Getting a new job in a CV world
Finding a job in a ‘normal’ market, that is when the country is not in the middle of a pandemic and facing a long, deep recession, is hard enough. 2020 has been an appalling year for most people and yet hidden in the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods is the negative impact this is going to have on the jobs market in the new year. Come the end of April 2021 (at the moment at least) the furlough support scheme is coming to an end and with millions of people already made redundant or having to shut up shop, come the new year this figure could explode.
Whilst certain sectors and companies continue to grow, not every new job made available is going to be suited to your skills; nor will it be uncontested. To get ahead, you need to start now. Here are some pointers to get you on the right track.
1. Before applying for anything
Read the application carefully - don't blow it before you've lifted a finger. Take your time and be sure to address the questions and points in every application. Slinging out your CV to every ad will get you nowhere. Look at the selection criteria and also read through the corporate BS that too many adverts seem to contain. Check out glassdoor.co.uk or Google reviews for some intel on companies you've not heard off or worked with before.
2. Your CV
I have recruited for my own and other’s businesses and have seen 1000s of CVs in the last few years. It’s a subject matter in its own right but to highlight the top things to consider;
Layout– make it clear, use the same font, no pictures are needed (a small photo of you is fine if you have space).
Spelling/ Grammar – there are plenty of checkers and review apps and programs. Check it, then check it again.
Does it make sense – read it back to yourself and unless you are targeting the same industry or role where jargon and acronyms are expected, avoid it, especially when applying for a new sector or industry role. Even if you are sticking in the same area, don’t assume the recruitment agent or person reviewing your CV knows what you are referring to.
Avoid lists - especially where you have a long career. Instead, express what you’ve done and how that benefitted the role you were in/ the company you worked for.
Keep it positive and avoid writing anything negative about previous roles – even if your old manager really was a nightmare.
3. Use the phone (I don’t mean to text or email)
There seems to be a real aversion to using the telephone these days, but this is exactly why using it could get you ahead. You’ll have a chance to build rapport, ask questions and sell yourself (not too much) instead of relying of the reader’s interpretation of your CV. Make the call standing up, take your time and be clear what you are calling for and what you are hoping to achieve. Be nice to whomever it is that answers the phone first and be polite when signing off.
4. Be prepared for knock-backs
We read and hear of people making hundreds of applications and not getting anything in response. It can take hours to fill our applications and yet often one is greeted with nothing more than a ‘if you haven’t heard from us in 7 days, assume your application is not being taken further’. A few of these and a lack of response can be very demotivating but don’t let it get to you. Expect it. Treat it as a necessary evil in the process. Finding a job is a job in its own right so be prepared to stick at it. You may never know why you didn’t make it passed the first stages but sometimes you might get a little feedback. Accept it gracefully and learn from it. Don’t make the same mistakes twice. All too often recruitment managers are making a snap judgement on the information you have provided. If you keep getting knock-backs, try and figure out where you might be going wrong. What is it about what you have provided that people are missing or putting them off? Are you addressing the criteria clearly enough?
5. Make use of your network
You don’t have to have a vast black book of contacts and business associates (although this helps) so if you don’t ask colleagues, friends or perhaps even family members if they know of suitable opportunities or if could they recommend good places to find your next role or job. Like most things, some will be more helpful than others, but try. Try your local gym, sports-club, group or community. Get on LinkedIn and other sites and be inquisitive. Be sure not to be overzealous or hassle people but be bold, confident and back yourself – the worst thing to happen from asking most questions is being told ‘no’.
6. Resist the temptation to get ease-off
In the probable event you don’t find that next role immediately, keep on going. Try not to recycle too many of the same applications and treat each opportunity as the first. I cannot stress how tough this might become and the inclination will be to cut corners and boost the volume. Don't. Keep it accurate. You may never know how close you came to role you missed out on because you rushed it or didn’t put enough effort in.
Distant learning has exploded over recent years and now there are a huge number of qualifications available to gain online. Some free, some paid, some more relevant and prestigious than others but if you are lacking certain qualifications or require new skills to get into a certain role or sector, hop online and see what is available. Beware the knock-offs and always check with any commissioning group or awarding body that the credentials you are aiming for are sanctioned and worth the investment.
8. Prepare for your interview
If you get through to interview stage be prepared (more on this subject in this article https://www.hascombes.com/post/5-interview-tips)
As mentioned, looking for a job is a job in its own right. You’ve got to plan for it taking longer than you expect and apply yourself like never before. You might well be top of your game, a star in your industry, but there are likely to be more people going for the same job than at any time in the past so prepare to fight for it. Be confident in yourself and be yourself – don’t put yourself under pressure trying to be somebody you’re not. You might be fortunate and get a role straight away and if you do, make sure you are happy with the terms and condition you are signing up to – pay attention to lay-off clauses or restrictive covenants and decide if you are happy to adhere to them.
The very best of luck.