Tips for Job Seekers

Linkedin Gravestone - is this the end

Linkedin – Is it the end?

Wednesday afternoon, twiddling my thumbs, playing with google advertising, doing some business “housekeeping”. Exciting is not going to find its way anywhere near that sentence. To break up the monotony I  decided to head over to Linkedin for some inspiration, after all I had not been on my profile page for quite a while, and I had recently received some random connection requests that I had ignored and thereby can justify my “timeout”. What I found was that in the past four years nothing has changed for the better and I would argue that Linkedin, in its desperation to generate income has encouraged a downward turn in content worth reading. Linkedin has become Facebook-esque. Always threatened to happen but now it has truly arrived or maybe it happened three and half years ago when I dozed off.


The evidence was in my so called Linkedin news stream. It all started well enough, with a decent share from Hubspot, always a good source, about how to get people to click on your web content and engage.

Up next a sponsored ad about big data – big yawn, that’s not to argue against big data, but it is all a little dull, vague and requires a room full of ultra-geek personnel to decode – pop goes the staff budget, but “hey guys we are popular in the Indian subcontinent”.

Stick with me it gets better, per se..

I don’t really mean better per se, I actually mean that the peasants are revolting, bad double entendre aside and an interesting snippet from one my old MDs out of the way, but there is a small fightback being mounted. But before I get to that, let’s get inspired by some of the content further down the news, and if this doesn’t make you want to fire the person that posted it then nothing will:


Linkedin is the end - Inspired photo

Whoever that chap is he needs a promotion for being so “on message”, as does the fella that “Completely agree with this”. High fives all round. I’m not cynical before you think it, I’m just so very bored with the mindset of the people that feel the need to publish this kind of trite self-help rubbish instead of just working. What makes matters worse is that the man in the photo isn’t alone, he is with a photographer although I suppose I should be grateful that there is no selfie involved.

Further down the list, I encounter some sly casual sexism dressed up as content by Linkedin themselves:

Linkedin - is this the end sexism on Linkedin

Why is this sexist? Firstly, it’s a photograph of, in case you didn’t notice, a woman. Secondly, why couldn’t it have been a man with his shirt opened to his navel? If the point of the exercise is to encourage the Linkedin user base to upload a photo and by doing so allow them the opportunity of winning the chance of a headshot;

[success]”We’re traveling across the country to offer free headshots and profile advice to our members. So stop by and we’ll help take your profile from good to amazing.” Linkedin[/success]

If this is truly the case then have the courage to run the campaign with the headshot of a model. Maybe I’m wrong but….

Finally, after a few more adverts and some other superfluous shares I came across this:

Linkedin is not Facebook

Hooray. No really, I mean whoop with joy and share amongst all of your colleagues on Linkedin, they will after all be delighted. Or probably not. Because whoever posted this failed to see that by posting this they are part of the problem and not part of the solution. the solution is not to post at all. Why do you feel the need? What empty hole at the center of your being is this sharing papering over? None. You have no reason to share anything at all on Linkedin any longer. No one really cares what your views are other than when they come to use them against you. Linkedin entices you to share by making it simple. This is not reason enough to stop thinking for yourself and allowing your index finger to take control. Sharing will not enhance your career prospects.

Linkedin is just a global directory, let’s all be professional and treat it like one.

(In the time it took to write this article another 7 updates entered my news feed. Sign up to our non-existent mailer for an update on this circa June 2019)

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Laszlo Bock SVP People Operations at Google

The worst CV mistakes, according to Google’s HR chief

Google’s chief of HR, Laszlo Bock, says he has personally viewed more than 20,000 CVs in his career, so it’s fairly safe to assume he knows a thing or two about what makes a good, or bad, CV.

Bock, who heads People Operations at Google, recently shared with LinkedIn followers the most common mistakes he sees on CVs.

For the HR expert, typos are the number one red flag on a CV and one that keeps happening far too often. In fact, he mentions a 2013 CareerBuilder survey that found that as many as 58 per cent of CVs contain typos.

“People who tweak their CVs or résumé the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error, because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune your résumé just one last time. And in doing so, a subject and verb suddenly don’t match up, or a period is left in the wrong place, or a set of dates gets knocked out of alignment,” says Bock.

Worst CV Mistakes

“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality,” he adds.

According to Bock, lengthy CVs should also be on an HR manager’s rejection list. The rule of thumb, he says, is one page per 10 years of work experience. Formatting is also a big issue, as he says many CVs aren’t clean or even legible enough.

Bock has also come across CVs revealing confidential company information which, in his opinion, should also mean instant rejection. Lastly, he says HR managers should turn down any CVs with blatant lies. In the age of the internet, any lies can easily be uncovered.

In the opinion of Google’s head of HR, these are the things that can send a CV straight to the recycling bin.

Original article: The worst CV mistakes, according to Google’s HR chief.

The worst CV mistakes, according to Google’s HR chief Read More »

interview answers

Interview Answers

I felt the need to share something from my daily Quora email digest. This answer came from a Gent called Tom Allen and I reference it here because it could quite possibly be not only one of the funniest answers I have seen, but it is also clever without being completely glib.

The Question:
During an interview what’s an appropriate answer when asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

The Answer: “That depends on where this company will be in four.”

I wrote about changing the interview dynamic in the room back in 2011 and it this answer would fit nicely with the approach and while your first reaction may be not to agree, I believe the question to be so crass as to deserve the answer!

Tom rounds out his thought process with his answer for what happens if the interviewer persists with requiring a definitive retort:
“Well, now it depends on whether you’ve just given me the job…”

I have to agree with him once more as he makes a valid point. This led me to consider of another alternative which could be used in place of both answers:

“If you have not given me the role then I will probably be with your main competitor taking away your market share”

That should seal it!

Interview Answers Read More »

Paris Brown Twitter Remarks Cost Job

Paris Brown – The things kids say

Paris Brown, forced to resign from her employment as Britain’s first youth police commissioner, will be remembered for the added dubious distinction of making choice remarks on Twitter in what were still her formative years. Apparently. Although the word on the “street” is that quite a few choice remarks were made in the last 6 months and not just between the ages of 14 and 16. But what of it and what can the rest of us learn from the story?

An obvious conclusion is not to write anything that is, or could be construed as, confrontational on a social network. That is simplistic enough solution for anyone over the age of 40 but what of the population below this age? The “youth of today”, consider the Social Networks a place to dump a plethora of inane remarks for the legions of “friends” to respond to in an equally if not superior example of banality. I’m not going to defend any remarks that are made on Twitter or Facebook, but my instinct coupled with a little introspective consideration suggest that people in glass houses should not throw stones as only the truly righteous will have no skeletons in the closet.

Every generation is the same, there is nothing new under the sun, but the difference for those of us old enough to remember the days before the commercial internet, and this should be seen as pre 1990, will remember that you could say what you wanted (free speech) within reason, without running the risk of losing your job or having your collar felt by the police. As a general rule of thumb teenagers are reckless, feckless beings. Or are they just full of the spirit of youth, brimming with carefree abandon? I would say it’s both. In the instance of Paris, if you scrape past the broad brush of the media and look at the remarks they could be considered zeitgeist generalisations, a crass stereo typical identifier labelling by a kid. She was wrong but in a realm where only a peer group is invited, sometimes the parents can be considered caught sleeping on the job.

But could she prove to be the start of a pivotal moment in the history of social networking? As someone that has learnt from taking the hard path, she would do well to take the blows, stand tall, and turn her lesson into one that can be shared for the common good. She made a mistake, and she should now be allowed to make amends as ambassador for reasonable, acceptable behaviour.

For the rest of us, we should ingest the lesson quickly, or the forfeit could be equally catastrophic for career aspirations. There are ways for everyone to protect themselves from scrutiny, and if your subconscious can not be trusted (a word to the wise – it can’t), then maybe you should consider an exercise in pertinency and perform a social network purge?

Twitter and Facebook are seen as a visible statement of consciousness by a generation. A place where controversy is the king maker, audacity a crown prince but in every court there is a fool, and in the land of the blind the one eyed girl could be Queen.

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CV ready for the end of the recession

Is your CV ready for the end of the recession?

Your CV is going to come under increasing pressure over the next year as the economy pulls slowly from recession into a growth phase. The CBI predict that up to 35% of private sector employers are expecting to expand their workforce over the coming 12 months. In contrast 15% expect the workforce to be smaller.

How this will impact your CV:

Increased confidence from employers will filter into the economy and this knock on effect will in turn stimulate more interest from candidates who may have been treading time in positions that they no longer want. In turn, they will enter the recruitment market and increasingly dilute the pool of talent that is looking for the new positions. If the numbers are correct and you take the split from the two as a straight 20% then the numbers applying for each role will increase but the question is not how but by how much?

It is difficult to predict but for arguments sake lets say a minimum of 10% and a maximum of I’m not sure! What I can predict is this; More choice for employers and recruiters is the first simple assumption to make but what any candidate that has been out of work or is in an interim position should be concerned about is the competition from the people that just wish to change jobs. In a majority of situations those that have employment can be favoured over those that are out of work or interim. The bias occurs because a blanket false assumption is made that those coming from employment have a fresher skill set.

How to react:
Regardless of your current employment status it is your CV and to some extent your Linkedin profile that must start doing the work for you. Target the positions that you wish to apply for and start tailoring your CV to win interviews and jobs. If you have a generic CV or lack key detail from the job description woven into your CV (and cover letter if required) then you should not be surprised when you are not contacted to go for an interview.

If you want to beat the competition you have to beat them on every conceivable level.

Leaving everything to indifference is a catastrophic career choice.

Is your CV ready for the end of the recession? Read More »

How to avoid prejudice on your CV

CV Tip #5 Detail and Prejudice Avoidance Checklist

The Detail & Prejudice Avoidance Checklist

Guess what? People are bigoted. I know that’s a sweeping generalisation and that you might rank yourself amongst those pure souls that make a Buddhist look like a fascist, but no matter how much you try and convince yourself otherwise it is a fact. We can be assured that at this point in our history prejudice is being marginalised (as I’m writing this, John Terry the Chelsea footballer player has been found guilty by the FA of racial abuse) but will it ever be eradicated? Probably not if ever as it is a protective measurement that is a
Group Choice
“In evolutionary biology, group selection is a theory that alleles can become fixed or spread in a population because of the benefits they bestow on groups.”[/notice]
or sometimes
Genetic Choice
“…the gene-centred view follows that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other. Therefore the concept is especially good at explaining many forms of altruism, regardless of a common misuse of the term along the lines of a selfishness gene.”[/notice]
throwback to a time when we would tribe (in Western culture has it ended? No.). Most of us can discern right from wrong and ignore our impulse and treat everyone as equal. However, can we really control our subconscious especially when its thinking 20 seconds ahead of us? This is the dilemma you face; people, humans are fallible by intent and sometimes through no fault of their own as shown on Horizon by the BBC:

Therefore to try and stop prejudice and avoid the Group or Gene mentality, always ensure your cv follows the checklist below by eliminating clues that prejudice “flags” react to.
[list style=”list3″ color=”green”]

  • Address and correct post code: if you have just moved to a new home and do not know the post code then use the royal mail post code finder
  • Hobbies: Keep them short and relevant: The application process for any position is littered with hobbies/pastimes or obsessions of applicants trying to to be funny/interesting or quirky. The consequence of adding the aforementioned is usually to lose credibility or to subject your CV to scorn and at the extreme, prejudice.
  • Portrait picture: This is where you will find double standards abound. Linkedin profiles encourage you to provide a picture and people are increasingly adding a head shot or in some instances a picture that they think is amusing or “cool” (avoid the latter 2 if your position requires an authoritative and corporate individual). Yet the concept of the CV in the UK seemingly still baulks against this trend. But why? Probably through recruiters and employers actively being against the idea for historic reasons and to avoid gender/race/colour/age prejudice. So why is Linkedin able to ignore this historic dogma? Probably because it has been adopted en masse and has become an expected norm whilst those profiles without pictures are now treated with suspicion(Group selection and subconscious again, the irony!).
  • Other images: We have seen a trend, of late, whereby some candidates have decided to add a company logo alongside a company profile in a role description. At first glance this makes a visual impact and if the companies in question are of a substantial size or are renowned, this can have a positive effect. Although there not many ATS options that can accomodate the images and could in some instances cause the CV to fail a parsing sift. Our advice to those of you that would like to use a company logo to follow up with a call to agent and ensure the CV has been parsed correctly. Failure to call could cost you the opportunity of an interview.
  • Religion: You may or may not have a faith or a belief but based on the information that I have presented here look at it on your CV and ask what does it add to your career document? It adds the opportunity for a reader to make a descion based on Group.
  • Facebook/Social or personal Websites: When assessing you for role suitability in the selection process, the recruiter will perform a search on your name via the internet. This can be both beneficial and detrimental; if you use social networks then you are the person responsible for how you portray yourself and the accessibility of the data therein. If you consider yourself a bit of a blogger then you may wish to include a link to your blog. If the blog in question adds something to your application (such as a record of papers that you may have written for an academic institution then use it and explain why on the cv. If your webspace is a place where you rant about life or just generally make vacuous statements based on an ill informed perspective then do not make the recruiter or employer aware. Equally, do not be surprised if the more tech savvy recruiter finds your fetish site and dismisses your application (Group).
  • Lies and truth bending: Any type of bending the truth or lying on your CV is illegal.
  • Age: Age discrimination is illegal and you are not required to put your DOB on a CV. However, by omitting your DOB you can expect to cause an irritation as you the recruiter will try and calculate your age by studying when you started your first position, left university or school. And while you may blister at the thought of someone doing this, it does occur (Group). There is a positive to this and it is experience may be emphasised. You could be a “seasoned campaigner” or a “whizz kid” both of which could say you have achieved a great deal in a time scale and therefore the merits of being old, young or somewhere in-between are viewed positively. Out of all the prejudices, I personally think that age is the one that is not as prevalent as it was in the past.
  • Name: Put your name on your CV and ignore what Nick Clegg said The chances of you being discriminated against by name and not getting a job are low but no one seems to have a percentage. We live in a multi-cultural society and the majority of people in senior decision making positions realise this and make informed choices on employment accordingly. I would suggest that if you are a victim of prejudice then make a complaint to the relevant authority, consider yourself lucky enough to find out before you begin employment and try and find a position with a modern or forward thinking business that appreciates talent as the main criteria for employment.
    Usually (thankfully), the reason you will not get a job in 99% of instances is either, you are not good enough, lack required experience or lack suitability of key criteria. One other reason, your cv was not optimised for the ATS and your application fell at the first obstacle.

    Do you think I covered all the detail relative to your CV? Add a comment below and let us know.


CV Tip #5 Detail and Prejudice Avoidance Checklist Read More »

There is nothing new under the sun

There is nothing new under the sun. Honestly.

And here is the proof. Those crazy kids marched from Jarrow to London and arrived although I’m not sure how many of the original gang arrived – I didn’t notice Matt Whale anywhere but then I didn’t see any media coverage of the arrival. It must have slipped of the edge and slid under my radar.

Today’s jobless figures are the “worst on record” – roll the pantomime reply; Oh no they are not. They are the worst since we started creating a record which was ’92 but we can actually look back in time and find that in the early 80’s the figures were worse. I would say in real terms, its fair to say, a hell of a lot worse. I have a particular memory of an outside toilet, with no roof at dusk with the rain tipping down and Pink Floyd say something about we dont need no education”. No internet or social networks thus the only way to find work would have been to go city to city.

Now we can do it from the comfort of our home computer, laptop or other tech device. With mummy supplying us tea and hobnobs. Its a tough life.

To enforce this idea, the good old Beeb dug Charlotte Foster of Norfolk,  out of bed to let her tell us that nobody wants to employ her and nobody will reply to her (Yawn).

I have a solution for you Charlotte, send us your CV and let’s discover exactly why you are not finding work. You seem like a bright enough kid, what have you got to lose?

Trick is how are we going to do it? I need help. I’m going to tweet this article and facebook it but I need the help of the people using these networks to repost and retweet until Charlotte gets the message and sends us her CV.

Help us and we will help her.

There is nothing new under the sun. Honestly. Read More »

Why are you still unemployed? When the going gets tough..

Economic climate? Redundancy? Lack of opportunity? Not qualified or qualified enough? Not applying for work that is suitable? Recruiters ignoring you? Applications being ignored or passed over? Picking the wrong job and then being made redundant again when the firm goes bottom up?

There are numerous answers to this question but only you know which are applicable to you and your circumstance. So what is preventing you from finding work? Take the time to think this over. You may want to make a list of what is and what is not preventing you from finding employment. Once you have done this, study it and consider what corrective steps you can take to address the issues. I can guarantee that you will need to make change and that will require increased effort.

Have you thought about looking at working for your previous employers competitors? Make a list of 20, 30, 40 or however many you wish and contact them all (make sure you know what you are going to say or have a framework of questions at the ready).

Do NOT rely on email. If you have unlimited time on your hands or are not concerned with being ignored then use email. Email should only be used for confirmation of a conversation or agreement as it can be a waste of time in the first instance. However, it can be used as a subtle back door tool if the gatekeeper will not let you talk to the decision maker.

Linkedin and social media: Research the names of the key people that could offer you employment and contact them through Linkedin.

If you are using a recruiter to find you work then ring them everyday for an update. If they avoid your calls then find another recruiter.

Polish your CV. Make it irresistible.

Just remember the idiom, when the going gets tough the tough get going and this applies to looking for work.

Why are you still unemployed? When the going gets tough.. Read More »

Do you have a Professional CV that shows a transferable skill set?

I thought I would reiterate some comments from an article that we posted on the old blog a few months ago. The article came from the BBC Newsnight Job Market Mentors and the thrust of it was around how Public Sector employees, amongst others, can learn to survive in the real world, sorry, I meant to say the private sector. Deborah Meaden was seen to offer a young lady called Kelly, a PubSec employee, advice on what she should do to find work, and, if she can make the transfer across the Rubicon.

To coin a phrase, “let me explain where I am”;

I’m not the Deborah Meaden off Dragons Den biggest fan. I find her lack of courage and vision in the Dragons Den incredibly frustrating and she really does not put herself in the best light. This is a shame, as in the cold hard glare of the real world she actually does hold her own and speaks a lot of common sense.

But I digress. She suggested that she could take someone that has had a job and “apply at least 75% of the skills that they have acquired in it and use them in another role” (sic). Think chap that sweeps leaves in the park and turning him into the next CEO of RBS and you can see what she means – able to clean up a lot of mess with a new broom?

I’m not sure about the 75% figure, it does seem a tad throwaway but the real question is, is she right? Yes she is, but with a caveat. There is a natural point of reason whereby the statement does not apply. How do you check? First check the advertisement and what it asks for.
If you can’t answer yes to at least 80% of the requirement then it’s a safe bet your skills do not transfer to the level the employer may require and this is the issue. Expectation and square pegs for square holes. Ms Meaden is right to bring up transferable skills but unfortunately she will not be interviewing you.

Read the article and watch the video and you will probably feel that the example does not fit with your profile but you would be missing the point somewhat. Think laterally, take the main idea of being transferable and then believe enough in the idea to be credible. Ensure the CV conveys the idea and that the cover letter pushes the point home. Your next role could be completely different and you might just find it is the best move you have ever made.

Do you have a Professional CV that shows a transferable skill set? Read More »

CV Parse, its all about the CV Keywords or Resume Keywords

Does your CV Parse the test?

Excuse the dreadful pun in the title but do you know what the parse test is? If the answer is yes than I imagine your CV is well formatted and easily read (parsed) into a recruitment database. If, on the other hand the answer is no, then you might want to look carefully at your CV and ask the following questions.

Does your CV Parse?

Clearly identify the companies you worked for?

Position held in each company?

The dates?

Qualifications and dates?

Training and dates?

Clear personal detail INCLUDING D.O.B.?




This list, which is in no particular order, should be the first thing on your list of changes to make your CV parse. Imagine parsing as CV SEO. If it is not organised and targeted correctly then it will fail to achieve its complete purpose. The days when recruiters would print off CVs and look through them for a suitable candidate are gone. The CV parse is now standard, automatic, and you become an entry in a database. If your keywords are not what they should be then you will probably be missing quite a few opportunities because of poor format. Change it yourself now by looking at our professional CV examples or ask us to write your CV for you. We are often asked why people should use our services and the answer is straight forward. We have the expertise to write a CV for you. We do not ask you to fill in forms or just reformat your old CV. We interview you (so be prepared!). We send you a draft copy to show you the progress, take feedback and adjust the content if required. We then complete the document to your satisfaction. The new professional CV will change the attitude of recruiters but more importantly, we find that it changes your attitude and you will be re energised and far more positive about looking for work. Finally, your professional CV will pass the parse test. For a full list of services, click here.

Read what Burning Glass says about the CV parse by clicking here

Does your CV Parse the test? Read More »

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