Tuesday 29 Sep, 2015
With 8 applications for every vacancy*, competition for jobs is tough. We look at the skills and tools that can help give you the edge at interview
1. Career Coaching
Career coaches look at your career, skills, experiences and interests and then help you figure out what you could be doing and how to get there. If you can’t afford professional coaching, it’s still worth talking to friends and colleagues and asking their perspective.
2. Advice from a Recruitment Consultant
Recruitment consultants usually have a really good knowledge of their market and the skills and experiences that are in demand. A good one should be able to look at your CV and advise you about the kinds of roles you might be suitable for – as well as how to present yourself in the best light.
3. A CV and Social Media Makeover
Too many people treat CVs like banks: they choose one when they’re 18 and stick with it for life. CVs are more like clothes: you need to refresh your wardrobe from time to time and choose something appropriate for each occasion. Every few years, you should do a new CV from scratch, creating a master version that you can then adjust to each application. Your social media presence needs to be regularly updated, too.
4. Interview Training
Being good in interviews isn’t a talent; it’s a skill to be learnt. Crucially, even a few hours’ practice can make a huge difference. Many organisations offer interview skills courses, but you can still benefit from getting a friend to do a mock interview before a job to help you rehearse some answers. Of course, there’s no substitute for the real thing, so think hard before you turn down an interview – at worst, it could be good practice.
Clothes matter: not just because they are a big part of the impression you make on interviewers, but because they affect how you feel about yourself. You don’t have to throw money at it; just ask a friend to look at your interview outfit and let you know if it’s appropriate for the job. Sometimes an upgrade – different shoes or a new shirt – is all it takes.
Don’t assume the person interviewing you will have a copy of your CV with them. Always take a print-out, as well as a pen and paper for notes. If there’s something you want to refer to online – a presentation, your portfolio or LinkedIn page, for example – either check beforehand that a computer will be available or, if you can, take a laptop or tablet with you.
If all this seems like a lot of work, remember this one thing: preparation shows and it impresses people. A few hours getting ready for each interview is about the most cost-effective investment you’ll ever make in your career.