Job Search – Standing Out From the Crowd

Job Search – Standing Out From the Crowd

This post is about applying for advertised vacancies for which you are in competition. Unfortunately, in the present climate, job seeking is intensely competitive.  There are usually many applicants for every advertised post.  (That is why finding out through your network of contacts about potential vacancies that are not are advertised, or not likely to be advertised, matters so much.)

When you submit a written application, with or without a CV/Résumé, what matters most is that you show clearly and convincingly how you meet the criteria for the vacancy.  You need to include keywords that will stand out like head lights – you can find out more about job search keywords at this link.

Once you get to the interview stage, it is reasonable to assume that all those others who are being interviewed at the same time, have also demonstrated that on paper they meet the requirements.  Yes, you can assume that the interview and following up your references will be used as opportunities to test whether what you have said on paper in valid.  But at the interview stage you want to stand out from the crowd.

Now, standing out from the crowd is not without its risks.  And you need to take into account the culture of the organization when deciding how to make your mark.  When deciding what to wear for the interview, for example, knowing the company dress code is important.  If it is casual then make sure that you wear very smart casual attire.  No, you don’t want be so bland that you sink into the wall paper. Wearing, for example, a smart but distinctive tie, scarf or piece of jewelry, can help the interviewers to remember you.  The “something distinctive “needs to be chosen with great care and very good taste!

The interview is also an opportunity to show clearly that you will bring added value beyond that required by the job specification.  Again show that added value with care and make sure that what you say is relevant to the questions that you are being asked and to the job.

You can also stand out by being actively engaged in the process and showing real interest in the organization and in what the interviewers have to say to you.  Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep before the interview, if possible.  Do your best to arrive in plenty of time.  You want to be bright-eyed and relaxed – not red-faced and slightly out of breath. The impression you want to leave is that you are intelligent, highly competent and likely to be an asset to the organization and to your future work colleagues.

You want to be remembered but for all the right reasons.

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Refresh Your Job Search In 2013

Refresh Your Job Search In 2013

Have you been searching for a new job for a while now?  Hard isn’t it to keep up that energy?  But there will be new and exciting opportunities in 2013, if you can re-energize your quest. Here are some tips to help you refresh your job search.

Update your image and your attitude.

What would really give your confidence a boost?  How about a new hairstyle or should you considering a new style of dress?  What kind of change could you make as an out ward sign that something is different in 2013? You could make a change to represent the new you and your new approach.

Work hard on your commitment to positive thinking and your self-belief.  If you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop in your tracks, catch that thought and flip it over in mind. Think of yourself as not so much looking for a job as looking for an opportunity to add value. You know that given the right opportunity, that is exactly what you will do. Think every day about the benefits that you will bring to your new employer.

Revamp Your CV/Résumé

An important step in every job search is to equip yourself with a CV that really sells you, your skills and your abilities. How good is your CV?  Take time now to check it and remember this CV is just a baseline that you will tailor for each new role.  Here is some guidance on preparing a CV to be proud of; http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/07/26/job-search-part-4-writing-that-winning-cv/

Consider new options

Maybe now is a time to think about quite radical new options.  Changing careers isn’t easy. But nor is it as hard as you might imagine. I’ve done it four times in my life successfully. I’ve enjoyed the different careers at the time and I really was successful in each one. For me, there came a time to consider new options. Changing in this way has allowed me to come to terms with a changing economic environment and each new direction has built upon the experience and knowledge gained in the last one. Here are some thoughts for you to consider on the process. http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/10/17/changing-careers-part-3-deciding-whether-to-make-the-change-a-checklist/

Find New Ways to Network

Social media in particular gives all kinds of new ways to find new people to network with.  Are you making the most of sites like LinkedIn?  Are you approaching social networking in a professional way – here is some advice http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/01/06/using-social-networking-to-help-your-career/   If you just want to brush up your general networking skills – here is some more general networking advice http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/11/15/job-search-networking-asking-friends-for-help/

Find yourself a coach

A Career Coach will work with you on all the practical aspects of applying for jobs.  The coach will help you to look at your achievements and results so far and how you can build on them to make your next career move work out well. A good coach will help you build your confidence and maximize your chances of landing the right role. (I am happy to offer a free one hour coaching session by phone or Skype to readers of this blog.)

Even though looking for a new job is a big challenge now, with a positive attitude and the right tools and support, I know that you can be successful in 2013.

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Job Search Part 4: Writing That Winning CV

Job Search Part 4: Writing That Winning CV

Are you looking for work? Then you have come to the right place!

This is the fourth in our new series on Job Search. In the first post at this link http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/07/05/job-searchwhat-kind-of-work-are-you-looking-for/we said that you have a decision to make! The clearer you are about the kind of work you want, the more likely you are to be successful.

In the second post at this link, http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/07/12/job-search-part-2-where-are-you-looking/, I set out some options for you in terms of where to look for work

In the third post, last week,  http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/07/19/job-search-part-3what-networking-can-do-for-your-job-search/. I said that networking was the most effective way to look for work and we discussed how to do it well.

Now we are going to consider how to write a winning CV

Last year we published a series of posts on CV writing and you can find the links to them below.  You can find lots of books on CV writing on Amazon and those that come well recommended are at this link

A CV that is going to win you the job is the one that makes the reader want to know more about you. The CV that makes it much more likely that you will be invited to an interview! Good CVs are valuable and a very good investment of your time.

So how do you make yourself stand-out from the crowd?

Any CV that you write is only relevant if it shows how you meet the requirements of the particular role – so be ready to tailor you generic CV for each post. Be specific about skills, experience and personal qualities. Show that you understand their requirements.

These days employers and recruiter receive sacks full of CVs. Make yours short (no more than two sides of A4), easy to read and attractive.

Lay it out clearly with enough space and clear section headings.

Your CV shows what you bring to the organization, so make it look professional.

  • Choose a clear, professional font that is easy to read (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman)
  • Make no typing mistakes – CVs with typos get “binned”. A simple spell check is not enough: ask someone else to proof-read your finished CV
  • Have clear headings (work experience, education etc) so that these can be scanned quickly
  • Order your experience and education into reverse chronological order with the latest first.
  • For recent posts, sum up what you actually achieved and delivered for each post
  • Concentrate on the last 10 years and sum-up earlier experience briefly.

Many recruiters’ job sites search candidates’ CVs for specific keywords. It is important to include those which are likely to apply for the particular job. Create clear statements that demonstrate your skills and what you deliver, using terms that show you as positive and pro-active.

These are positive keywords, you could use to describe your personal attributes

  • Accurate
  • Adaptable
  • Confident
  • Friendly
  • Hard-working
  • Innovative
  • Pro-active
  • Reliable
  • Responsible
  • Intelligent
  • Experienced

When describing your experience and achievement use pro-active descriptions like:

  • Achieved
  • Formulated
  • Planned
  • Broadened
  • Generated
  • Managed
  • Represented
  • Completed
  • Implemented
  • Shaped
  • Delivered
  • Saved

And, in these hard economic times, if you have saved an organization money or generated new business, flag it up with figures and facts.

Next week we’ll tackle writing that convincing covering letter!

I know you can get that job you have been hoping for and I would like to help you. Email me wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com now to arrange a free half hour coaching session by Skype.

Wendy Mason is a career coach working mainly with professional women who want to make that jump to senior level. Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between face to face coaching, and coaching and blogging on-line. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Coming shortly – the WiseWolf Career and Personal Development Programme – if you would like to know more email wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com

  • Building Your Portfolio – STAR Stories Make You a Star!Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics 

  • Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees!

  • Writing your CV! Part 2 Making Choices

  • Modifying Resume Job Titles Risky… Unless You’re Honest by Dawn Rasmussen

  • Identifying transferable skills; a core ingredient of a successful career change

Identifying transferable skills; a core ingredient of a successful career change

Today’s guest post is from Sian Case of Nail That Job.  With a small and friendly support team, they can help you at every stage of your job search journey.

I’m a recruiter and trainer of recruiters who also supports job seekers from a wide range of industries to present themselves effectively to prospective employers.

I think that most job seekers are aware that they have transferable skills but are rarely confident about identifying or describing them clearly. This is vital when you are looking for work in new fields and have to convince a recruiter that you can achieve tasks in unfamiliar settings.

Let’s start with a definition: transferable skills are effective behaviours and application of knowledge and understanding that you have learned from all your life experiences so far. You are used to displaying them in one particular context and are perfectly capable of transferring them to new contexts.

I often recommend the STAR technique, described in Wendy’s blog on CV writing, part 2:
Situation – describe the situation/issue you were dealing with
Task – what, specifically, did you have to do?
Action- what action did you take?
Result – what was the outcome/impact for your organisation/team/customer/end user of your service?

I’ve found that a useful way to identify transferable skills is to apply the STAR format to 4 or 5 examples of achievements from life experiences, not work experiences. I’ve heard some cracking achievements described from time spent on travelling, childcare, supporting elderly/vulnerable relatives, voluntary work, organising social activities, running sports or interest societies, local community campaigning, etc.

The key learning from this exercise is to discover just how many core work skills, (e.g. prioritising, decision making, managing stress, planning and organising, influencing skills, leadership experience, team working, budgeting, etc.) you learned in a non-work context and currently use those skills daily in paid employment. It also demonstrates to a potential employer that you understand how to assess, describe and evaluate the transferable skills you have to offer and that you are still learning.  You have the capacity to build your skills further in new contexts in response to new demands.

I’d really encourage all job seekers who are looking to change direction significantly to build at least one core skill into your CV that you first practised in a non- work environment. Try it and see how it enhances the issues of flexibility and versatility on your CV.

Sian Case

Email:  sian@nailthatjob.co.uk  Phone: 01789 740948

Website  http://www.nailthatjob.co.uk

  • >Transferable Skills (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing Your CV Part 2 Making Choices (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees! (leavingthepublicsector.net)

Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees!

This post is concerned with the particular issues faced by those moving between public and private sectors when completing their CV.

I’m going to comment on language, confidentiality, competencies and references.

Language

A recent post here set out the reasons why public sector jargon needs to be avoided in CVs and job interviews.  Keep your language clear and simple.  When in doubt ask a non-public sector friend to read it and give you honest advice on clarity.

Confidentiality

Some public sector staff work in areas where the issues of confidentiality are real and significant.  But in all honesty most do not!  If you do, there will be clear guidance available.  You should consult your HR department about what you can say and how best to overcome the barriers to you getting a new role.

Most public sector staff do not work under the same restrictions.  The reality is that you can record on your CV the kind of work you have been doing.  Of course you should avoid information; under a security classification, relating to an individual member of the public or a fellow staff member, likely to embarrass the organisation or  Government Minister for which you have worked.

Most people will be able to describe their work in sufficient detail for a CV.  But see the comments made in the next section about how you do it.

Competencies

In my last post I included a list of skills and personal qualities (competencies) that employers are likely to look for. The list was by no means an exhaustive.

When you complete your employment history, try to show how your approach and your achievements demonstrate the competencies you quote.

For example, putting together a team and then driving through an initiative to improve the service to customers while reducing costs illustrates a number of competencies.  It can be understood quite easily by those outside the public sector.

Experience of project and programme management again can be understood outside the public sector and can be used to illustrate planning, organizing and delivering benefits when applying for roles in small to medium-sized organizations that do not have large projects for you to manage.

Those who have worked very close to Ministers managing legislation have had to use planning and organizing skills.  They are also likely to have demonstrated tact and discretion. If you have worked in difficult and sensitive areas  including policy discussions with Ministers (where influencing skills, relationship management, tact and discretion were needed, as well as the ability to be flexible and adaptable) this should be included but with discretion.

Think in terms of the competencies as you write descriptions of the work you have done.  Think in terms of organisations, tasks, problems solved and people influenced.  Describe the tasks you have completed in terms that others will understand and focus on what you delivered and how you delivered.

References

Some government departments will only offer bland references as your employer.  You will need their reference.   But it may only be a confirmation that you worked for them in a particular grade over a particular period of time.

Most large private sector employers know this – for others you may have to explain.  But you will need something more.  Try asking your line manager or someone in your management line if they would be prepared to give you a personal reference.   Also consider approaching retired senior colleagues and others who have left organisation.

It helps as well if you can provide a personal referee who holds a senior position in the private sector.  This is where people you have met during work in a voluntary capacity may be useful. Otherwise, consider people who you have met through clubs and associations.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for a reference, most people feel flattered to be asked But you should always give people the opportunity to say no and make quite clear that you will understand if they feel they simply don’t know you well enough to help.

I would welcome your thoughts on all this and I am very happy to answer questions.

  • Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing your CV! Part 2 Making Choices (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Watch your language – it’s a different world out there! (leavingthepublicsector.net)
Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Writing your CV! Part 2 Making Choices

Curriculum Vitae
  

In my last post I suggested that the following information should be in your CV:

  1. Contact details – name, address, post code, telephone number, e-mail address
  2. A short summary with Keywords for recruiters
  3. Skills and personal qualities (Competencies)
  4. Employment history and experience
  5. Qualifications, professional memberships and achievements
  6. Education and training
  7. Any special skills e.g. driving licence
  8. Interests and hobbies if relevant
  9. Referees

I mentioned as well that there are different styles of CVs.

  • A ‘traditional’ CV that lists everything in date order starting with your education and qualifications, followed by your employment history, interests etc.
  • A ‘more ‘informal’ CV starts that starts with a pen picture of yourself which highlights your skills and experience relevant to the job.
  • Variations and combinations of the two above

Here I’m going to provide you with some advice to help you complete 1 to 9 above

1. Your contact details, name address etc should be simple to complete but have a care on your email address.  This is the time for a simple and straightforward email address – not for a the jokey one that includes your nickname

2. Your summary is an opportunity to show an employer what you will bring to their organization in terms of your key expertise and transferable skills.  It should show how you will make a positive difference to their success. This is a part of your CV that should change in response to the requirements of each particular role.

Begin with previous experience but do not supply too much detail. You can have an intro along the lines of: “With 5 years experience in customer management…”. Only if it is very relevant to this particular job application be exact here – details will come later.

Use key words to focus the reader’s attention on the key skills that you want to highlight: for example, “multi-disciplinary team leadership”. This will put emphasis on more reasons why you may well be the candidate for the job.

When you have established an outline of your background and your skills it is time to look at the future.  You can state what you’re looking for and where you would like to go.  Alter your goals here marginally depending upon the job you’re applying for; for example, “seeking to further develop my career in the field of project management”.

3.” Skills and personal qualities” are usually a list and the kinds of skills that employers look for include

  • Leadership and management
  • Effective communication
  • Problem-solving and Decision Making
  • Creativity
  • Customer Focus
  • Interpersonal abilities
  • Influencing and persuading others
  • Teamwork
  • Planning and organizing
  • Computer literacy 

Highly regarded personal qualities include

  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Professionalism and work ethic 
  • Positive attitude and energy

If you can make a claim to these qualities – it is reasonable to include them here!  Add any others you think may be relevant.

4. In describing your employment history, concentrate very much on the last ten years and what you have delivered.  This is where you draw on your STAR stories.  For each element include your job title and how long you were employed in the role, then set out briefly;

  • Situation – Describe the situation/problem you were faced with
  • Task – what did you have to do?
  • Action – what action did you take and why.
  • Results – highlight the outcome

Experience previous to the last ten years should be very much summarized unless it is directly relevant to the role but do not ignore key successes.

5. When setting out your qualifications and achievements include most prominently what is most relevant.

6. On qualifications etc, again go for what is most relevant

7. On special skills, stay with what is relevant and here you could add information from your STAR stories that relate to voluntary activities.

8. I would advise avoiding adding hobbies and interests unless they are directly relevant to the role.

9.. I don’t include the details of referees unless they have been asked for.  But I do add a note to say that they are available and can be supplied on request.  When you do provide contact details for referees remember to warn them to expect an enquiry.

I would welcome your thoughts and I am very happy to answer your questions, if I can.  My next post will discuss particular issues for those moving between public and private sectors when completing their CVs

Related articles
  • Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Reading between the lines – what a CV can reveal about a job applicant(premierlinedirect.co.uk)
  • >Transferable Skills (leavingthepublicsector.net)

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics

Curriculum Vitae

First of all ‘CV’ stands for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ which means ‘story of your life’!  But in this context it means a brief written account of your career so far. The intention is to sum up all the basic information that an employer needs to know in one short and easy-to-read document.

Once you have written a basic CV you can then make as many copies as you like and send them to anyone you wish.  But more importabtly you can then adapt this basic template to meet the needs of any particular job advert. You can send a copy of your CV when you’re applying for a specific job vacancy or when you’re just writing ‘on the off-chance’.

What information should be in a CV?

  • Contact details – name, address, post code, telephone number, e-mail address
  • A short summary with Keywords for recruiters
  • Skills and personal qualities (Competencies)
  • Employment history and experience
  • Qualifications, professional memberships and achievements
  • Education and training
  • Any special skills e.g. driving licence
  • Interests and hobbies if relevant
  • Referees

The order may vary depending on the opportunity you are applying for.

There are different ‘styles’ of CV?

  • A ‘traditional’ CV lists everything in date order starting with your education and qualifications, followed by your employment history, interests etc.
  • A ‘more ‘informal’ CV starts that starts with a pen picture of yourself which highlights your skills and experience relevant to the job.
  • Variations and combinations of the two above

The more informal CV is now fashionable, traditional CVs are more likely to be required for academic institutions etc.

I’ll be writing more about this in my follow up posts.  But I’d welcome your thoughts on writing CVs and your questions.

  • Wendy worries about Dave, replies to his latest letter and promises new posts on CV writing. (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Gaps on CVs – what do they mean? (emeraldstarfish.wordpress.com)
  • Some Basics – How to write a good CV (ewaslawinska.com)
Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when you are going through personal change. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439.
You can find her business blog at http://wisewolftalking.com/

Wendy worries about Dave, replies to his latest letter and promises new posts on CV writing.

Woman writing a letter.

Wendy is a bit worried about Dave, particularly his reluctance to network.  She hopes that her recent posts have encouraged him to give it a try.

She isn’t surprised that Dave is feeling a bit depressed and that things are difficult with his wife. Being made redundant is stressful for the individual concerned and those around them.

Life changes for the partner or spouse too and this can take a toll.  It helps if you can talk about this together. And sometimes you may need outside help from a counsellor.

Keep an eye on how things are developing between you and if they are getting worse have the courage to ask for help!  Much better that than to lose the relationship. 

Dear Dave

Thanks for your last letter.

I hope that my recent posts have encouraged you to try networking.  I’m sure it really will help in your search for the right kind of work.  I’ll be very  interested to hear how you are getting on.

In my next couple of posts I’m going to concentrate on CVs and how you can use the work you have done on your STAR stories to show your competencies.

Yes, I do think potential employers will be interested in both your Civil Service jobs and the voluntary work you have done.  But it is up to you to work out how to explain what you have done in a way that shows other people what you have delivered.  Potential employers want to see evidence that you can deliver what they need. I’ll help you with this!

That is one of the reasons why you need to establish your own CV template that you can then adapt to each job application.  If you read the adverts carefully you will usually find each advertiser is looking for something a little different.  If it isn’t obvious from the advert then it may be when you do your home work. 

If you are serious about your application, it is worth finding out more about each organization you are applying to be part of.  You should be able to find out quite a lot using the internet.  Then work out what extras you may be able to offer in terms of your particular experience.  As I say above this needn’t just be related to paid work.

Anyway, when you have read my next couple of posts, I hope you have a go at producing the first version of you CV.  I’ll be very pleased to review it for you.

 Mean while, if you have any further questions please get in touch.  

As I’ve said before, if there are other things you would like me to write about here please let me know

With very best wishes

Wendy

Related Posts

  • >The Latest Letter from Dave and we have a dilemma – to network or not to networK? (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • >Transferable Skills (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Job Search and the Internet – Using Social Media to Network (leavingthepublicsector.net)
Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.net or ring ++44(0)7867681439
You can find her business blog at http://wisewolftalking.com/

Building your portfolio – STAR stories can make you a star

If you want to find work, directly employed or as a contractor, you are going to need to describe your achievements so far. Getting ready to do that can be a real boost to your self confidence, if you go about it in the right way.
Writing STAR stories is a great way to prepare not only to write your CV but also to answer questions at interview.  This will be particularly important if the organisation you want to join, or contract with, is committed to competency based interviewing  or wants evidence of what you have done so far!  Your STAR stories help to provide evidence of just how competent you are.
But preparing your STAR stories can also be a real boost to your self confidence, particularly if you are going through a difficult period at work.
Read more in today’s new post at http://wisewolftalking.com/2011/03/17/building-your-portfolio-star-stories-make-you-a-star/