The Best Time You Can Spend Online When Job Hunting – a Supercharged Cover Letter Idea

So I got this mail from a CV writing client today, just updating me on his search. Here’s what he said after a week or so of job hunting (name has been changed).

And with it comes a key job hunting lesson. (And when I say “key” I mean “KEY” – as in save yourself hours, days and weeks of aimless Internet surfing to find that new jobs website that has all those perfect jobs for you that no-one else has discovered yet!)

Hi Gerard, I have had a response to the CV from a recruitment agent. Which is more than I have had before. So I feel it is working… I have sent my CV to people that I know.
Pete.

Here’s my answer to him – he wasn’t complaining but I can tell what’s going on there – he’s main job search strategy is recruiters and job websites. And just for good measure he’s also “sent my CV to people that I know.”

Hi Pete, Good that you’re getting some results. It’s a tough market. So it’s going to be about ‘working’ it and not doing what everyone else does (ie answer job ads). Good to see you already sending your CV out to contacts – but also make personal contact, have coffee, talk to people – and keep doing that. And then there’s this idea:

If you spend time online then spend it researching all the CTO’s you can find (Technical Officers or similar) [Pete is an IT Manager], getting their contact details and mailing them (e-mail or actually hard copy) a letter like this: 

Dear Mr Jones

For the last while I’ve been looking out for companies I’d like to work for. And after checking out www.coolITCompany.com – especially your comments regarding expansion in the new financial year – perhaps there’s a match between what you’re going to need and what I have?

Quick Profile:

Offering 12+ Years Experience Managing ICT Infrastructure, Teams, Support and Service – Currently at [current employer] Achieving 100% Service Level Performance – with Performance Bonuses Awarded for the 8 Years Straight.

I’m still at [current company] but I’d like to get together to explore options with you, if you’re willing. No commitment.

Can I follow up with you on this during the next week? Will call your office.

Regards,
Pete

Do that kind of research and drop that kind of letter often enough and you’re going to uncover some great opportunities. Let me know how it goes.

 That’s what I said. What do you think? Not passive that’s for sure. Too much job hunting IS passive. And it leaves one frustrated and helpless. And without a job frequently. Isn’t it time for a bolder approach?

Hell, yeah. It’s the best way to spend your time online when job hunting.

More CV Writing Assistance for Job Hunters

CV writing is one of those irritating tasks that goes along with job hunting. It’s frustrating and one tackles one’s CV pretty much not knowing if one’s doing it right. Is it going to get attention? Will be dumped?

Ja, anyway. So I’ve put up some more really helpful guidance here at the WOWCV.Net site. Check these pages out:

How to Write a CV – step by step guidance and a template to help you.
CV Sample and Analysis – cv samples with my comments and analysis.

They’ll help you present yourself better than ever. But if you’re still having issues – you’ll know by the awkward feeling you get when you look at your CV, or by the bags under your eyes from staying up until 3am battling with your CV – then see here to enlist me as your CV writer.

How Much Detail do You Need on Your CV?

How much detail in a CV is enough, where does one draw the line? Let’s take an example.

Today, I wrote a CV for  a General Manager in a big manufacturing company. JSE listed, Rkazillions in turnover and revenue. And he’s at the head, responsible for making things work, shareholder value and all that.

So, does he need detail such as:

“Prepared and coordinated the annual budgets on a zero base budget method”

For what he’s aiming at (GM, Managing Director, etc type positions) is that going to help him get where he’s going? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m wrong?

So where do you draw the line in terms of how much detail goes in a CV? A couple of things come to mind:

  1. Is the specific detail really that special? Or is it assumed? Take our GM – budgeting is pretty much an assumed function/skill (especially considering his Financial background). That he applied a certain methodology is perhaps even more un-important. That he did budgeting is unlikely to impress anyone. It’s not going to twist anyone’s arm into calling him in for an interview. Right?
  2. One makes decisions about what to include or not based on what the position being applied for asks for and will ask for in the way of results. Again take the GM. He’s being – no doubt – asked to increase revenue, improve efficiency in service delivery, reduce costs, etc. So really focus has to be on that stuff – how he’s performed those tasks/challenges before. And the results achieved. One doesn’t want to dilute those aspects of the message by detail that may be 2nd or 3rd tier in importance.
  3. Perhaps in the profession knowledge of certain methodologies, practices or legal frameworks IS of critical importance. They’re fundamental to whether you’re a suitable candidate or not. That’s another clue to whether detail should be included or not.

Sometimes in a CV – I see it in my CV writing Clients all the time – the response of the writer is to pack in the detail, sometimes desperately giving the impression that “this little detail may tip the scales in my favour”. But usually it won’t. Recruiters sometimes ask for “more detail” – but if they’re asking that it probably just means they’re not that interested – and instead of saying to you: “you just don’t have what we’re looking for” they ask for more detail.

At times sure they’re just drilling down to confirm you have exactly what their client is looking for. You have to be discerning. But your CV is there to present your best tier 1 detail – “10 Years as GM in a R300ml pa Company; Recent Achievements Include Turning a Division around from a R5ml loss to a R2.1ml Profit; BComm Hons Degree” etc.

Make Your CV Personal – It’s a People Thing

Read this interesting piece on (http://www.theadclass.com/jobs/10-tips-writing-remarkable-resume) – article written mainly for the creative/design/advertising sector but …

Here’s a great observation, applicable to all:

Most people think the purpose of a resume is to get you a job. Wrong. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Similarly, most people think the purpose of an interview is to get you the job. Wrong again.

The purpose of an interview is to connect with a human being (i.e. the interviewer) on a personal level and leave a remarkable impression on them (as in – worth making a remark about).

So how do you put that to work? Dunno. But it connects in a big way with so many comments I’ve heard from employers (they’re just regular PEOPLE after all, like you and me) – they don’t want just cold, hard facts. Some insight into “you” – who you are, what you stand for, what your personal approach or philosophy is.

Good to try to incorporate some of that into your CV especially. I always try to do that for my clients. But it’s always best for the applicant to do that themselves – they have to ‘defend’ it at interview level, it’s gotta be consistent with how they come across at an interview. And genuine! Not contrived.

I’ve sometimes included an “end-off” statement at the end of a CV – in inverted comments, a personal statement of some sort – something that says: “here’s what you can expect of me if you get  me on board” or “here’s something unique from my experience that will give you, the employer, something extra” or “here’s my unique sales proposition”.

Something like that. Between inverted commas text gets attention. Making it brief is also good. And centered in the middle of the page perhaps.

Launching into 2009

Ok, so maybe this is a personal post – but at least you know you’re dealing with a real person here – who had a fantastic December. After ‘burning out’ toward the end of 2008 was great to spend a little time getting something back … here: www.eightbells.co.za, www.fairyknowe.co.za and www.countryclub.co.za.

Something interesting: never saw myself as a hotel person. But man, when you have kids like us – Zoe and Ethan, 6 and 3 – hotels with all their facilities and food laid on are cool, cool, cool!

So what are your goals for 2009? I never achieve mine. So I don’t have any. BUT … what I do have is an overall philosophy or approach that I know, if I put it to work, it’ll result in big benefits. The approach is based on 3 things:

  1. Knowing what’s really important to me – what I value most, what I really want for my family and me, what I want my business to be about, what I want for my health and wellbeing, etc – this underpins any decision making I have to make regarding what to do with my time/resources/energy.
  2. Drawing up a basic schedule of activity – booking blocks of time for things that are of real importance, whether personal – like exercise – or family – like doing something like walking in the woods every Tuesday late afternoon – or work – like writing CVs, marketing, or writing blog posts, etc.
  3. Being ruthless. “ruthless: hard hearted, showing no mercy”. I won’t always feel like doing stuff. But I know that if I don’t do ‘stuff’ I can expect a frustrating year of little or no progress. I’m excited by what I could achieve. But discipline has to keep me on track, when all hell is breaking loose.

So, that approach is nothing new, but it helps to have something in place, huh?

Please share your ideas and approaches below.

THIS … is the Purpose of Your CV

Have you ever been asked by a recruiter for “more information”. You know, besides what’s already in your CV. And it’s frustrating because, I mean, where do you stop? How much is “enough?” You’ve included good solid information in your CV. Isn’t that sufficient?

It is. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if, prior to you being interviewed, the recruiter is asking for “more information” of a general nature – other than what’s on your concise, focussed 2 page CV – the opportunity being offered is not a serious prospect for you. And the recruiter isn’t very experienced.

You’ll have to use your common sense of course. If they ask for specific details, like about your experience with a certain software package, or in a certain niche function of your job, then that may be a different matter. Your experience with the software/function may be a deal breaking/making element for the client, so they have to be sure of your depth of knowledge.

But really, it’s not hard to make a decision on whether to call you in for an interview or not. If you’re qualified for the job and you have the required experience/profile and you’re being clear and concise in your CV and cover letter, then it should be easy. What makes it difficult is if actually you’re NOT suited to the job but because they don’t have anyone suitable they’re hoping that you’ve left some critical details out of your CV.

Yep, asking for more general information perhaps betrays what the recruiter may be thinking …

“this person looks really good, they have 50% of what’s required … maybe they’ve left something important out of their 2 page CV … let me ask for more information.”

But I say, if you don’t fit, you don’t fit. Adding more 2nd or 3rd tier details is not going to swing it.

Now of course you want to indulge recruiters. They have the power, the job opening, the relationship with the client. So sometimes one has to play along and give them what they want. But here’s how I would answer the request for more “general” information –

“sure, when can I come in for an interview to give it to you”

– that’ll test whether there’s real interest or not.

Here’s something interesting written by a US “resume” writer, Robert Parker (http://resumesuccesszone.com), on the topic of what your CV or resume (for these purposes they’re the same thing) is really meant to achieve, what it’s true purpose is:

Your resume is a sales pitch designed to make a prospective employer think you’re worth their time for an interview. That’s all. It’s a single step in the hiring process designed to lead to the next step. Many people mistakenly believe that their resumes must convince a manager that they’ve got what it takes to get the prospective job done.

What he means by “convince a manager” is that from the detail alone the manager can make the final hiring decision. But you don’t get hired off your CV. It’s a powerful tool, sure. It can influence, sure. But it’s not meant to be a detailed biography, and a boring one at that, on your professional life and times with lists and lists of detail. Rather your CV is meant to enable a quick decision, in 30 seconds or even less, to call you in for an interview.

So understand the purpose of your CV. Interviews! And it’s tier 1 detail that gets that for you – qualifications, job titles, achievements, companies worked for, references (can be tricky, so be careful), and job functions (they’ll be scanning for key words). Oh, and of course, it’s all got to be presented concisely, professionally, clearly (that’s my job as a CV writer!)

[Just a memory coming back to me from my recruiting days – after interviewing someone we’d hand over the CV to a typist for typing into the ‘house’ format – we’d always assume that candidates knew nothing about CV writing and we knew everything – and we’d in one foul swoop turn the candidate into the perfect ‘average’. And because the format looked really silly with just a few details, more details were always preferred or the typist would complain. Interesting to see what may be behind the request for “more details.”]

CV Writing Testimonial

Hi GerardThree months ago you wrote my CV. What an awesome CV you have compiled, it says everything about me before I could even sell myself. I got a lot of compliments from recruitment agencies.Two months ago I got a job offer from an IT company which I have accepted.

HM

BSc;Pharmacology Honours (Implementation consultant)

CV / Resume Mistake #1 and How to Fix it

Taken from an article on Yahoo’s HOT JOBS (article by Caroline Potter, expert advice by Lauren Milligan of ResuMAYDAY.) I’ve added my own boring comments.

And the thing is … I agree totally with the advice. I’m posting it because it’s good CV advice – in my CV / Resume writing practice I apply this advice all the time. So should you.

Think Big

Whatever jobs you’ve held — be it as an assistant or a CEO — think beyond the everyday tasks of your position … “People get bogged down in the day-to-day details of their jobs, but when it comes to your resume, you’ve got to get out of the clutter and ask yourself, ‘What does this work mean?'” …

… “If I’m hiring for an administrative assistant, I already know what one does. I don’t want to see a resume that only says an applicant can type and answer a phone. You have to go beyond that to point out your specific strengths.” …

Start by having big-picture conversations about what you do and how it serves the organization as a whole … “If you’re in a support position, consider how successful the person you support is and how you help her do her job better. What role do you have in her successes? Those are your accomplishments.”

This is particularly a problem in SA. We love our long lists of “Duties” and “Responsibilities” on our CV or Resume don’t we? Now I wouldn’t advise just chopping them all out. No. But by all means make it concise. Create a bulleted list of maybe 5 key duties, provide a quick overview – then move on to your achievements.

Personal Note – actually the point above is my biggest frustration with CV / Resume writing! Clients – maybe like you!! 🙂 – send me so much detail on “duties” I have a long hard time of simplifying it to make it concise and hard hitting. And it sometimes gives them a shock too! But that’s my job. And it results in an easier to read, more scannable, more understandable, harder hitting CV / Resume.

New! “Your CV – How to Remodel it for Hard-Hitting Impact – in 60 Minutes or Less”

This is a special release e-guide – available free via the Career&Success Member’s Only Community. The guide contains before and after examples (never before seen) and step by step guidelines on exactly what to do to transform your CV fast.

Remodel Your CV

To become a member of the Career&Success Community go here: www.CareerAndSuccess.info. You’ll not only receive this special release e-guide and the many more that will be added in the next months but benefit from all the information that’s already there. This includes: “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill; “Awaken the Giant Within: Abridged” by Anthony Robbins; and the “3 Steps to a Great New Job” career guidance and job hunting course – and much more.

Radical CV Idea!

Here’s a radical new idea (well it’s not a new idea really – even I have mentioned it before and it’s been the topic of at least 1 other job hunting book). It’s by Seth Godin – a marketing “Guru” who makes a living telling it like it is and looking ahead to see what’s next. In the article below he reveals 2 things.

  1. The radical idea – you’ll see what I mean.
  2. How it really works when you send out your ‘average’ CV (or resume as he calls it)

See what you think (I’ve included in brackets some clarifying comments):

[Warning!! This is NOT for you if you feel uncomfortable with anything new or unconventional. It’s not for everybody. To make it work WILL require a whole new way of thinking from most job hunters out there.

Why bother having a resume?

In the last few days, I’ve heard from top students at Cornell and other universities about my internship. (Mr Godin offers an internship – so people apply to him for the post.)

It must have been posted in some office or on a site, because each of the applications is just a resume (CV). No real cover letter, no attempt at self marketing. Sort of, “here are the facts about me, please put me in the pile.”

This is controversial, but here goes: I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume (CV) at all.

Not just for my little internship, but in general. Great people shouldn’t have a resume (CV).

Here’s why: A resume is an excuse to reject you. Once you send me your resume, I can say, “oh, they’re missing this or they’re missing that,” and boom, you’re out.

Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine. Just more fodder for the corporate behemoth. That might be fine for average folks looking for an average job, but is that what you deserve?

If you don’t have a resume, what do you have?

  • How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
  • Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
  • Or a reputation that precedes you?
  • Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

Some say, “well, that’s fine, but I don’t have those.”

Yeah, that’s my point. If you don’t have those, why do you think you are remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have those, you’ve been brainwashed into acting like you’re sort of ordinary.

Great jobs, world class jobs, jobs people kill for… those jobs don’t get filled by people emailing in resumes. Ever.

Some of what you’ve just read will have surprised you. You may doubt it. Dismiss it. And that’s fine. If you’re happy being ‘fodder’ for the ‘corporate behemoth’. Some people love it. They love the processes, policies, procedures. They love convention and order. Predictability. Organisation.

But the truth is … the world doesn’t care. The corporation doesn’t care. Maybe years ago it used to (debatable). But now … your company may have Employee Wellness programmes, in-house Gyms, psychologists, hair dressers, creches, etc – but actually you’re on your own.

So … never give up control of YOU. Keep a record of your good work. Measure yourself. Learn how to sell your value, skills, knowledge (even though for now it appears you’re ‘safe’). Develop skills that solve difficult, real problems. Be a provider of solutions.

Get or keep interested in many things. Keep alive in yourself the idea that one day you will work for yourself, on your own terms and make a good living doing so. Keep looking for opportunities. Keep learning. Get used to danger. Take risks. Get used to the feeling. Know that staying in the ‘safety’ of a large corporation is frequently AS risky as going it alone.

Sorry – I got a little off the point here on my favorite topic – but the essence is: be aware that you’re a business. And you’re in a competitive world. Don’t take a back seat in your own business. Build something that’ll last. Be smart about it. Everyone’s got a CV. At least make sure yours sends out a strong, confident, focussed message (that’ll instantly put you ahead, believe me) – not just some boring list of your past ‘duties’ and ‘responsibilities’.