As 2012 makes its mark, it’s a good time to think about the future. Like many people, I made my New Year’s resolution on the 1st of January, persuading myself that I would go running twice a week, every week. My trainers will become my new best friends, the towpath my new home, and I will run further and further each week.
For many people, the resolution will be to get a new job.
Where to start? It’s important to think about what sector you would like to work in, of course – and think carefully about what you can offer any employer.
Don’t be put off by not having the direct experience of working in a particular job. I go to recruitment fairs week in, week out, and am always amazed by what people think they CAN’T do. It normally goes something like this:
The Recruiter: “Do you have any experience of working in hospitality/construction/retail?”
Jobseeker: “No, nothing”
The Recruiter: “Any work experience at all?”
Jobseeker: “Well, I do work in my uncle’s bar/roofing business/florist’s at the weekend to help out”.
If I had a pound for every time a jobseeker undersold themselves in this situation, I wouldn’t need a job myself.
Don’t miss out on your chance to sell your personal qualities, either.
I was recently at a conference for the hospitality sector. The Managing Director of a well-known hotel chain stood up and said that he would love to take on ‘unemployed people’, but they were up against workers who will turn up at 6 o’clock every morning, ready with three ironed shirts for the 12-hour shift ahead. He was looking for staff with the right attitude, who really want to work in his hotel, not those who would accept working there until something better came along.
Does that sound like you? If it does, good – you’re halfway there. Now comes the preparation.
If you’re going to send your CV to an employer, remember some golden rules:
1. Check your spelling. Ask a friend or relative (or at least your computer spell check) to check through your CV for basic errors – they are easy to miss. I’m amazed how many CVs misspell the names of companies, qualifications and even addresses. I must have seen over 50 CVs for ‘pubic’ sector workers. Make sure capital letters are where they should be.
2. Your CV is not an advertisement for a printing firm. Try and resist the temptation to use lots of different fonts, italics, bold text and font sizes. My team find this a real turn-off. Remember, if it’s difficult to read, an employer may not read it!
3. Update your CV regularly. Don’t forget to add new training course and jobs – it may be the thing that sets you apart from others and gets you the interview you’re after. Like many employers, if you have most of what we are looking for, and your experience catches my eye, I’m going to ask you to an interview to find out more.
4. A bit of personal preference, this one, but I have precisely no interest in seeing a photograph of you attached to your CV. Unless it’s a modelling job, all good recruiters will just ignore photos – like a good husband or wife, we’re far more interested in your personality (and qualities) than your looks!
5. Your covering e-mail should be as professional-looking as your CV. I’m amazed by how many people send good CVs to me with an overly familiar e-mail (sometimes, incredibly, in text speak). Keep it short, and keep it formal.
6. Lastly, until you’ve been hired at least, I don’t want to be your friend on Facebook or LinkedIn. Most recruiters find this awkward and it’s far more likely to put them off you than put you at the front of the job queue.
There’s no harm in sending a CV to companies even if they’re not hiring for your role at that moment in time, but make it clear what you’re looking for (and what you can do for them).
If they ask for an application form, make sure you fill in the whole thing carefully and answer all the questions – they are put there for a reason, and recruiters aren’t going to waste their time going backward and forwards to get more information.
Try and keep track of the applications you have sent, and follow up if you can – I’m always happy to let people know where we are in the process. If you’re not successful in getting an interview, do ask why.
Above all, like my training regime, remember that job hunting is a marathon (a mini-marathon in my case), not a sprint. Keep up the energy for the long haul, and you should be rewarded. There will be lots of challenges along the way and over the next few columns I’ll give you the inside track on how to deal with your interview, your first week and how to move up the ladder.
Right – the sun’s come out. Time for me to put on those trainers. Keep on running…
That’s all for this week. Happy job hunting!