I meet people on a daily basis who are actively seeking a new job because they are currently out of work or underemployed, dissatisfied with their current role, seeking a career change or looking to take the next step. Based on my observations and experiences, here are a few ideas and stories on how to go about the search for your next role.
What do you want?
Before you start firing off applications via online job boards or setting up meetings with recruitment consultants, have a think about what you want to do and what transferable skills you have on offer. The employment market, like other markets, is driven by supply and demand so assess your skills and consider where they could be deployed. Research and contact reputable recruitment agencies that recruit in your area of expertise. Carefully read job advertisements and tailor your job application accordingly highlighting the skills within your repertoire that match the job requirements.
Recently I interviewed a job seeker who had fantastic qualifications and experiences. The interview ran smoothly as we spoke about her background and how her career has progressed and all the things she has learned along the way. However the meeting came to a grinding halt when I asked this very simple question. “What do you want to do now?” You’d think I’d asked her to explain some complex theorem given the blank look on her face and the long pause that followed. She clearly wasn’t prepared to answer this question and I think she was hoping I could tell her the answer. She eventually found the answer after a long discussion and a number of probing questions, however I was surprised by how little thought and planning had gone into her job search.
Although a resume will never get you a job (its purpose is to get you a phone call or meeting request only), it is important to take care in preparing a quality resume. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, contain your life story, however it needs to be accurate, succinct and reflect your skills and experiences. In many cases, your resume will be assessed against a field of 50 or more others, so the first page is the most important and should contain information that interests the reader enough to put you in the “must call” category. In my opinion the first page should include a snapshot of your career to date, qualifications, key skills and personal details. The goal is to capture the attention of the reader and provide enough interest for them to turn the page and get more information from the body of the document. And accuracy is critical.
I recently ran a job advertisement for our company. One of the resumes jumped out at me at first glance based on the person’s experience and I got quite excited. But as I read more carefully I noted three basic errors in spelling and grammar and another error on a date and that put me off calling the person. Given I was inundated with responses, this person missed out because they didn’t take enough care in the preparation of a quality resume.
Whether you are interviewing with a company for a specific role or a recruitment consultancy you should do some homework before the meeting. Despite the various core competency or performance based interview techniques used by interviewers, first impressions make a big, big impact. Knowing a bit about who you are meeting can help you make a strong first impression. With Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools freely available, along with Google searches, it is usually quite easy to gather some knowledge about the person you are meeting. The idea is not to be too personal or cheesy, but rather having some awareness of who you are meeting to help you build a rapport. People hire people, so take an interest in who you are meeting. It’s not all about your skills and your ability to answer technical questions.
Know your selling points
You may be asked a wide array of questions at interview, so you can’t be prepared for every question. But if you have a considered answer for the following question you should be able to adapt this to suit a range of other questions:
“What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?”
This question comes from recruitment industry guru Lou Adler and if you think carefully about the answer, you will prepare yourself for a suite of other questions relating to your strengths, your motivators, your skill-set, your interests and your ability to deliver results.
Saying “Thanks” and showing your interest
Just as the first impression counts, so too does the last. I recommend you thank the person for taking the time to meet with you even if you decide you aren’t interested in the role. It leaves a positive impression and you never know, the interviewer may have another job that is better suited to you.
If you are interested in the job, tell the interviewer. A great closing to a job interview that really interests you is “thanks very much for your time today, I’m really interested and excited by this opportunity and I look forward to hearing from you”.
Changing jobs can be a life changing experience. Taking the time to think about your attributes, your interests, the opportunities in the market and your job search plan will put you in the best position to capture a great role.
Ben Walsh – General Manager – Recruitment