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Have you ever been in the situation when you are looking for a job and you send your CV to a million places but you get no response? Recently I was invited to give a speech to a class of undergraduates at a local university. The aim was helping students to find a job. Working with job vacancies from all industries and sectors on a daily basis, and after having actually gone through tons of CVs when hiring for my company, I quickly came up with some thoughts I wanted to share.

The first topic is your CV. Of course, your CV has to be up to date. But there is another important factor which might significantly increase your chances of getting an interview: the file name. Usually a person has one file, called “CV”, or perhaps two files, something like “CV.doc” and “CV2.doc”. Very few people think that when they send their precious CV for a dream job there actually is an HR manager who receives it. And no-one considers that that person will receive literally thousands of files called “CV.doc” or “CV.pdf” for the same position. So titling your CV “CV.doc” is the easiest way to get it lost among gigabytes of files in a folder titled “CVs”. So the first key take-away is: give your CV file a proper name, such as “Larysa-Chaplin-CV.pdf” or something similar.

Remember that although people might be looking for whatever fits, companies will be looking for a specific skillset from a person who will fit their needs, culture and values. If you are looking for whatever job that is available, that is exactly what you are going to get. If you are looking for a good job, you have to invest your time in research and preparation.

Research. There are two parts to the research when it comes to getting a job.

Part I: research the sector you want to work in. It doesn`t matter if you are an accountant, a developer, a marketer, in HR, a lawyer, etc, the one thing you really have to accept is: different industries have different requirements. An accountant in the oil and gas industry will have different focus than the one working in IT or finance. A marketer in a media company has totally different requirements than the one working in the non-profit sector. The requirements for different parts of a single sector also differ and it is worth to investigate those as well. When you understand the industry you want to get into it will be way easier to show how and why you are the best fit in the application for a particular position.

Part II: research the skills required for the job you want to get in your chosen sector. Some industries and sectors are very stable and have the same set of skills required for jobs year to year. Other are fast moving and ever changing, such as IT, fintech, pharmaceutical, and media. It was interesting to see when suddenly SQL became one of the most sought-after skills and how demand for it spread from just the IT profession to finance, banking, procurement and even marketing. The demand for R and Python specialists is now increasing rather impressively. Marketing is increasingly becoming more technically advanced (referred to as ‘marketing automation’). SEO and SEM are no longer responsibilities of web-masters alone; every digital marketing professional has to know at least the fundamentals. All of these specifics can be found in job descriptions. Some of the skills can be easily acquired via an online course or by reading a couple of books on the topic. Some skills have to be learned at a much deeper and more professional level. The only way to figure it out is research and analysis.

It is important to differentiate between the skills which are nice to have and those which are absolutely essential for the given employer. It is almost impossible to exactly fit 100% of the description of any job. The rule of thumb here would be to look at the skill(s) they ask for and answer these questions:

  • Do I know how to do it?
  • How good am I in this skill? Can I improve quickly?

Check the mini quiz bellow

If you feel that your fit is at least 70%, you can apply.

If you feel that whatever you do and even if you do your best to learn the skill, you would still not be good for it, that job is not for you.

One of the easiest ways to carry out such research is to go to a few job boards and use the advanced filters there. Then go through the jobs you have found and analyse those in Excel or Power Point. When enough data is collected, work on the CV to make it suitable for the potential employer.

Another good way is to go through a recruiter specialising in the sector you are interested in. Recruiters are usually very good at being informed about what is “in” and exactly what companies within specific niches are looking for. They use solutions like Vacancy Tracker and Reports to keep up to date with rapidly moving markets and to stay current about the skills which companies demand.

Written and Published for Vacancysoft