Graham Bassett has spent some 25+ years in the security recruitment sector and is Managing Director of GBRUK Recruitment. Graham is also Vice Chairman of ASIS UK, Chairman of the London Project Griffin Executive Board and is involved in various other industry initiatives.
Gain a competitive edge when going for a new job, when networking, in your CV and at interview, by developing Brand You.
Developing your network is a key to reaching out to as wide an audience as possible and in turn increasing your visibility in the market place.
Networking has many elements and comes in many guises; however, the overriding factors are how you are seen, how often you are seen, where you are seen and your contribution to the relationship. Remember, people buy people and given the choice would rather work with/be with genuine people who are selfless in their approach.
Social media can also provide a substantial and positive contribution to Brand You; however, in equal parts it can be a minefield and damaging to your reputation – a measured and circumspect approach would be recommended.
Two other critical areas of Brand You are your CV and Interview preparation.
There is a vast amount of information and opinion available on CV writing, content, style and length, which at times can be conflicting and confusing. However, if we look to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) for sage advice, they would recommend the following:
Highlight titles and main headings in bold. Keep the order chronological. If you have little work experience, you can put your academic qualifications first. If you’ve been working, put your academic history towards the end.
Don’t try to reduce the font size to 8 point and reduce margins to fit it all in.
Only include what’s really necessary to get you the job.
No recruiter wants to read an 8-page CV, so make it short and sharp. Keep the number of pages to two or less.
Spelling and grammar
Always check your spelling and grammar. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a CV with lots of errors. Spell-check your CV and ask someone else to read it over.
Make your contact details clear so recruiters know how to contact you. Many recruiters have problems finding email addresses or phone numbers on CVs.
Adapt your CV
Don’t send the same CV to every employer. Think about the organisation you’re applying to and what they’re looking for; then change your CV to match. For example, if they’re looking for someone with experience of leading teams, include details of that in your CV.
If the job you’re applying for requires particular qualifications, highlight those on your CV. If the role doesn’t require specific qualifications, don’t list every grade you received at school and university.
Write about more than the responsibilities you held in each work experience role. Provide details about what you achieved, including figures and statistics if you can. For example, saying you implemented a graduate programme that increased applications by 50% looks much better than a bullet point confirming the fact you managed graduate programmes.
Recruiters have differing views on personal statements. Some like them, others don’t. If you want to include one, don’t just write a statement such as: ‘I’m a results-driven professional with excellent communication skills.’ Think about what the organisation wants and how you can highlight your skills for the role in a short paragraph. For example, ‘I’m a reward specialist with two years’ experience in a medium-sized organisation. I am experienced in linking reward strategy to business needs to engage and reward our people in line with their performance.’
The CIPD also has a CV guide for young people which can be found on their web
site (along with a wealth of other useful information). www.cipd.co.uk
Remember you only have one chance to create a first impression.
Before the Interview
- Be certain you are interested in the role.
- Make sure you understand the job description – you could be asked to explain your understanding of the position.
- Research the company (and possibly who you are meeting), establish what you can about them, their clients and their market etc. It’s good to show an interest and that you have made the effort to do so.
- Prepare your questions and notes in advance – look at how your experience and skills are relevant to and complement the job description.
- Read and re-read your CV. It is vital you are familiar with the content.
- Your CV will be the basis for discussion at the interview and you could be questioned on any aspect. Ensure you have at least two copies of your CV with you. If possible, practise your interview questions/technique with somebody beforehand.
- Work out how you are going to get to the interview – is there parking? where is the nearest train/underground station? how long will it take? – factor in rush hour and if possible do a dry run beforehand so you know exactly where you are going.
- Remember the Five Ps (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance).
Day of the Interview
- Ensure you have the name, address and contact number of who you are seeing.
- Ensure you know how you are getting there and by what mode of transport, and make sure you have factored in rush hour.
- Get there early; you may even establish there is a coffee place nearby where you could go through your CV, notes and questions again one last time.
- Think about what you are wearing to your interview (is it business smart and appropriate?).
- Try not to have a cigarette just before you go in for your interview or, if you do, don’t go in smelling like you have just had a cigarette – do take some mints with you.
- Ensure your mobile phone is switched off or on silent!
- When you meet your interviewer a firm positive handshake and eye contact is important. Remember that communication is made up of 55% body language, 38% of how you say it and just 7% of what you say!
- Be prepared to give a summary of your career and, equally importantly, how you believe your experience matches the job requirements. What difference and contribution could you bring to the organisation, either immediately or in the long-term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential?
- Don’t waffle and if you don’t understand a question, say so and just ask them to repeat it.
- Be enthusiastic (it’s infectious) and try to avoid just yes/no answers to questions.
- Before the interview ends make sure you have mentioned all of your relevant experience, have asked your questions and covered all that is important. Sometimes interviewers may not have covered everything in their questioning and not all interviewers’ style or technique will be the same (and not all interviews are structured/competency based interviews).
- At the end of the interview ask the interviewer what happens next; if you are still interested in the role then make them aware and tell them!
- If you have the interviewer’s contact details, either send them an email and/or a letter within 24 hours saying that you enjoyed meeting them, reiterate your interest in the role and working with them/their organisation and that you look forward to hearing from them (keep it brief and relevant) as discussed.
In summary, Brand You will always be a work in progress and continually evolving – and, as Tom Peters would say – “You are your story, so work on it.”