The secret behind the job advert….

The secret behind the job advert….The first in a series of monthly articles which may help you to make decisions about how your career in the electronics community is to develop. For those who have already made the decision to look for new job opportunities there will be suggestions about how to be most effective in your job search. The series starts this week with one or two pointers from management training consultant Tony Atherton on how to analyse job advertisements. Whatever clever techniques you might use when looking for another job you will certainly read job advertisements. Even with personal networking, agencies and the internet, the job pages are still the major source of news about new jobs. Employers believe in their effectiveness. They must do, they pay for them. Recruiting and inducting a new member of staff is an important and expensive task for a company. Dismissing someone after an ill-fated appointment can take over a year and can lead to an Industrial Tribunal. Getting it seriously wrong can present serious trouble and expense. Bad mistakes can rumble long in the corporate gut. Consequently, great care is taken when professional advertisements are written. An advertisement has to put across a lot of information in a few words. It has to encourage good candidates to apply, maybe give up established positions and move house, leave relatives and friends and change children’s schools. The advert has to say: ‘Take all that in your stride and come to us’. At the same time it has to discourage those who cannot do the job or would not fit in. And it has to stay on the right side of the law. Of course, anyone can poke fun at the phrases sometimes used. Recently restructured and seeking to recruit, translates as – ‘made thousands redundant but went too far’. But it is not really like that. Treat all information in an advertisement as relevant and important, it costs money to put it there. Missing information has probably been deliberately left out maybe even the company name if a recruitment consultant placed the advert. Yet despite all this effort by the recruiter, applicants sometimes appear to have only skimmed through the wording. So, as getting a job means beating the opposition, how can you do it better? Generally advertisements give six types of information. These can be related to the so-called four Ps of marketing (product, place, price, and promotion). Try this exercise on any advertisement in Electronics Weekly. Write out each phrase used about these six categories of information: the company, job, applicant, location, conditions, and the action to take. For each category except the last, ask two questions. Is this really what I want? Which of my achievements relate to this? The ability to take phrases from an advertisement and match your achievements to them is a critical skill that can be used to distinguish you from the other dozens of applicants. For example, the company may be described with phrases like: innovative technical development, we are successful and dynamic, high commitment to customers, part of a European group. You can find hundreds of such phrases. Most advertisements have a few. Ask yourself if being part of an international group is important to you if you have no wanderlust. Which of your achievements demonstrates innovative technical development. Which achievement proves your commitment to customers or shows you to be successful and dynamic? Do this for the other categories. The job may be described as technically innovative, needing hands-on development, using advanced software tools and presenting constant challenges. What detailed examples can you give of using advanced software tools? How have you met constant challenges or been technically innovative? Be ready with facts and figures and work them into your CV and covering letter when you apply. The advert may describe the ideal applicant as a skilled engineer with drive and flair, eager to work with a great team, understands PMR and able to lead a collaborative project. What achievements can you tell them about that verify your drive and flair, or whatever? Read between the lines. How does this company see itself? What words and phrases are repeated? What prospects does this job and company offer for your long-term development? What will it add to your CV five years from now? How much of the ideal candidate must you be? Who really knows? Try the old favourite, the 80:20 rule. If you meet about 80 per cent, give it a try. But the only real rule is that if you do not apply you cannot be considered. When you have analysed the advertisement what then? Use your analysis to rewrite your CV. Modify your standard CV for every application, working in your most relevant achievements with numbers if possible. Put some in your covering letter as well and describe them at your interview, whether asked to or not. Have a standard CV by all means, but only use it in emergencies. Tony Atherton is a management training consultant with a background in electronics. Career management after redundancy is one of his specialist courses. Tel/Fax 01962 885534 E-mail:
Career development is the recruitment issue to be covered next month.

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