Category Archives: CVs

If you can’t measure it – don’t mention it

Why "if you can't measure it -don't mention it makes perfect sense".

Why “if you can’t measure it, don’t mention it” makes perfect sense.

The Peter Drucker  phrase “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has been around in management training manuals for decades.  With some dissenting views, it is widely accepted if not as a business truism,  certainly as  a useful guideline and management tool.

In career management what is also gaining credibility is the line “If you can’t measure it – don’t mention it.”

I’m a big subscriber to that philosophy.

Metrics

We are seeing a convergence between the marketing techniques usually associated with entrepreneurs and businesses with individual self promotion (in biz patois Personal Branding)  with the the same measurable values starting to become applicable. Many balk  at this shift,  feeling that people are becoming commoditized.  But are they really? All this really involves is simply a move from a task and chronology mindset, to a result, achievement and skills focus.

Just as we don’t care about the detail of the business process for any organisation,  we are also starting to expect the same approach on individual resumes and profiles.  We don’t care how smart phones are made. We just want to know what they can do for us. When we  buy jars and tubes of emulsified chemicals from L’Oreal, we buy products that are hopefully going to  magically transform us – even if it’s only in our imagination. We are buying the added value. Why? Because we are worth it.

The management accountant who produces monthly reports and forecasts using Bex Analyser and Excel would be better placed telling us what he used that information for,  rather than describing the  detail of the routine task.  If this can be followed with a metric and results so much the better.

If you are “young and dynamic”  I need to know what difference that will make to an organisation. If it means you have just graduated  at the top of your class with the most up to date mathematical models to support faster analysis of business processes, at your finger tips. Tell me that.

These are just two conversations I had this week alone.

Forget cute, metrics matter!

Very often people are so focused on being cute, zany or idiosyncratic that their message becomes simply verbiage and we have no idea at all what they mean.  I am highly literate so always recognise the individual words,   but sometimes I have no clue what the person actually does in a joined up sentence. “Effective change agent,  crisis manager,  business turn around leader.”  A crisis could be a merger, takeover or a blocked loo.  What sorts of businesses, crises and changes? What were the outcomes? Can this person do that for us, is the over-riding question of any employer.  If it’s not clear and the question has to be asked,  the risk of losing the reader (me) has already increased. I have the attention span of a gnat. And I am slow!

Just as when we buy a lap- top we will want to have some information on the basic features (weight, operating system, colours, memory, hard drive etc)  the main questions will be centred around what value that lap- top can add,  how we can benefit from it and how we can best use it for our own purposes.

Job search processes are no different. If a computer had a “buy this computer”   sign on it, wouldn’t you ask “Why? What will it do for me? ”

Candidates are no different.

Debunking 4 online professional profiles myths

Much is written about professional profiles by many “experts” that frightens the life out of the average job seeker, or even passive candidate who simply want to have a strong online presence. The list of dos and don’ts is never-ending, with the net result that many are totally confused.

I’m actually confused.

Debunking profile myths!

Debunking profile myths!

There are many so-called pearls of wisdom written about what people in the executive search or recruitment business are looking for, which completely mystify me.

But hold on…..I AM in the executive search  business. Am I making decisions on these so-called “deal breaker” criteria? Truthfully? Not really.

The reality is that many pundits are no longer (or have never been) involved in executive search and recruitment and are out of touch with the process or a are not even currently working in a corporate environment.They are merely expressing a personal opinion, not issuing irreversible imperatives.

Let’s go through some of the main ones that cause consternation!

  • The LinkedIn summary –  everyone is in agreement that this piece is where the punch should be packed. It is a searchable field so should have a good smattering of keywords but not stuffed (over done in layman’s terms) Most recruiters don’t really care if it’s written in first or third person because they don’t have time. It’s not up for the Pulitzer Prize in literature.  Personally, I would avoid referencing myself by name and generally favour dropping pronouns altogether. But that is a personal opinion.
  • Text rather than bullet points is de rigueur  – recruiters and search specialists take about 8 seconds to read the top half of a profile – so it doesn’t really matter to most of us as long as it is easy to digest. The object of a summary is to entice the reader to scroll down and make contact.  If you are a bullet point type of person it makes no sense to present yourself as a writer of prose.  If you are a indeed a wordsmith, an editor or targeting a sector where writing skills will be important – this is a good place to showcase them. But by no means mandatory. Will the prose writer carry more weight than the bullet pointer with the same skill set? No. Not in anything I have been involved in. Ever.
  • Your CV and LinkedIn summary should not be the same – who says? I have never  sat in a candidate review meeting and heard anyone say  ” You know, I think we should cut X. His/her  CV profile and LinkedIn summary are identical ”  It just doesn’t happen. If you meet the skill set required by the job profile you will likely be contacted unless there are other mitigating factors (typos, your biz pic looks as if it belongs on a police report  and so on.)
  • Put different content in both  – once again not sure why this gem is doing the rounds. A LinkedIn profile gives possibilities to highlight different areas of expertise and skills in greater detail because there is no space limit. It also offers opportunities to highlight recommendations, endorsements,  make a slide share and so on.  So it will, de facto, be different. But a CV should still include all the key points contained in an online profile, but in a more concise format perhaps using more complex  vocabulary and syntax to showcase writing skills. I recently raised a poll  in some recruitment groups on LinkedIn and most participants said they are now reading a LinkedIn profile before they read a CV.

What anyone involved in the search and recruitment business needs  in terms of content is what my back in the day high school Economics teacher Mr. Malcolm Thomas used to call C.P.R.: concise, precise and relevant. If you can write that with a Welsh accent you will be fine!

And this is where the real skill lies.

Personal interests: 10 CV dos and don’ts

Can hobbies and interests make a difference in the selection process?

Can hobbies and interests make a difference in the selection process?

There is always much conflicting advice from career experts on what to include on CVs. One of the areas  that has an opinion divide of Grand Canyon proportions,   is  whether  including your personal interests and hobbies on your resume can actually make a difference to the selection process.

Hannah Morgan Career Sherpa says ” No one really cares that you enjoy knitting, wine tasting and training for marathons. That is, unless, you are applying for a job in one of those areas. Save the space for more meaningful, work-related information. Have you included professional memberships or volunteer activities?

Stand out with your hobbies on your job search by  exhorts candidates to share their interests on their CVs. Why? “ Because who you are transfers over to how you work.”

Here’s my input but suffixed as always with the judicious ” it depends”:

Do:  Remember that what is relevant will depend on the company culture and nature of the open position.  Not all company cultures or teams look for, welcome or need the person who does a fitness boot camp at  5.00 am every day before work.

Do:  include some interests especially if they can showcase or endorse your professional skills and particularly if  you have achieved  some level of excellence or expertise

Do:  give a range of interests which showcase your  personality. I think Hannah’s example of a wine tasting,  knitter,  who runs marathons could be a potentially interesting character.

Do:  be strategic and highlight those interests which could be professionally relevant but with a balance: team and leadership roles as well as introverted and extroverted, competitive and non competitive.  Depending on the nature of the opening,  I would certainly pay attention to someone whose interests were exclusively solitary or exclusively competitive.  Generally personality traits will be identified via any type of testing or assessment process anyway.

Do:   include if you played a sport to a high level or represented your country in any activity even if it was some years previously. It demonstrates focus, discipline and energy.

Don’t :  include if you claim to be an international athlete light years before and it looks as if walking from the desk to the door will induce a coronary.

Do: be sensitive with regard to any of your interests which might be” hot” issues for others:  certain causes, or political or religious activities. It’s impossible to know the personal biases and perceptions of  the reader and interviewer unless they are in the public domain.

Do:  share if you are using that skill currently via coaching,  mentoring or volunteering.

Do: if you think  your interests will be a social ice-breaker  and professionally relevant. It is becoming increasingly easy to research interviewers and companies. If the hiring company sponsor an activity which genuinely interests you – include it. I was participating in a search recently where the company sponsored the fine arts and one of the candidates was a serious opera buff.  The panel Chair and candidate  had a brief aside on Liudmyla Monastyrska‘s  role as Aida.   It was  a clear differentiator in that particular hiring process.

Don’t: claim to have interests which are not real. If the last book you read was the Spark Notes from a university course, or the last movie you saw was Ghost  or  your idea of haute cuisine is opening a takeaway carton,   best not to mention them as interests. You could be asked.  You are not a wine taster if your  knowledge extends to white, red and pink.  I interviewed someone who said they were a “huge tennis fan“, but couldn’t comment on the 2012 Wimbledon final. (Murray lost to Federer  or Federer beat Murray depending on who you were supporting). As John McEnroe would say ” You can’t be serious

So like any other part of your CV the interest section is an opportunity to be strategic.  So I say use it – but wisely!

Why you’re in trouble without an instantly available, current CV

Be_PreparedI have seen two instances today alone where individuals were thrown off-balance because they did not have an easily accessible, up to date CV.

One case didn’t matter  – the other did.

With unemployment at record highs in some regions and opportunities coming and disappearing at record speed,  being prepared is key.

Test: if someone asked you right now to  send in your resumé how long would it take?

How did you do?

The world turns in ever strange but increasingly fast circles and the need to have our professional credentials readily available is greater than ever. None of us know when we might have a chance encounter or  an unexpected request to provide a current professional profile. These situations do arise.

What are the best practises?  

  • Keep a copy of your up to date CV on your tablet or smart phone for instant forwarding.
  • Not into gizzmos? Well store a copy in an account that is accessible from any computer: gmail, hotmail,  Google Docs.
  •  A complete and up to date on-line professional profile  with the link committed to memory or added to your business card and email signature. Connect immediately from any device.
  • Carry a hard copy in an envelope in your computer bag or brief case. There are still techno dinosaurs around.

Lesson: You can never be too prepared.

What other suggestions can you make to make your CV readily available?

Are you a job search bore? Story telling and job search

Craft an interesting story!

Craft an interesting story!

Story telling is a talent.

There are some natural raconteurs who have the gift of the gab. Most of us with less ability have to work on developing those skills. Many will wonder why that matters at all – but the reality is that it does.

Don’t people just want to know where we’ve worked and what we’ve done? Yes and no. They also want to hear what we’ve achieved,  but delivered in such a way that we don’t sound arrogant and pompous, or make them nod off into their coffees in utter boredom.

Synthesise

Being able to synthesise and take an overview of our own lives and deliver it in digestible soundbites,  that promotes engagement and creates dialogue takes a lot of work, especially to do it well.  Our story line,  whether this takes place in a networking event, in  a social situation,  in a formal interview or even on a date, is going to be very different each time.

I like to use the metaphors of hats. We wouldn’t wear a fascinator to the office or ski helmet to a cocktail party (at least not unless we were a little weird). There are times when we need to take one hat off and put another one on.   The type of information we highlight will also vary according to the context.

Just as if we were beinfascinatorg introduced to someone at a dinner party we wouldn’t  deliver our life story in historical order,  but pull out nuggets of interest, because to do otherwise would be really dull.  We have all been cornered by the sports bore who will give detailed, blow  by blow accounts of their last match or game. Or the doting parent who discusses their children ad nauseam. Or the divorcee who rants interminably about their ex.

Job search  

Anyone involved in the hiring process will tell you that the casual ” Tell me about yourself ” is a trick question!  Most responses will cover a chronological account of professional lives backed up by  the detail of the tasks carried out   “….in 1996 I joined Better Company as a Sales Executive  servicing accounts in x region.. and then in 1998 I moved to ” and so on.

Almost immediately eyes will glaze over as the hapless candidate delivers a 5 minute monologue,  giving a task focused chronology of their career,  rather than extracting key elements of interest.  I’ve also seen good story tellers be unable to transfer their verbal energy into the written word.  This is why many are disappointed about disappearing into a cyber black hole and not getting that vital call to an interview.

But even when that does happen, an interview can seem to be give us permission to deliver a soliloquy.  But this is a false impression. What is being looked for is an indication of what we are good at and whether we can bring that success into a new business environment.

How compelling is your job search story ?

The new “actively passive” candidates

According to research carried out by international organisations such as Manpower and Deloitte, there are many indications that after a period of cautiousness brought about by stringent economic times, a high percentage of employees will now be open to new job opportunities. The numbers range from 66% – 84%, but whichever one you take, they are pretty high.

Risk averse
The recent recession made those that were fortunate enough to have survived a dramatic downturn, risk averse. The old mantra of ” last in, first out ” played loudly in their ears. Now, with small signs of recovery people are lifting their heads above the parapet to step down and are willing to dip a toe gently into the job search water. In the executive search sector we call this category of candidate, “passive candidates”.

This doesn’t mean to say they are “passive ” people. It’s a generic term used to describe job seekers who are in employment, but who are not necessarily actively sending out their resumes , or are advertising themselves on job boards. For many companies, for reasons I sometimes struggle to understand, passive candidates are considered to be more highly desirable prospects. This is why the catch phrase “it’s easier to get a job while in a job“, is so popular and proved a huge frustration to job seekers during the recession, when many good people lost their jobs and were actively looking for employment.

Actively passive
However, there is huge mileage into having carried out some self assessment, coming up with a career strategy and creating a plan to achieve that. Candidates might not be sending out CVs blindly, but there are certainly some very strong smoke signals in the air, with active self promotion going on and the raising of visibility to the right people. This doesn’t necessarily detract from being open to unforseen possibilities or suggest lack of focus. For the first time in several years candidates have choice and there is no problem saying that. As someone who makes those calls to candidates every day, very often the opportunity I present may not have occurred to the potential candidate. But receiving that straightforward, time-saving communication of “Thanks, but your opportunity is not in line with my current career plans. Let’s stay in touch.” is also quite acceptable.

Reputation economy
With this upturn, executive search specialists, passive candidates and hiring managers alike should find themselves in stronger positions. But all parties are going to have to up their games , as the sheer volume of possibilities kicks in. For passive candidates this is a critical time as we move towards a reputation economy, where everyone can be researched online.
– Make sure your online presence is precise and of high quality content to guarantee that key word searches are accurate. Otherwise you will find yourselves being approached for the wrong type of searches, which will eventually become irritating.
– No online presence could mean no contact unless you have a very strong actual network.
– If you are not open to job opportunities currently, close that option on your LinkedIn profile. This should deter all but the crassest of recruiters.
– If you are, contact details should be easy to find. Search consultants for the first time in years have a wide choice and if you are hard to reach, they will move on to the next candidate.
– Make sure all your networking is strategic and you are connecting with hiring decision makers in targeted and researched companies. The right opportunity could be around the corner.
– Have a polished up to date CV ready to send out at the push of a button. Hiring companies and search consultants no longer have to chase anyone too hard.

It’s great to feel the stirrings of a recovery! Let’s hope it continues!

Staying on message: A job search challenge

How much to share and with whom?
Another confusing area for job seekers is how much information to share in the job search process. This is another topic where every man, woman, child and goldfish has an opinion. Using buzz speak this is about brand alignment, when we are all supposed to produce consistent personal brand content, all the time. The irony of course is that any resume you produce might be correctly professional and neutral, but your cyber foot might leave behind yeti size tracks in its wake and you will open your mouth, only to change feet. Understand well, that you will be researched prior to an interview and there is very little room to hide. So how do you stay true to the professional image you’re trying to create, when there are so many ways to check us all out , especially as most of us have multiple interests and are multifaceted?

Here are some issues that have been posed to me

Claiming a passion There has to be back up. If you say you are passionate about renewable energy – make sure that there is evidence out there somewhere. We do check. So join LinkedIn or local groups and visibly participate. If you have multiple interests and goals then be prepared to explain them. On the other hand I know an accountant who has a fabulous blog on food and restaurants which he writes under a pseudonym, simply because he doesn’t want his employer perceive him as frivolous. In my view he is hiding a key part of who he is, which is a shame. Others have multiple blogs where they write about other areas of interest. Check out Gilly Weinstein a professional coach, who showcases her alternative interests in a blog separate to her professional web site.

Age and birthdate – this is no longer legally required on a resumé, but any recruiter with half a brain can figure it out. There is a double bind here. Withholding can send red alerts that something is amiss – either too old or too young for the position in question. But I suggest that you don’t include it, simply because you may be bypassed by some pre programmed Applicant Tracking Systems. But be proud of who you are and offer metrics that add value. You cannot hide all references to your history on the internet or air brush every photo. If you lie – you will almost certainly be found out.

Religion – unless you are applying to a religious organisation where your affiliation will be meaningful and key, then it would not be necessary to supply this information to a secular organisation.

Home address – I would leave out. There are some strange people in this world and you don’t want them pitching up at your home. Simply stating your city and country should be sufficient

Hobbies – now here I really go against many career pundits. People’s hobbies and past times tell me a lot about a person. They might show energy, committment, discipline, attention to detail, community spirit and many other qualities – so I always look. If your idea of surfing is sitting on a sofa changing channels, I agree that is best omitted. Those interests also have to be current. Unless you were an Olympic medallist , telling an employer of your university sporting achievements is only appropriate for entry-level candidates and possibly one level above. 15 years down the line regretfully they add little value, especially if you are a little soft around the middle.

Marital status – agree not necessary information, although many volunteer it. Do not include photos of yourself with your partner on professional profiles

Children – agree the CV is about you. Ditto about pictures of your children (or pets) on professional profiles

Links to online platforms – if they are relevant to your job application and have a professional content, they can certainly add value, especially a LinkedIn profile URL. It’s also a way of giving more information such as recommendations and a slide share presentation. They show you’re in touch with current technological trends and offer insight into your personality.If your FB status updates are along the lines of ” Yo dude… see you in the pub … ” Then no. Omit. Make sure there are no inappropriate photos online and you are not tagged in anyone else’s. Check your Facebook photo line ups are how you want to be perceived. I was horrified to find I had been tagged in a photo taken two days after I had surgery recently. I looked in pain – probably because I was.

Sexual orientation – this is no one’s business except your own. It is illegal to discriminate on those grounds. If there are any photos of you with partners in cyber space, regardless of orientation, they should be appropriate.

Life objectives – this is now considered to be old school and has been replaced by a career mission statement, so definitely should not be on a CV. At some point any long-term goals can be shared, but I would advise waiting until you know the person you will be sharing that information with. Any general, gentle social icebreakers such as wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, are perhaps best included in the hobbies section, in my book are completely OK.

Online conflict this is a tough one. Healthy debate on even contentious issues I feel is part of life’s rich tapestry. However, anything abusive or defamatory should be avoided. We are now entering an era where individuals are being disciplined or even fired for negative remarks about bosses, employers or team mates on Facebook and Twitter. The difference between this and a real life situation, is that your words will be recorded somewhere… forever. No one knows what happens to deleted material on many of these online platforms.

In today’s social media age it is truthfully difficult to keep anything completely secret – even your weight! The trick is to try to manage your cyber foot print, while remaining true to yourself. In my view this is one of today’s greatest job search challenges. No matter what you leave out, or how professionally neutral any of us are, it is very hard to be constantly on message.

But really how much does that matter?

What do you think?