How to land that all-important job interview

Keep getting slammed with rejection letter after rejection letter? There's no silver bullet, but here are five steps to take to boost your chances.

 Keep getting slammed with rejection letter after rejection letter? There's no silver bullet, but here are five steps to take to boost your chances. 

tony wai crackerjack consulting how to get a job interview

Time and time again, we stare blankly at our CVs, (with quite an impressive range of previous employment I might add) asking ourselves what we're doing wrong Why not me? Do I not have the right 'look'? Do you not like the font? Is my work experience just not sufficient?

While there is no clear answer as to why the rejection letters continue to arrive in our inboxes, there are a number of things you can do that will significantly enhance your chances of securing that opportunity to impress in an interview.

Competition for sought-after jobs is still fierce and with an unrelenting unemployment rate stabilising at 6.8 percent in the second quarter of 2012, people are seeking more innovative ways to stand out from the crowd. Even today, it’s not uncommon to receive over 50 applications from one job posting.

According to the Department of Immigration, New Zealand has a long term skill shortage in senior technical roles across the engineering, health, ICT and science industries. Well, I’m not sure about you, but I certainly don’t fit into any of those categories, and neither do a lot of the other professionals desperately sending their CVs out in hopes of securing a job.

So what can you do to stand out? How can you become a 'crackerjack'?

Position your skills effectively

It’s important to get the foundations right. I just cannot stress this enough. Take a look at yourself and pinpoint where your strengths are in terms of your skills, experience and qualifications/training.  If you can’t come up with anything, then ask a previous manager or tutor. When you have a clear direction in mind and know the types of jobs you want to target, you can craft a CV that articulates all the ‘good stuff’ you have to offer in this area.

Write a good CV

With so many resources offering conflicting advice on CV writing, it can be hard to know where to begin on this, especially if you haven’t updated your CV for a while.

It’s as easy as KISS - keep it simple, stupid!

When recruiters and employers open your CV they want to know who you are, understand the experience you’ve had and the skills you’ve picked up along the way.

I would encourage the following structure for a CV (from the top down):

* Titled with Curriculum Vitae and your full name and contact details

* Include a Personal Profile that outlines your industry and professional experience, a “snip-it” on your personality and the type of role you’re targeting

* List your Career History experience (including employment dates, name of employer and role title) in chronological order

* Key business and technical skills can then be listed and professional associations and education/training details come next

* Feel free to list one or two hobbies toward the close of your CV. Employers will get a feel for the type of person you are and if you will fit in with their organisational culture

* Ask your referees if they are happy to be contacted  and list their details last

* Keep your CV professional. Use black Arial or Verdana font on white paper and appropriately space between the different sections

* Tailor your CV to every position you apply for. The job ads aren’t the same, so don’t make your CV. Match your current skills to what the position requires

Another question that gets raised regularly is whether to include a photo or not. My preference is not to, but if this is something you prefer, make sure that it’s a professional colour headshot and place it on the front page of your CV.

Be proactive – network

Yes – I know that the word ‘networking’ sends some people running in the opposite direction, but this is a key element to coming across job opportunities.  New Zealand is a small country, and unfortunately it sometimes comes down to who you know and not what you know.

Solution: Create a LinkedIn profile.

Thanks to social media, people are networking more and more online. Having a LinkedIn profile is essential in the professional world; making sure it is kept up to date is equally important. One of the nifty things you can do with LinkedIn is updating your status – and if you have a decent network size this is a useful way of letting your colleagues know that you’re seeking a new position. For obvious reasons this may not be applicable to you if you’re currently in work, but is great if it’s not a ‘hidden fact’.

Make use of the group function – search for relevant groups in your industry and join them.  You’ll open yourself up to new contacts in your industry and have the freedom to post comments and news stories. Posting relevant information and blogs in these groups is a way of establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry, a valuable position to have.  You’ll also stumble across job postings you might not have previously seen.  It’s a no brainer, if you ask me.

Use a creative combination of channels to get your name out there

Job alerts are the internet’s way of giving you exactly what you want without having to do anything. Set them across major job boards.  You’ll get a daily email with the new listings specific to your job interest – perfect!

Sign up to recruitment agencies! I know it can be a long process, but if you’re desperate then you’re in no position to be picky.  Be specific and research what job portals are available in your profession/industry.

Follow up

Don’t be afraid to follow up on your application. A call or email approximately seven days after the application only takes a few minutes, but it’s worth finding out whether you are successful or need to cut your losses.  Most recruiters and employers will get back to you, but it pays to be proactive and contact them first to make sure your application is reviewed.
Now you’re ready to hit the ground running, and when you finally do get that all important interview …. well, that marks the start of a whole new ball game.

 Tony Wai is the managing director of professional recruitment/contracting agency Crackerjacks Contracting

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