In my last article I spoke about evaluating your talent selection system to make sure each step along the way helps you identify, source and hire the very best candidates, both for the role and for your culture. Probably the very best place to begin is in how you compile your job descriptions, as these will form the basis for how and to whom you target your advertising, as well as for your interview questions and selection decisions.
Crucial in helping you attract the right people, well compiled job descriptions have an ongoing purpose throughout the employment lifecycle, so it’s worth time upfront getting them right. They give both the employee and the line manager a reference point for the responsibilities and level of performance expected from the role.
Here are the essentials you should include in each job description:
What to avoid
Your job descriptions will form the basis of your job advertisements. Many job postings start with the company description instead of speaking directly to the job seeker. Remember, this is your sales pitch to potential candidates, with the hope that you land your company’s next star employee. So instead, begin with an attention-grabbing first paragraph that clearly states who you’re looking for, what they’ll be doing, and why they should want the job.
Using job descriptions will help you better understand the experience and skill base needed to enhance the success of the company. If I can assist in any way, please get in touch.
The most successful companies pinpoint critical success factors for their business and plan their workforce around these core objectives. Line managers identify how their department can contribute to achieving the larger corporate goals and then identify the roles and competencies required. This approach to talent management allows companies to identify which skills they need more of now, which they’re likely to need in the future, and how they address and rectify any gaps. It also allows organisations to plan adequately for talent attraction in a market where power is returning to the job seeker.
Once you have your business strategy locked down begin by looking at the key skills required to ensure business objectives are continuously met. Be sure to regularly review them – your company and industry will evolve and so will the skills required. You don’t want to be hiring ‘key’ people only to see their expertise become redundant within a matter of months. Next, do a skills gap analysis to show where you are exposed. Identifying those gaps early will help your talent acquisition team map the market to determine where that talent currently sits, how big a potential candidate pool there is and where the potential obstacles might arise, e.g. location. At the same time, develop an internal mobility and succession plan to ensure good people are being utilised optimally. Consider the current make up of your workforce: level, length of service, skill set, diversity metrics, potential, performance, ambition. This is not only a great motivator for existing key people but also acts as a retention tool. And then, plan for attrition. By forecasting future leavers it helps leaders plan accordingly for any skills gaps and back-fill appropriately, and in good time.
These are some of the questions to ask during the alignment of talent development to strategic objectives:
Talent acquisition needs to be viewed as strategic rather than operational. It’s essential, therefore, that your talent acquisition team has strategic strength and really understands your business and your objectives. If they do, they can be creative in developing and implementing a variety of sourcing plans defined by the variable parameters that matter most, for example:
Business critical needs
As always, if we can assist in any way, please get in touch.
Every time you apply for a job you have the chance to stand out and to catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter. However, in most cases yours will be only one in a pile of CVs on the desk of a time-strapped executive so if it is unremarkable, irrelevant to the position or riddled with errors, you stand every chance of being rejected for the position. No matter whether this is your first job search or you are fairly high up on the ladder after a career studded with successes, you will benefit from setting some time aside to put together a professional and carefully considered CV, preferably tailored in each case to the job being applied for.
This may mean cutting back on the number of CVs you send out but a single thoughtful and relevant CV is worth a dozen dashed-off copycat CVs.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll make it much easier for that time-strapped exec to conclude you are a strong candidate:
Get noticed before you even apply. The fastest way to an interview is when someone the hiring manager knows makes a recommendation. So, if you are in this lucky position, by all means spend your time and energy there – it will have the greatest payoff.
Get the basics right. Make sure your CV is neither too long nor too short, 3 pages is generally about right. No spelling or grammatical errors – proofread thoroughly and get others to do so as well. Unless you really know what you’re doing or are applying for a job within a creative industry, don’t get fancy with colours and fonts – it needs to look good but keep it simple and professional. Including a cover letter which says something meaningful about the position and how you are suitable for it, is still a good idea unless you are applying for something in a highly creative sector where an infographic, video or online CV/portfolio would be more suitable than a traditional approach.
Do your research. Demonstrate your interest by using three or four key bits of information that show you have looked beyond the first page of their website.
Know what they’re looking for. In some cases this will be clear from the job description. In others, what the company culture demands will be clear from their values or mission statement. Read a few blog posts, look through leadership profiles and explore their corporate website; make sure your CV reflects that you are a fit. And if you aren’t, be honest with yourself and don’t send your CV.
Quality is better than quantity. It’s preferable not to include long lists of random courses you’ve attended, obscure testimonials or newspaper cuttings etc. Do include details of higher education degrees, such as MBAs, or executive programmes attended.
Tailor your CV for different job applications. Different jobs and sectors require different approaches. Each time you send out your CV, take 10 minutes to adjust it so it’s a closer match to the job posting and what the employer is actually looking for. They can tell how much effort has gone into an application. Concentrating on those accomplishments relevant to the role being applied for, use statistics to demonstrate your impact in previous roles.
Don’t forget to use keywords. Use keywords that will catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter (taking your cue from the job description is generally a good idea). The right keywords will also get you ‘matched’ by applicant tracking software.
Always tell the truth. It’s increasingly easy to check up on everything you claim and even if you are caught in a small untruth it will probably lead to your application being rejected.
Follow-up – twice. After you’ve sent your CV, send an email or make a call to promote yourself again. Then again one week later. Often this prompts the recruiter or hiring manager to take a second look and will definitely underscore you as an interested, diligent candidate.
In later articles I’ll get into detailed specifics about the cover letter, CV and modern variations. The above guidelines, however, are certain to make sure you’re noticed. Good luck with your job search! As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.
Its back to work, our brains have already had a couple of weeks to get out of holiday groove. Outside however, the sun is shining gloriously in beautiful blue skies and the sea or swimming pool still glitters in our mind’s eye! So how do we make the most of summer even though we’re back at work? Here are some great tips!
The best accessory since sliced bread, they are easy to keep in the boot of your car and take out at any place you can catch some rays (whether in the park or the braai you’ve been invited to)!
For those not living on the coast this might seem a bit silly – but having handy sun screen, beach towels, a swimming costume and sunglasses keeps you ready for anything! Friends hitting the pool after work? Once you hang up your hat at the end of a workday you’re ready for anything!
Take advantage of our beautiful country and go someplace nice; whether it’s a wine farm trip, or to the local bush restaurant. A nice table outside with a view keeps the happy thoughts flowing.
It’s boring going for a walk alone. Why not share the fun by organising a group walk? Choose an area stimulating for the senses such as your local park, beach promenade, a suburban area that you want to explore… you can be as creative as you choose!
South Africa has some very beautiful areas to explore. Pack a lunch and make a picnic out of it! If you can afford to eat out, choose a patio or deck type restaurant.
For those competitive types this is an excellent way to get out and enjoy the weather. Certain team sports have corporate leagues during the summer months. Don’t like your competitor? Joining a corporate sports league and beating them can be quiet satisfying.
Lots of these groups organise networking mixers, harbour cruises and pub crawls. Not only do you get to enjoy a bit of night life but it’s an excellent way to make networking fun this summer.
Everyone brings something, you get the fire going, and then sit back and relax. Its summer after all!
This is probably one of the worst tips for someone like me as I am a notorious morning grouch! BUT – it does allow for going for a morning run or having breakfast with a loved one before dashing to work. All in all, great ways to start the day.
Nothing is as refreshing as having a short break away. Spend a long weekend in the bush, mountains or at some glorious spa being pampered. Plan the days, and use the public holidays to your advantage.
If you are in the advantageous position of living relatively close to work, make use of arriving traffic-stress free and having had your exercise for the day. Just remember to check for shower facilities beforehand.
Right, I am off to the beach with my handy beach bag and foldable chairs. Enjoy the summer!
It’s a new year, it’s supposed to bring new beginnings right? Still feeling as if you are stuck in a rut? Doing the same things over and over again? Just a little more than 5 weeks in the New Year and you feel as if you are returning to the same old little bad habits that you did not like from the last year…
Time to reinvent yourself! In the spirit of one of the masters in the art of reinventing herself, Madonna, here are some tips to change your environment! From the inside out!
Evaluate where you are
Take an honest look at yourself and really see the situation for what it is. What you are taking away from it and if it really is as bad as you think it is. Remember, sometimes the problem is all in our head!
Identify opportunities your current situation presents
Life is about whether the glass is half full or half empty! Are you focusing on the empty glass? Perhaps it is time to take the tough situation you are facing at work and make an opportunity out of it! Someone once told me that to deal with a problem effectively, you need to view it as you would a big teddy bear! Its HUGE, it’s in your way, and it’s not going anywhere! So what do you do? You hug the bear – you hug it until it melts, and disappears. Tightly! Take ownership of the situation and you will see that not before long the problem disappears and you have moved passed it.
Say Yes! (and No!)
Anybody ever watched Jim Carey in “Yes Man”? It’s a motivational story about a man, stuck in a rut, who goes on an adventure by saying yes to every single thing that comes his way! It transforms his life! I am not saying you should go to this extreme, but perhaps it’s time to think about the opportunities that you are saying yes to.
Same goes for the other way around, if you find yourself unable to say no, overwhelmed by responsibilities for others and commitments that you really should not have made in the first place! Say No! No, I cannot pick up your children as well because driving to your house is 45 minutes out of my way and then I will be late in helping the children with their homework. Set your boundaries!
Change your job
No, I am not saying that to resign is the answer here, perhaps a different way of doing things. Changing jobs takes time, and you don’t want to jump from the boiling water into the fire! If you are bored it might be that you are not stimulated enough! Ask for more responsibility, put up your hand when the next project is up for grabs. Volunteer to organise the next work function! Be creative! You will find that it changes your perspective and changes your attitude by making a positive contribution to your office environment. The possibilities can be endless but it is up to you to sit up and start taking notice!
Start with Why
This is essential. Why are you here? What are you doing here? You can go so far as to ask yourself why you are on this earth!? Combine it! Work and Play does not need to be two separate entities in your life. It could be anything from making people’s life easier or working to provide for your children. Everyone has something special.
365 Days can be overwhelming. Its long, it’s tedious and by the time your reach Christmas the goals, aspirations and fun have all but disappeared into the daily dredge of life and survival! Yuck!! Make life fun by focusing on small things for a short period of time. 30 Days is all you have to do, 30 days of avoiding sugar, alcohol or walking every day. 30 Days of connecting with a colleague, compliment someone or trying different ways of doing things! Once done you can congratulate yourself on a job well done or splurge on the bag of chocolates you have been eyeing at the local supermarket!
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! We spend most of our time at work, more even than we spend with our families or friends! Doesn’t a dead-end job, only living for the weekend, sound absolutely soul destroying?
Come on, you can do it!
This doesn’t have to involve endless sheets of paper or lists. A quick breakdown of what you need to do during the day works very well. I personally find if I write things down I don’t forget to make that call or get to the bank on time.
One of the biggest ways we stress ourselves out is setting unachievable goals. We draw up elaborate plans for goals to achieve the next day – the 5am wake up call for a run and the healthy meal we’ll cook in the evening… but the last time I checked most of us do not have superpowers and we cannot function at a 150% capacity everyday. So with each goal you write down, ask yourself: “Is this realistic considering all the other things I have to do tomorrow?”
We are not robots. To keep our minds healthy we need to do some form of exercise, just as much as we need to spend time with friends and unwind doing our favourite hobbies.
I know it’s really hard to eat healthily. If you’re running on almost empty, the effort it takes to stand in the kitchen to cook can seem insurmountable. Well, that’s how I feel at times! Research has proven, however, that it helps you cope if you forgo junk food for a healthy salad and a home cooked meal.
Start a little routine before going to bed, switch the TV off, put on some relaxing music, read an inspirational short story, breathe deeply… and before you know it you’ll be in dreamland!
An often overlooked aspect of our society is that we are not as close to our family units as our parents and grandparents were, despite the advances in communication technology. Interacting with family and loved ones helps with managing stress, because let’s face it: home is where you can just be yourself with no-one judging.
We don’t want to disappoint or burn bridges. However, how often do we use these motivators to avoid dealing with the issue? We pull a disappearing act, avoid calls and in the process sabotage ourselves.
Here are some valuable tips on how to bow out gracefully:
Focus on the facts. Why are you declining the offer? If your interests and values don’t align with those of the company or your career plan is focused on a different path, be open about it.
Don’t disappear. This is elementary. Companies gain a really bad impression of someone who avoids their calls or does a disappearing act. Stand your ground and communicate. Perhaps your impression might be wrong and by communicating you can clarify the situation and still accept the role.
Enable the potential employer to respond. We live in a world of assumptions, and sometimes it’s valuable to allow the other party to clarify any assumptions we might have made. You can always change your mind!
Don’t burn bridges. “I would love to keep in touch and hear about other possibilities in the future.” This opens up channels for a future relationship and leaves the potential employer with a positive impression of you. You never know, sometime in the future you might be a better fit or the company might be a better fit for you!
Go get em (or not)!
There is a vast chasm between confidence in your abilities, and an over-inflated ego. Ego says “I can do no wrong,” whereas confidence says “I can get this right.” Confidence says “I’m valuable” while ego says “I’m invaluable.” This is a critical difference in mindset. Be aware when you are generally contributing and when you are simply trying to protect the status quo. Losing some of your “turf” may seem scary, but it’s really an opportunity to stay one step ahead.
When you put your self-perception ahead of the work, you are in danger of compromising your best efforts. Collaboration also becomes more challenging, because others grow tired of walking on eggshells. You must nix the tendency to be easily offended, and instead embrace the opportunity to sharpen your thought processes and skills.
Life is what we choose to make it, and often we must be willing to get over ourselves in order to get on with the business of truly living our lives. Do not allow the subtle effects of an inflated ego to rob you of your contribution. Yes, be confident, but also be adaptable. Pour yourself fully into your work, but be willing to listen to disconfirming information and opinions. If you do, you will be far better positioned to unleash your best work every day.
Remember: it’s not always just about you.
Time to take stock of 2014 and ring in a new year! Review what we did wrong in the past and start off anew with a bang. Here are a couple of bad habits we typically foster at work that we can change to make 2015 a year to remember!
Stanford conducted research suggests “media multitasking” may impair your cognitive control. This results in loss of concentration and is counterproductive. Humans apparently don’t have a long attention span – rather learn to prioritise and focus on one thing at a time. This has proven to be much more effective and productive.
Constantly checking email
We’ve all heard this from the guru’s, self-help professionals and planning specialists. Now it is time to implement it! Give yourself some focus time during the day, switch off email notifications and popups. Or better still, close your email application completely and only open it during specific times in the day.
You think this might be a personality quirk, but don’t be fooled! A messy desk actually adds to the distraction so prevalent in the world these days. Take the time to sort, pack away and bin in order to start the New Year with a clean desk and no clutter.
Eating unhealthy snacks/lunches
We’re all familiar with the slump that follows loading up with carbs and sugars on days we forget our lunches… AND we all know how good it feels to have a healthy lunch and finish off the day knowing we were productive and focused. Enough said!
In the hectic pace of today we all need whatever piece of sanity we can hang on to. Exercise being one of them: not only good for our bodies, but also our mental abilities. Don’t forgo that gym session, or the walk on the beach, or the run after work. No matter how tired you are – take it slow yes, but don’t leave it out completely. Your body and your mind (and your sanity) will thank you.
Checking your smartphone constantly
Train yourself to take breaks from your cell phone. Pack it in a drawer, leave it in the car, and switch off the wifi/3g connection. Your ability to focus will improve dramatically, not to mention the quality time you’ll gain with family and friends.
Using social media as a break
This is a habit we all too easily fall into. Not only does social media not give your brain a rest, you are simply replacing staring at your work computer with staring at your social media account. Get off your chair and go for a walk, have your lunch at a table away from your desk. Stretch your legs, your muscles, and your mind!
We live at such a hectic pace and in such a demanding world it is up to each of us to maintain our sanity by implementing time to switch off, time to focus on the task at hand and time to recharge. Otherwise we risk disappearing into the bombardment that modern life has become.
2015 is waiting!
How can you make your CV stand out from the piles and piles of others siting on a recruiter’s desk? How do you ensure that you get to interview for your dream job?
Here are some do’s & don’ts to guide you through the often frustrating job application experience:
By avoiding common pitfalls and using these tips, you can improve your chances of landing a job interview. Often something small makes all the difference.