Friday, January 25, 2008

Job Search & Resume Essentials

Fortunately (and Unfortunately) as a Manager you will frequently get involved in the process of hiring new staff.  The unfortunate downside is that as a Manager you will also have to sometimes terminate staff - see my post on PIPs earlier - but this to some extent goes with the territory.  Lets look at the positive aspect first and lets look at it in two parts as it might be you on the other side of that chair at some point!

Selling Yourself

Now the first step in selling yourself is a decently formatted CV/Resume and appropriately detailed and specific Cover Letter.  There are lots of places that will send you to CV writers and so on, but you have to remember something very important - your CV is really only the 1st step - YOU need to be able to speak to someone about everything that is on there and if you cannot do that, it will not matter whether or not you got an interview.  You WILL NOT get the job!

Now, if you can speak about everything that is on your CV congratulations, that is important as that is what you will be questioned on come Interview time.  You need to ensure that you are comfortable with it and to be honest, depending on your experience, do not be frightened if your initial CV is 10 page  long (just do not send that out!).

Once you have built a starting CV, the next task is to weed it down to the appropriate keywords that the company is looking for - see why I said 10 pages is OK?  You can use those keywords and the accompanying 'blurbs' to flesh out each of your jobs so that you present yourself in the best possible light.  Most books and companies would state that you should aim to have your formatted CV (the one that the hiring managers see) be approximately 2 pages in length.  Any longer and unfortunately unless the hiring managers are very bored, will be generally disregarded.  Keep in mind in today's economies there are almost always more people applying for a role than there are positions available and correspondingly lots more CV's!

Now this all might sound a bit dry and factual (although there are lots of different formats and ways of presenting yourself in your CV to make it less so, the end goal to keep in mind is that you are presenting a "Professional" image of yourself.  Where you have an opportunity to be a bit more risqué is on your Covering Letter.  Although your CV has been tailored towards the job that you are applying for, your experience might not always be an EXACT match and in these instances you would use your Covering Letter to explain why you are a suitable candidate for the role being advertised.


A hiring manager uses the data in the cover letter that you have provided and would compare it against the information in your CV to receive a positive or negative impression as well as an initial determination of suitability for the position.  You don't just want to throw keywords into the cover letter in a random order, you need to ensure that the information you are presenting about yourself matches what the company is looking for and also as mentioned earlier, if your CV is not an exact match, why should they talk to you?  Remember, these simple pieces of paper determine who gets seen first and who gets pitched to the side.

Some key things to always include in a Cover Letter are:
  • Key Accomplishments and Awards (i.e. How did you benefit your last company?  How much money did you save them?  What process improvements did you initiate and how successful were they?)
  • Customer Testimonials - if you are applying for a Customer Service role and your customers are willing to be your advocate that says some really good things about you and the level of Service you are able to provide.
Finally with regards to your CV/Resume and Cover Letter there is probably one really important thing that I have not yet mentioned ... it is extremely important so please pay attention ... studies state that 85% of applicants currently applying for new positions, make this simple elementary error.


PROOFREAD YOUR WORK!!!!!

In today's day and age with the tools we have available, there is no excuse for simple spelling and grammatical errors.  Remember, Hiring Managers are looking for a reason to put you in the NO pile - don't give them an easy out!!  Once you have read it, read it again and then get your wife to read it and your brother and as many other people as you can think off.  Not only will they hopefully find any errors, but they might even be able to add some additional accomplishments that you'd forgotten!  In addition unless you are in a highly specialized field, you want to ensure that your CV is readable AND understandable by the "lay" person - remember more often than not, the Hiring Manager in HR does not really understand the role that they are hiring for and is really only looking for those keywords I've mentioned before!

I hope that the above has been useful information with regards to CV/Resume creation as well as the Cover Letter.  In later posts I will cover the different job boards (for you and your candidates), recruiters as well the  disciplinary and termination process.
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