Analysing your skills
Writing a winning Resume
Managing your job search
Coaching for interview success
Negotiating your job offer
Step 1: Analysing your Skills
The most crucial step in the job search process is to assess what skills you have to offer to your future boss. At an interview you will have to tell your story. An interviewer will not remember your precise details, but they will remember your story, once it is filled with practical examples. This means that you have to be able to explain the four 'what's' of your job:
What do you do?
What skills do you require to successfully carry out your role?
What have you achieved?
What benefit did your company get from employing you?
The answers to these questions can be used to draft a one-minute sound bite of the skills that you have to offer to your future boss. This sales pitch should incorporate details about your role, your achievements and your personal qualities and should be tailored to the position you are applying for.
For example, 'experienced Software Engineer who has worked in a multinational telecommunications environment; part of a team that developed an innovative process for a groundbreaking platform; proficient in all aspects of the development life cycle; used a variety of languages particularly C++ and Java; excellent organisational skills combined with a practical and resourceful approach to problem solving'.
Step 2: Writing a Winning Resume
This summary of your skills becomes the cornerstone of your resume. Your resume must be tailored to the needs of your future boss so customise it accordingly.
Here are some guidelines to assist you to write a winning resume: Aim for a two-page resume - page one should be devoted to how your skills match the position with a emphasis on your recent career details. Page two to your less recent career history, education, training and relevant personal details. Decide on your key selling points. Provide evidence of this experience. Include quantification - reduction in costs, increase in efficiency, improvement in processes, saving in time, etc.
Use simple, jargon free words - if techno speak is required, explain it! Decide on the style after the structure and content have been finalised.
Step 3: Managing your Job Search
The third step to securing your job search success is to manage the process. There are three elements to effectively managing your job search process:
Constructing compelling cover letters
There are four distinct job search channels. Draw on all four to maximise your success:
Contacts - use (in a positive sense!) all of the people that you know, both professionally and personally.
Media - this includes newspapers (both national and local) and professional/trade magazines.
Agencies - access both online sources and the more traditional recruitment agencies.
Direct approach - get in touch with companies that require your skills set.
Each job that you apply for is different, so you have to analyse its requirements to ensure a match between you and the role. This entails assessing the job description, the person specification and the environment within which the role operates. Draw up a checklist of the skills required for that job. If you have at least a 60% match, apply!
Constructing compelling cover letters
Your cover letter (typed!) should contain three paragraphs:
Why you are applying for the job
How your skills match the requirements of the position
What outcome you want to achieve (an interview!)
Step 4: Coaching for Interview Success
Your interviewer wants to know two things - can you do the job and will you fit in. Your RESUME prompts the interviewer's questions in relation to 'can you do the job'. These questions revolve around the who, what, when, where, how and why of your current job (the technical details of your job).
The issue of whether you will fit in is crucial to your interview success. You may be technically superb, but if your interviewer believes that you will 'upset the applecart', he/she will not hire you. This means that your interview preparation should also concentrate on the non-technical aspects of your role. For example, how you relate to your colleagues and boss, how you have contributed to your team, how you have resolved potential interpersonal difficulties, etc.
Regardless of whether you are talking about the technical aspects of your job, or the non-technical elements, use real life examples to illustrate your point. Provide a picture in the interviewer's mind of the competent, capable person that you are.
Step 5: Managing your Job Offer
Following a successful interview, build on your success by negotiating an attractive job offer. This involves maximising your remuneration package and ensuring that your contract of employment exceeds the legal minimum. Know what you own requirements are but make sure that they are in line with the reality of today's labour market. You also need to ensure that all of your referees give you a glowing reference and that they emphasise the skills that you want highlighted.