Fresh Career Advice That Actually Works

Archive for January, 2011

The First Step of Making a Resume Stand Out

The main CV writing principle is that in order to get noticed your CV has to stand out. Well, that’s easier said than done. Unless you’re a recruitment consultant you don’t actually get to see what the other resumes look like. It’s really hard to create something unique and memorable when you don’t know who you’re being compared to. Luckily it doesn’t have to be this way.

One option is to use a service like Razumé. It allows you to upload your CV online and get feedback from other users. Actually the best feature isn’t the fact that you can post your resume for others to review it. Instead you can view it as an excellent research tool. You’ll get a really good overview of the CVs you’re competing against.

There are currently over 5500 real CVs posted on Razumé. You can browse them by different categories (country, career field, salary range etc) and then sort by rating or number of reviews.

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Essential Advice on Networking

If you’re job hunting then networking is extremely important. Networking is developing contacts, relationships or friendships with people who can potentially help you in your job search. Therefore it’s crucial to mention your current situation whenever you’re meeting new people or for that matter communicating with old friends or former co-workers. You never know where you might find someone who can offer you useful information, advice, support, resources or referrals.

Remember networking is not just broadcasting your message. Don’t just tell what you need, be polite and listen to others, take interest in them and get to know them better. This is the only way you can establish an effective network.

Resume Business Cards

Always give your business card if you spot a possible employment opportunity. The best choice is to have a resume business card. It functions as a mini-CV. On the front it’s like an ordinary business card with your name and contacts. On the back of the card print your most vital career information. The number of years’ experience in your field of expertise, main qualifications and skills, important achievements. Include the address of your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile*. Make sure that everything’s completed and up-to-date. Now when someone becomes interested in you based on the highlights from your card he/she can immediately go online and see the full resume or a portfolio of your work and contact you.

*An additional tip: LinkedIn assigns a unique address to every profile. It looks something like this: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname/2/987/a32. This isn’t suitable for your business card. To select a new address go to Edit Profile screen and then click the Edit link. The best option is to use your full name.

How to Write an Effective Speculative Letter?

Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.

Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.

It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something) in the end of the letter.

7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:

1)    Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;
2)    Give a specific reason for writing him/her;
3)    Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;
4)    Make it clear you want a meeting;
5)    Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);
6)    Don’t attach your CV;
7)    In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.

You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.

 

How to Write an Effective Speculative Letter?

Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.

Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.

It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something”) in the end of the letter.

7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:

1) Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;

2) Give a specific reason for writing him/her;

3) Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;

4) Make it clear you want a meeting;

5) Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);

6) Don’t attach your CV;

7) In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.

You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.