Talking the talk - the next stages of your employment profile

Part Two: Application and interview guidance

In our last post, we covered the importance of managing your employment profile beyond your CV. In this digital age, and in your digitally enabled industry, your online persona is every bit as important in the employment process as your application and screening call. In this blog, we look beyond this digital based inspection to delve into the more traditional, and for many, more daunting parts of the process.

Stage one is done. You’ve got an updated profile with plenty of detail of your work; you're following the right people and sharing their relevant content on social and professional platforms; you’re contributing content to your community and engaged in discussions. Continue stage one and progress to stage two – applications and meeting prospective employers.

Job Applications

Steer clear of the ‘one size fits all’ approach. A referral, direct application, proactive engagement through LinkedIn or applying through a recruitment agency each require a different treatment. A general rule of thumb is to link the depth of information to the closeness of the existing relationship. The more distant, the more salient and deep the information conveyed and professional the tone.

Prioritise your experience

From the moment you begin your search, you need to be prepared to communicate your experience in a compelling manner. A connection can lead to a coffee, an email to a screening call. You need to be able to succinctly describe your job, not your job description, and the best way to do that is focus on three components:

Responsibilities & transferable skills – list the key things that you take ownership of within your current role, particularly those where you perform your best, as well as two or three things you do that may fall outside a traditional scope of your job. Highlighting skills that are not just tied to your current job but have broader use is a great way to showcase your versatility.

Projects & work stories – prepare a strong example of a work scenario that demonstrates a few of these key skills in action. Add colour, be specific and detailed in your explanation and practice telling the anecdote before your meeting, call or interview so you are clear and concise in your answer.

Achievements (preferably with numbers) – this is not about awards (although awards are good), this is about results that your work has delivered in the wider context of the team and business. These can be efficiencies, new customers, driving performance or improvement, increases and decreases; what is important to use is numbers. These are what will be recalled or noted alongside your name.

Save the in-depth explanations for the full interview but an abridged version should be prepared for the screening phone call or introductory conversations. What’s most important is ensuring that your verbal explanations centre around the content of your CV, that both are working together to build a complete picture of your skills and experience.

Here’s some top tips for interviews:

● Bring your relevant content with you to the meeting, whether it be on a laptop, a portfolio, notebook or a copy of your CV. Bring what is most appropriate to your experience and the role you are applying for, design examples or code to discuss if you are a programmer.

● Ensure you ask questions, this shows your level of interest in the role and business as well as the amount of preparation for the meeting. If you feel you haven't answered the questions with depth, ask for permission to give further detail using questions like: “Does that make sense?” or “Would you like another example?”

● Always be the best dressed person in the room.

In summary, I offer the words of an old mentor of mine, “Preparation and planning are always a great indicator of performance”.