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Column 15 tips to help you get a job

Although there has been a drop in the unemployment figures, there are still many people searching for work. To mark National Jobseekers’ Day, Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig has some tips to help.

To mark National Jobseekers’ Day, Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig has compiled some top tips on planning for your future career, interviewing and CV preparation. He says that many people can get into the rut of saying: “There are no jobs out there” and “I can’t get work”. Here is his advice on where to start.

Career planning

1. Self awareness

Do a SWOT Analysis. Opportunity starts with current labour demand – research opportunities on job boards and social media platforms. If you find you aren’t qualified you need to consider upskilling or taking a conversion course such as Springboard. If you don’t have the required industry experience you need to consider acquiring relevant experience and skills through internships such as Job Bridge.

Look in the mirror and identify your unique strengths – these will become your value proposition.

2. Plan

Take a structured approach to your job search, treat it like a job and give it the time it needs. Apply for jobs you feel you are qualified for, understanding where you can add value. Record all application details for future reference – and take it one step at a time.

3. Become Socially Networked

Research, connect and engage. Build a LinkedIn profile and actively connect with your professional network. Connect with ex colleagues and with contacts in your industry – this will give you some clues as to where similar skills sets are being sought.

Seek recommendations, join relevant groups and participate in free webinars. Identify your target audience and contribute to relevant conversations. Connect with employers you have applied to and follow their conversation.

4. Sell yourself

Understand that a job search is a competition and you need to compete on your unique value proposition. Sell yourself; consider yourself a commodity that needs to be sold on unique features and benefits based on demand and a price point.

5. Apply and control

Don’t use generic standard templates. Consider a broad range of relevant opportunities and be flexible in terms of position and compensation. Control the elements of the process that are within your control and, finally, apply and follow up on applications with a LinkedIn request or phone call.

CV Writing

For those that say: “I never hear back after sending my CV. I could do that job”. Here are some pointers:

1. Tell a clear story

List contact details, qualifications, education, company, dates, position, responsibilities and achievements clearly. Articulate your professional history chronologically, starting with your most recent relevant position. Demonstrate breadth and depth of experience, scale or specialism of company, level of responsibility and clear progression relevant to the position you are applying for.

2. Profile relevant experience

Your CV is a marketing document and is to be written in an objective manor factually stating your fit for the role. Profile your relevant experience concisely at the top of the CV. Ensure any relevant content from your cover letter is summarised in the profile. Its aim is to get you to interview stage.

3. Achievements

Summarise key relevant achievements in your profile. List relevant achievements clearly beneath each position. Describe the outcome and quantify the result of each achievement. Allow the employer to visualise you achieving similar results in their organisation.

4. Tailor to spec

Tailor duties and experience to the job spec. Use similar language to that in the job spec, in order to be identified in key word search. Be concise and to the point. Don’t repeat yourself. Format clearly and watch grammar. Don’t leave anything relevant out for interview.

5. Include Social Connections

Include a link to your LinkedIn profile. This gives you an opportunity to have an extra dimension to your CV. List links to relevant online content such as a personal website, blog, presentations, portfolio’s or anything else that may supplement your application. Consider a QR barcode for mobile device use.

Interview tips

It can be tough to condense your experience into an interview. So how do you compete against the rest?

1. Research

Research the company, products, history, competitors and culture. Connect with anyone you know in the organisation and find out as much as possible. Research boards, social media platforms, press, announcements; research the interviewers on LinkedIn; reference your research and use the knowledge you gather to ask relevant, guided questions. Preparation will reduce anxiety and give you more mental agility.

2. Compete

An interview is a competition – run your own race and compete on your unique strengths that are relevant to the job. Know your value proposition and sell yourself on relevant skills, experience and achievements. Don’t assume your CV has been read and articulate your competence. Balance your pitch through being humble in approach.

3. Prepare you Capability Fit: (competency fit, motivational fit, cultural fit)

  • Competency Fit

Identify the core competencies required for the role. List them. Prepare a real work example, in advance, for each core competency. Demonstrate when and how you best implemented the example, using the following formula: SAR (Situation, Action, and Result).

Situation: briefly outline the context of the scenario

Action: describe the action you took to demonstrate the competency

Result: outline the result and quantify in commercial terms

This will give you a store of solid concise examples that are most relevant to the position. Also it allows you to navigate the interview in more relaxed way.

  • Cultural Fit

Matching the values and beliefs of the organisation – company values, mission and culture are often described on the website. Align your pitch to those beliefs.

Generally be warm, positive, engaging and beam with enthusiasm. Demonstrate a can-do attitude and ask not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company. Engage with the interviewers and build a report as soon as possible.

  • Motivational Fit

Be specific that you want that particular role in that particular company, above all others. Be clear on what factors influenced your decision to apply in the first instance. Align your experience with the appropriate level and demonstrate a balanced desire to progress at an appropriate pace.

4. Don’ts

Be late. Underdressed. Criticise former employers. Share any frustrations. Be negative. Discuss salary or benefits unless prompted by the interviewer. Repeat yourself. Talk about “we” – talk in the first person.

5. Be prepared for tough questions like:

  • Weaknesses: highlight a recent improvement you have made recently and focus on the improvement
  • Strengths: list three that are unique to you and are relevant to the job profile
  • ‘In five years’: show ambition and desire to progress balanced with the understanding that it won’t happen overnight – show a willingness to work hard and be flexible
  • Why should we hire you?: summarise your capability through (1) competency fit (2) cultural fit and (3) motivational fit
  • Questions? This is a good opportunity to ask a leading question prompted from the interview, showing that you listened intently

Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig is chairman of National Employment  Week and director of Sigmar. For helpful video tutorials please click hereNational Employment Week (NEW), a forum focusing on major social and economic issues is currently taking place. Today is National Jobseekers’ Day. For further updates follow them on Twitter.

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Robert Mac Giolla Phadrig
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