Archive For October 31, 2012

Scary times when looking for a job?

It’s Halloween – a time for pumpkins, ghosts & ghouls, witches and skeletons to make an appearance. Keeping to the All Hallows theme I see some striking resemblances to the various elements of looking for a job.

  • Pumpkins – we all like an expertly carved pumpkin displayed in the window with a candle shining bright for all to see. Think about your CV and if you were to display it on the likes of job websites etc. is what you have on display scary or intriguing? If it is intriguing enough to take a closer look then you are on the right tracks, if it is garish and scary you may just frighten off potential employers.
  • Skeletons – do you have skeletons in your closet? If you are applying for security cleared jobs or even roles which may take a dim view on your past – are you prepared to have your background interrogated or are you setting yourself up to fail? Think about the roles you are applying for and make choices based on what will work for you – do your homework.
  • Ghosts – often translucent, and to the trained eye your CV is the same – make sure you back up your statements in your CV to ensure you are not being overlooked. Also ghosts often appear and disappear like a number of pieces of information on CVs, don’t swap around information too much as you may scare off a recruiter who will do a comparison of different versions of your CV and will have their suspicion raised.
  • Witches – often seen huddling around a cauldron deciding on ingredients (applications) going into the spell which will win over their prey (hiring managers).
  • Spiders – or web crawlers work over your CV in databases and on job boards as they search for keywords to index you for searches by employers. Make sure you are using terminology common to your profession but don’t just list a load of keywords – contextualise them in the remits for the roles. The spiders do still work just as effectively.
  • Trick or treat – knocking on the doors of the prosperous (employers) for treats (jobs), not a great deal of effort goes into direct applications / speculative approaches to businesses but it is still the leading route to success.
  • Bobbing for apples – similar to applying for jobs, leaning into a big barrel and trying your best to catch an apple in your teeth; in competition with several others but who will get it first?
  • Zombies – make sure you are alert and articulate when speaking with HR / recruiters especially when it is you calling them to ask how your application is coming along / has it been received or you have questions.
  • Werewolves – Always treat everyone you meet as you would expect to be greeted, don’t change from human to grumpy wolf when speaking to receptionists / secretaries. Not only is it rude and disrespectful, you don’t actually know who you are speaking with – they may be the MD just picking up the phone or sat in reception!!
  • Cobwebs – clear out the cobwebs from your CV; refreshing and updating your CV periodically is excellent practice.
  • Lightening – don’t wait to apply for a role, get to work immediately on tweaking your CV and submit it ASAP. Job shortlists can often be met within a few hours of a job advert being posted online.

Wishing you all a Happy, Safe and Joyful All Hallows Eve – remember a good costume to intrigue and attract others to talk to you is the best way to gain success but keep it real, no one likes to take off a mask to reveal something even more scary underneath!!

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We had some fun in the office carving our own pumpkins (see below) – this has become a bit of a tradition as I was challenged to create a themed one last year which yielded a donation to a local children’s hospice and even though we did not have a bet on this year, a donation was made again to the hospice – thanks Steve!!

 

Should you be accepting those LinkedIn invites? Managing your network – guest blog

It is easy to click on a button and find that you have got another LinkedIn contact. Box ticked. But remember, it is not a competition to get as many friends as you can and then start boasting to your colleagues at work. The social site is designed to be a business aid and help you to build and manage your professional network. So should you be accepting invites from people willy nilly?

Well, there is a simple answer to that, and it’s no. Even the company itself recommends that you only click yes on invites when they are from people you know. Managing your network efficiently is a key part of having an account, so if you can’t control what’s happening then consider whether it is really the best tool for you/your business.

There are a number of options when it comes to invites on LinkedIn. First of all you can simply choose to accept them, which will result in the person being added as one of your first degree connections. Secondly, you can opt to wait and reply to the person who has sent you an invite, without adding them to your network. Next up is the ignore button which puts the invitation into your archive folder but does not let the person know that you have declined their invitation – this is particularly handy when you do not want to offend an acquaintance. You also have the option to report an invitation as spam.

If a person comes calling that you don’t recognise then the chances are that they are from a recruitment agency. Now linking with them can be beneficial if you are in the market for a job – after all they have gone to the trouble of finding someone with your skills and getting in touch. However, if you’re not in the market then it’s likely to be a nuisance that you don’t need. Click yes at your peril! And remember too that other people will know when you have linked with a recruitment firm – if it happens numerous times then it might just start sending warning bells to your current employer!

When it comes to security, it is important to remember to change your LinkedIn password on a regular basis. Back in June the site was the subject of some unwelcome publicity after falling victim to a security breach which resulted in the passwords of more than one million of its users being leaked. That said, changing your password is not simply enough in itself, you also need to make sure that it is not something that someone else will be able to crack without trying. Research carried out after the attack revealed that one of the top passwords stolen was 12345. A considerable number of people didn’t exactly think outside the box it seems when choosing a LinkedIn password – other popular ‘secure’ choices were “job” and “work”.

So remember, while LinkedIn can be a fantastic tool when used correctly, it is vital to consider the security implications and always be careful when accepting new contacts.

Janice Lincoln is a freelance writer specialising in business matters such as looking for jobs via an it recruitment agency.

Off the shelf CV advice

Having spoken with a great deal of job seekers both over my recruitment years and more recently as a careers adviser, I have been both surprised and concerned about the type of help out there for those wanting to improve their CV in the hope of achieving better prospects moving forward. One client I spoke to recently had previously engaged in a professional CV writing service with a large name in the industry – he sent his CV in with a payment and received a document which just didn’t make sense. The leading CV writer had reshaped each of the bullets with very poor English and clearly had never dealt with a project management CV before. Having sent back his CV 4 times for changes to be made, he was met with a response that the leading CV writer had worked on it this time so it should be perfect. I saw the CV after it had been reworked and I am still in shock, he did receive a full refund and was very cautious about seeking assistance moving forward.

Another client of mine had sought assistance through downloadable advice documents from PM specific websites and found that the documents were useful to a point but really missed what she needed in terms of information specific to her. I sympathised, and also have documents which are a guide but cannot address everything / everybody as it would have to be a very long document – maybe there’s a book in it!

The fact of the matter is that as much help and guidance there is available online and in published pieces of work on professional CV writing; there isn’t something which is specific to you. This is one of the key drivers for The CV Righter – we work with you every step of the way to ensure we keep your CV reading like you but relevant to what employers want to see. No off the shelf work is undertaken as this takes away the value of the service, we have clients who prefer to write their own CV and have scheduled feedback / consultancy meetings to ensure they are keeping on track and keeping to the point etc. And we have clients who use us in a more traditional sense and have us write their CV and we have regular meetings to discuss progress and ensure the CV is true to them. We are flexible because we are not off the shelf! For a free CV review, send over your CV today – let’s talk about what can work for you.

How to Volunteer for Charities

Charities run on peoples’ goodwill and time. They are funded by peoples’ generosity and receive no government funding. They are staffed by a few managers and other key staff who are paid but a major part of their workforce is made up of volunteers.

Volunteering for a charity is worthwhile and very rewarding, but it is important to find a role that really suits you and makes the most of the time you have to offer. You may have important skills or certain personality traits that would make you perfect for a particular role.

There is a huge range of volunteering positions within charities. You could do anything from working in a charity shop to helping out at fundraising events to walking dogs for a dog shelter or fostering animals until they are adopted.

Charities are all organisations and although they do not seek to make a profit they do have to be run like a business, with people helping with budgets, marketing, fundraising and IT. If you have office-based skills, these can easily be translated into volunteer work for charities.

Many people volunteer as a way to get back into the working world after a career break or long period of ill-health. Volunteering builds confidence and gets you back into the routine of work. It is important that you are clear about what times and hours you are able to offer and how long you will be available for so that the charity can find a suitable role for you.

Volunteering can also look very good on your C.V. if you are searching for employment, as it shows a willingness to work, compassion and trustworthiness. Some volunteers go on to get paid positions within the charities that they have worked for, by showing their dedication, commitment and a ‘can-do’ attitude, but others are more than happy to just give their time knowing that they are helping a worthwhile cause.

If you are more interested in volunteering in a ‘hands-on’ way, the best sort of charities to work for are animal charities, which need a lot of help to care for the animals they look after. If you have always wanted pets but cannot afford one or cannot commit the time needed to care for one, then volunteering for an animal charity such as the RSPCA will be a great way for you to get to spend time with the animals you love.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact charities of your choice and ask if they have any positions available. Talk to them about what you would like and what you can offer and see where it leads you!

This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, travel passionate and animal lover. She blogs about Pets and Travelling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).