Caught the COVID Contractor Chills? Recently “rightsized” out of your role?
Here’s some tips and tricks to get back on the bike and get yourself set for the next role –with a bit of thought, planning and research you could even get a better one than before!
First of all, but hardest of all: Don’t Panic!
Employers have a fine-tuned nose for desperation, like a winetaster sensing a good drop’s just past its prime. It’s tough when you don’t know when the next paycheque will be put in your bank account, but try not to panic. Instead, take the time to take stock, work out where you really want to work, and then work out how to sell your best asset: you.
Yes, you. After all, that’s what it’s all about, convincing the next employer that you are the one they want. And not just want, but need. With a bit of work and a lot of planning, you can get that next role not because it’s the first one that comes up but because it’s the best one for you.
So, second step: take stock of your best asset, you and all you know.
Which is a lot. Add up all the knocks and bumps and setbacks, and throw in all the courses, certificates and experience, and you’ll find the right recipe for that killer role you’ve always wanted. Get out the iPad or jump on a screen (or even go old school with paper and pen – remember them?) and make a list of all the things that make you the best choice for the job you’re after.
Be creative, think laterally – think like your future employer – think what would they want you to be? If you can’t identify what they’re after, you won’t be able to convince them you’re the next thing they urgently need. You need to list your previous roles, yes, but you need more than that. Much more than that.
Put in everything you can think of that a future employer might want to know about you (there’s plenty of time to cull later on). What about that long-forgotten Cert IV, or the training course the job before last sent you on, or the new skill you picked up in the previous role? It may well be valuable information that helps to build a compelling CV. Yes, current is king where skills are concerned, but there’s no rule against pointing to the base the skill was built from. Unless it predates CDs. Or vinyl even. Then no.
Which brings us to the third step, that’s often missed: what is it you like doing?
What sort of work interests you, that you enjoy even? What are you good at? Add that to the growing list. And think about those things you can’t stand doing. They go on the list too. There’s no point in looking for a job that will just wind you up.
Now you’ve got that long list, it’s time to cull and snap it into shape.
That means it’s on to step 4: keywords.
Keywords are just that, key words that will answer key questions that your next employer has.
Now the big hurdle that’s becoming ever more common that you’ll have to get over is AI (Artificial Intelligence). More and more employers are dealing with the large numbers of applicants for plum jobs by running CVs and cover letters through ATS technology. Applicant Tracking Systems will electronically mine the documents submitted by job seekers and pick out a subset that (the computer thinks) best match the job.
So that you’re not met with “Computer says no”, there’s two important things you need to do. Firstly, make sure your CV and cover letter match the job description as tightly as possible. Secondly, make sure the information is set out in a format the ATS can interpret. This is where the real skill in crafting your CV comes in to play. You can learn more about creating an ATS friendly resume here.
So now we have step 5: writing it all up.
This is hard yakka but it’s where the payoff is. Don’t just list your roles from most recent and go downwards. Go back to step three and pick out the two or three key achievements from each role, and quantify them. Use active voice and strong verbs. “In this role I was responsible for managing a sales team”. No! That’s just passive and generic. “Achieved a 15% increase in sales over 18 months through strong leadership and proactive coaching of three team members”. Give your new employer a measure of how you’ll impact their business (a quantifiable benefit), what you have (leadership skills), and how you show it (proactive coaching).
But even with your best strong active verbs and quantified achievements, ATS might still miss your potential. This is where crafting meets crafty. When you’ve got that fab role in your sights, do a bit of research into similar jobs. What exactly are the common themes that come up, and what does the role you want focus on? Find those, and give it to them. In their own words. That way, when the ATS system interrogates your CV, your CV can give it the answer it’s searching for. Because unless it does, you’ll never get the chance to do it in person – the computer will simply shout “next” and pass you over.
So, to make sure you get that elusive call for an interview, keep the keywords coming when you write it all up.
Then jump into step 6: cover letter!
Take your now carefully crafted keyword hugging CV and give it a twin that you tweak to match the precise roles you’re interested in. Now note I said “tweak” not “twist” – you still have to keep it real because if you do spring free of the ATS trap and land that interview, the recruiter will very quickly work out if you’ve got the goods or not. So if a key part of the job description is “must be numerate and skilled with Excel” and you can’t even work out the GST on a $100 restaurant bill let alone splitting the whole bill 4 ways, then you’re not going to get too much further down the track to the job.
So, give your CV its deserved fanfare with a tight cover letter that seamlessly matches the you in the CV to the exact role and its specific needs. You need to say who you are, why you match the role, and how to get in contact. And on one page. Just one. Yes, one.
But what about now? Will all that effort still work now?
Steps 1 to 6 are the best bet in the normal market for how to get from job seeker to new employee of the month, but what about now with half the country out of work from COVID lockdown? So many employers have put hiring on hold that it may seem tougher than a cat who opens her own cans of Fancy Feast to even score an interview let alone get the job.
So, while you’re cooling it off in iso go back to that long list you made in step 3 and work out what it is you like doing but don’t yet have skills in. Do a Cert IV and get the groundwork for a new career line happening, or a short online course to extend your existing skill set. Maybe even do that forensic investigation course you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Best of all in iso they’re all socially distant and online, so you can even do them in your PJs. Not just simples, but comfy too.
In my next article, I’ll look at how you can take those new and extended skills and spruce up your online self with an ATS smashing LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed. By sprucing up your online profile and including a link in your CV or cover letter, you’ll show recruiters you’ve got the goods and ensure you are putting your best foot forward before you’ve even put a foot through the door. But more of that next time!
If this all feels a touch too much, and you want some help in perfecting your resume and personal branding suite, feel free to view our resume services and get in touch today. Alpha Resumes have been helping individuals achieve their career goals for over 8 years. We dig deep in our discovery process with you and do the hard work, so you don’t have to. Leave the keywords to us and we’ll leave you with great documents!
Wishing you all the best in your job search.