Putting yourself on paper…

There are seven ways of putting yourself on paper so as to impress interviewers who read about you and then want to speak/meet you for a general interview and/or a competency-based interview through a telephone interview, Skype interview or a face-to-face interview. These seven ways are:

  1. General Curriculum Vitae
  2. Tailored Curriculum Vitae
  3. Tailored Cover Letter
  4. Executive Summary
  5. LinkedIn Profile
  6. Application Form
  7. Target Letter

Let’s discuss each one in turn briefly and how they are all different, to help you use them according to your needs and preferences and ultimately to secure a general interview or a competency-based interview in a role and organisation of your choice.

General Curriculum Vitae

A General Curriculum Vitae is primarily used when working with recruitment agencies, where the document covers all of your experience relevant to the various types of jobs you want

Tailored Curriculum Vitae

A Tailored Curriculum Vitae is where you tailor your Curriculum Vitae against a live, open job that you wish to apply for, where you use specific words and statements from the job description and the organisation’s website.

Tailored Cover Letter

A Tailored Cover Letter is where you tailor a Cover Letter against a live, open job that you wish to apply for, where you use specific words and statements from the job description and the organisation’s website.

Executive Summary

This a one full page document summarising your Curriculum Vitae, normally used for people applying for high level managerial / directorship roles.

LinkedIn Profile

www.linkedin.com is like having your Curriculum Vitae On-Line, where you set up a profile and transfer relevant general information from your Curriculum Vitae. You would also include your LinkedIn Profile link on your Curriculum Vitae.

Application Form

Many public sector organisations are requiring the completion of Competency-based Application Forms, rather than Curriculum Vitae’s when they advertise new opportunities. They require you to give examples to certain and specific on-the-job competencies.

Target Letter

This letter is used when you want to find the unadvertised jobs and it is where you target organisations that you want to work in and write a personal / posted letter to decision-makers, not HR.

Outplacement Services

Outplacement services are services an employer offers to employees who are made redundant from their job in the employer’s organisation. Whether the employee is taking / accepting a voluntary severance package or it is a situation of compulsory redundancy, the employer can help their ‘now’ previous employee make  a great start in their search for a new employment income. The employer can choose an external organisation to provide the outplacement service to the employee(s) over a number of hours; a number of days or a number of weeks depending on their available budget.

Outplacement services can include the following help and supports for the employee:

  • Designing Your Destiny & Identification of Your Ideal, Realistic Job / Career
  • Identification of Further Education, Training, Learning & Development Needs
  • Presentation on Paper (Cover Letters, Executive Summary’s, Curriculum Vitaes, Target Letters)
  • Job Hunting Skills (Six ways in how to secure interviews)
  • Interview Skills & Techniques (Competency-based)
  • Return to Work Programmes
  • Own Business Development, Planning & Management
  • Personal Development in a Business Framework (Coaching)

Outplacement Services

Advantages for the employee upon receiving these services include:

  • They can secure a new form of income much faster
  • They don’t feel isolated after becoming unemployed
  • They know that what they are doing in securing a new form of income is being carried out correctly and professionally
  • Confidence and self-belief is maintained or at least enhanced
  • They have an opportunity to change and realise their ideal job / career  

Advantages for the employer / organisation include:

  • They are seen as a great place to work in
  • The employee receiving the outplacement service is grateful to them
  • Remaining employees appreciate that the employer is helping their fellow employee
  • The employer feels a sense of satisfaction having helped the employee
  • They are creating employment / business for their outplacement service partner

Outplacement services are a good thing to offer and a good to thing to receive…

Time Management

Time Management

In his book, ‘How to be Smart with your Time’, Duncan Bannatyne, known from Dragon’s Den fame, has the following main content headings:

  • Identify your goals
  • What are you waiting for
  • What’s stopping you
  • Focus, focus, focus
  • Don’t innovate, replicate
  • Second best is close to ideal
  • Play to your strengths
  • Momentum
  • Delegation
  • Work with what you’ve got
  • Stop kidding yourself
  • Ignoring the little vice
  • Just say no
  • Detox your life
  • What did you do yesterday
  • Scheduling and planning
  • The turbo-powered ‘to do’ list
  • Clearing your backlogs (and making sure they never come back)
  • The best way to start your day
  • Get organized
  • How to be smart at work
  • What works for you
  • Be decisive
  • Beware: deadlines approaching
  • Overcoming procrastination
  • Communication matters
  • Be a smarter commuter
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

These content headings alone give us some idea of how time management is more important than ever in today’s world. We have all attended some form of time management course over the years  throughout our career and found them to be somewhat helpful and beneficial. Some of us too have read the books, such as Bannatynes book above, again to our benefit.

When it comes to time management, there are a few basic rules of thumb that I have found to be paramount:

  • Do a work list / to do list either on your smartphone or paper diary every day
  • Don’t delete / cross out anything until it is actioned / completed in some way
  • Get up early in the morning, you will definitely feel so much the better for it from mid-morning onwards
  • Try not to procrastinate, stick to the task you have to do at that time / that day
  • Get your required amount of sleep time i.e. the experts say 7-8 hours

Why LinkedIn is Part of Your Career?

LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and launched in 2003. It is an employment-orientation tool that functions using websites and mobile apps. We are told that it has almost 600 million registered users in over 200 countries. Used for networking and posting jobs, it’s primary and most usage is for employees to share the following main details about themselves (including a picture) in order to source a new employment / new business and indeed inform interested people where they are now in their career/business:

  • Career History
  • Education
  • Training Courses
  • Accomplishments
  • Interests
  • Testimonials

LinkedIn is like your CV On-Line i.e. called a Profile and unlike a CV needs to be updated consistently. We tend to update our CV when we want to change job or career, however with LinkedIn, you don’t know who is looking at your profile and when including:

  • Recruiters
  • Headhunters
  • Previous bosses
  • Previous work colleagues
  • Friends
  • Academics
  • Business associates
  • Existing clients
  • New clients


As with the last two points above, the self-employed, especially people working on their own, need to be on LinkedIn as many potential new clients make an opinion of whether or not to meet you, based on your LinkedIn Profile (and testimonials).

Updating your LinkedIn Profile on a regular/consistent basis has many advantages:

  • You can include the updates details when it is fresh in your mind
  • Your profile will rank higher if people look for someone of your skills, talents and background
  • People who read your profile are getting the latest, most up-to-date version of you
  • It gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement as you update it, for example, a new job, promotion, education/training course, a new project
  • It can make it easier to update your CV when you wish to apply for new job opportunities that may have short closing date notices


Stay linked to the world that can help you achieve your job/career/business goals using LinkedIn…

competency-based application form

Are Competency-based Application Forms making the CV Redundant?

Competency-based Application Forms

For many people who work in the public sector and want to ‘career or job’ progress through its various departments / sections or people who want to work in the public sector, the now new norm is to apply by completing a competency-based application form. Rarely nowadays is a CV requested. A Covering Letter i.e. an expression of interest may be requested, but the CV is simply not required, as the application form covers everything that the hiring managers need.

For many people who work in the private sector and want to ‘career or job’ progress in the organisation or people who want to work in the private sector, the norm is still to apply by developing a Cover Letter and a CV. The private sector has not yet embraced competency-based application forms, though there is a huge focus on competencies at interview stage, similar to the private sector.

One would have thought that by now the private sector would have embraced and designed competency-based application forms for their specific industry / departments. However, as the use of competencies in recruiting and selecting are over 20 years in existence now, it is unlikely that the private sector will use them now, like the public sector do.

Competency-based application forms have the following advantages over CV’s:

• Allows the applicant give actual examples of where they have used a key skill in the past that is relevant to the role on offer
• There is consistency in the application forms for the interviewers
• It allows the interview to be more structured

CV’s have the following advantages over competency-based application forms:

• Are never more that 2-3 pages in length, whereas competency-based application forms can be over 20 pages
• They can give the interviewer a quicker overview of the applicant
• It is easier for the applicant to apply for the role, as competency-based application forms can take days / weeks to complete.

Competency-based Interview

What I should invest in – The Competency-based Application Form or The Competency-based Interview?

Competency-based Interviews

Competency-based Interviews…?

Competency-based Interviews have been around a long time. However in recent years, they are becoming more formal and becoming part of an overall recruitment and selection process, where each candidate is required to complete a Competency-based Application Form first. Competency-based interviews are usually based on the contents of the Competency-based Application Form, though employers would design a competency-based interview upon receipt of CV’s. The competencies usually discussed at interviews are skills, talents, abilities that the successful candidate must have in order to carry out the duties and tasks of the role as outlined in the job advertisement / job description / job specification. The interview board would ask each candidate to give them an example i.e. tell them a story of an achievement, project, task that would best convince them that they have this competency in their natural possession. In order to convince them, the candidate would need an example that is preferably linked to a current or previous employment over the past 5-7 years (10 years maximum). The candidates with the best examples that are well structured, narrated and have a start, middle and end usually are selected or paneled.

The most common and well known format for sharing competency examples with interviewers in an interview situation is the STAR format i.e.:

  • S = Situation
  • T = Task
  • A = Action
  • R = Result

The Situation is the background to the competency example and gives the interviewers an overview / introduction of the where, what, who of the story.The Task tells the interviewers what you done (you, not we) in the competency example and what you had to do.

The Action shares with the interviewers how you done what you had to do. This is the detail of what you had to do i.e. how did you do it? The Result is the outcome i.e. what happened at the end. Was there a saving made, a project completed, increased turnover, a new client brought on board, an award achieved for example. When it comes to interviews today, competencies are what it is all about; the interviewers want to hear stories…!

Leadership – Moving on Up in Your Career!

Leadership is now becoming a paramount competency whether you are leading people or not. Every business / management / human resource magazine always has an article or two or indeed section dedicated to leadership. This is because most people who read these are career-orientated and therefore want to progress in their career; and in order to progress in their career, they must have excellent leadership skills, talents and abilities, so as to help their organisation achieve their business goals.

High potential employees who want to be the future leaders of or in their organisation need three key skill sets to realise their career ambitions namely:

  1. Business acumen
  2. Strategic acumen
  3. Financial acumen

Where is the organisation going, what strategy do they have and how do they plan to achieve their financial targets? Having this acumen (knowledge and expertise), will propel you to new heights in your organisation.

High potential employees need to be smart, hardworking committed, trustworthy and resilient; they need to be great with their customers, be able to empower their teams, negotiate effectively, manage conflict and be great communicators.

High potential employees (who want to be leaders) need to understand the business, where it is going and their role in taking it there, have the ability to scan the external environment and identify risks, opportunities, make strategic recommendations, understand the financials of the business, the story they tell and take appropriate action or make appropriate recommendations. This is the door-opener to career-advancement in your organisation i.e. business, strategic and financial acumen. All the other competencies are what make you different.

So, if you aspire to leadership i.e. going from middle management to senior management you need to develop the skills, competencies and acumen in business, strategy and finance. This can be achieved through mentoring, further education, training, reading and initiating / leading innovative projects…

Source: Susan Colantuono (TEDTALKS – Audio – November 2013)