“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
Of all the quotes you could start with for a blog about job hunting, this is by far the most fitting. Benjamin Franklin’s quote has appeared across numerous fields in various forms but the message is always the same: Preparation leads to success. Irish football legend Roy Keane, an advocate of hard work and preparation, referenced the phrase in an explosive interview after his controversial exit from the Irish football squad before the 2002 World Cup. Whatever your feelings on that incident, Keane, along with many other influential figures, have attributed comprehensive preparation as an essential tool for succeeding in any aspect of life.
Let the Hunt Begin
If you’re embarking on a job hunt, taking this advice is a step in the right direction. Jumping into a job search headfirst always seems like the most positive way to start, having a ‘go-get ‘em’ attitude and a couple hundred CV’s will surely lead to numerous job interviews and callbacks. Unfortunately more often than not, this leads to frustration and a loss of that sparkling positive attitude. There are numerous steps that you can take as a job seeker before even printing a CV, to increase your likelihood for success. A much better approach than the alternative option: shooting yourself in the foot before you even get it in door for an interview.
How does your CV look?
First step - CV Design. What is the purpose of the CV? To maximize the amount of time and effort an employer spends on your CV. Remember the old saying “Never judge a book by its cover”? It is an ideal mantra for the CV - reason being everyone does judge books by their covers, including employers. Your CV is your cover, it is supposed to captivate the employer and, make them want to keep reading so make it as pleasant, interesting and relevant as possible. If it is pleasant to read, it is pleasantly remembered.
The Internet is full of examples and templates but most of them, the good ones at least, all have the same traits. Relevance. Tailor your CV to the job that you want and minimize any information that is of no significance to the employer who will be reading it. Achievements and interests should be relevant and perk the interest of the employer. For example, if you are applying for a nursing position then highlighting a volunteer experience may be more helpful then mentioning that you like listening to Jazz (unless your Jazz interest perhaps has developed other skills). To de-humanize the whole thing, consider the employer a buyer online looking for a tool to complete a job. If you look at any online Ad, there is no needless information. The whole description of a product is styled to best highlight why that particular product is the best choice for the buyer. Your CV should read as an (honest!) advertisement on why you are the best for the role.
Following on from preparing a relevant CV, an impressive cover letter adds great value to any application whereas a bad one can do irreversible damage. A strong cover letter – which introduces you and your CV - has a professional tone with no spelling or grammatical errors. Have the cover letter proof read, preferably by someone who would read cover letters regularly and will be critical of it. Always write your Cover letter for the specific position and, although time-consuming, the specific company. A general cover letter will not have a main focus and can come across to the reader as a template, which in the eyes of an employer seems effortless, even lazy perhaps. If an employer feels as if the cover letter has been written with their positon and their company in mind, then this reflects extremely positively on you the applicant as it demonstrates a real desire on your part for the position.
Understandably some people’s CVs will be less robust than others, but this doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. There are multiple courses that can help embellish a CV, for example Pitman Training (http://www.pitman-training.ie/) could have you boasting an Advanced Accounts course Certificate in under six months part time. Investing in courses like these can greatly increase your chances of success and makes for a healthier, more successful CV.
In next week’s post I will be following up the final few preparations that you The Job Hunter can make to give yourself that edge over other Hunter candidates. In the meantime, work on your CV’s and cover letters and I will be back with more soon.