Why Not Me?
26 November 2018 at 8:00 am
Each fortnight, experienced recruiter Marilyn Jones will be providing advice for job seekers entering and moving within the social sector. In her first blog, Marilyn Jones discusses the concept of soft skills and how to make sure your CV works to give you the “edge” over others.
What does Google, PwC, PayPal and Pickled Egg Records have in common with me? We all started in 1998. As I like to say, it’s when I started in “my career in the careers of others”.
Since then, I have remained fascinated by what people do for work. I can’t help myself when I meet someone new, I always ask what they do. Am I just nosy? Probably!
I am also just genuinely interested in what people do and the motivations for why they do what they do. I remember saying in 1998, “I never knew that job existed”. And I still say it today.
As a recruiter, it’s easy to forget that each application, each phone call and each email is an individual person who is going through a journey looking for their dream job. A journey that at times is not easy. I can understand the feeling when you start your job search thinking what you are doing is right, only to be rejected time and time again. Frustration, anger, disappointment – it’s an emotional rollercoaster. You know you can add value to an organisation, so why don’t hirers recognise it?
As a search recruiter who assists companies in hiring, and who works with individuals on their job search, I’m here to offer insight into what is needed to give you a differentiating edge over others in 2018.
This starts with getting your CV right. One sentence that I read over and over, and over again in CVs is similar to this:
“I am a hardworking, passionate, motivated individual who works hard in a busy environment and as part of team. I work well under pressure and I am well organised.”
Does this sound like something you have on your CV? Well, unfortunately so do 95 per cent of all the CVs that I receive daily.
This sentence is full of words that are what are called “soft skills”. They can also be called “transferable skills” or “enterprise”.
Some more examples of soft skills include:
- team player;
- problem solver;
- customer focused;
- analytical; and
As a recruiter or hirer, how can I tell if you really possess these skills when I see them on every CV?
Recently, I was on a careers panel at a university with hiring managers from NAB and Accenture, and a student put up their hand and said “but I have been told to put my soft skills in a CV”.
While this is true and soft skills are important, it’s not about telling the hirer that you have them. It’s about inferring them and articulating them, using real life examples.
For example, you may simply have on your CV that you “organised weekly meetings”.
But, so what? These meetings could be at the pub. Who are they for? What are they about? Are they with a group of three or a group of 300?
Instead, you should attempt to illustrate your soft skills in use.
You could try: “I coordinated weekly online video meetings between our internal project group of four, and the CEO of X Company. I organised regular updates to ensure that our X project was focused and meeting the milestones we had set.”
What soft skills does this sentence infer?
- Team work – inferred by the fact that we know there are four in the group.
- Time management – inferred by saying that you regularly organised and kept to milestones and on time.
- Organisational skills – inferred as you are the person organising it.
- IT/digital literacy – inferred by use of video meetings.
When you are updating your CV, I urge you to think about your soft skills.
Moreover, think about those that the job position is asking for, and think about articulating an example for each.
By bringing those technical and soft skills together with a verb, it will give you that edge over other applicants.
About the author: Marilyn Jones is an executive recruiter experienced in resourcing staff for companies and assisting individuals with their careers. Working for both niche and multinational recruitment organisations, Jones has worked across multiple sectors in many industry and business sectors both in Australia and the UK.
Each fortnight Marilyn Jones will be exploring topics that are relevant to your career journey. She will providing advice for job seekers entering and moving within the social sector. If you’d like insights into a particular topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note the views expressed are the opinion of Marilyn Jones and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pro Bono Australia, its staff or contributors.