You, the Differentiator
(Your Winning CV and Network)
There are lots of articles on CV writing that focus on content and format.
If you’re about to apply for positions and advice such as “put contact details, qualifications and experience on your CV” is useful then quite frankly you’ll be very lucky to make a shortlist.
The ultra-competitive job seekers’ landscape means that you really do have to “win” your job…and winning, whether you like it or not, means beating others to the prize.
Start thinking like a winner.
Ten Second Test:
Can you show you’re the best person for the job just by glancing at your CV for a few seconds?
As an applicant you need to realise your CV gets 10 seconds to determine whether you make it into the YES pile or not.
Your CV is “you”. You need to stand out from the other 160 applicants and cement your place into the YES pile. You have 10 seconds to state and demonstrate why you are the best person for the role. Ask yourself for each role; “what will make me stand out from the rest?”.
Achievements over Skills:
Why waste a page on “key skills” that won’t get read when you can demonstrate how you’ve used them in real life achievements? Have a sentence on what you did in each role followed by bullet pointed key achievements in it. Make sure they are relevant to the skills and achievements required in the role.
Beyond the Numbers:
You’re great; that’s why you’ll get the job over the others. Does your CV say anything about you outside of your role? Yes, you can have your interests (soccer, reading, travel etc) but this carries little weight. What do you actually do that's different to others?
Are you a member of a non-for-profit organisation? Have you taken part in fund raising events? Do you play competitive sports or coach a team? Are you on any boards (ex gratia)? If you’ve answered no to any of these there are people applying for the same role who, unfortunately, look more interesting than you on paper– but never fear. By addressing some of the above this can be easily fixed.
The Intro Call and 3rd parties:
This always gets better results via a third party. As a hiring manager, there’s always more credibility when someone you respect refers a name to you than the person themselves! Nevertheless, as a last resort.
A couple of pointers on the Intro Call:
1) Don’t do a follow up call after applying – that borders on harassment.
2) There’s no harm, however, in calling the name on the advertisement prior to submitting your application. It’s a chance to build rapport with the recruiter/line manager and find out if your skills are suitable for the role or not. This means that if your skills are spot on they’ll remember your name and look for your application.
3rd parties are a great way to promote yourself. This is, in part, why recruitment companies exist. My biggest competitor as a recruiter was "the hiring manager's mate". In other words, potential candidates would use their existing networks so well that the need for (paid) 3rd party introductions at times became redundant. If a company can hire the perfect candidate easily, and without a recruitment fee, they will. Make sure you have a professional online presence and network that in tandem.
Building your network and working it is crucial in building a successful career. The next part is cracking the code to having a successful interview.