Google+
0

Navigating through the application

I often get asked about all the different bits of paperwork: “Yes, ambulance I know I need cover letter, pill  all the advice is that hiring managers  hate getting just a CV and nothing else  but what should it say?  And is it the same as a supporting statement and why do they need two things? And why if I have done a  CV do I any of that?”  Or if the adverts says “Please explain why you are applying for this vacancy and you feel your transferrable skills, order relevant experience and achievements match the competencies for this role. Please make reference to the job description. What do I do then?”  Recently I came across another  requirement: a two page autobiography saying what had driven you career and what you are proud of”

Yes, it’s a minefield and very confusing. And what should I send and if I am applying on line where do I put it?

Ok let’s think about it. What does the future employer want to know and how are they going to find it out? They want to do three main things:

  1. What experience have you got? And the more senior you are the more likely they will be looking for experience and someone who has already been successful in that sector and that sort of role. And they are going to find that out in a CV that is rich in achievements and examples of your success in just the things that they want you to do.
  2. What motivation have you got for this role? That is where your ‘cover letter’ comes into play. Your cover letter will tell them what interests you about the organisation, about the role, what the challenges are of the role and what makes you think that you can solve those challenges. The fact that you have thought about who they are, what challenges they face, what the job involves, all demonstrate that you are interested.
  3. What skills and competencies do you have that would make you suitable for them in this role? And here we are at the supporting statement, of the statement of suitability or whatever they have chosen to call it the ‘How I meet the person spec’ bit. But you may argue, surely that is all in the CV? They know I can lead, they know I can sell, they know I can open up new avenues of business… as my bullet points of achievements tell them that, my list of key skills (or motherhood words as I call them) tell them that. Well yes they may be able to infer your skills  form the Cv but not the style. They can’t tell how you achieved those things. And saying that you have financial skills is assertion not evidence. And in many sectors evidence is king and assertion is the fool outside the castle gate.

 

cover letter

So your Cv is a summary of your achievements and your cover letter is your demonstration of your  motivation and  statement demonstrates your competence. It is longer. It is the flesh on the bones of those achievements. It is the evidence of the skills and your style of achieving. It is the demonstration that you understand the processes that go into achieving those things and that your approach and style matches theirs.

So if you are asked for a CV… send a CV and a cover letter

If you are asked for a CV and cover letter, I think you should merge your cover letter and supporting statement into one document and send them that

If you are asked for a CV and supporting statement, I think you should send them the CV, the cover letter and the supporting statement

And if you are asked for an autobiography… get your thinking cap on… refer to my article on answering the interview question on ‘give us an overview of your career’ and tell them exactly what you need them to hear!

You need to answer those questions.  Once you know what they need to hear worry less about the format and get cracking on the superb content!.

 

pen

 

Continue Reading

0

The JOY of  work?

penguin love my job

joyI recently watched ‘Sunshine on Leith’, page described as a feel good movie, page I found myself grinning at large chunks of the film. The same expression I saw on my father-in-law’s face as he watched his younger son with newest grandchild on skype. How often do we feel real joy like that? We often talk about job satisfaction or enjoying our work, but when does it give us that real boost of endorphins? And should it?

Well work should give you both satisfaction and joy but for it feel ‘joyful’  I think you have to release some of your inhibitions, to understand that it is OK to take pure pleasure in a  job well done, in a colleague triumphant and a customer satisfied. I think we fail to find joy in work because we don’t savor the moment.. we rush on by to find the next customer, the next task… So my advice for 2014 – savor the moment!

It’s an exercise I often set people, spend a few minutes each day focusing on what went well. Get a nicely bound notebook (such a Luddite, I know) and make a note of what went well. Turn your focus and attention, not to what you have to do tomorrow but to what you have done today. On the minutiae of your accomplishments and observations.  I often wonder if daily prayer is not an excellent way of doing this but you don’t have to be religious or address your comments to God. Just notice what went well and allow yourself to smile. Keep your book in private place and revisit it often – especially when you feel down.

We know that our brains are very selective about what they notice and what they pay attention to. Your brain finds evidence to support the mental map it has made of the world. But the map is not the territory and if you send this fantastic, sophisticated tool on a mission to find things at work that make you smile and give you joy.. then it will succeed. Joy can come from (as the cheesey song says) raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens… if we stop and notice those things and allow ourselves the possibility of joy. So savor your moments and capture those things that make you smile.

And if you would like to see what made me smile..  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOAv4KYnweo, this is an amateur video of the screening but shows the exuberance of the flashmob dancing at the end of the film. Now being part of a flashmob that would make me smile… just how do you find one?

Continue Reading

0

Why you might need some  conscious competence!

recording deskI was doing my stint on the local ‘talking newspaper’ where I am a sound engineer the other night. What a difference a year (or two) makes! My first few recordings were fraught with anxiety and littered with mistakes; I dreaded the phone going on Saturday mornings with the  ‘hello its Ken here, buy information pills just thought you should know……’  Now I multi task and could not tell you what I do, shop it ‘just happens’ and seems to take no time at all.

At the start of my work with them, I was in a state of unconscious incompetence; I did not know what I did not know. Very soon I moved to a state of conscious incompetence! We use 3 different computer programs to record and there is a lengthy instruction manual and it seemed to take ages to fiddle and twiddle all those knows and dials. I lived in constant fear that I would delete the recording (I did once.. we had to sit down and re read). It all felt bewildering with labyrinthine instructions, illogical instructions and references to techie words I’d not met before.

Somehow with some practice and analysis of the process, some putting down the  manual and figuring it out for myself I learned to make the recordings. I  got myself to a state of conscious competence. I amended the process to suit my brain and I  was flying, sometimes I ‘d finished without using the manual or even thinking about it. I have reached the state of unconscious competence.

Things that we do a lot and that we are competent at become automatic. We don’t think about them (I am better at guessing a mental arithmetic sum than trying to do it purposely- my subconscious is better than my conscious), we just do them.   Being able to just do something is great as it frees our conscious brain up to do other things. When James Martin is doing his live cookery show he only thinks about the interviews he is doing not the cooking. Cooking is ‘in the muscle’ so he does not need to think about it.   However there are some dangers in being in unconscious competence:

You may slip into bad habits and find that you are not as competent as you think you are or should be. Driving is a classic, we get to drive without thinking about it but there are real dangers in not giving the road and other users one’s full attention. One of these days my shortcuts could mean a major recording error.

You can’t train someone else to do something if you don’t know how you  do it. Each of us needs to develop our staff and share our skills, that is not going to happen if we can’t explain how we make things happen, how we understand our budgets or build relationships. These things may be ‘in the muscle’ but to train you need to make them explicit.

In interviews you can’t convince someone that you can think strategically, motivate staff  or deliver a project by saying ‘I just do’. You need to work at unpicking what it is that you do and then be ready to describe it. Increasingly organisations want people who are self aware and self managing.. so ‘I just do’ is not going to wash. Get some conscious competence!

Continue Reading