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This is really special. Back in 2001 I bought a book – and it’s now leading to YOU getting something totally free. And it’s awesome.

Here’s the story: I had that desperate feeling in my job. I just couldn’t go on. I was doing well. Big clients. Good money. But man, I just felt that there was nothing in the job for me. Funny how money only goes so far to make one happy. I was working right next door to Cavendish Square shopping mall and lunch times I used to pop into Exclusive books. And one day I saw and immediately bought a book, “The Work We Were Born to Do – Find the Work You Love, Love the Work You Do” by Nick Williams. I devoured it. And the book with its inspirational quotes, ideas and guidance played a big part in helping me mould a career/job/business for myself that really is more than I’d ever hoped (not without its challenges – but that’s life!)

Now, you may know Nick Williams. He’s been to South Africa many times. He’s appeared on 3 Talk with Noleen and Carte Blanche on MNet. He runs seminars and promotes his books here. And he has a new course that he’s offering free to you. But note – it’s not for you if you love your job and you aren’t at all interested in working for yourself one day.

Sign up for it here – [please note, as with everything where writers touch on matters where they speak of the “universe”, “spirit” etc and the “purpose of life” I encourage you to look at the principles behind what’s being said, instead of taking it as religious or spiritual truth.]

Are You Sabotaging Your Self? [August 15 e-Column]

So a few weeks ago a truck rolled up and dumped 1000 pieces of firewood in one of our barns. Nice. Fires on cold nights here in Grabouw? Not quite: the wood was wet. Not damp. Wet, from the core, out. And even with firelighters, paraffin, etc it’s tough job to get a fire going. Olive comments rudely on how my rear sticks up in the air while I try to keep some flames going on.

So what’s the job hunting lesson? This: make sure you’re not sabotaging your job hunting flame with ‘wet wood’ – like a poor CV or covering letter or poor answers in an interview.

Now I’m going to give your a formula from Frank Kern and John Carlton – one of the worlds most respected advertising copywriters – to use when you write your CV and cover letter or even in interviews. This formula is really going to ‘spark’ the way you think about how you market/sell your skills in the job market.

Tell people:

1 Here’s what I got.

What are the 3 things you have (you do have more, I’m sure, but keep it simple) that should make an employer sit up and take notice? It could be a qualification, experience, some knowledge, a special ability, even an attitude … (It may not be “earth shattering” – don’t worry about that.)

2 Here’s what it’ll do for you.

You convert your skills, knowledge, qualifications into what for your employer? How are they better off with you around?

Ok, so at your next coffee break, take out a pad and brainstorm a little around those questions. See what you come up with. keep it short and punchy. Then enter them in a comment below or mail them to me – I’m going to follow up on this next week.

Personal note: Got a nice call at around 8:30 last night from a client – we rushed his CV through a few weeks ago – he was calling to say he didn’t get the job we were targeting. He got the next job up the ladder – higher than expected. He has no qualifications. Just great experience. Who says there isn’t hope for you!?
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What’s the Purpose of Your CV? Actually?

Have you ever been asked by a recruiter for “more information”. You know, besides what’s already in your CV. And it’s frustrating because, I mean, where do you stop? How much is “enough?” You’ve included good solid information in your CV. Isn’t that sufficient?

It is. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if, prior to you being interviewed, the recruiter is asking for “more information” of a general nature – other than what’s on your concise, focussed 2 page CV – the opportunity being offered is not a serious prospect for you. And the recruiter isn’t very experienced.

You’ll have to use your common sense of course. If they ask for specific details, like about your experience with a certain software package, or in a certain niche function of your job, then that may be a different matter. Your experience with the software/function may be a deal breaking/making element for the client, so they have to be sure of your depth of knowledge.

But really, it’s not hard to make a decision on whether to call you in for an interview or not. If you’re qualified for the job and you have the required experience/profile and you’re being clear and concise in your CV and cover letter, then it should be easy. What makes it difficult is if actually you’re NOT suited to the job but because they don’t have anyone suitable they’re hoping that you’ve left some critical details out of your CV.

Yep, asking for more general information perhaps betrays what the recruiter may be thinking …

“this person looks really good, they have 50% of what’s required … maybe they’ve left something important out of their 2 page CV … let me ask for more information.”

But I say, if you don’t fit, you don’t fit. Adding more 2nd or 3rd tier details is not going to swing it.

Now of course you want to indulge recruiters. They have the power, the job opening, the relationship with the client. So sometimes one has to play along and give them what they want. But here’s how I would answer the request for more “general” information –

“sure, when can I come in for an interview to give it to you”

– that’ll test whether there’s real interest or not.

Here’s something interesting written by a US “resume” writer, Robert Parker (http://resumesuccesszone.com), on the topic of what your CV or resume (for these purposes they’re the same thing) is really meant to achieve, what it’s true purpose is:

Your resume is a sales pitch designed to make a prospective employer think you’re worth their time for an interview. That’s all. It’s a single step in the hiring process designed to lead to the next step. Many people mistakenly believe that their resumes must convince a manager that they’ve got what it takes to get the prospective job done.

What he means by “convince a manager” is that from the detail alone the manager can make the final hiring decision. But you don’t get hired off your CV. It’s a powerful tool, sure. It can influence, sure. But it’s not meant to be a detailed biography, and a boring one at that, on your professional life and times with lists and lists of detail. Rather your CV is meant to enable a quick decision, in 30 seconds or even less, to call you in for an interview.

So understand the purpose of your CV. Interviews! And it’s tier 1 detail that gets that for you – qualifications, job titles, achievements, companies worked for, references (can be tricky, so be careful), and job functions (they’ll be scanning for key words). Oh, and of course, it’s all got to be presented concisely, professionally, clearly (that’s my job as a CV writer!)

[Just a memory coming back to me from my recruiting days – after interviewing someone we’d hand over the CV to a typist for typing into the ‘house’ format – we’d always assume that candidates knew nothing about CV writing and we knew everything – and we’d in one foul swoop turn the candidate into the perfect ‘average’. And because the format looked really silly with just a few details, more details were always preferred or the typist would complain. Interesting to see what may be behind the request for “more details.”]
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CV / Resume Mistake #1 and How to Fix it

Taken from an article on Yahoo’s HOT JOBS (article by Caroline Potter, expert advice by Lauren Milligan of ResuMAYDAY.) I’ve added my own boring comments.

And the thing is … I agree totally with the advice. I’m posting it because it’s good CV advice – in my CV / Resume writing practice I apply this advice all the time. So should you.

Think Big

Whatever jobs you’ve held — be it as an assistant or a CEO — think beyond the everyday tasks of your position … “People get bogged down in the day-to-day details of their jobs, but when it comes to your resume, you’ve got to get out of the clutter and ask yourself, ‘What does this work mean?’” …

… “If I’m hiring for an administrative assistant, I already know what one does. I don’t want to see a resume that only says an applicant can type and answer a phone. You have to go beyond that to point out your specific strengths.” …

Start by having big-picture conversations about what you do and how it serves the organization as a whole … “If you’re in a support position, consider how successful the person you support is and how you help her do her job better. What role do you have in her successes? Those are your accomplishments.”

This is particularly a problem in SA. We love our long lists of “Duties” and “Responsibilities” on our CV or Resume don’t we? Now I wouldn’t advise just chopping them all out. No. But by all means make it concise. Create a bulleted list of maybe 5 key duties, provide a quick overview – then move on to your achievements.

Personal Note – actually the point above is my biggest frustration with CV / Resume writing! Clients – maybe like you!! :-) – send me so much detail on “duties” I have a long hard time of simplifying it to make it concise and hard hitting. And it sometimes gives them a shock too! But that’s my job. And it results in an easier to read, more scannable, more understandable, harder hitting CV / Resume.

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Recruiting Agencies & HR: Hoy! Listen Up Here.

We is here wif “Joe” He be one job hunting brover. An’ he be tellin recruiting agencies to “lissen up.”

Ok, so maybe you didn’t get the whole “Ali G” intro. So here’s the boring version: I asked for some feedback regarding my services from my mailing list. One reader wrote back with the following about HR and recruitment/employment agents – do you agree, disagree?

1)I enjoyed the interview and CV tips.
2) The problem in your industry (job market/recruiting/HR) is that we are dependant on 3rd grade “headhunting” cowboys. If they don’t place you within 5 tries, or within two weeks, you are on the rack. (CV in the database) They only want to make a quick buck, doesn’t matter how they screw up your career path. They re-write the CV’s in their own crippled “standard” format. (I suppose that is the quickest way that they can then scan through it afterwards). They have first hand contact with potential employers, and they place the adverts. My impression is that companies prefer that agents do the screening of CV’s.
3) The companies itself get so many applications, that they never open all of the mails (CV’s).
4) The quality of the HR people are also questionable. We are in the hands of idiots.

Send your feedback to gerard@jobsearching.co.za

[Just a thought here from me – I actually totally understand why agencies do some of the things mentioned above. So I think the more interesting question is … “This is the way it is (for whatever reason), how am I going to deal with it? – so that my career path doesn’t get screwed up.”

What do you think? “Respek”
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Can You Magically Attract Money, New Job, Whatever …?

There’s some discussion going on about this topic. Can you just “think and get rich”, “think and get new job”??

Exactly how does “thinking” affect our success? Does it? Isn’t all about connections? qualifications? experience – in the case of job hunting? Or are there advantages we’re missing by sidelining this whole “law of attraction” “The Secret” thing?

And is watching the depressing daily news (Zim, political infighting, inflation, oil price, crime, interest rates, etc) also having a negative effect on our own personal performance – after all if we can “attract” good stuff we then also have the power to “attract” bad stuff.

Here’s an extract from a discussion going on on the Career&Success members only forum/community website:

1) I don’t believe things magically appear – I think that angle is just great for marketers to sell their books/dvd’s. I don’t know, I just don’t buy the whole – it’s all just energy all around us and our thoughts can spark some godlike force to start working intelligently for us with little or no action on our part.

However …

2) I DO think we grossly underestimate our own God given brain. It has enormous power. But we don’t understand it’s power. And we don’t know how to use it. And in fact our lives are filled with things that deaden it – as opposed to stimulating it. So when we start stimulating it a little things happen that seem surprising. But actually it’s no big deal – our mind has sparked ideas, we’ve taken action, our approach has perhaps been different – perhaps very subtly different – in fact we may have done nothing (on paper) that’s different, but we’ve done it with a different spirit/attitude/mental disposition.

And that has affected the way people view us, and so have responded more positively. Maybe we used different words, maybe there was a sparkle in our eyes, maybe our body language was better, whatever – it was all so subtle and under the radar we don’t even know we’re doing it – but it changes the way people respond.

Like job interviews. Sometimes I get an e-mail from a client about an job hunting situation. I can sense frustration even anger. Does that come across in an interview? It’s almost impossible to stop it. What’s the solution? Mental attitude. It needs work.

What do you think? Join the discussion. Learn. If you join with others also striving to improve their situation – everyone has a better chance of achieving their goals. There’s more power in community. It’s R30 pm. Join now. Go to www.careerandsuccess.info, get the application form, complete it, fax it back. Simple.
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Job Hunting Success Formula: Part 2 – Developed Skills, Section II of II

So yesterday (Section I) we discussed the importance of developed skills in an employer’s decision to hire you. Skills make a difference, they get his/her company from “A” to “B” or “Z”.

But in your career I think there are two set’s of “developed skills” –

  1. Those cultivated/learned in an academic/learning environment – like a learnership, apprenticeship or just by being guided by someone at work, or even just teaching oneself through trial and error. For example, I wrote a CV a few months ago for a Financial Manager of a major, high profile media organisation who has NO formal qualifications. Nothing. But he has been mentored, he’s been a good learner from more experienced people around him. So his “developed Accounting and Finance skills” are purely through experience and learning “on the job”. These are his ‘professional’ skills.
  2. And then there are other “developed skills” – these skills are of a more natural nature – learned over time – growing up, life, experience and somewhat built into our personality/natural aptitudes/character – skills that are not specific to a particular industry/job function. Like our Financial Manager – he developed an excellent knowledge of and skill with Accounting. Fine. But another skill that was as important a factor in his success was his ability to lead his team. That’s an entirely different ‘animal’. That’s not something that can be taught as successfully as the more rule driven Accounting. Leadership has much to do with character, personality, focus, courage, communication, clarity of thinking, personal confidence and mastery (excuse all the buzzwords!).

And I know that these sort of skills are underrated in a big way. How you deal with people, how you manage yourself [they (them that knows) call it “personal mastery”], how you organise yourself, how you communicate, how you learn, your attitude toward life in general – these are critically important and are also called soft skills.

Think about this: you CAN be successful with only these underrated skills with no formal/professional skills (’cause they can be learned pretty easily really), but it’s unlikely you’ll be successful with only formal/professional/hard skills with none of those other softer skills in place (which are really tough to learn).

Tip: many employers look just for a great attitude with strong learning ability.

So how do you develop these? Tough question. You can take all sorts of courses on these soft skills BUT as Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” will tell you, it’s more about attitude than “ok, do a, b and c and you’ve got them.” Some would say you’ve either got the right attitude or not. But I think they can be learned. Here’s what occurs to me – it’s a bit ‘out there’ but believe me when I say there’s more than you can imagine in it: start by cultivating the rare quality of humility.

What do I mean by “humility” – bear with me here. It means you should be aware that there’s a lot to learn; it’s a big wide world and although you’re great, you’re not the centre of it; be willing to learn; be willing to follow instructions; appreciate what others teach you; ask questions; be eager to please; be somewhat in awe of knowledge and experience; show respect; treat people in a way that shows you think they have great value; be interested in them.

In these things are the roots of greatness. Humility – not allowing everyone to just tramp all over you or being cowering – but having a plan to improve your situation and understanding that learning from others, communicating with others, showing appreciation and respect is a key to that.

It’s the key to those softer skills that underpin true success. By the way, our Financial Manager mentioned above – what a great, humble guy, full of praise to the people who’ve taught him what he knows. No wonder he’s done so well. And no wonder people have been willing to give him a chance and been willing to teach him.

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Job Hunting Success Formula: Part 2 – Developed Skills, Section I of II

In the search for an employee, obviously, an employer looks for skills. Not just skills in word. But skills in deed. Actual work you are able to do (preferably well). You can do something, something of some value. You can drive. You can operate a forklift. You can inspire and motivate a team. You can keep the company’s books of account. You can sell.

Whatever career skill it is – you can come in to their company and solve a problem or help the company to progress toward its targets in some way – or prevent it from going under in some way.

A Plumber will make sure that water runs to the factory to cool the machines. A Financial Manager will make sure debtors pay up, creditors are paid in time, money is wisely invested, finance is secured, profits are protected, costs are kept low, etc.

Some careers/positions focus more on expert knowledge – but in any case applying that knowledge is a skill on its own.

The ‘nub’ is this: your ‘skills’ must translate into benefits to your employer. Having said that, it is true that some employers look for potential – with prior learning/qualifications being a strong indicator that you have the needed potential – and then they train you in the actual doing of the job to meet their requirements. To be honest however, they usually look for some developed skills to already be present.

Okay, it all starts then, by having skills in the first place. So … do your utmost to learn some! You could take a course in your desired field, get some qualification. But as much as theory has its place, remember the employer is looking for skills – you coming in, doing a ‘job of work’, making a difference, taking some task from “A” to “B”.

Develop a career mindset of always learning. But don’t forget that knowledge isn’t skill. Developing skill takes practice. Field work. Getting your hands dirty. Trial and error. Being in the trenches. Making mistakes! Learning from mistakes! Correcting mistakes! Trying not to make the same mistake! It means being involved in something on a regular basis. And it also means having some successes to speak of.

So when you’re learning, ask: what skills am I developing?

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re studying Accounting, are you doing the books for 2 or more small businesses in your neighbourhood part time?
  • If you’re studying motor mechanics – are you busy ‘pimp my ride-ing’ a ’78 Chevvy, just for the experience?
  • If you’re studying Financial Analysis – are you keeping track of your own JSE/NYSE/Nasdaq portfolio of shares?
  • Are you studying HR Management? Are you working part time to assist 2 or more small companies with their HR issues?

Or … if you’re already in a job or career: what new skills are you developing? What skills look like they’re going to be needed in the future? What skills are in short supply? Are you adding to what you’ve got? Or are you looking for ways to do what you do better than ever?

By doing the above you’re developing skills. And because skills are valuable to employers – you’re making yourself more valuable to them. And if you’re more valuable, you’re more marketable – you’ll find it easier to find and keep work, and you’ll earn more.

But there’s another kind of skills you also need to develop. More on them tomorrow.

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Have you enjoyed this article? If so please do 2 things: 1) Share it – click the ‘green thingy’ button below and you’ll easily be able to send it to friends via email or even Facebook; 2) And join the exclusive Career&Success community – the place for info, ideas, support and a network of friends to give you the spark you may be lacking right now. www.CareerAndSuccess.info