Why not me?

What do Google, PwC, PayPal and Pickled Egg Records have in common with me? We all started in 1998. As I like to say, it’s when I started ‘my career in the careers of others’.

Since then, I have remained fascinated by what people do for work. I can’t help myself when I meet someone new; I always ask what they do. Am I just nosy? Probably! I am also genuinely interested in what people do and the motivations for why they do what they do. I remember saying in 1998, ‘I never knew that job existed’. And I still say it today.

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. 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 helps companies hire and works with individuals on their job search, I’m here to give you insight into what you need to have to get a differentiating edge over others in 2018.

This starts with getting your CV right. 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; and
  • Leadership.

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

Recently, I was on a careers panel at a university with hiring managers from NAB and Accenture, and a student put up their hand and said, ‘But I have been told to put my soft skills in a CV’.

While this is true and soft skills are important, it’s not about telling the hirer that you have them. It’s about inferring them and articulating them using real-life examples.

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 four 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?

  • Teamwork – inferred by the fact that we know four are 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.
  • 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.

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