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Nov 012010
Image by DaveBleasdale via Flickr

What’s the most important part of a typical job application? Is it your CV / Resume? Is it the  years of experience you’ve built up? Is it your unique blend of skills and expertise? The correct answer is none of the above! While all of those things are crucial components of the perfect job application, a really successful application is about getting you invited for interview. The For that, the single most effective weapon in your job-seekers arsenal is your covering letter. Why you need a great cover letter for your job application The term “covering letter” implies that this is perhaps a less important document than the material it accompanies. Not so! You see, when you’re applying for a job, your covering letter is much more than just a note to accompany the enclosed documentation. It is what the recruiter is going to read FIRST. It’s not so much a covering letter, it’s more of a sales letter.

Sell yourself with your covering letter

Your cover letter is the first opportunity you have to really shine… and to impress upon your employer just how perfect you are for the job. It’s worth spending a bit of time getting this right: Continue reading »

Nov 022009
job hunting

Image by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr

Looking for work in a suppressed economy can be more than just an uphill struggle… it can be a soul-destroying experience. Unless you approach it with the right attitude, the inevitable knock-backs will chip away at your self-confidence and erode your self belief to dangerously low levels.  It’s a vicious circle… if you don’t believe in yourself, what are the chances of an employer believing that you’re the right person for the job?

Staying strong and maintaining your focus in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds can be difficult. It’s important to remember that not getting a particular job, or even an interview, isn’t the end of the world… nor is it necessarily a negative reflection of your skills, ability or experience relative to the role. There are literally thousands of things that influence an employers decision on who and who not to hire. In an incredibly over-populated labour market employers are inundated with tidal wave of applications for practically every vacancy they advertise. Not getting a job offer at the end of the process is the de-facto standard when it comes to job-hunting, and in a recession it’s ten times worse.

If you’re looking for work, and are starting to lose your enthusiasm, here are a few things you can try to help keep your spirits up when the inevitable knock-backs come.

Continue reading »

Oct 222009
Yotsuba & The Apprentice

Image by Manic* via Flickr

Redundancy is an unpleasant fact of the modern working environment. The concept of a job-for-life is a long distant memory in today’s world of mergers, takeovers, downsizing and organisational “restructuring”.

No matter how secure you think your job is today, things could change radically tomorrow, and, like it or not, the threat of redundancy is very real.

Organisations need to stay competitive in order to survive, and often look to restructure and re-organise in an attempt to minimise costs and maximise efficiency. That process could easily mean that your job becomes surplus to requirements.

Feelings of shock, fear, anger and despair are common when you first hear you’re being made redundant. As emotions jostle for supremacy, it’s easy to lose your sense of perspective. But retaining that perspective is vital if you’re going to come through the trauma of redundancy unscathed.

Continue reading »

Sep 032009

New figures released this week reveal that the services industry has been worst hit by job losses this year, with construction and manufacturing workers also suffering severe cuts.

The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment figures show that 54,887 people have lost their jobs so far this year compared with 23,402 during the same period in 2008. That’s an increase of 134.5% year-on-year. The services industry accounted for 18,974 of those redundancies, or 35% of the total jobs lost, followed by construction with 13,942 job losses (25%), and manufacturing with 10,510 job losses (19%). Dublin, with 40% of redundancies, was top in terms of the geographical distribution of jobs lost, followed by Cork, Limerick, Galway and Kildare. Around 68% of people who lost their jobs were men.

Unemployment figures released on the same day showed the total number of people signing on rose again in August to 440,056, or 12.4% of the Irish workforce.

Jun 192009
US Whig poster showing unemployment in 1837

Image via Wikipedia

Today around the world thousands of people just like you are losing their jobs.

It’s an enduring, if unpalatable fact that due to the economic circumstances we’re living through workers are being made redundant through no fault of their own. That’s generally accepted, and being made redundant in itself won’t necessarily tarnish your impeccable employment record. But when it comes to your CV, just how much leeway do you have? What’s an acceptable gap between periods of employment, and when does the dreaded label of "long term unemployed" start to rear its head?

Six months! That’s the magic number, according to research carried out in Britain recently.

The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) surveyed more than 1,000 managers on the topic. The results show that being unemployed doesn’t carry the stigma that people losing their jobs so often fear. At least not at first. In fact more than 80% of them said that the current employment status of applicants was completely irrelevant, as they didn’t consider it an accurate reflection of ability or performance given the current climate of mass redundancies.

But there is a limit to this benign outlook: spend six months or more out of work and a quarter of employers say they’d be less likely to give you a job, considering you to be "long-term-unemployed" at that point. Of course it’s not as cut and dried as that: studying for relevant vocational or academic qualifications, getting involved in voluntary work or perhaps pursuing your own entrepreneurial enterprise in the interim can bridge the gap, and demonstrating that you’ve been keeping up-to-date with developments in your industry while out of work can also help your credibility.

The ILM also warns those who’ve lost their jobs against splashing some of their redundancy cash on an extended career break; managers typically described candidates taking a gap year to travel or volunteer overseas as "unattractive" in the poll.

"Unemployment isn’t necessarily an indicator of ability, especially in the current climate when hundreds of talented individuals are being made redundant through no fault of their own," explained Penny de Valk, chief executive of ILM. "The good news is that most employers will treat unemployed applicants exactly the same as other candidates.

"The research shows that it is important for job seekers to try and get back to work as quickly as possible. They should use their time not only job hunting but finding ways to put themselves in front of the competition. The most effective way for job seekers to boost their future employment prospects is to play to their strengths, freshen up their knowledge and skills and keep up to date with developments in their sector," she added.

When you’ve been made redundant, picking yourself up and getting into the right frame of mind to look for work can take time – and in one of the most competitive job markets in decades finding a new job can be a long and drawn out process. So start early, and stay focussed. It’s tough out there — and that six month window identified by the ILM could slam closed much sooner than you think!

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