Like many others of you I’ve never experienced anything quite like what we’re all going through and I sincerely hope that we never will again. To say I’m feeling more anxious as a result would be an enormous understatement!
My flatmate said recently that it feels that the days have no direction which I felt was bang on and also something I’ve personally found really hard to adjust to (despite the appeal of vegging out on the sofa). I work better with a pattern of what I’m doing, with clear and obviously goals at the end. Having been furloughed for 3 weeks (at the time of writing), there is only so much focaccia, pasta and various stocks I can make!
Despite the negativity this is also an opportunity for self-reflection; a chance to become more connected with friends and relatives and to really take time to focus on what’s important in each of our own lives. It’s also a crucial time for you to give serious consideration to getting back to work and being as ‘employable’ as possible.
As a Recruitment Manager I’ve seen 1000s of CV’s and interviewed 100s of people from hourly paid roles up to C-suite levels, and it never fails to amaze me how under-prepared, irrelevant or just plain bad some of these applications have been. DON’T LET YOURSELF FALL INTO THIS TRAP!
To ensure you stand out as best as possible, it’s essential to think about the following things:
When did you last (seriously) update your CV? – I don’t mean just adding in your most recent role but going through every aspect on there and being honest about its relevancy. In truth, I’ve found that you should try and have a few versions of your CV that you can change and amend, based on the job/company you are applying for. Your cover letter, skills and experience etc. should be tailored based on the requirements of the role advertised.
What have you been doing with your time since the Covid-19 outbreak?
This is going to be one of my first questions to candidates. I’m looking to see how people have reacted when faced with adversity, for a drive to help their community and do something good in a time of negativity. As a result, you should seriously consider adding any voluntary work onto your CV at the beginning of your work experience. It can be as simple as helping a neighbour, or volunteering for the NHS, every opportunity to display your attitude will set you apart from those that watched Breaking Bad twelve times!
It doesn’t just end with a CV
Rightly or wrongly, Social Media plays a large part in people’s lives and increasingly more in the job application process. LinkedIn is one of the most effective platforms for the job search and networking, so whatever is on your CV, should be transferred to your profile (this is another blogs worth of information anyway!) Also remember that Facebook and Instagram are often readily available for hiring managers to scope out a little more than meets the eye, so be smart. Is that picture of you raving in a field really a picture you want a potential boss to see?! It’s fine to have a social media profile for this, but maybe have a think about your privacy settings before sending your CV out.
If using an agency, do your homework
The choice of agencies in all industries is saturated. This isn’t a bad thing, but it means that you should be really selective of those who are representing you (and getting paid to do it). If you have a good relationship with a recruiter, you’re pretty set, however it’s important to know that your recruiter understands what you are looking for and you’re non-negotiables. It reflects bad on both parties if you are sent off to interview after interview with no real connection to the role besides a quick phone call with your consultant.
Avoid becoming a serial applicant
When you are about to begin job-hunting, before you post off 30 CV’s, ask yourself, is this really the job I want? As a recruiter, it’s frustrating to see the same application for a host of totally different roles by the same person. Be smart, less is often more. Read the job description in detail, do your homework on the company, and ask around.
Getting yourself interview ready
For the time being, interviewing is taking on a very different shape. Video interviewing is now becoming far more tangible and is speeding up the process as we are all bound by social distancing. When you begin to get interviews, it’s imperative that you take the process seriously. If you are presented with time slots, give yourself the best chance possible to make a positive impression and be flexible. With far freer time in people’s diaries, it won’t look good if you fail to attend or reschedule last minute – this applies even when ‘order is restored’.
Research, research and research!
When you have been successful in achieving an interview, whether in person or via video, you will be asked something about the company, your experiences of that business or something to do with your application. I’m always impressed when my introduction to the business is explained back to me and shows me that someone has genuinely taken the time to do their research. During your research, this is also a chance to challenge them on something you’ve found (a negative online review), or more personal digging into whether they really are the company for you.
It won’t always go to plan
for a large majority, you will be unsuccessful in applying for a role. Unfortunately, this is part of the journey and will add another hurdle to overcome. Where possible, try and ask for feedback on your interview so you can improve on this for next time. Just remember that for recruiters, it’s sometimes hard to give feedback to every single person that applies. If you have got to a face-to-face interview, then you deserve feedback. I hold my hands up and admit I’ve not been able to do this when I know how important it is and as a result is a big thing I’m going to be changing when life resumes as normal.
Top questions to ask yourself and others:
Have I included voluntary experience or something that shows what I’ve been doing during Covid-19?
Have you researched the role, the company and looked into current employees?
What do online reviews say about the company and the working culture?
If working with an agency, how many vacancies have they filled with the company? If non, why not?
Have you really reviewed the job description or brief? Have you matched up what the company are looking for to your actual (proven) skills and experience? If the answer is no, avoid wasting your and others times and give that job a miss for now.