So what the hell do cows (and cow puns!) have to do with recruitment anyway? I’ve been asked this a quite few times recently given our new website launch.
You may have been wanting to ask this yourself if you’ve seen our social media recently (we’ve been udderly obsessed with cow puns!)
Well, unbeknown to most people, my family are Scottish dairy farmers! My family continue to run a few farms up on the West Coast. So, you could say it’s in the blood. But even though working in recruitment is a far cry from the fields of Scotland, I’ve never fully left behind my admiration for these fantastic animals.
There are lots of differing opinions out there on how to write a CV but given that I have been reading CV’s for the past 17 years I thought I’d share my Headhunters insight into what gets people noticed (positively and negatively!):
A CV is not a job description. Don’t just copy and paste it in there. People can tell!
Do not write recruitment clichés. No one likes cliches so leave them out of your personal statement i.e. team player/can multitask.
Be conscious of the length of your CV. 2 pages is a myth but any longer than 4 pages is a bit much… if you’ve only been working for a few years it doesn’t need to be very long (remember less is often more) and if you’re an interim with multiple contracts or have a long career history – limit yourself to the past 5 years (and summarise the rest in one-liners).
Don’t add silly template formatting or photographs. It doesn’t get you noticed and can put people off! (All recruitment firms format your CV into a standard format and if you are an independent who does this yourself – like me – it’s annoying to sort out the mess!).
Writing a killer CV is all about selling your experience better than everyone else who sits in that pile on the recruiter’s desk! How do you expect to differentiate between yourself and 20 other applicants who have all likely done a similar role to you?
The past 5 years of experience are typically the most relevant, this is the experience that employers will want to discuss and should form the bulk of the CV:
Focus on outcomes rather than inputs. Every project manager manages key stakeholders, but a great project manager influences them to ensure delivery of the project on time and within budget.
Great people make a difference in their role. Yes, businesses hire people to do a job, but what gives you the edge? What have you done in past roles, that has added value? Use business metrics to quantify the impact and to demonstrate your commercial understanding.
Tailor your CV for the role. Make sure you have read the job description for the role you’re applying for and highlight relevant areas of your experience that match this (yes this is basic stuff, but it often gets missed). You can do this in a cover letter (I don’t think many people read them these days) so my advice is to ensure you put it in the CV (it is okay to have more than one CV that focuses on different aspects of your experience).
Get someone senior to critique your CV. Before you send it anywhere, get someone more senior than you to read your CV, would they hire you based upon it? Make sure you allow them to be critical. If not, why not? What’s missing?
Finally, get yourself out there! There is no point writing a killer CV if no one’s going to see it…
To discuss further or get help with your CV you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.
Networking is something that gets talked about a lot in the market. Many HR professionals know they should network to further their careers but always find an excuse to shy away from it and often say they have never really benefited from it.
Others have openly admitted that they either lack confidence in large groups of strangers, have never attended a good networking event or just see if as a pointless task that takes up too much time. At a recent event, someone said to me that they found networking difficult because from an early age, ‘they were taught that they shouldn’t speak to strangers!’.
I’ve attended many networking events over the years, some were really good and some, well, could have been better. I must admit in my early days, networking meant pointless conversations with people that were only interested in selling to me. I often left these events feeling a little unaccomplished, wondering why I had bothered going.
My perception has changed over the years and what I have learnt is that networking is actually a really useful and effective business tool – when used in the right way.
We all know that networking is fundamental to good business but how can you take the pain out of it and make it work more effectively as a business tool for you?
1 ) Re-frame the situation
If you get put off by the word networking, then call it something else! After all, it’s merely a tool to meet new people. Networking has moved on a lot in recent years and is no longer just about attending a formal event, vying for attention, exchanging business cards and selling, selling, selling.
It has evolved to be more about providing the opportunity to meet new and passionate people. So, for me, it can be something as simple as going to see someone in another department instead of sending them an email or meeting someone for a coffee instead of the usual conference call. It doesn’t have to be formal.
Lots of people say that confidence is a major deterrent to networking and can often mean that they are stuck for conversation. If you’re attending an event it’s natural to feel a little nervous, but you can turn nervous energy into a positive. Just remember these key things:
Relax and be yourself; you’re networking because you chose to, and everyone is probably feeling the same, so relax and remember networking is merely a tool for meeting new people.
Be prepared; do your research, take a look at the delegate list and see if there is anyone you’re keen to talk to. One way to start a conversation is through a shared connection, so research what they’re interested in and their experiences/background.
3) Set an objective
Why are you attending the event? What do you want to get out of it?
Admittedly many people only network so that they can sell and, while this may be your end goal, remember no one wants to be sold to at a networking event, this has happened to me numerous times and I was very much put off.
The real benefit of networking lies with the relationships that can be forged as a result. Remember relationships are developed over many months and years, so follow up is key.
Also, always remember the golden rule…give before you receive. Ask yourself how can you help that person and add value before you ask for anything.
Networking events can be full of outgoing, confident people that love to talk, so use it to your advantage and ask open ended questions. This way people will tell you all about what they do, what they are there for and what they are looking to get out of the event. I don’t mean that you only ask one question then listen to someone waffle on forever, it’s more of an introduction to get the conversation flowing.
A good friend of mine once told me that you need a story to engage with people, a great piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since.
Think about why you are there, what’s currently happening in your market and your thoughts on it. But the most important thing is to make eye contact and smile, no one wants to speak to a miserable stranger.
Don’t forget the basics: (it’s not cool to be fashionably late!)
Be sure you know where you’re going and plan your journey, there’s nothing worse than turning up stressed out because you got lost on the way there.
Turn your phone off, concentrate on the people around you, that’s the reason you’re there after all.
Try not to plan anything straight after the event. This way you are free to leave whenever you want and you won’t feel under pressure.
Finally, make sure you follow up with anybody that you met with. If you had a good conversation with someone suggest you meet for a coffee to keep the relationship fresh.
This is not an exhaustive list, merely tips and tricks that work for me. Over time you’ll find what works for you, but hopefully, you’ll be able to adopt some of my tips to work to your advantage and get you started.
If there is one thing I have learnt from networking, it’s that it’s all about building relationships – give and enrich the experience people have with you and this will go a long way.
To have a chat – or if you are passing through Birmingham and want to meet for a coffee you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.
It’s nice to be nice, right? I always try to help people out – in both my personal and professional life. I recently read a blog by Gary Vaynerchuk about kindness and why it’s so important in business.
He says, “I want to build big businesses and buy the Jets, but I want to do it by being a good guy. I have zero interest in building the biggest building by tearing other people down.”
And it really resonated with me – being kind and helpful is at the core of re:find and how all of us here think and work. It’s important for us to do a good job and help people. There is a stereotype in business that ‘nice guys finish last’, but I just don’t believe that’s true. We can’t physically place all of the candidates we meet, but we can help, give our expertise, or even just point someone in the right direction and this costs nothing!
Being kind is important
I think being kind is important for lots of reasons:
It’s nice to be nice! It makes you feel good to be kind and help people out.
People don’t forget your kindness. If you look after someone, they remember it – which could end up helping you out in the future.
Most of my clients are candidates I have worked with previously and built long-standing relationships with through being helpful and kind.
Employees/colleagues like and respect you. If people like and respect you, they’ll work harder, do a better job and the team will be happier and more productive.
It’s rewarded – someone is always watching. Even when you think something hasn’t been noticed, it probably has.
When you strip back the titles and status
When you strip back titles and status, we’re all just people – and who wants to deal with someone who’s a bit of a t***!? Being kind gets people on side, which is important in business. Whether it’s dealing with clients, candidates or team members. If you get on well with a client, they’re more likely to continue using you. If you look after a candidate, they’ll remember your kindness. If you look after your team, they’ll work hard and be loyal – people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers.
Ultimately, we’re all human and we all appreciate someone being decent and looking after us. So, I’d encourage everyone to be kind – you get a lot more out of it than you might think!