Give yourself the competitive edge

Give yourself the competitive edge

Please find below the main TOP TIPS to give yourself a competitive edge when job  hunting:

Your CV – Remember you have about 7 seconds for a hiring manager or recruiter to look at it!

  • Try to keep it to 2 or 2.5 sides of A4 if possible (don’t worry too much if it goes to 3 sides, but not  advisable for any more than this.)
  • Use a clear font, ideally in 10 or 12. 
  • Spell check it and ask someone else to check through it. 
  • Don’t worry about your full home address, the town and postcode are sufficient. Email address (use your name, not a made up one, or a gimmicky one). 
  • You don’t need to put your DOB, age or marital status. 
  • Make sure you put dates, on all your jobs and your schooling. 
  • Make sure you start your Career History with your most recent job first of all and work  backwards. 
  • Describe the company i.e., if you work for ABC Associates, say what they do in a few words. Bullet point your duties/responsibilities and include any achievements or improvements you  made whilst at the company. 
  • Many companies and recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to shortlist CVs. Look at  the key duties on the advert/job description and try to include as many of the same words as  possible in the body of your CV. I.e., if they mention they are looking for a Manager with strong  customer service experience, you will need to mention where you have been a manager and  when you undertook customer service so the ATS picks this up. 
  • Add in hobbies and interests, as many hiring managers use this as a point of discussion. If you can, get your CV professionally written or at least checked through. 

How to structure your Cover Letter

  • Keep it simple and clear, hiring managers don’t have time to read pages, so try to keep it to 3 paragraphs ideally.
  • Ensure you say why you are applying for this role and organisation (research the company and see what values they have).
  • Ensure you say What you can bring to the role and organisation (look at the advert/job description) and pick out some of the key words they may use, i.e., team player, strong managerial skills, ability to work under pressure and briefly mention why you could be the person they are looking for.
  • Make sure you personalise each letter – I have received cover letters with CVs where they have applied for a different role! Again, spell check it and ask someone else to read through it.

How to create a Job Search Framework

  • Amazing how many candidates apply to a job then forget who and what they applied for! Not  surprising when you are applying for lots of jobs, but doesn’t look good if you get an interview  and you can’t remember anything about it! 
  • So, create a simple Excel spreadsheet with the name of the company, what they do, the job role, the  date, where you saw it advertised, any reference numbers.  
  • If it states the name of the company, go onto their website and copy a few lines about what they  do and add it to the spreadsheet 
  • Take a copy of the advert and save it, or print it off and put it in a file with your spreadsheet.

Job board and social media tips

  • Most recruiters and employers will use job boards, so always good to get into the habit of  checking the main ones on a daily basis. Set yourself up to receive alerts on your phone. Linked  in, Facebook will also have roles so ensure you are keeping an eye on those too. 
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. 

Interview Preparation

  • Think about the questions you may get asked. The clues will be in the job advert/description, e.g.,  if they are looking for a team player you are likely to be asked something like Tell me about a  time you worked in a team…. 
  • Do your Research. 
  • They will normally ask you why you applied for the role – so make you know your answer! Don’t say, because my mum told me to!! 
  • They will probably ask you competency-based questions such as “Give me an example of”, or “How  did you deal with xxxx”, so again, think of some potential examples you could use. 

Presenting Yourself at Interview

  • Starts the moment you walk through the door! 
  • Turn your phone off before walking in, and definitely don’t sit in the reception area talking on it or texting. Very often the receptionist will be asked their thoughts on you as well! 
  • Give yourself plenty of time. 
  • Arrive a good 10 mins early and ideally know beforehand where you are going and how you are going to get there. 
  • Make sure you smile, and use eye contact, and when we are allowed to, shake hands.
  • Sit up straight, don’t fidget, yawn or bite your finger nails! 
  • I’ve had candidates do all of these, and it doesn’t give a good first impression! 

Assessment Centres

Some companies like to use these as part of their recruitment process.  

  • In tray exercises, to give a flavour of what the actual work would be like. 
  • Observed group exercises – to see how well you perform in a team. 
  • Aptitude tests – could be verbal, numerical, analytical exercises. 
  • Personality profiles – to see how well you would fit with other team members.

I hope you have found these tips useful!