I had a call the other day from a male asking me if I had any jobs – I pointed out that I am not a recruitment agency and ended the call, but after hanging up I realised that the person who had called really came across as quite rude and a bit of a mumbling mess. Putting myself back into my recruiter shoes I thought to myself how I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to help this person if I had roles available. This got me thinking about the hundreds of speculative calls I received as a recruiter back in the day and how people would come across on the phone. Some days I would be delighted with callers, those who really thought about what they wanted to discuss and could talk through their career/experience without taking too much precious time and were clear on the roles they wanted to go into next. Other days I would have people calling who would take a good couple of minutes to even properly engage in a conversation, they couldn’t summarise their experience and certainly didn’t know where their skill-set fit in future roles. I would remember all of my callers – for better or worse, and would often make a note stating the good and bad points. This greatly assisted me when I was qualifying new roles, I would usually already have a shortlist of candidates I wanted to speak to about it before I had written and advertised the job advert. As recruitment is so very competitive it is important to make sure you get your shortlist to the client ASAP, this way you had a better chance of getting ahead of the other agencies.
Today’s graduates and school-leavers looking at how their parents used to go about getting a job would be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled into some kind of Victorian fantasy. For a start, everything happened so slowly, letters and CVs trundling through the Royal Mail – and some companies actually taking the trouble to send out formal rejection letters. Let’s have a look at how things have changed.
The first change barely qualifies as new technology any more because it’s been in the mainstream for approaching 20 years. But if you’ve been in the same job since the mid-1990s, you’re in for a shock when you come to make your next application. You’ll be expected to be a fully signed-up, switched-on member of the online community. You’ll be submitting your CV online and communicating via email or other instant messaging techniques.
If the internet is a confusing territory for you, the phenomenon of social media is going to blow you away. But if you’re reading this article, we’ll assume you know your LinkedIn from your Pinterest.
First of all, recruiters will be using social media to make contact with potential candidates – sometimes actively, sometimes passively. People make contact with companies they are targeting, and will look out for advertised openings, which they’ll no doubt duplicate on social media for maximum exposure. You need to be one of them if you want to get the inside track.
But it works both ways. Your entire social media history (or at least the parts that aren’t set as private) is there for them to see. Candidates from the generation that has grown up barely knowing a world without social media have their entire lives online – from their professional lives to their hobbies, relationships, nights out and family lives – for all the world to see.
While no employer is expecting candidates to have no life outside work, some recruitment experts warn against making the more colourful aspects of one’s social life public. But there’s a balance to be struck – many employers do value people with active social lives. In some industries sociable candidates tend to make better colleagues.
The business social network LinkedIn deserves a section of its own because it’s the only mainstream channel whose stated purpose is to assist business. It works via multiple streams:
• Users have professional profiles, which can augment your CV (although it’s still a good idea to edit your CV to emphasise aspects relevant to the role you’re applying for and to keep you LinkedIn profile as more of a permanent record of skills and qualifications).
• Other users can give endorsements and recommendations – a modern-day reference.
• The number of connections you have gives some indication as to the strength of your connections. Unlike some social media, LinkedIn connections are necessarily mutual.
• You can use the “degrees of separation” on LinkedIn to discover mutual friends, colleagues or ex-colleagues and approach them for a personal reference.
• The network is a place for employers to post jobs.
It’s normal nowadays for people to display their wares on an online portfolio. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a carpenter or a computer programmer, you can put your produce online in a gallery or it could be a self-serving demonstration (in the case of a programmer or web designer). A demo says much more than words alone ever could.
Not all job applications take the traditional advert–CV–interview path. For many jobs, especially in the middle or lower echelons of a company, the application form will be completed online. But this isn’t only for speed and cost reductions. The data that candidates input might be sent straight to a database to be analysed to produce a shortlist based on the stats you put in. It might seem like a brutal filter – and no doubt some good candidates will be rejected – but when even low-grade jobs can expect hundreds of applications, it’s the only way employers can efficiently do it.
It’s Not All Electronic
While it might seem that the whole process of candidate selection is managed electronically, some things will never change. So expect to be grilled at an interview … although it might well be in a local cafe or over Skype.
Samuel-James McLoughlin is Press and Communications Officer at hronline and has over 15 years’ experience in the field. He has worked in HR for the last 5 years and has been with hronline since its launch in 2013.
Last week I wrote about key factors which make a PMO really work and how you should be including these in your CV to attract employers. As part of a series I will be talking through the various elements to assist you in building a strong CV which will enhance your job applications.
Relationship building is an important part of life; we are constantly doing this whether it is in our personal lives or at work. However in a PMO environment it is particularly important to be forging strong relationships across the board. If your PMO is a new function then it is inevitable that you will need to gain buy-in from a few entities but even well established PMOs must strive to keep communication open and realistic. We come across issues with all areas of business from time to time – whether it be suppliers being difficult, PMs not adhering to governance, business heads not allowing sufficient resources to work on projects in matrix environments, the list goes on…
The mistake most make when it comes to writing a CV is to assume that the reviewer (hiring manager/recruiter/HR) will know that you constantly work on building relationships – it is a huge oversight and as such can be the difference between being shortlisted or rejected for the role, and it simply isn’t good enough to merely state “relationship building”. Therefore it is good practice to make a note of specific examples where you have overcome blockers/brought teams on board etc. When you have a list, work through it to identify which ones you feel added most value. Turn the list into bullet points, short statements which tell the reviewer what the issue was with some context and how you added value. Then you can use selected examples in your CV when applying for jobs, if you know a little about the environment in which you are applying to, such as issues they are currently facing then you can tailor your CV with relevant examples. For the more generic job adverts/descriptions you can supply a variety of examples covering all bases, these examples can be added into key achievements so they are highlighted to the reviewer and/or integrated into the role remits also which will add a little diversity to the roles which may appear to be a bit “samey”.
As project practitioners we strive to manage benefits throughout the project lifecycle to ensure the project outcomes are meeting the stakeholders needs – however when it comes to job applications this key skill is often overlooked. Looking at the job application process as a project (in basic terms) can really enhance your chances of securing that next challenging role. We’ve covered planning and communications in previous posts, today I want to go through the benefits management aspect of the process.
First you should look to establish what the core benefits are you wish to achieve – in some cases it will be “a job” in other cases there may be other factors such as specific challenges (either because it is your specialism or because it is an element you wish to develop in your career portfolio) or money of course. Once you have determined your required outcomes then you should ensure that your actions are met with a constructive and structured approach. This is where research comes into play and some hard work – see the below checklist for ideas on how to strengthen your applications:
- Research similar roles currently being advertised to gain a good understanding of what employers are looking for at the moment, trends and needs change all the time so make sure you are aware of what they are after.
- Match up your CV with the relevant roles – put the CV next to the job description/advert and check off key skills/tools/experience on your CV. Have you addressed the areas required by the employer? Is it clear for all levels of reviewer (i.e. HR, Recruiters, Hiring Managers etc)?
- Research organisations which may be running similar projects etc, develop a list of employers who may be relevant to your applications.
The final part of the process is to ensure you are enhancing your own benefits on your CV – demonstrating how you can really add value to businesses. Think about all the process improvement, enhanced project management capability, team coaching/training/mentoring, reducing bottlenecks, relationship establishing/building/rebuilding, and trouble shooting. There must be a plethora of examples you could share, write a list and use ones most relevant to the role/business you are applying for.