On the following pages you'll find hints and tips to help you succeed in finding your first job, a new job or changing careers.
General Careers Advice
You need to assess where you are today before you can decide where you want to take your career in the future. You may have been coasting or you may be bored to death with your current job. Today is the day when you can make new choices and perhaps even make a leap into a totally different career direction. You must look positively to the future as the decisions you make now will affect the rest of your life.
You need to give careful consideration to all aspects of employment from size of company to remuneration requirements. The working environment needs to be just right and the training and development on offer must suit your expectations.
Setting Specific Career Objectives
Your main aim may be simply to find a new and rewarding job. But it would also be a good idea at this time to evaluate all your aims in life, both career-related and personal. To achieve some of your objectives you may need to set yourself a number of intermediate objectives. You should regularly re-evaluate your objectives (both personal and career-related), as they will almost certainly change over time.
Tips to Refresh your CV
Keeping your CV up-to-date means more than adding a few new roles to your employment history every time you look for something new.
To help keep the odds in your favour, here are a few ways you could refresh your CV right now:
Did you know: 50% of recruiters suggest that a logical order for presentation is the most important thing they consider when reviewing CV’s. And contrary to popular belief, there’s no one-size-fits all format that works in all situations
Formatting is everything. Prioritise what you include. A general rule is to start with the points you most want recruiters/employers to see. Lead with your recent employment history, or even a relevant key skills section.
In reality, refreshing your CV should never be a one-time thing.
To maximise your chances, every document you send over should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. And, as time-consuming as it may seem, it only takes a few tweaks to make a real difference. It’s just about utilising the job advert.
Almost without fail, a recruiter has provided you with all the attributes you need to sell yourself to the role. By adding a few of these to your skills section, or quantifying them in your personal statement, you’ll be able to make yourself come across as the perfect fit for any position.
So tailor your CV to every role. Every time.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: you do not need to include absolutely everything you’ve ever done in order to impress.
Your CV should be a powerful sales pitch, which provides an employer with all the right information they need to invite you to an interview to learn more.
If you have an extensive employment history, only include career highlights/achievements.
Ideally, your CV should be no more than three pages. If you need more space, add links to online portfolios or blogs where they can learn more.
If all else fails, start again. Avoid re-reading your old CV before you start. And don’t be afraid to try a few different versions to find one you’re truly comfortable with.
It might take some time to get it right, but it really will be worth it in the long run. It is also a worthwhile exercise to remind yourself of previous career highlights and successes – all of which can be used to support your interview prep.
And remember: Always thoroughly proof-read your CV or ask someone to do it for you before sending it to either an agency or a potential employer.
Top Interviewing Tips
Preparation is vital. Never underestimate the importance of preparation.
Not only is it one of the easiest ways to master the interview process, it’s also one that is often overlooked by applicants. It can be as simple as researching the company and finding out more about the marketplace, but that alone can be the difference between success and failure.
Feeling prepared (just like with an exam) also soothes nerves.
Ensure you read, read and read the role profile (when available) again. To ensure you understand the remit or turn your lack of understanding into a question or two.
To do well at the interview you’ll not only need to convince the interviewer you’re technically qualified for the job but also that you’re motivated to perform the job well. It’s equally important to show you can fit in with the company's culture, organisational structure and the people with whom you’ll be working. Employers also look for commitment; a loyal worker looking to commit to a future with their company.
Dress smartly for the interview and avoid arriving late. Set off earlier than you need to, and when you arrive, be courteous to all employees of the company.
Greeting your interviewer(s): A firm handshake to start, and a thank you to finish.
Be positive about yourself and your abilities – be concise – no waffle!
Take Control of nerves – remain positive throughout. Relax.
Competencies based Questions
Competency-based interviews provide questions designed to assess one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against pre-decided criteria and marked accordingly. For example, the interviewers may want to assess your ability to deal with stress by asking first how you generally handle stress and then asking you to provide an example of a situation where you worked under pressure. Competency is your ability to do something. The interview will look to assess you on the level of your ability and also the behaviour that you demonstrate. Competency interviews require preparation.
Thought needs to be given to work examples to demonstrate such competencies.
The STAR Approach is commonly used for this:
The acronym STAR stands for
It is a universally recognised communication technique designed to enable you to provide a meaningful and complete answer to questions asking for examples. At the same time, it has the advantage of being simple enough to be applied easily.
Many interviewers will have been trained in using the STAR structure. Even if they have not, they will recognise its value when they see it.