Evidence, your Honour

It’s tough times at the moment, and our thoughts are with you all, particularly if you are out of work. COVID has presented difficulties for many sectors, and for many recruiters, there has been a downturn in jobs and letting go of staff. Fortunately, I am starting to see a turnaround, and I hope that is a reflection of the future of our industry.

With COVID, although there has been a lack of roles, there has been a huge increase in the number of candidates approaching us looking for work. It’s been a significant increase, which has given me more exposure to what I see as good but also the bad in applications…

As a recruiter, it’s easy to forget that each application, each phone call, and each email is a person going through a journey looking for their dream job. A journey that, at times, is not easy, particularly at present.

I can understand the feeling when you start your job search thinking what you are doing is right, only to be rejected repeatedly. Frustration, anger, disappointment… it’s an emotional rollercoaster. You know you can add value to an organisation, so why don’t hirers recognise it?

As a search recruiter who assists companies in hiring and who works with individuals on their job search, I would like to highlight some of the areas that are really important if you are applying to roles currently.

  1. I receive at least 5% of applications with my name spelt wrong or call me SIR!
    OR who have the wrong job they are applying to and have just pressed send on all the jobs they think have a match. You’re wasting my time, but mostly yours.

  2. Think about whether the role matches you. Does it really match your skill sets?
    If I get a CV within 10 minutes of posting an ad, I often put them at the bottom of the list. Have you taken the time to read the position description or look at the company website?

  3. Review, research and then apply.
    Take a highlighter and scan the Position Description to see what you can and cannot match up with. Make sure you align at least some of the technical skills but also demonstrate some examples of the soft skills. I’ll talk about that later.

  4. Then, if you do apply, get the CV or resume right!

  5. One sentence that I read over and over and over again in CVs is similar to this: ‘I am a hardworking, passionate, motivated individual who works hard in a busy environment and as part of a team. I work well under pressure, and I am well organised.’
    Does this sound like something you have on your CV? Well, unfortunately, so do 95 per cent of all the CVs that I receive daily. This sentence is full of words that are what are called ‘soft skills’. They can also be called ‘transferable skills’ or ‘enterprise’.

Some more examples of soft skills include:

  • Team player
  • Innovative
  • Communicator
  • Problem solver
  • Customer focused
  • Analytical
  • Leadership

As a recruiter or hirer, how can I tell if you really possess these skills when I see them on every CV? 

I often get told, “But I have been told to put my soft skills on my CV.” While this is true and soft skills are important, it’s not about telling the hirer you have them. It’s about inferring them and articulating them using real-life examples.

Inference is what I am after. What is inference? Google Dictionary has it as: 
“A conclusion reached based on evidence.” Therefore, I need you in your CV to give me the evidence, and then the reader can infer from that evidence.

For example, you may have on your CV that you ‘organised weekly meetings’.

But, so what? These meetings could be at the pub. Who are they for? What are they about? Are they with a group of three or a group of 300?

Instead, you should attempt to illustrate your soft skills in use.

You could try: ‘I coordinated weekly online video meetings between our internal project group of 10 and the CEO of X Company. I organised regular updates to ensure that our X project was focused and meeting the milestones we had set.’

What soft skills does this sentence infer from the evidence given?

  • Teamwork – inferred by the fact that we know there are 10 in the group.
  • Time management – inferred by saying that you regularly organised and kept to milestones and on time.
  • Organisational skills – inferred as you are the person organising it, not the others.
  • IT/digital literacy – inferred by the use of video meetings.

When you are updating your CV, I urge you to think about your soft skills. Moreover, think about those that the job position is asking for, and think about articulating an example for each.

By bringing those technical and soft skills together with a verb it will give you that edge over other applicants because you have demonstrated a skill/s by giving true evidence and not just soft words.

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