November 25th, 2018
This means that looking for a new job shouldn’t start with browsing job boards, but by really thinking about what makes you happy. It sounds simple enough, but a lot of people miss this crucial step and waste everyone’s time applying and interviewing without getting to a positive result.
A good starting exercise is to write down all of the things you get joy from, however seemingly unrelated to your imagined career goals they may be. Then write down all of the things you think you are good at or above average in skill. You love the great outdoors, then write it down. You totally lose sense of time when trying a recipe from Tasty instagram feed, add "Love for cooking" to your list. Animals make your heart beat faster and you have sneaked in puppies and stray cats since age 3, then that should be reflected on your list.
Potentially some job titles might jump out at you right away when you look at your complete list, but even if none don’t, that’s fine. It’s important that you remember what you wrote down when continuing with your job search.
As the next step think about what you value most in your life and how that would translate to your career goals. In my experience the people who are most satisfied with their work do not divide their life into private and job related sections, but are earning money by doing things that in the bigger picture are meaningful to them. They don’t have to feel guilty when spending time working or vice versa because their overall actions aim at the same goal.
Even if your passion and goal is to create an amazing app that helps people solve some big problem, you might not be able to do it all right away. Maybe today you just don’t really have the necessary skills to do that, yet. Don’t get discouraged, just start going at it step by step. Not all jobs that we have during our careers are glamorous or high paying, sometimes it’s also smart to make a lateral career goal or even take a pay cut in order to move further faster from that point onwards.
Remember your long term goals and approach different jobs with an open mind. Look for potential not only in terms of immediate career progression (“How often are the salary reviews?”), but what you could learn from doing the work and from your colleagues you would be working with.
The number one crime when applying for jobs is not tailoring your CV to the role you are applying for. Just listing a series of seemingly unconnected roles and companies doesn’t do anyone any good. Especially if your previous career on paper doesn’t exactly match with the new role that you are hoping to start in. It’s important that when you list having worked in a specific role at a company X, you add a short sentence or two about what were your main ownership areas and try to point out how it relates to your overall skillset improvement, keeping your desired new job in mind.
The length of your career should not translate to the literal length of your CV. You should be able to fit all of the relevant information on two A4 pages. It’s understandable that the more years and overall experience you have, the more you’d like to add to your CV. You have to keep a critical mind, however. For example, how relevant do you think a 1-day leadership seminar from 15 years ago is today. Or the fact that you studied during those particular years at that particular high school.
Be more precise in describing your contribution at the past couple of companies you worked a. The ones before them you can just sum up in a paragraph. Don’t default to the copy-pasting of your responsibilities from your old contracts. Instead explain your takeaways and experiences that you still find relevant today.
In majority of companies computer literacy is expected in all roles. It’s difficult to deduct very good skills just from your application, but it’s quite easy to notice giveaways about lower level of skill.
Some basic things like your email (including the domain) should be up to date and professional looking. Even if you are applying for a role in a fun company, you will reduce your chances of getting to an interview with an email that looks like you set it up in the 10th grade.
Some other things to scrap from your CV are average knowledge of programs that are commonplace in work environment: Microsoft Office applications and internet browsers. Also, unless you are actually able to provide technical support for them, don’t list operating systems under computer skills.
There was a fad a while ago where HR professionals told you to be honest about your weaknesses, but in a way that it wouldn’t come across as actual weakness. To this day many people are listing quite absurd things under such a heading. For example, “I care too much” or “I’m a perfectionist”. On the other end of the spectrum are people who seem to be actually honest about their weaknesses, like “I’m sometimes a slow learner” or “I need to improve my XY language skill”. While honesty is admirable, then potentially in this context not doing you any good.
Be advised, however, that you also shouldn’t go too overboard with listing your strengths. If you use some fancy graphs to show how strong you are in communication, team work or more concrete skills like specific coding languages, then be humble and don’t assume you are 10/10 or even 9/10 in most of them unless you have some relevant evidence to back those numbers up.
You don’t want to be discriminated on the basis of your gender or familial obligations. Therefore please don’t include information about your age, relationship status or children in your CV.
Unless you are applying for a role where good physical form is required due to the nature of the job (for example, involving lifting heavy objects or being on your feet the whole day), don’t include information about your physique.
Review your formatting. The best way is to submit your application as PDF so your carefully constructed spacing and margins would not get skewed by the computer program the given company is using to browse through the applicants.
Also, remember to include a cover letter tailored to the specific role even if it’s not requested and spell check everything before submitting your application.
Start with understanding your own likes and dislikes, goals and dreams. Reflect back on your previous education and experiences and think about what you’ve gained from them that help you realise those aspirations. When you find a job post that speaks to you as a logical step towards your goals, make sure that whoever at the company sees your letter, they will see how much this role would mean to you.
And yes, you are able to use these pointers to „fake the enthusiasm“ to progress quite far in the hiring rounds or potentially even get the job, but in the end you are only deceiving yourself and soon it will also be visible to your colleagues and customers that you are not the right person for this job.