We probably spend half our waking hours working. If we don’t like what we do, it spills into our personal lives and has a tremendous impact. If our career and subsequent income don’t give us financial and just reward, we sometimes ask ourselves ‘ What is it all for?’ Financial reward shouldn’t always be a motivator though, but it is still frightfully critical. Read more
As I write this, there are people walking the streets of cities, towns and business parks, dropping in or handing in copies of their CV’s / Résumé’s or they are hitting the send / submit button to organizations who have not requested it from them or who have not advertised an open job position or who have no vacancies. Most times these CV’s / Résumé’s are not even read; they go in the bin or they are deleted. The attitude most times from them is, ‘Not another CV!’ How can you let people / organizations know that you have skills they need and that you are looking to use them in their organization to help them make money or save money without using a CV?
The answer is by using a Target Letter.
A Target Letter is a letter tailored written to an organization who you want to let know that you are looking for employment with them, even though they have not advertised an open position. It is a letter that is sent to the Manager / Director of the Department / Area you want to work in. It is not sent to Human Resources (HR). HR only get involved when a post has been actually advertised and needs to be filled. Sending Target Letters, even CV’s to HR Department can work, but they do not always work. You want to do things as part of your job hunt campaign that ‘always work’.
The Target Letter can be written in different ways and formats. The best way is a one full page letter, structured and designed that it is easy for the reader to read and tells them all the information they need to know in order to make an informed decision whether to meet you or not, preferably the former. The letter should contain a table summary format telling the employer what they need and what you have to meet these needs. It should contain Bold, Underlined and Italic font so as to make the page more appealing and interesting to read. The Bold fonts are usually the important bits. It is always written to a person (name and job title and department spelled correctly) and signed in blue pen if being posted or a blue signature if being emailed.
Do you post or email? For many people, receiving a letter in the post is still a respected and cherished activity. They see that the person (you) have went to the trouble of putting pen to paper, printing it, addressing it and posting to them. When they get it by post, they are more likely to read it in more detail than an e-mail and that it is only one page…not a a three or four page CV. It is still perfectly fine to send your Target Letter by email too as an attachment or as an email, the latter being probably more effective and easier for the reader (some people don’t like opening attachments as they could be corrupt and they take too long to open.
How CV’s have changed over the years. Employers are no longer reading CV’s, they are scanning them looking for key words and statements that help them make a decision whether to meet you or not. They are really not interested in what you did or do in your previous or current employments, they are more interested in how you made a difference, what you changed. What did you do in your role that took the business / organisation to a different level, that made them money or saved them money? i.e. they are interested in your Achievements, not in your Responsibilities.
In CV’s of the past, people would list down everything they did in the organisation on a day to day basis. Whether it be in the area of hands-on work, working for people, people working for them (working through people), everything was listed down. They felt that informing the reader (potential employer) of everything they do in their current role and everything they did in their past roles, would secure them an interview. It probably would (will) in some cases, but not all cases. You want a CV that gets you an interview in all cases.
In the new age CV, Professional CV writers are now focusing on what you achieved among those responsibilities. In other words how you made a difference. It’s about rewording your responsibilities in words of achievements. These words are expressed in result / outcome type words e.g. ’10 technical personnel reporting to me’ versus ‘Management of team of 10 technical personnel that designed, delivered and completed a € X Project on time and within budget that saved the organisation € X over a 12 month period’.
Or another example, ‘Production planning and scheduling’ versus ‘Planned and scheduled production that ensured consistent and efficient manufacturing processes that delivered on time every time’. Or, ‘Responsible for sales in the west and midland regions’ versus ‘Achieved monthly sales targets of € X over a two period in my region which covered the West and Midlands’. With this approach, you are selling yourself to the organisation in a way that they understand, are impressed with and speaks their language. You have made it easy for them to decide to meet with you.
If employment seeking people put themselves in the employer’s shoes and learned how to speak the employer’s organisation language, by using words from the job description, words form the organisational website and last but no least wrote and worded what they achieved in their current and previous employments, they would secure many more interviews and many more job offers in return. In fact a CV written like this makes an actual interview easier for both interviewee and interviewer.
So as you now begin to review your CV after reading this, think about how you would like to read about you, what you would like to read about you so as to help you meet with you and possibly hire you. Putting yourself in the employers shoes is just simply not been done enough by job hunters.
Competency-based interviewing has been an approach used by hiring organisations for the past number years, over 10 years I guess. Established Human Resources Departments (HR) have trained their interviewers in competency-based interview techniques so as to ensure the recruitment and selection of the right staff. Through this method of interviewing, they are very sure of asking all the right questions of each potential candidate so as to make an informed decision. They realize how easy it is to hire someone, but how difficult it can be to let them go. Yet, so many interviewees do not know how to prepare for and answer competency-based questions when these HR experts put them through a competency-based interview. Read more
Looking for a job is a full-time job. It takes discipline, commitment and organisation. It also takes knowledge and skill in how to do it effectively and efficiently so as to get fast, effective, positive results. Job hunting is about writing to, meeting with, speaking to people help who hold the key to opening the door to a job that you want and long for. How do you get to these people when we know that 6-8 out of 10 jobs are not advertised! There are six ways to look for a job, each way unique in its own way (in no particular order). Read more
The CV is your life story i.e. the story of your life to date on paper. It is the document that usually is people’s first impression of you. It is a document that people should see only when there is a realistic chance of they wanting to meet you to discuss a job opportunity. It is your invitation to meet prospective employers and it is critical that it is tailored around the organisations business and the job being applied for. So, what are the key headings and narrative to meet all of the above requirements in a CV…?
Landline No. (H) and / or (W), if applying internally
Mobile No. (M)
E-mail address (E)
LinkedIn address (LI)
- The section is a two line paragraph summarizing you and what you are that meets the Job Title being applied for
- This section is a five – seven line paragraph that outlines your relevant skills and competencies using words and statements from the Job Description / Job Advertisement, organisation website, stating why the advertising organisation should meet you. You also mention the Job Title being applied for and the organisation you are applying to (if known to you)
- This section is 5-7 bullet points (no more than 2 lines per bullet point) specifically stating your experience, education, qualifications, training and any other relevant skills, competencies required by the organisation as outlined in their Job Description / Job Advertisement
- This section lists all your past or current jobs that are directly relevant to the job being applied for i.e. Organisation Name & Address, What the organisation’s business is, Job Title and Month year Start – Month year End starting with the most recent
- This section lists all your past or current jobs that are not directly relevant to the job being applied for i.e. Organisation Name & Address, What the organisation’s business is, Job Title and Month year Start – Month year End starting with the most recent
- This section lists your academic / educational details (i.e. full-time / part-time education in a curriculum year September to June) where you state the Name of the Qualification, Name of the Educational / Academic Institution it was achieved in or awarded by, their Address and Month Year Start – Month Year End
TRAINING, LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT
- This section lists all the relevant training you have completed during your education, career and / or employment history starting with the most recent i.e. Name of the Training Course, the Awarding Body, Name of Training Organisation that delivered it, their Address and the Month and Year it was completed
KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS & ACHIEVEMENTS
- This section lists all your relevant accomplishments & achievements under Career, Academia and Personal. Where possible, you try to use figures to enhance the narrative and draw the readers’ eyes to the page. Each is no more than two lines and briefly explains the achievement & accomplishment detail that impresses the reader starting with the most recent
MEMBERSHIP OF ORGANISATIONS
- This section lists the organisations / groups that you are a member of, that are linked to your career or organisation that you wish to work in
COMMUNITY & VOLUNTARY WORK
- This section lists the organisations that you do or have done community or voluntary work for
- This section lists your interests and what you do in your spare time outside of your work
- Finally, the last section of your CV is ‘References available upon request’.
Your CV must look appealing, be well-laid out and easy to read, informing the reader in the first half page everything about you, so that they can make a decision quickly whether to meet you or not. You only have 30 seconds of the reader’s time to do this…
The Covering Letter (CL) is probably as important as your Curriculum Vitae (CV), when it comes to applying for a job. It is a document that is sometimes used incorrectly and sometimes not used when it should be used. It is always one page, a full page, preferably sent to an actual person and contains up to seven paragraphs. Key to a good CL is that it is always tailored around the job being applied for and the organisation / department being applied to. Read more