In which I perform a Saturday stocktake …

Early mornings at the weekend are an ideal time for some quiet reflection particularly during this cold spell. The rest of the RPS family is piled under duvets as thick as the snow on the TV.

Another week has gone by so I am seven days closer to the exit. But I have, I hope, gained at least another seven days of wisdom or experience at least.

This week I learned that my super-duper re-worked CV was still not fit for purpose. So having taken further counsel it is now rejuvenated. (It is close to having had as many incarnations as Dr Who.)

I learned that I was still not identifying clearly enough the transferable skills I could bring to a new employer. I have tackled this in my latest applications. (I hope.)

I learned too that I must be clearer about my distinct contribution and achievement in each of the successes I have painted on the fuselage of my CV.

More than anything I have learned that I must be much smarter in understanding the rules under which application and CV sifting work. And these change for each role and individual handling a piece of recruitment. The only constant in the feedback I have had to date is that there is no constancy here.

This topic has come up on this blog and on the Guardian Professional Network Q&A on redundancy that I was involved in a week or so ago. I have attempted to implement the learning from my colleague panelists and the most recent feedback I had.

I have a fear though that if I fail to make the cut next time too I am likely to hear almost the exact opposite of the feedback I implemented last time around. That’s why I now routinely try to speak with the senior consultants handling any given recruitment. Trying to discover what particularly lights their or their client’s candle.

It’s not often I feel much sympathy for the FA but after their experience in Zürich I really do think I know how they feel. You follow a given set of instructions but actually the folks you are playing with have updated the rule book. Didn’t you see the memo?

About a month ago I was given feedback on an application that went something like this:

‘How could I improve my application?’

‘I don’t think I can offer anything specific. You clearly showed how you met the person specification and your examples were good.’

‘Er … so there’s nothing more I could have done?’

‘No, you clearly met the person specification.’

‘Er … I hope this doesn’t sound rude but if that is the case why didn’t my application make it through shortlisting?’

‘Well, the client changed their mind after the closure date and increased the emphasis on one of the desirable requirements.’

‘Made it essential?’

‘Um … yes.’

‘Oh …’

In those circumstances I felt for the consultancy but obviously not as much as I felt for me. It’s a buyers’ market and I had been ‘gazundered’.

Armed with all that knowledge I’m gearing myself up for next week. Finalising the applications I am working on now. Plotting with a range of colleagues about how we might carve some form of future out. And, of course, sharing anything useful I learn along the way.

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
This entry was posted in bad news, HR departments, Job applications, job hunting, recruitment consultancies, Redundancy, rejection letters and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to In which I perform a Saturday stocktake …

  1. Christine clifford says:

    Your resilience against what must be a gloomy ordeal is admirable. I hope you have joy bringing experiences every day to sustain you too!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention In which I perform a Saturday stocktake … | A redundant public servant's blog --

  3. Mean Mr Mustard says:

    “…each of the successes I have painted on the fuselage of my CV”

    Yes, CVs are indeed very like aircraft, needing to be carefully designed for particular roles -whether soaring at high altitude with all the high performance pressures that entails, or as a ‘down in the weeds’ mud mover trying to avoid detection, or maybe you’d prefer a simpler utility role?

    Not needing to maintain my previous altitude, I’m trying to cover a wide range of capability, using a swing-role platform. (A functional CV with the widely despised public service history right at the back!) But just in case, I still also have a high altitude interceptor fuelled and waiting in the hangar, which emphasises my recent specialism in a higher grade. (reverse chronological format)

    And like operational aircraft, each still needs a carefully considered specific load-out prior to launch, maybe needing some top cover too. (That’s the covering letter, plus rewording, deleting, and re-ordering of the CV to best suit each targeted vacancy).

    While your log book and flying hours may build up with repeated sorties, remember that you will only need to make one kill. Even if you keep getting shot down in flames yourself.

    What colour’s your parachute, RPS? Check Six! Over…

  4. CAS says:

    Thanks for the thoughts via Twitter & for sharing your journey after The Letter. Your posts are going to help, guide, inform and continue to entertain me.

  5. I’m admiring this site and recommending it to others.

    I’m a little concerned about the strength of the emphasis that you are putting on the CV in particular. I recruit at senior levels in the public sector, and find that although the CV is absolutely critical in the private sector it’s only a part of the picture – and arguably not the most important part – in the public sector.

    Specifically, for roles that ask you to provide a supporting statement it is the quality of that supporting statement more than the CV which will get you through to the next stage. For reasons born out of equal opps the public sector is very keen on having an evidenced trail of achievement specifically aligned to the person specification, and the supporting statement is your opportunity to show that. It’s your opportunity to give very specific examples to show the extent to which you have the person spec characteristics, and if you can do this with specific evidence of outcomes that will go down very well. That plus the covering letter are probably the two most important contributions to getting an interview. The CV becomes more important thereafter.

    Apologies if this is all very obvious – it’s just that I’ve heard you mention CV far more than “supporting statement”. Let me know if you’d like me to expand on this.

    A note for people applying for Private Sector jobs – typically the CV is more important here.

    • Dear Jonathan,

      Thank you for both comments. It’s very helpful to have a recruiter’s perspective on both the labour market and the mechanics of recruitment.

      I think I have burbled more about the CV because its the area in which I have had more ‘could do better’ feedback. Also I think it has become a little mysterious particularly for those of us who have been out of the job hunting game for a while.

      Your emphasis on the difference between public and private sectors is interesting and maybe explains my CV mania. It’s what my private sector-based friends talk about all the time.

      Thank you for reading the blog and taking the time to comment.

      Best wishes


  6. Mean Mr Mustard says:

    That sounds like all good advice for high flyers, but most of the soon to be ex-public sector jobseekers will be at a routine admin level. Here it’s very difficult to differentiate or even identify transferable skills – Mrs Mustard, though talented and hard working, is having problems compiling a CV, and will be in competition with many others, unless she decides to throw in the towel. And who’d blame her and her colleagues, as the press attacks initiated by those in Gvernment – from all political parties – against their own workforce has pretty much undermined their confidence in even getting a fair hearing if they get as far as an actual interview.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s