You have a strong CV, and you think you’ve got your interview skills up to scratch, but there’s a lot more to job hunting than these most obvious fundamentals. You want to give yourself the best possible odds of being successful, but how do you go about it?
A good starting point is having a positive attitude and getting a handle on the various elements of the application process. Here are nine aspects that we think you should keep in mind throughout, from the moment you start looking for potential employers, to writing your CV, and during the interview itself.
Being aware of your USP’s, and knowing what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack is the key to improving your chances. Just like any business, as a job seeker, you also aim to achieve the goal of selling yourself. Pinpointing your personal USP’s will allow you to sell yourself during any job application process.
From the moment you submit your application for consideration, you need to market yourself. Your CV is the employer’s first introduction to who you are and the experience you bring to the table specifically for the job opening. So, it’s crucial that you appear solid on paper. They will note your most recent or relevant work experience above anything else, along with your major accomplishments and achievements. Quantify any key achievements with facts and figures where possible, as this could be the difference between a call back and your CV ending up in the trash. Be sure to describe your role and responsibilities clearly and concisely – we don’t want any room for miscommunication at this point.
Know your audience. This will help you position yourself correctly for each different job and industry you apply for. Once you have defined your position and what you want, you’ll be ready to target companies you think will be a good fit. Start with a general CV template, and then tweak it as needed to speak directly to the specific job you apply for.
Take a step up from your last role. Employers prefer to hire someone with ambition rather than someone who has performed the same level role over and over just swapping one organization for another with no progression throughout their career. They fear that someone like this is likely to want a higher salary for the years of experience, or that they’ll get bored in the job too quickly. When you next apply for an opportunity, be a candidate that will grow into the role, and show you’re up for the challenge, and you’ll be a much more attractive investment to a potential employer.
Optimise your CV focusing on your USP’s, and get set to switch into self-marketing mode. Review your CV objectively, and ensure that it flows and that all details included are relevant to the job you’ve applied for. Choose your language carefully and use industry specific terms to demonstrate your knowledge of the particular field. Also, avoid leaving gaps in your CV. Double check all dates listed in your CV, and if there happens to be a gap, address it with an explanation, i.e. travelled overseas, worked freelance, caring for a sick parent etc…
“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.” ~ Josh Billings
Keep your cover letters to the point, and as brief as possible. Do use keywords, particularly when applying to a large corporation, as they might use an Recruitment Software System that scans CV’s and cover letters for the correct keywords, and discards any CV that fails to include them.
It’s time to shine! If you are lucky enough to make the short list of interviewees, your next job is to convince the employer they must invest their time and money in you. Show them how you can add value to their business, and they’ll be quick to recognize your potential. Do your research on the company prior to the interview, pre-empt all possible questions that could crop up, and practice your answers. That’s as much as you can do. Then it’s just down to whether they warm to you or not.
Exceed expectations and be unique. Impress the interviewer by bringing proof of your previous career highlights, i.e. facts and figures relating to how you signed new clients, contributed to hitting targets, picked up an industry award, or completed a relevant diploma or short course. Plus, know your industry news and current trends, as this will increase your chances of rising to the top of their list when it comes to deciding on who to hire.
Finally, consider what your capabilities are, what major attributes you bring to the organisation, and why you’re different to the competition. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and ask yourself why you would choose you for the role you’ve applied for. The bottom line is you need to know your own value before you can sell it to anyone else.