume – excellent! Now you just have to prove that. Stick to answering their questions in short format, using a STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result), where you start and end with the Result. eg: (Result) Yes, I delivered X thousand pounds of additional revenue in the Z company. (Situation) The markets were under pressure, and I (Task) was asked to build a team to achieve the target. (Action) I organised the team on product lines with defined key customers, which in 18months (Result) created the additional X thousand pounds income. Practise this for each of the key issues (plus and minus) on your CV. I have heard and rejected as a recruiter too many job seekers because they dug themselves their own verbalised “I should not be applying for this job” exit hole. Just stick to answering the question
  8. Success is measured in physical job interviews: application activity is excellent, but the first real point of actual success in job seeking is measured in physical interviews. You can have as many CV formats as you think necessary (in actual fact, one aligned to that job is best), and apply for as many job as you want. But, all you probably need to get employed as a competent and happy/stable person is three physical job interviews
  9. Always ask for feedback: when you apply for a job, whatever the outcome always ask for feedback. Faster applied learning means you get employed at an earlier date
  10. Measure your statistics: in your entire job application exercise, measure your statistics. An application to telephone interview ratio of less than 1 in 10 means there is something wrong with the jobs you are choosing to apply for, or your CV. A ratio of less than 1 physical interview per 3 telephone interviews probably means you are over verbalising your answers, and giving too much away

Apply these lessons, and you should be employed far more quickly.

Good Luck!

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