If I knew I could get a better job – I’d leave this one.

I was talking last month to Ray Dance. Ray qualified as an engineer but helping other people find a job has become his ‘better job’. He’s so good at it that he won’t charge for his help if you don’t get offers.

A lot of people, and most recruitment agencies, see a job that might do and bang off a CV. What I call ‘CV Roulette’. You’ll be lucky if your number comes up. For those used to writing proposals to win work – you have to treat each opportunity as an ITT. For those not – you have to give the process of applying your best thinking.

Here’s Ray’s process:

Start by collecting ads, online or off, for jobs that you like the look of and that you could do. When you’ve got about 20, figure out what that tells you about your skills, experience and interests. Sounds boring and you probably think you know the answers already but it’s a commonplace that we don’t know ourselves as well as we think. We need an outside source like this, or a trusted friend. (How often have you been told that you’re good at something and suspected it was just flattery?)

Now, for each new job ad, score it for its fit against what you’ve found out. You can use a spreadsheet if you like them, and anything that scores 80%+ you go for. Drop the others. And make a note of the agencies/companies that are behind the ads you keep – those are the ones that handle your kind of job and that it’s worth sending your CV to ‘on spec’.

BUT not before you’ve rewritten your ‘standard’ CV to absolutely reflect the skills, experience and interests that you nailed in the ‘20’ exercise. And don’t tell the reader that you have those attributes, write up a story for each and let the readers deduce that you are a ‘great team player, communicator etc’. (Anyone who puts that kind of stuff in their Personal Statement deserves to be ignored along with all the others who put exactly the same. Who invented that stupid idea?)

Now that you’ve rewritten your CV, get used to rewriting it again and again. For every job ad that passes the ‘20’ test you try to figure out the things they are looking for. Not easy, as most ads are busy telling you how great the company is. So research the company as well, and do some guessing. Then rewrite your CV to absolutely reflect … Getting the picture?

Most agencies/companies won’t respond to a CV sent on spec but those that do – call them up, develop a relationship. They are the ones who are interested in your qualities and have clients who are too. Agencies are interested in making money from placing you. With any luck you’ll find a couple that will keep your file active and be marketing you.

And then the interviews – yippee! OMG. Steady, they want you to succeed. And many is the interview that has turned out an enjoyable informal chat for both parties. Unfortunately they may not have found out what they needed to and you didn’t show how well you fitted. So you go in clutching the list of, guess what? The things that you’ve got that they are looking for, so you can bring the interview back on track. And make sure you have another story for each of them.

And then the offers. Yes, really. Ray helped a friend of mine get three offers that arrived in the same week. Which highlights the last point: keep filling the pipeline with prospects and keep everything on the boil. My friend was very excited about Offer 1, not Offer 2 and lukewarm about Offer 3. Offer 1 withdrew and Offer 2 came through with a better job. What if he’d turned them off?

That better job is out there for you!

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