Monday 12 March 2012

How do I get the perfect job?

It is a challenge to know ones unique talents and discover our hidden ones too. Everyone is born with them. As we develop ourselves in our careers and our private lives we begin to understand more fully what they are. We are then confronted with choices and decisions. Some of us lose sight of our talents if we make the wrong choices and decisions that we may (or may not) later regret. Others may be sleep walking into the abyss perhaps falling by the wayside. Some of us grow wiser as we make the effort to redeem ourselves, change then learn to rediscover them, as we realise it is all part of life’s experience. Some of us may even begin to understand who we are and why we are here. And others… are still searching.

In my last article I had put some important questions across on how to kick start looking for a new position and ideas on how to get an interview. For example ‘With my talent what contribution can I make where there is a need (and get paid for it?)’  But how does one get the perfect job? The reason for this question is that so often nowadays so many people, bright people; gifted people are in the wrong job or apply for any job, simply because a job is a job. Or how often have we heard ‘This is the job I want because the money is good’ or this is exactly the job for me because it matches my skill set.’ Take note skills are not talents. Talents are your natural gifts and strengths. Skills are the knowledge, expertise and know how you have acquired and developed throughout your career. It is often the case that the two are confused with each other. Yet it takes great skill to develop your talents. Without discovering them or tapping into them we run the real risk of being unhappy and dissatisfied in our job.

I spoke to a senior investment banker recently from the lending side. He was highly educated, intelligent and experienced of around 40 years of age.  Due to the on-going crisis and the continual banking problems, he described how the banks have been forced to take on so much extra costs such as: new regulation & controls, more audit and compliance. This has fuelled so much unnecessary bureaucracy. Deals are getting smaller, and therefore very cumbersome. He felt his talents were more and more compressed until they were simply quashed.

I noticed at the same time he felt trapped, financially too, and was unable to unleash himself. This soft voice crying out from within perhaps seeking a higher purpose yet feeling imprisoned whereby having no peace of mind. The older bankers from the baby boom generation seemed indifferent or aloof as they move closer to their retirement. With more than one secretary these persons were quite content, looking forward to their pension and playing more golf, seemingly undeterred by the banking mess they and their generation have left behind.
He described that he was not the only who felt this way and that it is a common phenomenon amongst the culture of bankers nowadays. It seems such a waste of talent in our world that great people with MBA’s from Erasmus, Solvay or London Business School, with so much experience and so much more to offer to get caught up this way, to have their aspirations crushed.
Aristotle said ‘Where talents and the needs of the world cross, therein lies your vocation’
This takes some courage to figure out. I emphasise again this importance of tapping into our talents and to link it to societies needs as it will provide us with a sense of direction, fuel our passion, unleash a drive and provide us with a sense of purpose. Take your time to re-think, listen to that ‘voice’ which is softly speaking through you and the answers will come.  If we can succeed in this challenge by then you will create a certain ease and a peace of mind and you will find a voice. You are ready to make that change and the step forward. You are ready then to conduct the ideal interview and for the perfect job. Your chances of success are high.

I remember there were times albeit rare in my career when I was introducing potentially talented individuals to employers seeking talent. In the interviews they came across as bright, totally at ease, at the same time humble and still able to sell themselves. They knew themselves well, had a focus and a sense of purpose. (A little humour is also good in interviews) Employers would give their feedback to me. ‘We want this person!’ they would say. ‘What do we need to do to get him or her on board?’ It seems ironic he or she had very little to do with the job description at hand. The employer felt the need to alter the job description considerable to fit this person’s needs and talents. Or they simply created a totally new position out of nothing. They knew that he/she would make that difference to them. They knew that he or she would add value to their company. It turned out that together they created the perfect job.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

How can I get an Interview?

Essentially it is important to sit down, spend time to think and to try to attain a deeper sense of yourself. Start by asking yourselves several questions such as: how am I able to contribute something useful into our society? With my talents and interests how can I be of value to an employer? Where can I add or improve where something else is missing or needs improving in the marketplace?  How can I make a difference? What projects or initiatives does my conscience tell me to inspire me to take action?  Once we have come up with some answers, by this we can obtain a sense of direction, a focus and possibly acquire a passion, a vision and a purpose.  After which, well, we can begin to take some action.

Our next step is to concentrate on our CV.  This is important. I have seen hundreds of CV’s of which and believe me the most part are very poorly written. There are many different ways of writing CV’s. You can see this link to my website for a generic form. Some additional comments; Have two ready, one in your own language and the other in English.  Have your CV checked by someone in the ‘know’, an expert, career counsellor or coach for example.  Your CV in most cases is the first thing your target group will see. It is you on paper and it has to be easily readable for those who read it. Keep it down to two pages maximum. Tailor it slightly when necessary according to your different target group and eliminate any form of personal pronouns. ‘I’ ‘me’ us’ ‘we’ myself, themselves etc. Finally have it ready in PDF format but beware who you send it to! A resume at the same time is a confidential piece of information and must be treated as such.

Now we come to your target companies. This is where we need to be internet savvy. Look at their websites and check their job vacancy page. Search too by typing the position you are seeking and to see who is hiring. This way you will come across interesting SME’s and start ups most you have never heard of. Take note, senior positions although fewer and far between, are rarely advertised and are often contracted outside via third parties or searched through their own network. Mid management positions are often advertised typically on job sites such as Linkedin and There are many other job sites. It is a question of really getting the hang of searching online. Get to know them. Contact a handful of mid management recruitment companies and ensure they have you in their database. There are many. For senior positions; contact headhunters familiar with your market. (there are many therefore keep to the leading ones and ensure you get a good consultant!)  Check out positions in popular national newspapers and well known business magazines. Open applications are always worth a shot; and finally, never forget your own network!

Do not be afraid to make phone calls. Try and get to the person directly and always be polite but to the point on the phone. You have a ‘voice’ and you never know, the person on the other end may like the sound of it. Covering letters if required must remain reasonably brief and again to the point. Hand written letters (which may reflect a more dedicated effort) are sadly increasingly outdated and not handled well the other end as most applications are done online.
Searching for a job can be very disconcerting and can really affect ones self-esteem. In my view, this is one of the biggest challenges a human being can face, particularly in these harder times. It can really take time. Do not despair as most people have been there in some form or another at a different stage in their career. Normally people at the other end will understand. It is only by fighting this you will reach your goal. Remain concentrated on what you have and not what you don’t have. Remain focused. Treat it as a part time job. I would advise you to hire outside expertise, a career coach or counsellor. This is to give you the extra added value, a stronger sense of direction and better self-awareness and to help you answer those questions I put across earlier on.  It can also help you instil inner belief; add extra discipline, and tips on how to market yourself, almost like building a roadmap to success. Do not be afraid to knock on doors, calling people and yes, your network. Use it!

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened’

Next blog post; How do I get the perfect job?

The basics on how to write a CV.

  • Personal details, including name, address, phone number, email address and possibly any professional social media presence. You no longer need to include your date of birth, owing to age discrimination rules
  • Qualifications and training from previous jobs, with the most recent first with dates of graduation
  • A personal profile which sells yourself and your qualities, tailored towards the job you are applying for (generic is ok)
  • Career history, starting with your most recent job first. Include dates and temporary or voluntary jobs. The company must be described if unknown and business unit if it is a large organisation. Your position must be clearly stated followed by your responsibilities.
  • Achievements from previous jobs that are relevant
  • Interests, if they are relevant and especially if the skills or teamwork concerned are relevant for the job
  • Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history, such as caring duties
  • References, ideally two or more and including a recent employer