Sunday, October 14, 2007

How to ... pick your targets

The Simon Cowell approach.

Think of the job you want to apply for think of your skills, qualifications and experience for the job. Now Simon has the list of skills, qualifications and experience in front of him. You walk into the room and he ticks them off one by one. At the end of the interview he will either tell you, you have the job or tell you its not for you. Be honest because Simon will, are you good enough?

The reason I bring Simon Cowell into recruitment is because everyone has seen on the X-factor all those people who have deluded themselves that they are the next number 1 star and it is clear to everyone they are not. Applications are just the same, are you deluding yourself that you are the best?

The Way forward.

Create the check-list of skills, qualifications and experience for the job you want. Tick off the ones you already have, err on the side of caution or better still get someone else to objectively tick off the list.

For most jobs I recommend that you need at least half of the list ticked to stand a chance and that is just to get through to the next stage, not necessarily the job.

If you have less than half checked you have a few choices:

  • Go for a lower position and work your way up.
  • Do volunteer work in your spare time to give you some more relevant experience.
  • Study for some of the qualifications.
Keep doing all of the above while you continue to make applications. Although you will get a lot of knock backs you are gaining experience and continue to add to the ticks on the list. Sooner or later you should get where you want to go but be prepared for the long haul.

If you are not prepared for the long haul and still have less than half checked really think about whether there is any point in applying. Consider how competitive the field is as well, will there be lots of high quality applicants? Your application as well as being considered in isolation will be compared to all the other applications. Recruiters do not have time to interview everyone who meet the minimum check-list criteria.

In the UK the public sector and sometimes the private sector create the check-list for you, it is the person specification. In short-listing the person specification is just checked against the application, depending on the number of applicants and the quality a score threshold is put in place and everyone above that score is invited to interview. So the higher your score the better chance you have of being interviewed.

So the first step in an application should be about being realistic about which jobs you are going to apply for. Pick your targets and put your efforts into securing that job. The scatter gun method of applying for every job rarely works.

A good application will take time to put together and therefore you need to choose carefully which jobs you apply for, after all you do not want to waste your time do you.

Next up How to ... write a good CV

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