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Why looking for job is like looking for love….

Looking for love and looking for a job have a lot more in common than you might first think. Most people don’t enjoy the process, it’s something they do to reach their goal of a new job/relationship…

So how can lessons in love help you with your job search…

1. Get ready for rejection – you’re not going to get the first, or maybe even the 10th job you apply for, just like you won’t fall in love with the first person you meet. So, get ready for some ‘thanks, but no’, or worse, no response at all to your applications. Don’t take it to heart, it isn’t personal. However, while ambition and self-belief are a good thing, try to apply for only those roles you realistically have a chance of getting. This will limit the number of rejections you receive and help to keep your confidence intact!

2. Technology has changed everything – ok so it’s hard to find a part of modern life that hasn’t been changed by technology, or namely the internet. But dating and job hunting are ones that have been totally revolutionised. Finding love is now more, swiping right on Tinder and less about talking to someone in a bar… Just as job hunting is now all about jobboards and LinkedIn and less about searching the job sections of newspapers and magazines. What this means is it’s easier and quicker. You can see a wider choice of roles, know more about any job before you apply, have a vast library of information on the company to help make your decision. The whole application process is also faster you can apply and potentially interview for a role within days rather than weeks.

3. Chemistry –someone can be a perfect match on paper and tick every box and requirement, but just not click when you meet in person. The same can be said when looking for a role. A job could sound great in the advert but when you turn up for an interview you realise it’s not the right place for you. Just as you might not be the right person for some organisations. Don’t underestimate the importance of chemistry, team or cultural fit. You will potentially spend more time with your colleagues than your family, so make sure the people and the company are the right match for you.

4. It won’t come to you – sitting and waiting for love to find you isn’t going to get you very far, the same can be said when job hunting. You need to make it clear you’re open to offers and be ready to make the first move when you see something you like. Check your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and visible to recruiters, have a CV and cover letter ready, register with relevant job boards and recruiters and check in with these on a regular basis. This will all increase your chances of finding and securing your next role.

If you need any other help and advice on finding your next role from keeping your job search a secret to making a good impression on your first day then check out our job seeking help and advice section.

Are cover letters a thing of the past?

When collating some of our previous articles on career and job seeking advice, I realised that we’d not written anything about cover letters. No advice on what to put in them, what to leave out etc. It got me thinking about whether they still formed a part of the job seeking process or whether they’d become, just like paper based job applications, a thing of the past.

I’m part of what I think of as the ‘in-between generation’. By that I mean I grew up in a pretty much technology free world, but since graduating and joining the world of work in 2001, I’ve been surrounded by technology and seen it take over nearly every aspect of our lives.
I remember my first few jobs after graduation – one was secured via a friend who recommended me and the other I went to a local recruiter who passed my CV on to one of their clients. At no point did I write a covering letter.

Fast forward to 2006 when I next looked for a role, by then jobboards had burst onto the scene and changed the way we all look for work. Again, no covering letter, just a small box to add some supporting text when submitting my application. The same can be said when I looked for my now current role a decade later. I know previously, when on the other side of the fence and recruiting into my team, I was just sent CVs to peruse. I wasn’t given any additional letters or notes that the candidate may have supplied.

Does that mean a cover letter is no longer required?

Part of me wants to say yes – why waste your time crafting a beautifully written letter for no-one to read it. One statistic that always seems to get quoted a lot is that a CV gets given the grand total of about 6 seconds attention before it’s either put in to the yes or no pile. If such little time is given to, what is a very detailed document, then even less would be given to any supporting text.

The idea of a letter in general is now rather old fashioned, I can’t remember the last time I received a letter thought the post that wasn’t a bill. And even those are now becoming common to receive digitally. I would also chose sending an email over printing and posting a letter. I know that cover letters, if they are used, generally aren’t posted but the formality of a properly written and laid out letter feels a tad behind the times.

However, the other part of me feels that perhaps we’re being a bit harsh on the poor cover letter. They still have a useful part to play. But perhaps they just need to be revamped and used in a different way. A CV on its own is a rather bland document, basically just a list of qualifications, positions and achievements. There isn’t much in there to tell the reader about you.

The cover letter or supporting document or whatever you want to call it, gives you the opportunity to tell the recruiter/line manager a little more about yourself, highlight the areas they may not notice, or skip past, when giving your CV those mere 6 seconds of their time. While I wouldn’t attach a cover letter as a separate document to an email, I wouldn’t dream of simply sending my CV without putting anything in the body of the email.

Maybe we should call it a cover email as that is essentially what it is. On the rare occasions I have seen the communication that accompanies a candidate’s CV, a well written one goes a long way to giving me a positive mind-set when reading their CV.

But what about applications made via a job board? While there isn’t generally the option to attach anything other than your CV, most give you a space to add some supporting text. OK so what you write might not get read by the recruiter, let alone the hiring manager, but on the other hand it might. And it might make all the difference. Use that space wisely and explain why you’re the perfect person for the role, how your skills and experience match their requirements and let a bit of your personality show through.

To answer my original question is the cover letter a thing of the past? Yes – You no longer send CVs via post, so a cover letter in the formal sense is no longer required. However, I personally think it has evolved and been replaced by the more informal email or personal statement that you submit when making an application. I wouldn’t apply for a role with just my CV, even if it’s only a short 200-300 words it’s always better to have something than nothing… So watch this space for some upcoming advice on supporting statements to fill an obvious gap in our published careers advice articles.

Oh no it isn’t: what’s with the profile photographs on LinkedIn?

Many years ago, when I worked as a head-hunter, I did several campaigns in the US. One of the differences I noticed immediately was that CVs usually carried photographs of the candidates – something you rarely saw at that time in the UK.

What had us all bemused was that most of the ‘snaps’ were obviously taken many, many years previously. You could tell that immediately – from the fashions to the hairstyles and the backgrounds the pictures were taken against. No way were these images recent.

Roll on to 2018 and I am seeing the same trend with LinkedIn photographs. I have noticed it mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately. I try as hard as I can to share the travel burden with candidates – so often organise ‘mid-point’ meetings in hotels or business centres rather than drag people to me.

Often these meetings feel a bit clandestine. Not quite ‘under the station clock, holding a copy of the FT and wearing a pink carnation’ but getting on that way. Often you are in a busy hotel lobby trying to pick your candidate out of the many other people obviously there for interviews or other business meetings.

I also sometimes spot candidates casting an eye around just in case someone they know might catch them being interviewed. Only last week I was mid-discussion with a candidate when an HRD I’ve known for years (an ex-colleague) tapped me on the shoulder. She was in the middle of being interviewed by the MD of a potential employer. I was asked if I wouldn’t mind popping over to her table when I’d finished my meeting to provide an ‘on the spot’ reference. Turning around I immediately recognised the MD too. Small world.

On that note, you only have to walk in to any 3-4* hotel lounge these days to realise that they are hotspots of business. At virtually every table there is a business meeting of some sort happening. I constantly meet recruiters I know in these places – and increasingly clients too. In fact, in some hotels, I suspect a resident would have a real struggle finding a quiet spot to read a book or magazine during business hours.

Amongst all this hive of activity you somehow have to find your guest. And I’d adopted the approach of having LinkedIn photos to hand so that I’d instantly recognise people. Or so I hoped. Instead the US CV trait seems to have struck LinkedIn.

So many candidates looked nothing like their LinkedIn picture. And usually because it was at least 10 years out of date. So why is this?

It might be laziness. However, I doubt it. In most cases people had obviously been updating their profiles continuously. Just not the photograph.

Was it vanity? You know that picture where you weigh a few pounds less or have a slightly newer suit on. Or perhaps you had a decent professional photo taken years ago that was just so good you can’t replace it? Again, I doubt it. Many of the photographs were far from ‘professional’ and some would have been more at home on the likes of Facebook.

The elephant in the room – and it is a very big elephant – is undoubtedly age discrimination. Despite legislation, HR talking about best practice etc etc people still feel the need to make themselves appear younger to potential employers. That becomes even more obvious when you start interviewing them and they start talking about jobs that don’t appear on their CV. The first decade or more of their career being expunged from history to make them appear a more youthful, and fast-tracked, version of themselves.

This whole pantomime tells me we are still miles away from a world that judges people on capability. Many, many people still clearly believe that being older limits your job options – as candidates demonstrate every day by those profile photographs on LinkedIn.

Perhaps LinkedIn should ban all profile pictures on the basis recruiters can use them directly or indirectly to discriminate? Or is it more a case that we should all just be ourselves rather than trying to be Peter Pan? Is pandering to other people’s discriminatory tendencies part of the problem?

I for one have a profile picture that was taken earlier this year. Yes, I look a bit older, However I am also wiser. I’ve learned a huge amount over the last couple of years – and I am better at my job today than I was two or three years ago when the previous picture was taken.

In the spirit of Groucho Marx – ‘I wouldn’t want to be part of a business that would only employ a younger version of me’.

‘Oh no it isn’t: what’s with the profile photographs on LinkedIn?…’ was written by Ian Gooden, CEO Chiumento Group. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.

How to work with a recruiter

Recruiters tend to get a bit of a bad rap and are often clubbed together with estate agents, as those people you deal with because you have to, rather than because you want to.

We may be a bit biased, but we think that’s a little unfair and a few bad apples have tarnished the reputation of a whole profession. Just like their housing counterparts, recruiters can have a massive impact on your life. As one global recruitment firm puts it ‘the right job can transform a person’s life’ and that’s something we strongly believe in.

If you have decided to make a move how can you work with a recruiter and help them, to help you..

1. Be clear – before you start make it clear what you do and don’t want. Let them know the types of roles you’re interested in, the salary you’re expecting, the industries you think are a good match and also the locations you’d be willing to work in. However, remember to be realistic in your expectations, using estate agents as an example, don’t go in asking for a 10 bed detached house when all you can afford is a 2-bed flat.

2. Have your CV ready – take time and effort to get your CV right before you approach any recruiters. This is your shop window so make sure it highlights your best achievements. Remember recruiters see hundreds of CVs a day so take their advice. If they suggest a few subtle tweaks to your CV or LinkedIn profile then listen to them, don’t be offended they know what they’re talking about. Check out our CV writing tips…

3. Be respectful – while the decision to hire you or not isn’t down to the recruiter… the decision on whether to put your forward as a candidate or not, is. Treat any correspondence or meetings with them as if it were with the hiring organisation. Be responsive to emails and phone calls, dress appropriately and be on time for any interviews and meetings.

4. Keep in touch – we’re not suggesting you become best buddies and call them every day but prior to interview it’s worth giving them a quick call, asking for any advice or information they could share that might help. Regardless of whether it was a resounding success or a disaster, it’s always good to call post interview and give your opinion on how it went. If you’ve not heard anything don’t be afraid to call and follow up, but try not to hound them with daily calls and messages!

5. Stay connected – LinkedIn is a great way to stay connected to recruiters. It will allow you to see what roles they’re recruiting for (assuming they post this on LinkedIn) and gives them instant access to your most up-to-date CV (your LinkedIn profile). If you’re worried about your boss or colleagues seeing that you’ve connected with a recruiter (or a few), check out your settings and turn off all notifications. A good recruiter can help you throughout your career, you never know when you might need them again in the future.

‘How to work with a recruiter?’ was written by Lesley Colella If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.

 

5 ways you can give your executive-level CV the edge

Guest Blog by:

As any executive who has had to write a CV will tell you, an executive-level CV requires more work than any previous CVs you have written. You have to demonstrate reflective thinking and plan strategically, all of which requires you to put in extra time and effort. But it will pay off. So just how do you give your executive-level CV the edge? We have five ways for you.

1. Update your CV

Just because you keep on climbing the ladder, it doesn’t mean that you should simply add your most recent job to your experience and keep the rest the same.

Firstly, CV fashions change, and yours should reflect the format recruiters currently desire.

Secondly, your skills and experience will have changed drastically over the course of your career to date. Relying on the ones that you listed when you first started out will make you look unqualified and inexperienced. Not the look you’re going for when you’re in the C suite.

Here are some tips for updating your CV and showing prospective employers why you’re so great:

  • List your current skills only, remove anything that isn’t relevant nor immediately demonstrate that you’re an executive.
  • Format your CV to modern requirements.
    • Lots of short, pithy sentences.
    • Bullet point key statements.
    • Open with a personal statement.
    • Keep it to two pages of A4 maximum.
    • Break up any serious walls of text.
    • Remove any experience that doesn’t show how you got to where you are now, e.g. your first job out of university, or that temp job you did that summer.
  • Submit your CV in PDF format so that no matter who opens it using whatever program they use, it will not distort and become unreadable.
2. Show don’t tell

Telling the recruiter what you have done over the course of your career, or even just in your last job, will make you look like amateur hour. Don’t simply tell them what you did; that doesn’t help them decide if you’re suitable for the role and what value you will bring to the team and the company.

Instead, show prospective employers what you did. Everyone understands numbers; not everyone understands technical, role-specific jargon, therefore inject figures to support your claims and achievements:

  • If you did something that increased sales by X%, say that.
  • If you found a new way to bring in Y new clients, shout about it.
  • If you discovered ways to cut costs in one area which resulted in a boost in profits somewhere else, let them know.

Recruiters ultimately want to know that you will up the company’s game. So, let them know how capable you are of doing just that.

3. Connect your CV to your LinkedIn profile

Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Get one. And fill it out thoroughly to showcase your experience and abilities.

Most of the time, you will have to submit your CV electronically, so use that to your advantage and include a link to your online profile. Whilst your CV will contain all the pertinent information that the recruiter is seeking, your LinkedIn profile will show:

  • How active you are in networking, connecting with people in the industry (recruiters want to see that you are genuinely interested in the industry and are doing research outside of applications to get a better understanding of it).
  • A little more information about you than your CV can offer.
4. Tailor your CV to each job application

By this stage, you should not only be demonstrating your industry experience and transferable key skills to recruiters but also letting them know that you are the ideal candidate for their job opening because you have the required experience and key skills that the job calls for.

This is easy to achieve. Simply take some time and make sure you tailor your CV to each and every job application that you submit. It will be worth it.

5. Think strategically

You may be competing against a lot of other candidates for this job, so think about how you got to where you are today. You are unique; your experience is unique, what you can bring to the job will be unique. Make sure your CV accurately reflects this.

Recruiters don’t want to read a generic CV that is the same as the next candidate’s. They want to easily understand what sets you apart; what value you will bring. So, take some time to reflect on your work history and draw out the pertinent points. Position your unique selling points upfront in your CV and then quantify them later on. Set yourself apart from the competition early.

About the author: CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent job board. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.