Sharpening Your Skills

Sharpening Your Skills

Are you currently unemployed or in between jobs?
Do something worthwhile with your time while pursuing your dream job.

Here are examples of what to do during this employment break.

– Sign up for free online courses.
– Volunteer in relevant groups- NGOs, religious, educational or social.
– Attend Seminars, Workshops, Trainings, Webinars, Conferences etc
– Join relevant professional bodies (online or offline) and be active.
– Sharpen your networking skills and leverage on it.
– Learn a craft, acquire skills, write a book or do something around your passion.
– Start a business (if possible).

“Who CV Epp??” (sic)

“Who CV Epp??” (sic)

‘Who CV Epp??’ Is a colloquial expression that means ‘who has benefited from writing or submitting CV for a job?’

A couple of days back, I saw a sponsored advert on Facebook on CV Writing and the responses from people were hilarious and thought-provoking.

Some of the comments are;

‘Forget CV, knowing someone is the real deal’

‘CV is overrated, I can get a job without CV’

‘I can’t waste my time writing CV when I can get a job without it’

‘Employers give jobs only to the people they know’

‘Who CV Epp??’ 

As much thought-provoking as these comments might seem, we can all relate with some of them and understand they are borne out of sheer disappointments and frustrations.

These are fall out from months and years of futile efforts in job hunting, applying for different jobs, submitting CV  without as little as an acknowledgement mail from recruiters let alone an invite for interview.

And when you are lucky enough to be invited for interview, the hiring company may decide to remain incommunicado afterwards and the cycle begins all over again.

This experience has made some job seekers lose faith in the fairness of getting a job through merit, without any strings attached.

But, does that mean we should forget about writing our CVs and making it competitive? Should we resign to fate and stop applying for jobs outrightly?

Or should we just sit by the phone waiting for a call from a distant uncle or aunt who has promised us a job since our first grade? Or better still, should we wait for acquittance with connections to help us get the job, notwithstanding the role or how long it takes?

Don’t get me wrong.

People get jobs through referrals or through an acquittance that knows someone who knows someone that can put in a good word for them and help them nail their dream jobs.

But common!

Let’s be truthful to ourselves, can we categorically say that everyone that is gainfully employed gets the job by knowing somebody or by having a contact in the company?? Nah!

If your job applications are not successful, then a lot of other factors could have been responsible and not necessarily because of a corrupt system or because you don’t have a contact that can help you.

When companies roll out their products and services, they engage in several go-to market strategies, running different promos and adverts, to get the product/services to trade partners and eventually to end consumer.

When a few potential customer refuses to patronize these services or products, the company will not close shop or stop marketing but will rather get consumer insight/feedback and work on their products to meet consumers’ needs.

Let’s bring it back home.

What are your CV ‘go-to market’ strategies? How do you intend to attract recruiters?

A gentle reminder; CV is still one of the first documents required by a potential employer. It is like a marketing tool that applicants use to showcase their fits for roles. It can also be likened to a statement of purpose or letter of intent showing potential employers the values the applicant can add to the organization, if hired.

Every employer wants to know what an applicant has to offer and if your CV can’t convince that you can do the job, why would they bother to call you for interview?

Therefore, if your CV is not giving you a chance at interview, why don’t you consider other factors that could be responsible…

Are you applying for roles you are qualified for? Are you just applying to every available vacancy? Do you meet the requirements of the jobs? Do you understand the application procedures and instructions?

Does your CV showcase your past accomplishments or is it just a list of your job responsibilities? Does your CV represent your present skills and does it effectively communicate your future potentials? Does your CV match the job requirements of the advertised position?

These are the questions that need sincere and honest response from every applicant.

Peradventure, you meet the job requirements and you are still not shortlisted for interview, please take your service (CV) elsewhere, until you find a willing employer that believes in your ability to add value to the organisation.

Don’t be deceived, people are getting jobs within and outside the country not because they have ‘an insider’ in the company but simply by submitting their CVs, scaling through application process and performing well during interview or by the recruiter finding them fit for the role.

Don’t just give up. Don’t blame it on the system. Get busy. Volunteer. Update your knowledge and skills. Add value to yourself. Add value to your current employer (if you have one).

However, if you are convinced that you cannot get a job without referrals, then sharpen your networking skills and relate more with people- attend seminars, workshops, symposiums, training and so on.

Or better still, work on your marketing tool-CV. So that, when you are eventually ‘referred for a job’ you can increase your chances of being hired by presenting a competitive CV.

We need to have a change of orientation and take responsibility for our career development.

If you need tips on how to make your CV attractive and competitive. Please check this article HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV?

Is That Certification Necessary??

Is That Certification Necessary??

Is That Certification Necessary??

This is perhaps the first question on the mind of every forward looking and upwardly mobile professionals.

While it is advisable to be professionally certified, it is equally wise not to get lost in the race of piling up certifications and titles without regards for relevance or fit for purpose.

What is Professional Certification?

Professional Certification is a designation or title earned by an individual to guarantee expertise or ‘technical know-how’ on a particular job or discipline. In actual fact, some recruiters and hiring managers believe that the certificate holder has the required knowledge, competence and skills to perform the job or task [based on generally acceptable standards].

Almost every profession, field or occupation has numerous and conflicting certifications from both local and international certification bodies or authorities. The main concern is now on importance and relevance of these certifications.

Do you have to sign up for certifications, tactlessly?? How do you identify relevant professional certifications??

In this article, we will discuss two sets of workers in relation to professional certification status.

  1. Workers with Professional Certifications.
  2. Workers without Professional Certifications.
  1. WORKERS WITH PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATIONS

Let’s classify the certifications into 3 distinct groups based on what motivates the workers to acquire the Certification.

  • Status-Driven Certification
  • Position-Specific Certification
  • Future-Bound Certification

Status-Driven Certification: This is a certification a worker acquires based on an impulse or based on general perception of colleagues or peers. This type of worker may not have a well-defined career path yet, the need to join the league of professionals with titles behind their names supersedes the relevance of the certificate to his immediate or future aspirations.

Position-Specific Certification: This is a certification that is acquired because of the demand of the job. Some workers in this group found themselves in an industry or job that is certification-driven and hence, there is need to get relevant certificates.

While other types of workers in this category are those who have identified their career path or interest and are acquiring relevant certifications to gain more knowledge, expertise and career advancement in their chosen fields.

Future-Bound Certification: This is the type of certification a worker acquires in anticipation of a future career switch or career transition.

The Certification may not have any connection with current role or job responsibilities but the holder is preparing and positioning himself for future opportunities.

If accidentally you have certifications in unrelated fields; here is what you can do;

During job application process (on your Cover Letter/CV/Résumé/LinkedIn), only highlight the certifications that are relevant to the industry or the job you are applying for.

2. WORKERS WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATIONS

Nothing justifies a worker/entrepreneur/business owner with many years of experience without a relevant professional certification. It is still a mystery how such people remain relevant and competitive in the face of ever-challenging and ever-evolving business environments.

Here are justifications for acquiring relevant certifications; 

  • To uphold industry standards and professional ethics.
  • To be more valuable to employers (or clients as a business owner)
  • To have a competitive edge over non-certified peers.
  • For promotion opportunities at work.
  • For better job opportunities and career advancements.
  • To earn higher salary and benefits.

Professional certification does come with a cost; therefore, every aspiring holder should conduct a comprehensive research on industry acceptability, cost implications, exam logistics and other requirements of the desired certification programme.

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE RELEVANT PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION?

  1. Check job descriptions or job requirements of roles you are interested in. Look out for required certifications.
  2. Join professional groups or associations relevant to your career interest. Pay attention to discussions on industry expectations and requirements.
  3. Check profiles of experts with similar career aspirations. Compare profiles and identify knowledge or certification gaps.

Sources to check: LinkedIn, Job Boards, Company Pages, Personal websites of experienced professionals in your field.

GENERAL PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATIONS

There are few professional certifications that are acceptable and applicable across all industries, fields and professions.

Examples include but not limited to;

  • PMP– Project Management Professional. Required by any organization that wants to initiate, plan, monitor and execute projects successfully.
  • Six Sigma Green Belt– This certification is required in any organization that wants to improve quality and processes.
  • ISO – International Organization for Standardization- ISO 27001 Lead Auditor or Lead Implementer- required by organization that wants to protect data from comprehensive range of threats.

Certificate holders need not worry about relevance to job, these certifications are widely accepted across different sectors and regions.

Conclusion;

➦ To young graduates; the highest priority should be getting a job and accumulating significant number of years of work experience before signing up for relevant professional certifications.

Most times professional certifications cannot replace number of years of work experience.

➦ To professionals, Certification is a process and not a destination, it should therefore not be the ultimate achievement a professional should focus on. Every professional should endeavour to perform beyond expectations within the ethical standards of his profession.

➦ Professional Certification is a tool used to enhance relevant skills and knowledge for a specific career path, it does not always guarantee a job or higher pay but it does demonstrate willingness to learn and readiness to embrace industry best practices on the part of the holder.

And…….

YES, that professional certification is necessary if it is relevant to your career interests.

NO, that professional certification is not necessary if it has no relationship or correlation with your present or future career interests.

THE WINNING INTERVIEW STRATEGY: 30-60-90 DAY PLAN

30 60 90 Plan pix

THE WINNING INTERVIEW STRATEGY: 30-60-90 DAY PLAN

Here is one of the tools I normally use during interview coaching sessions with clients, it is one of the greatest interview winning strategies- the 30-60-90 DAY PLAN.

The 30-60-90 Day Plan is a document prepared by a job seeker and presented during an interview. It is an outline of what the candidate intends or proposes to achieve in the first 90 days, if hired for the role.

The 30-60-90-day plan is not just a tool used during an interview, it is a strategy document that every professional should write or develop before taking up a new role.

Every candidate that wants to develop an effective 30-60-90-day plan, needs to have a thorough understanding of the hiring company, the culture, products and /or services, the industry, competitors, customers etc.

Importance of 30-60-90 Day Plan

  • It shows great understanding of the role.
  • It shows enthusiasm and job-readiness.
  • It shows a good work ethic.
  • It portrays an invaluable hire that will go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN

The plan should be developed with a clear SMART goal and strategic focus on People, Process, Procedure and Technology.

30 DAYS- UNDERSTAND

The first 30 days is to get acquainted with the new role. The objective is to understand the team, company, products/services, customers etc.

60 DAYS- EVALUATE

The next 30 days [60 Days] is to evaluate current processes and procedures, identify strength and weaknesses of team members/stakeholders and determine how best to allocate resources for optimum impact. [SWOT Analysis]

90 DAYS- OPTIMIZE

The last 30 days [90 Days], at this stage the candidate is well-grounded in the role and could identify gaps and areas of improvement. This is the time to launch and implement ideas that will address critical issues.

Remember, the Plan has to be SMART.

S– Specific M– Measurable A– Achievable R– Relevant T– Time Bound.

 

FORMAT OF THE PLAN

The Plan can be presented in any of the following formats.

  • Word or PDF (1-4 Pages).
  • Power Point: 3-4 Slides.
  • Excel. Etc

Candidate can convert or Export the document to PDF and print.

 

PRESENTATION STYLE

Suggested contents of each page/slide;

Page/Slide- Introduction page with candidate’s personal details (OPTIONAL)

Page/Slide 1: Step-by-Step action plan on how to accelerate the learning process for the first 30 days.

Page/Slide 2: Step-by-Step action plan on how the candidate intends to identify and evaluate short/long term improvement areas for the 60 days.

Page/Slide 3: Step-by-Step action plan on how and when ideas will be launched and implemented in the next 30days [90 days]

Page/Slide 4: Summary of specific Timeline and Key Performance Indicators of major tasks.

This is just a guide- Slides 1-3 can be merged. It can have different styles.

It all depend on how best the candidate can use Chart, Tables, SmartArt Graphics or Pictures to aid presentation. 

PRESENTING YOUR PLAN IN AN INTERVIEW

After putting together an impeccable plan, the next question is how and when it should be presented.

Is it before, during or after the interview?

Please know that, the interviewer will probably not ask for the plan because it’s most likely not part of the interview requirement. However, the responsibility is on the candidate to initiate a conversation that will prompt the introduction of the Plan.

It is always important to look at the dynamics of the interview and decide on the best time to introduce your ‘ace in the hole’- The Plan!

Note: Don’t just hand it over to the interviewers. You need to walk them through your Plan.

Conclusion

Developing an immaculate plan requires a lot of research, analysis of the job description, the role, the company as well as in-depth understanding of the business environment.

30-60-90-Day Plan is a great tool and can actually help candidates ace the interview…….. if properly deployed.