Recently a friend told me she had received a very disturbing email at work. A contract had come to an end and out of the 36 people working on that contract only 12 roles would remain. The way the organisation chose to tell everyone the roles were ‘at risk’ was to attach an organisational chart to that email. If your role was shaded green you were fine, if it was amber you were at risk. I have assumed those at risk also had a one to one conversation beforehand, but I am not completely certain. Either way, time to dig out that old CV…
Another friend (yes I have two friends!) told me a similar story about the bank her son works for. In this case staff were invited into one of two rooms - in the blue room you were still employed, in the other room you were not. We all know that, what with the unstable global economy, businesses continue to be challenged and tough decisions have to be made, but is this the way to communicate it? I appreciate there is no easy way, but I cannot help think the way that conversation takes place has a considerable impact on how well people can pick themselves up and start thinking about what they need to do next.
Intellectually, most people realise that there is no such thing as job security or a job for life, but equally most people don’t think that redundancy will happen to them. Often that means that not only do they have to cope with the shock of the news, but also that they haven’t looked at their CV for some time. For a lot of employees and jobseekers it has been many years since their last job interview or career change, and they genuinely lack confidence in the transferability of their skills and the benefit their experience could bring to a new employer.
My advice to everyone in this situation is firstly to remember that it is perfectly normal for your confidence to take a dip and to feel anxious about the future. Secondly, take control of the situation by adopting a positive outlook and make a plan of achievable actions to cope with the change.
Recent surveys have shown that 46% of candidates changed function or industry and 16% of candidates chose an alternative career path such as self-employment, which means that redundancy can be a good opportunity to rethink your life and career goals. A great book to help you is How to get a job you’ll love by John Lees, or if you are over 50, The Rainbow Years, by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally. Alternatively, a career coach can really help you rethink your future and prepare you for the job market.
The time will come when you have to bite the bullet and get down to writing or rewriting your CV. In a highly competitive market, with lots of people vying for the same job opportunities, you need to make sure that you have the edge over the other jobseekers and make sure your credentials stand out.
Your CV has the potential to be a powerful marketing document which can generate interviews, but it’s vital you are able to define what you offer and translate it into a document which is aligned to the needs of the hiring organisation. To do this you need define your ‘brand’ and you can do this by carrying out some essential self-assessment. Ask yourself “what qualities define me in the workplace?”
Once you have done that, you can identify the transferable skills and personal attributes you are going to promote and compliment these with relevant successes. Details of your achievements will provide the evidence to define what you offer and bring an aura of credibility to your CV.
When you draft the final version you need to consider the needs of the hiring manager you are targeting and highlight the skills, qualities, accreditations and achievements which are particularly relevant to their needs.
You can often ‘hook’ the reader by rewriting your profile or positioning statement each time you apply for a job so it’s highly relevant for that role.
Here are five key things to remember when rewriting your CV:
- Keep it current - potential employers are normally only interested in your recent experience so concentrate on the last 5 years rather than providing lots of information on roles you were involved in more than 10 years ago. The exception is when there is a strong link between the old information and the role you are applying for.
- Be careful to avoid overuse of acronyms and jargon. These can often make a CV difficult to interpret and will frustrate the recipient. A CV that is difficult to read is more likely to end up on the ‘no’ pile, so keep it simple.
- I meet a lot of people concerned about their age and its perceived negative impact, yet the first thing they highlight on their CV is their date of birth. There is no need to include this information. It is more impressive to focus on the strengths you offer which relate to the role, so make sure you highlight your strengths.
- References are normally requested subject to a job offer, so why put them in your CV? You are likely to be wasting space on information that is irrelevant at this stage of the recruitment process – save references for later.
- Try to avoid compiling a CV which is merely a mirror of your job description as it will not impress the reader. It is imperative that you demonstrate the value and potential you bring to the prospective employer by focussing on your contributions and the ways in which you made a difference – don’t cut and paste your job description.
If you would like to work with one of Bray Leino Learning’s career coaches, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
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