July 8, 2020, by Katie Andrews

Advice for job seekers series: Tell a good, but short, story

There’s no question that the current pandemic and the responses to it have been devastating for many; not only in human health terms but economically too.  Many people have found themselves unexpectedly looking for work in a jobs market that has markedly changed in a relatively short time.

For those looking for work for the first time in many years, it may be a whole new ball game.  Understanding how the recruitment and selection process may have changed is key to being prepared for seeking and applying for new roles.

In a series of daily blogs, Dr Terri Simpkin, Associate Professor at the Nottingham University Business School, and former Human Resources Director, provides some insight and tips on navigating modern job search practices.

It’s recruitment, but not as you knew it.

In the not too distant past, job hunting was often characterised by pounding the pavement dropping off CVs, letters of introduction or personal resumes to businesses that might be looking to hire new employees.

Not anymore.

Even prior to lockdown, it was highly unlikely that organisations, particularly chains or larger firms, would accept unsolicited applications ‘in store’ or via branches.  The recruitment and selection process has largely been centralised or outsourced and at least in part, automated and managed online.

This means your approach to finding a new job might need to be updated to suit the ways in which organisations manage their hiring practices and to improve your chances of finding and getting the job you want.*

*(The move to online recruitment and selection methods assumes that applicants have access to hardware such as a laptop, desktop computer or a smart device as well as reliable internet access to engage with the application process.  This may be a disadvantage, so be prepared to seek assistance from friends, family or community groups that may be able to help.)

Advice for job seekers: Tell a good, but short, story

While the CV is not necessarily dead, applications are now often managed via online forms with limited space.  Keep responses to questions to the point, highlighting past achievements and current capabilities.

Maintain relevance.  Bringing attention to transferable skills, capabilities and experience is important and knowing what’s relevant is key.  Avoid clogging up the application (be it online, on paper, or in person) with irrelevant material.  While you might be rightly proud of your high school swimming certificate or a letter of recommendation from a previous boss in the 1980s consider what evidence is going to be seen as relevant to your current capacities and the job you’re applying for.

Quick Tip – If evidence (references, certificates, qualifications or examples of work) is not showing your capabilities in their best light as they are today, consider leaving it out of an application.  Recruiters have limited time and possibly many applications to review, put your best evidence in front of them so they don’t need to go hunting for a reason to think you the best person for the job.

While searching for a job can be challenging, maintaining a focus on what skills and capabilities are of value to new employers is key.  Also, while many people have unexpectedly found themselves looking for new roles, there have been skills and labour shortages in many industries for decades.  This offers prospects for people to move from one sector to another where vacancies may have previously gone unfilled. Those sectors are now willing to be more flexible in their approach to job seekers who may be bringing skills from other sectors and who are open to and prepared for opportunities as they arise.

Remember be practiced, be prepared and be professional in line with the job you want and your chances of being re-employed will be much enhanced.

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