Survey Results

Dont’ you hate it when you find out you what you were doing was a waste of time? You climbed the ladder … but it was against the wrong wall! (To borrow a Covey analogy.)

You used the “Magic Drops” you saw advertised on TV to lose weight, but actually the “lose weight” part wasn’t in the drops, but in the “calorie controlled diet” mentioned the very small print – in the part where it said “Only effective as part of a calorie controlled diet.”

Your ladder was against the wrong wall!

And so it is with job hunting. It’s why I did a survey a number of weeks ago about how people actually find the jobs they’re in. In other words, when job hunting, what building or wall should you put your ladder up against.

Here are the results:

How did you find your current or most recent job?

  • Option 1 – Job search website (like CareerJunction, PNet, etc)
    8% Answered “yes”
  • Option 2 – Employment/Personnel Agency, Labour Broker
    17% Answered “yes”
  • Option 3 – From a newspaper job ad placed by the company
    17% Answered “yes”
  • Option 4 – Via a referral from a friend/colleague/family member
    51% Answered “yes”
  • Option 5 – Through you approaching the company directly
    7% Answered “yes”
  • Option 6 – Via LinkedIn or Facebook or other social networks
    0% Answered “yes”

I have to say I was surprised. For some reason I thought that more would have said “yes” to personnel agencies. You and others who receive and respond to this e-column are quite sophisticated with technology, educated, and most live in the corporate world. I would have thought that they have success with agencies more than most.

But instead the “via a referral from a friend, etc” option secured more “yes” votes than all other methods put together! Astonishing.

So are you looking for a job? What are you doing to canvas your contacts? It’s likely where your next job lies waiting for you.

By the way … in my Career & Success INNER CIRCLE members only website I have a programme called “Get a Job Fast” and it provides you with all the tools, examples, scripts you need to find a job via your ‘network’. It’s all made very easy for you, even natural, none of the awkwardness that many associate with it.

See an application form here.


Jailbird Job Search Secret

I took this from a site specializing in advising jailbirds how to find jobs.

I figured that if they can find a job … anyone can. And there’s something to be gained from how they do it.

From the website, the advice is simple, and universally true.

Here is the Secret

1. Show up – If you just show up, you will be in the top 25% of all job seekers

2. Show up with a plan – If you show up with a plan, you will be in the top 15% of all job seekers

3. Show up with a plan and work it – By showing up with a plan and working the plan, you will be in the top 10% of all job seekers!

So, do YOU show up? (In what shape?) Do YOU have a plan? (Is it working for you?) And, do YOU work that plan? (Or does it involve sitting, waiting, hoping?)

It reminds me of this quote:

“With practice and attention, we can learn to put ourselves right side up regardless of external circumstance.”

Yes, even a jailbird can go get a job. It takes showing up, a firm plan, and the willingness to work that plan. But if he does eventually he’ll find himself “right side up.” Why? Because he’s learned to own his job hunt. He’s responsible for the results.

You’re probably not a jailbird. You have more going for you. Don’t get discouraged. Things will will work out well if you follow the 3 steps above. Learn to own your job hunt. Master it. Make it your bold magnificent mission. Do it as if the whole world was judging you on it.

See how the results will flow in.

If you need a plan see

Classic Job Search Moment – CV Related

Just had one of those “what?!!” moments when reviewing a new clients CV.

Caveat: Client is a good guy, but not the greatest knowledge of ‘managing perception’ – which is kinda what marketing, sales and CV writing is all about.

He included the following on his CV:

  • Designed prisons back in the 70’s (in South Africa)
  • Managed the design and set up of death row cell blocks
  • Designed the gallows infrastructure

Sheeesh! And add to that the facts that he has a very Afrikaans cultural name and his age and we’re … edited … (not positive stuff, guaranteed).

So it’s my job to fix it. Looking forward to it. People have value. But not always a past that places focus on it. And even worse, the past may prejudice readers. Not great in a tight economy. Smarter tactics required.

The CV How-Much-Detail-is-Enough? Dilemma. 4 Insights.

Y’know, the dilemma, more detail? Less? How much is enough?

So, yesterday I wrote a CV for a General Manager, working in a JSE listed Group, GM of a division with a Rkazillion turnover. And he had included tons of detail in his old CV. And it made me think.

By the way, the principles I’m gonna share here apply equally if you’re an Admin Clerk or MD. So ‘lissen up’. One of his points – in his 13 page, 25 year career long CV – was this detail (to take a simple example):

“Prepared and coordinated the annual budgets on a zero base budget method”

Now for what he’s aiming at (GM, Managing Director, etc type positions) is that going to help him get where he’s going? I don’t think so. It’s too much detail – going down to that level of detail across his last 10 years would require many tedious pages – which would have an overall uuugly effect on his ‘impact – boom, boom’ rating. Yep, maybe he wouldn’t make the impact he could have with a more punchy, concise document.

So where do you draw the line in terms of how much detail goes in a CV? A couple of things come to mind:

1. Is the specific detail really that special? Or is it assumed? Take our GM – budgeting is pretty much an assumed function/skill (especially considering his Financial background). That he did budgeting is unlikely to impress anyone. That he applied a certain methodology is perhaps even more un-important. It’s not going to twist anyone’s arm into calling him in for an interview. Right? It’s not a deal-breaking detail.
2. It’s about results. One makes decisions about what to include or not based on what the position being applied for asks for and will ask for in the way of results. Again take the GM. He’s being – no doubt – asked to increase revenue, improve efficiency in service delivery, reduce costs, etc. So really focus has to be on that stuff – how he’s performed those tasks/challenges before. And the results achieved. One doesn’t want to dilute those aspects of the message by detail that may be 2nd or 3rd tier in importance.
3. But (there always is one) – but perhaps in a certain profession knowledge of certain methodologies, practices or legal frameworks IS of critical importance. They’re fundamental to whether you’re a suitable candidate or not. That’s another clue to whether detail should be included or not: if it IS fundamental (tier 1) then it should appear.
4. A good clue – what is your tier 1 detail? Look at the job ad for clues. Years of experience, qualifications, and job titles are big ones. Do they stand out on your CV – or do they kinda get diluted, buried, lost in pages of detail. Your tier 1 detail should be page 1, paragraph 1, line 1. Seriously. Not stretched out over 10 pages.

Sometimes in a CV – I see it in my CV writing Clients all the time – the response of the writer is to pack in the detail, sometimes desperately giving the impression that “this little detail may tip the scales in my favour”. But usually it won’t. Recruiters are influenced by simpler things.

As in the case of the GM at the start:

“10 Years as GM in a R300ml pa Company; Recent Achievements Include Turning a Division around from a R5ml loss to a R2.1ml Profit; BComm Hons Degree etc.” (the “etc.” is not advised – but you get the drift, right)

For the right position, that alone will have a recruiter scampering for the phone. Will adding “zero base budgeting” make them run faster? No. (BTW : I wrote a great CV for him. And I can for you too. Ask for the info – send me a mail or visit

Career Q&A: Changing Career at 54

Got an email to day from “T” regarding her wanting to change careers at age 54. Here’s her question:

Hi Gerard

I would like to pursue a career change. I have a Diploma in Office
Administration and a B. Tech in Commercial Administration. I have
worked as a secretary for +- 10 years in the same educational
institution. My interest is in Travel & Tourism certificate/diploma. My
concern is based on the following problems of my own:

  • My age, I am 54 years old, am I not too old for the change.
  • Will I still get a suitable job at my age.
  • Will it be a wise change?

Please advise.

Okay, so here’s my answer. More information required by here’s what I had to say.Thanks for your question.

Tough situation. However you do have in your favour:

  • strong qualifications
  • good solid experience

So that’s a start. Good people with a stable, competent background are always valuable.

But now regarding the career change.

I would say that a drastic change, a “start from the bottom” change is not a good idea. From what I know about the environment (Travel) it’s high energy, very sales oriented. So some questions:

  • Is this really what you want?
  • What position/role exactly are you thinking of chasing?
  • Is there any way in which you can combine your admin/secretarial background INSIDE a company offering a speciality Travel Desk service?
  • What is it about the travel industry that excites you, is motivating your desire for a change.
  • Have you already done the Travel diploma?
  • Will it be a wise change? Who can tell??! But be cautious, don’t make any quick decisions. Do your homework. Try meeting with some Travel people to see what your options are, what role you’re aiming for, see what day-to-day activities you’ll be performing (sometimes we glamorize a certain industry, when really there’s another side to it all).

So these are some of the questions you should get back to me with and that have a bearing on your situation. Also of course is your financial position. Maybe you can afford to make a drastic change. If you’re doing this for the passion then that’s another matter. (I am assuming with this answer however that this is not the case.)

Just had another idea. Do you know anyone who – or can you find anyone who would like to go into business. You can handle the Admin side – setting up systems, policies, procedures and processes, and they can perhaps supply the Travel experience. Or can you join such a company lacking those skills (strong administration). You will also bring the added benefit of higher BEE rating.

Getting such an opportunity however will require you to market yourself directly to possible Travel Companies/Targets. [You can get great help with that in my online guerrilla job search coaching program.]

What You Need to do in This Job Market

Here are some interesting observations from someone who deals with job hunters on a daily basis. She is a full time resume/CV writer and correctly comments on how the job market is much less ‘scientific’ – ie predictable, organized, rule oriented than you may imagine. Anything can happen. Her name is Eve Nicholas and here’s the extract from her article:

I don’t need to tell you that the recession has caused a significant change in the job market. I’m sure that you read the monthly statistics on unemployment, and many of you have first-hand experience with layoffs and hiring freezes. But, as I mentioned, my work gives me a unique vantage point into employment trends (and into the lives of job hunters).

Here are a few of my observations:

  • People land jobs in all economic conditions. Even this one. Every week clients talk to me about pending interviews, job offers and new positions. The hiring pace may be slower than it was in the past, but the market is alive and kicking.
  • Job seekers have a lot of questions. Most of the time, they want to know the ‘rules’ of job searching, and the ‘right’ way to proceed on their career path. Here is my typical response: With only one exception, there are no hard-and-fast rules and no right answers in job hunting. Figure out what works best for your situation, and go with it. Here’s the one exception: Never lie.
  • Most employers look for motivated, likeable people to join their teams. They also appreciate a good deal. Show them that you will bring a positive attitude to the workplace while improving the bottom line, and you’ll have a great shot at landing a new position.
  • The more effort you put into your search, the faster you’ll land a new job. If you shuffle out your resume to every employer with an e-mail address, you can expect the process to last a very long time. On the other hand, if you research companies, network and improve your presentation, you’ll make an impact with hiring managers. Put in the effort. You’ll stand out from the crowd.

I think she’s on the money. And yet from what I’m seeing – CVs being sent to me for eg – is how people – maybe you? – aren’t really trying to do anything different. Quite likely they don’t know what to do differently. That ends now: go to my new ‘guerrilla’ job search coaching program where you get personal help with your job search.

Job Application Response Within 10 Minutes? How? [April 2 eColumn]

A reply within 10 minutes of sending job application? How?

Last year I wrote a CV for a South African living and working in the Middle East. She’s into IT system integrations and Finance etc. So yesterday she e-mails me in a panic: she’s applying for a job in Singapore and is trying to put a cover letter together, “can you help?”

She’d written a letter but she wasn’t happy with it. And when I read it, to me, it was a bit clumsy and didn’t do much to convey the value and high quality that she represented.

So I rewrote it in about 10 minutes and sent it back to her, and went out to an appointment. When I got back there was an e-mail from her:

“I just sent off your cover letter version & got a response within 10mins.”

What was it that helped get that kind of response? 3 Things, I think.

1. A recruiter who could read. And who received the e-mail at a convenient moment. And who received the e-mail at a time when the position being applied for was on his/her mind, or something of a priority.

[From this you’ll see there is a lot that’s left to chance. It’s NOT like “if you do it THIS way – you’ll get a certain result” – although there are good and bad ways of doing things, there are many uncontrollable factors, which is why persistence is so important.]

2. Our job applicant was actually great for the job – that always helps! She has the experience, qualifications and has been trusted by good companies in doing her job.

[BUT – what so many good people do is to hide their ‘great’ profile away. They do so by never actually saying that they’re great for the position. They spread their message over 8 pages of CV, 2 page-long cover letters, 10 line paragraphs – just too many words, too many pages. Never really getting to the point.]

3. My version of the cover letter got to the point and used the following formula:

  • Clearly established the job being applied for [I used a bold heading for this]
  • Used a 3 point bulleted list then to present the ‘hard’ items that would impress. Started the list with the word “offering”. Makes sense … the reader wants to know, “what are you offering me?? tell me now or go away”
  • I went completely without the following: promises to “revolutionize” the company and bring in “higher profits”. Those may well be the end result – but come on, it sounds too much like sales talk. Sometimes its appropriate. Absolutely. But when there are ‘hard’, good skills, qualifications and experience then that’s what needs to feature strong. It’s about establishing credibility. That’s what gets the calls and quick response.

[Reality check – remember what I said earlier – “there are many uncontrollable factors” – just because you’re the best person for the job, doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job! Just because you have a great cover letter, doesn’t mean you’ll get the quick response. There’s all sorts of ‘stuff’ that goes on. So again, persistence is crucial – it’s the big equalizer! (For “persistence” read, “keep trying, keep improving, keep targeting”)]

Here’s the actual letter (without the frills, etc)

Application for Position: Great Plains Consultant – Singapore

Offering …

  • 9 Years International Experience in ERP Consulting and Implementation Roles – Delivering Projects and Reporting in at CFO and SVP of Finance Level
  • In depth knowledge of Great Plains Dynamics and Microsoft Business Solutions – Certified Great Plains Consultant, and MCSE
  • Strong Management, Technical, Business and Training Skills Supported by a BComm Accounting Degree and Advanced IT Training and Knowledge

Now, don’t try to copy this letter – it was right for her, it won’t necessarily be for you. But pay good attention to the principles outlined above. Then tailor your letter to suit if you have a similar situation. One other thing was that I had the advantage of seeing the job advert first – which gave some insight on what they were looking for.

So there are some ideas on how to get quick response from your job applications. Hope it works for you. “Keep trying, keep improving, keep targeting.”

Interesting Things – if you’re under debt pressure go here. On the site it says: “No more letters you are too scared to open. No more phone calls you are too nervous to answer. Dealing with the problem rather than ignoring it gives you an instant feeling of relief.” They can help.