Are you sabotaging your job applications?

Clients come to their consult with me armed with certificates, cards, licences and copies of old resumes. Some are on the ball and all documents are current. Others are disorganised, expired material mixed in with current so they take some sorting out. Also, various certificates and cards can be missing altogether! Confusion reigns. Anxiety can arise when I suggest destroying old documents and cards. I can understand that, for some they represent a part of their working life and memories. What concerns me is the risk. How often is expired material submitted by mistake, consequently sabotaging a job application?

So what to do? Here are my thoughts …

  • Gather up every document old and new, sit yourself down at a table and sort them into separate piles, one pile for current and one for expired. Make sure you include all your cards.
  • Check all possible places where you may have put anything relevant, e.g., your wallet or the dashboard of your ute (yes people do file them there)!
  • Check all dates thoroughly.
  • If you can’t bring yourself to destroy the old copies, file them in a plastic pocket, place in a Manilla folder and file them far, far away from your current documents and cards.
  • Scan the current documents and cards (back and front for cards) and save them into a computer file which includes your name in the file name.

You are now ready to make job applications confident that all documentation surrounding qualifications, tickets and licences are current.

Competing in a Tighter Job Market

anvil-1169340_960_720

Made redundant recently, or current project come to an end? If so, you may be finding it a bit of a challenge to get work at the moment, or at least to get work as quickly as before, particularly in industries such as mining or oil and gas. How do you address that? Perhaps it’s time to re-assess your approach. Here are some things you can do.

  • Remember, over 70% of all jobs are filled worth of mouth, so who are you talking to?
  • Registering on Linkedin, the professional networking site at https://www.linkedin.com may help. Take a peak, play with it, look out for names you know, make the connection. There are job listings as well and you can follow companies. If you do decide to register, it will take commitment to set up your profile and check in regularly to monitor areas of interest.
  • Now for your resume, fold the first page in half and look at what is listed in the top half. Will it make a recruiter want to read more? No? You may need to make changes as we know a resume gets between 10 and 20 seconds attention, sometimes less.
  • Is your resume e-recruitment tool compatible? In the 21st century it needs to be.
  • Check resume details, start at the top. Your personal details – has your address or phone number changed? If you have included your date of birth, delete, it might be working against you, even if you are young.
  • Your email address, is it a professional one or something like whackojacko@thrive.com? If a recruiter cherry picks your email address onto a spreadsheet or similar, which email address do you think will keep your name up front and centre, whackojacko@thrive.com or yourname@thrive.com? It’s best to use your name in a job search email address, and again, don’t use your birth year if you need to use a number.
  • Set up signatures in your email account. Include your name, your job title, email address and phone number, and Linkedin address too if you want. Use every opportunity like this to brand yourself.
  • Make sure you have your name, phone number and email address on each page of your resume.
  • Qualifications and training – are the details up to date? Add any recent training you have completed. Check the expiry dates of listed training and licences to ensure currency (and check your licence cards, e.g. your Licence to Perform High Risk Work to make sure renewal hasn’t escaped notice).
  • How long is it since you have undertaken any training to improve skills? Many of the large employers favour people who are continually value adding to skills, and yes, I know it costs, but it may be worthwhile.
  • Your most recent job, has it been added to your resume? You would be surprised how many people forget to do that.
  • How long is it since you spoke to your referees? With so many people working on short term contracts and projects, details can change quickly. Check-in with your referees, make sure they are still willing to be your referee and that all contact details are up to date. Tell them what your intentions are, who you are applying to. It’s an important conversation to have as referees can make or break a job application. They may also have the inside scoop on upcoming jobs. It has become important to include referee email addresses as many recruiters and employers are electing to send out questionnaires rather than phoning.
  • And finally, make sure your social media is squeaky clean, over 90% of employers and recruiters will google your name to see what comes up.

While not an exhaustive list, it will help to make changes knowing that just one small change might give you the competitive edge in getting over the line. Attention to detail, presentation and professionalism are important, particularly in a tight market.

What are you doing to improve yourself?

5226

If you were asked this common question at interview, ‘what have you done to improve yourself in the last twelve months’, would you be able to give a winning answer?   If you are not value adding to your qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience, you run the risk of getting left behind, especially in a competitive market.

Using your own initiative, have you undertaken additional training or upgraded qualifications recently?  Do you put your hand up for training when it is offered through your employer?  Time and personal budgets can be tight, so don’t underestimate the free options of volunteering or seeking out a mentor as commitments that may be well received at interview.

Speculative cover letters

When writing cover letters, the most common mistake made, is the applicant telling the potential employer what they think the employer wants to know, rather than responding to what the employer has asked for.  So what do you write in a cover letter when you are approaching a company where no job has been advertised, i.e., what do you write in a speculative cover letter?  One useful approach is to go to online employment, career and recruitment sites and search for jobs that match your existing job title or the job title for the type of work you are seeking.   Don’t just look at one or two, look at least a dozen, if not more.  Note the qualifications, training, licences and key selection criteria that are most commonly sought across these jobs at this time.   Match the results to those that are reflected in your knowledge, skills and experience and which you can provide examples or proof of. Now write your letter focusing on their mostly commonly sought requirements matched with your qualifications and background, remembering to keep your letter succinct, preferably one page in length, but no more than two.

Where is your ‘stuff’?

What if your dream job was advertised today?  Where would you find all the ‘stuff’ you need to prepare an application, the ‘stuff’ that would tell your working life story?   Is it on the dashboard of your ute, in a drawer somewhere, maybe a box under the bed, or scattered across all these places?  Many of us give little attention to those important documents that map our working life.

Avoid the panic that comes with not being prepared and set up a dedicated file in your personal filing cabinet to house all relevant documents.   There are lots of goodies which are helpful in preparing job applications, e.g.:

  • Training certificates (if your employer holds them, ask for them back or at least copies)
  • Yearly training print-outs from your employer
  • Scanned copies of tickets and licences
  • Position descriptions
  • Copies of performance development reviews, a great source of information about how you are perceived as an employee (they may be known by some other name in your organisation)
  • Presentations you may have delivered
  • Articles you may have written
  • Awards or recognition received
  • The list goes on …..

What have you got squirreled away in forgotten hidey holes that may be useful?

Are your licences and training current?

kuwait-80674_640As part of your job application process, it is very important, that before you finalise your resume you carry out an audit of your licences and training.
If you have worked for large companies in the past or currently work for a contractor working for one of the larger companies, you may have participated in organisational specific training.  Much of that training carries an expiry date. Many of you will also hold a WorkSafe licence in various classes related to performing high risk work. If you hold one of these licences, you need to remember they are usually only valid for five years from date of issue and have an expiry date detailed on the card. There is a requirement to renew the licence if you are to continue performing high risk work.
I know many of you think that your licences and training are up to date, but quite often that is found not to be so. When did you last check through your cards? Has WorkSafe sent you a renewal notice which you have not received because you didn’t let them know you have moved?  Have you lost any of your cards? Is your First Aid training up to date? Have you done a CPR renewal? Is your organisational specific training still current or has it expired?
When it comes to developing your resume and making job applications, it is absolutely vital that the details surrounding your licences and training are true, correct and up to date, so get those cards out and start checking!