WELCOME TO CAPSTONE'S JOB READY TOOLKIT
We have prepared this toolkit with today’s unique jobs climate in mind, to help you navigate your way through these uncharted waters. It includes the following aspects to help you secure your next career move...
- CV Preparation – A step by step guide to writing a great CV
- LinkedIn and social media maximisation
- Know your market
- Where to uncover new opportunities
- Staying connected
- Interview preparation & presentation
- References and recommendations
- Onboarding in a virtual world
- Where to next – thinking outside the box
CV Preparation – A step by step guide to writing a great CV
A CV is your foot in the door. It is the single most important resource you have to be able to demonstrate to potential employers that you are capable of fulfilling their requirement, and are worth an exploratory conversation.
Your CV should be detailed enough to provide a good overview of what you’ve done and achieved in each position you’ve held, but also not be so detailed that your audience is put off. We need to know all about your achievements so don't restrict it to keep to 2 pages. 5 pages might be too long but somewhere in between is fine.
Here is a link to our Suggested CV format.
The basic structure should include:
- Your name and contact information (clearly at the top of the first page)
- Your education and relevant qualifications including professional memberships and affiliations
- Work experience: in chronological order) with the title held, company name and location, employment dates (including month and year)
- Key achievements: use factual numbers such as £ saved; number people managed; specific asset class involved, project values. Bullet points often make it easier to read. If you need some inspiration, often looking back at your most recent job description can help
- Key responsibilities: be specific about your responsibilities within your role so it is clear what your scope has been
- Finally state that referee details will be provided on request (will explain more on that in the references section).
Often it’s just as important to let you know what you shouldn’t be putting on your CV – we have seen it all! You don’t need to include every job you’ve ever held (that job at McDonald’s when you were 15, isn’t going to help you secure your next position as an Asset Manager). Personal information such as marital status, number of children, birth date or even a photo aren’t necessary and in some cases are not able to be requested by prospective employers.
Cover Letters have mixed views by potential employers and whether they should or shouldn’t be included. Unless requested, the general rule is that they are no longer required. We do however recommend a short, positive and polite email to accompany your CV at time of application, indicating the role you are applying for.
LinkedIn & Social Media
Social Media is used my many to reach people within their profession and sector. This includes LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
LinkedIn is now considered a key recruitment tool for both employees and employers. It is an online network of professionals that is utilised, by many organisations, to identify and connect with the relevant people to your profession.
Whether you are new to LinkedIn or simply looking to maximise the benefits of the platform, here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when building or improving your LinkedIn profile:
- Consider your LinkedIn profile as a digital/live version of your CV that prospective employers will view before meeting you. Remember it’s public information and a representation of you. Are you projecting the professional image you want?
- Professional photo (not profile pictures of you on holiday in Bali, with a drink in hand or a low-quality image). Black and white images often get more traction, with a plain background and wearing working attire.
- Make sure your profile is accurate and aligned with your CV (employment titles and dates are mirrored – you’ll be surprised how many errors are made here and the negative impact that can cause)
- Take time to complete all sections of your profile including details of:
- A well written summary. Not too wordy; 2 short paragraphs here works well.
- Location (City)
- Job titles
- Flesh out the experience section with a few key bullet points describing your achievements within that role
- Skills, Endorsements and Recommendations. Always ask previous and current work colleagues and clients for recommendations. Aim to ask at least 2 or 3 people a week until you have a solid list available. This makes a huge difference when people are assessing your suitability for an opportunity
- Professional memberships & affiliations.
- Projects/assets you’ve worked on. This will increase your chances of being found. Often recruiters & employers will search for key words when targeting candidates.
- Start adding current and previous colleagues and professional acquaintances to your network (these individuals will often be used as “unofficial referees)”. Ask them for recommendations (you can do through your LinkedIn profile page)
- Follow company pages and individuals you have a professional connection to or interest in.
- Start commenting on posts (keeping it professional and constructive at all times)
- LinkedIn is not Facebook, so please keep posts and comments professional (as they will remain on your profile for years to come).
Employment & Career Development
LinkedIn is also a great channel for employment and career development. It has a job board within it which is well utilised by employers and recruitment agencies; you can research potential employers and those that will be interviewing you; and finally it is where most recruitment agencies will look for specific skills and potential candidates.
Other Social Media Channels:
What goes online stays online. Do a quick check of what comes up when you Google your name, or search for yourself on Facebook or Instagram…you’re potential employers will, and will form a view on you before they have ever met you. You may want to increase your privacy settings to keep your private life private. Use these other channels (twitter, instragram and Facebook to get more information about potential employers. This is where you will often see their cultural values so you can see if they're aligned to your own.
Know Your Market
Even if you may be sitting on the sideline for now, it’s important to keep your head in the game. Understanding the employment trends, relevant news, legislation changes and market movements not only allows you to have informed conversations at interview stage, it can also help shape the direction of your job search and allow you to hit the ground running once you secure a new position.
There is a tonne of information publicly available information to help. Here’s some tips:
- Read the news; subscribing to relevant industry newsletters and news feeds online:
- Google Alerts are great for bringing relevant news directly to you. Try setting up alerts on companies of interest, sectors, job titles
- Attend industry events/webinars; there are so many online events happening, many of which are free so look around for ones that suit your interests
- Connect with ex-colleagues or peers in the industry. Now is the time to reach out and talk to as many people as you can think of to hear about what’s going on in their world.
Another point to think about before kicking off your search is remuneration. Be realistic about what’s out there. It’s unlikely that now will be the time to chase a significant pay increase and be mindful you may need to even take a pay reduction. Start thinking about your sums in advance and know where you can find a happy compromise.
Launch Your Search
Often looking for a new job can feel like a full-time job in itself. Ultimately, you can never guarantee precisely where your next opportunity will come from so it’s important to take responsibility for your own future by covering all basis. There are a number of ways that you can identify a new role, and often a multi-channel approach is required. Here’s how:
- Leverage your network: Word of mouth is a valuable tool in your job hunt. Talk to people you know, consider both your professional and social network. Think back through your professional career – have you spoken with previous colleagues who are often huge advocates of your capability? Utilise your LinkedIn connections and don’t be afraid to ask for introductions to 2nd and 3rd connections. Be confident to ask if there are suitable opportunities for you that they are aware of or can introduce you to. By asking for recommendations from current and ex colleagues, you're opening up their network which can only be a good thing
- Recruitment Consultancies: Specialist recruiters like Capstone are able to make connections that others can't through our understanding of the market, our extensive network and our ability to engage at all levels with our sector. We will also have industry insights and information into the broader market that can aid you in your search. By building a relationship with select recruiters who understand you, your skillset and your ambitions, you can open the door to opportunities and information that you may not have otherwise uncovered.
- Job boards: Employers and recruitment agents will use job boards to advertise most positions they have. These can include, but are not limited to totaljobs, CV library, LinkedIn, Indeed, EG, Building4jobs and the careers section on a recruiters website. Here is a link to Capstone's job pages https://www.capstone-recruitment.com/job-search. A lot of the larger employers will also have their own job listings on their own websites. We also highly recommend setting up an alert on these sites, so you can be informed when a new role that meets your search is posted.
- Be ahead of the curve: In the previous section we talked about improving your market knowledge and understanding employment trends. Based on what’s happening in the broader economy at any given time opportunities will exist, the question is – how does that relate to your skillset? Are there specific sectors or employers you can target directly that will value your skills and experience?
Video Interview Preparation & Presentation
So you have secured an interview for a new role – congratulations! Now more than ever, competition will be fierce for roles. The interview process is your opportunity to shine and demonstrate to your potential new employer why you are the person they must hire. Here’s some useful tips:
- Be prepared….seriously prepared. Employers will always be interested about how much you know about them. Do as much homework as possible on the company you are interviewing with (company websites; google searches; news articles, social media posts etc);
- Not all job types are created equal. Review and understand the role you are interviewing for (re-read the job ad; request a position description; use LinkedIn to see who was previously in this role),
- Research the person(s) interviewing you (company website ‘About Us’ pages; LinkedIn – where you can also see the image and background of who you will be meeting). Look for area’s of commonality and consider their background and position in the context of the role you are interviewing for.
- The Interview: we would normally advise you to leave plenty of time to get to the interview etc, but in the current climate, you are most likely to be conducting your interviews via the phone or Video Conferencing (be it Zoom, Teams, Skype, FaceTime etc.). So for that reason, you need to ensure you have a strong internet connection, have the software being used downloaded and tested, you have a plain background, and you are conducting the interview in a location you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
- Look the part: Just because you will be interviewing from home/ via video, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort – this applies to clothes, hair (including facial hair for the men).
- Be prepared for the questions: Read through our attached list of standard interview questions and test yourself before an interview. Can you comfortably answer most if not all of these questions in a concise way? Do you have working examples of tasks/projects you’ve carried out in the past demonstrating your capability? This can be examples of both success stories and important learning curves you’ve experienced. For more detailed information, you can read our separate document – Interview Preparation Qs
- If you are working with a recruiter, be sure to provide prompt feedback after the interview (with the recruiter to provide feedback from the client also). If the interview doesn’t progress beyond your last interview, then try to take something constructive from the process that you can use for future interviews. The market is highly competitive, so don’t get too disheartened if you don’t secure the first role you interview for. If you are interviewing directly with the client, then a polite follow-up email thanking the interviewer and confirming your interest is often received well (but don’t stalk them either).
- Technology has let everyone down at some stage. Make sure you can call or use your mobile in the event of something going wrong. This style of interview works, if you prepare properly.
References and Recommendations
Recommendations on LinkedIn are a great way to enhance your profile and liklihood of securing an interview. If you're able to build recommendations from a wide range of colleagues, clients and Managers, this will offer the reader a broad view of you, your strengths, what you're like to work with and how effective you are. This is an invaluable tool. To request a recommendation from someone on LinkedIn, go to their profile > just under their banner photo, click MORE > select 'Request a Recommendation' > follow the instructions. Start building these up and you'll also learn how other people see you which will help you in an interview situation and will help build your confidence and self awareness.
References are invaluable and often the word of someone respected (by the interviewing organisation) can make all the difference in you securing the role. Here’s some useful points to consider :
- Referees, as a general rule of thumb, should be someone you directly reported to at your previous or most recent employer. Friends, colleagues or references in your distant past are generally not accepted. If it is someone that you haven’t spoken to for quite some time, then get in touch with them now – well before a potential employer needs to speak with them. This gives you time to track them down and get their current contact information.
- References available upon request. Why do we encourage this line on your CV, rather than listing your referees details? Well it’s all about relevance and control. You want to ensure that the referees you provide are going to be relevant; have been asked if they would be your referee and informed of where/ what you have been interviewing for and who will be calling (and when and how it’s best to reach them).
Congratulations – you’ve landed yourself a great new opportunity!
Starting a new role can be an anxious time for all of us. But in the current climate, you should prepare yourself for starting with a new organisation without possibly stepping foot in their offices or not physically meeting anyone for some time. Whilst your employer will take the lead for your onboarding, you should also be aware that this is new way of embedding someone into their team also, so there may be some hiccups along the way. The key is open communication, always! This will ensure you not only build strong relationships within the business, but you also become an asset to the organisation.
For a more detailed guide to successful onboarding in a remote environment, you can read our recently written article on the topic – Virtual Onboarding as an Employee.
What Next... Keep an open mind
In this climate, it may be that there simply isn’t a role currently available (or the exact match you are seeking) in your chosen field. This may only be in the short or medium term, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still use your time effectively.
It’s rare that people have an opportunity like this to take a moment to pause and think about their careers. A chance to re-evaluate what’s important and the direction they are heading in long term. Now is a time to start formulating a Plan B and C, if Plan A is not working out. Here’s some ideas:
- Have you considered Interim or fixed term contracts? This is a great way to keep you in the market and have money coming in, without the need to commit to an assignment long term (be it salary, or role type). This is also an opportunity to test if an organisation/ role is right for you (and vice versa), and in our experience can often to lead on to something more permanent.
- Now might be a good time to return to study or upskill in certain area – that can be anything from a Uni degree, Masters, MBA or short course, or it could be obtaining a licence or a certificate (first aide etc).
- In the short term you may want or need to consider alternative roles and/or industries. This may be a complimentary position that is still aligned to the broader market you are in (for example, if you are a Development Manager, and a role as a Project Manager presents itself, this may be worthwhile considering to round out your skillset), or something completely new and different.
- Volunteer/pro bono work – whether that be for a charitable organisation or volunteering your services professionally to keep you connected to the market. It also demonstrates initiative to potential employers and an appetite to keep building your skills between roles.