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!.




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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.., 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?

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Recently there  I read an article called ‘the cover letter is dead’, physician it suggested that no one has time to read these things and that if you want to stand out from the crowd in your application you need to phone up the recruiting manager and talk to them, prostate then send your CV. I can’t quite remember who it was who wrote it or what planet they were from, but I was howling in anger! Standing out from the crowd is not the easiest thing but to give people blanket advice to ditch their cover letter is to help them commit job hunter’s  suicide. So how does one stand out from the crowd and get past the gatekeepers?

  1. Do not ditch the cover letter! Time and again recruiters complain that applicants send a CV and a note saying ‘here is my cv’. Actually someone who writes a good cover letter, stands more chance of standing out than someone who writes nothing.  But the cover letter has to say something meaningful. It has to say why you want to work for them, what you like about them; it has to say what you see as their challenges and how you can help address those challenges. Having recently screened a batch of applications I could have wept at the number of people who threw away the opportunity to convince me that they understood the organisation, its issues and to show me that they could do the role. Ok in the public sector you are asked to do a supporting statement saying how you meet the person specification but please do it intelligently. Say what the reader wants to hear about, give evidence and include a cover letter!
  2. Think about who is recruiting and how they might like to communicate. I was coaching a young man who wants to work in gardening. My guess is that many of the bosses in those firms are walkers and talkers not readers. In that case ‘the cover letter is dead’ might be true. How much more powerful to go and visit those firms and ask to see the boss, give him the Cv and say you are looking for work. An emailed Cv won’t get read. A young man who calls in every two weeks to offer his services will stand out. If you work in a highly creative adampacitti_600x300sector the Cv and cover letter may be dead, to stand out you may need an infographic or a video or website link (with a suitable website behind it). Take a look at or the man who hired a billboard or the one who sent out a chocolate bar.   BUT  in the public sector world of words and forms – yes the cover letter , the supporting statement and the Cv are all key tools. But to stand out they need to be good and tailored to the role you are applying for.
  3. Get the inside track. Do your research on the organisation you are applying to. Make them realise that you really are keen on them by your use of three or four key bits of information that show you have looked beyond the first page of the website.  Use your networks to find people who have worked there, use websites like to gain intelligence on the organisation.
  4. Less is more. Research on smart thinking makes clear that most people will remember roughly three things about any new meeting, book, or encounter. That rule of three applies to what employers will remember about you. So find three things about yourself that you want to highlight. Focus your communications on those three elements. Three clear bullet points. Three distinct paragraphs. Don’t be tempted to tell them everything  you have ever done but make those three things really specific. Not ‘I have thirty plus years in housing  and am a strong, decisive  leader’  but three key skills that they need.
  5. Stand out in a good way. Some people think that they can be quirky and it will always be good, no love hearts or emoticons please. And yes in the Uk a photo will make you stand out but usually it does not help you impress, photos are generally seen as being ‘odd’ in the uk, so avoid in this country but in Germany you should include and in France hand write…. They love their graphology.  Don’t be tempted with fancy fonts and fancy formats on your Cv, remember people scan these really quickly and if it looks too fussy they will not read them, so keep the format  plain and the content sophisticated. choc bar cv.jpg
  6. Don’t forget  your key words in case this application is being read by a machine not a person in the first instance.
  7. Phone a friend, well if not a friend who can open a door for you in that organisation, phone the recruiter or the hiring manager if you can. And ask (amongst other things) what they would  like to see in a job application, how they want it presented, what will make their life easier when they are screening. You’ll stand out as the one that considered their needs.

Standing out in a crowded market place is really tough but it can be done, through  thought, work and excellence.

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CV – Be key word Savvy

Published on September 10, 2012 by in Job Search advice, Uncategorized


cialis 40mg ‘sans-serif’;”>When it comes to putting together your CV, dosage you need  (as with all communication) to think about who will receive and read it. Of course in this day and  age the ‘reader’ may well be a machine!

 When you send your Cv to an agency or potential employer, they will likely put it into a database (Applicant tracking system). If you are applying for a specific role they should look at it and screen it for suitability. Then it will sit in the data base… you need your name to come up the next time there is a similar role. Your name will come up if you have the right keywords.

You need to understand which keywords are most sought by people hiring for the positions you want, ensuring that your CV uses them effectively.Think as they would think. If you were looking for someone like you, how would you search. If you have had generic job titles then this is really important.(sales director… would not search on that too broad)  If you are trying to get back into something you worked in a awhile back, this is really important.(when did induction become  ‘onboarding’)  If you are trying to change sectors (outturn and year end???)

Do think about the keywords and get found more easily.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make a list of keywords that commonly appear in adverts and job descriptions for the kinds of roles you are seeking. Look beyond only roles you are actively applying for – the aim is simply to gather relevant terms.
  • Look at the websites of companies and associations related to your target industry to identify other ‘buzzwords’.
  • Identify industry experts, via professional associations for example, and check out the language they use to represent themselves in online profiles.
  • Subscribe to industry publications and find relevant recent articles online to keep up to date with what that people are talking about in your sector.
  • Keep in mind that keywords can cover many areas such as position titles, industries, skills, name-brand companies, conferences, software, certifications and training, products, technologies and affiliations.
  • Make sure you use all the relevant synonyms, people in HR can also be in personnel or people management or talent management or human capital. Try to use each one once in your CV in case the searcher does not use the same one as you.

You obviously want your CV to stand out, but it’s also important that it shows your reader how you fit in. Deploying the right keywords can allow you to do this, showing employers that you are speaking their language. 

Thanks to ‘The Ladders’ for additional info.


Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae (Photo credit: badjonni)

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