In which I saddle up again …

After falling off my equilibrium a week or so ago I have been nerving myself to get back on the application horse.

I’ve been tempted back into the saddle by another job with a virtually identical person specification to the one I thought I was ideally suited to before. Again I think there’s a close match to my skills and experiences and those being demanded. And because of the job’s content it would be exciting, interesting and useful to do.

It may seem daft to say the least to apply for a job that’s a near cousin to the one I didn’t even get shortlisted for just a couple of weeks back. Maybe. But the feedback I had on that application identified I had failed to provide sufficient detail in the personal statement of my achievements. The things I had actually done.

I asked directly whether I was simply unqualified for this sort of role and was told that wasn’t the case. I was told I needed to tackled the application in a different way. (I took that to mean ‘Do it better.’)

What has also tempted me back out is the fact that the same consultancy is handling this appointment. So this is also a little bit of an experiment in testing out the consistency of recruiters. How ‘scientific’ is the process really? Before you ask I did check whether an application from me would be welcome or not.

I have also been ruminating on a comment posted on an earlier post by Jonathan Flowers (who knows a thing or too about recruiting). He said –

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.

I have taken Jonathan’s advice along with the feedback from last time and been much more specific than last time about what I did, what I recommended, how I tackled this or that thing, what happened next, what benefits were achieved and so on.

I also think my CV now does the job it is supposed to do for a recruitment process for a job like this one. It gives a sifter reasons to keep me in rather than put me in the ‘thanks but no thanks pile’. Specifically I have taken out the things that seemed to prey on the mind of the person giving me feedback as reasons why I wasn’t suitable for the role.

The other thing I am doing this time round is to be persistent in asking for feedback on my draft application. Last time this was promised but didn’t come. I also made the mistake of thinking the person I spoke to initially was the senior decision maker. So I have used LinkedIn this time around to contact the right person.

In all of this I am learning that good applications take time, care and planning. And that the labour market is a ‘buyers one’ just now. When so many excellent people are looking for work recruiters are spoilt for choice.

It must be the fact The Ashes are again being contested that I am reminded of the old story about filling Nottinghamshire CC’s first XI. When coal was king all a team manager had to do was to go to the nearest pit head and shout down for a ‘slow left-armer’ and one would be sent up.

I’ll wait for my call …

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 Job applications, job hunting, Public sector, recruitment consultancies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to In which I saddle up again …

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention In which I saddle up again … | A redundant public servant's blog --

  2. I am very aware that in the Private sector the CV is the main vehicle, in the Public sector its often distrusted and in some cases ignored. In my own area – education – the CV has way too many loopholes to allow sensible checking and verification of facts. We woke up a good ten years or so ago to the fact that we needed to be very safe in all our recruitment – the application and supporting statement allows for a clear process and ensures the information that is required is presented in a consistent manner.

  3. Kuv says:

    Dear RPS,

    Your blog is an inspiration to all of us who are going through a similar scenario.

    I personally think that your new job should be to keep writing in the wonderful style that you do and with enough entries, turn this blog into a book! I would buy it…

    Good luck on your job seeking journey.


    • Dear Kuv,

      Thank you for reading the blog and taking time to comment. You are very kind in your comments about my writing. I am just glad if people enjoy it or get something from it particularly if it’s a lesson in how not to do it.

      Thank you for your good wishes, I hope the Fates smile on you.


  4. Doug Shaw says:

    I like your approach. Recognising how the CV fits in over all, using social tools to find out stuff. And your appetite to learn is impressive. Based on what you have written I don’t think you are daft. I’d keep learning and press on, for now at least.

    Keep up the good work

    Cheers – Doug

    • Dear Doug,

      Thank you for visiting the blog and taking time to comment. I enjoyed your contribution to the excellent Q&A today.

      I have always enjoyed getting to grips with new experiences and the last six months of my life certainly falls into that description.

      Best wishes


  5. Mean Mr Mustard says:

    I was on a CV workshop yesterday. One tip there was on ‘search engine optimisation’ – making the profile statement as unique as possible, to differentiate from the others. Weeding, eradicating and expunging the all too common stuff like ‘enthusiastic administrator’. In fact, just like the Government are doing…

    In my case, if I ever described myself as an ‘enthusiastic administrator’, I would be telling a lie. But it was made very clear that the CV has now been reduced to a finely distilled blend of Buzzword Bingo and Unique Selling Point, at least within the private sector corporate arena.

    As for LinkedIn, that looks like another US business cultural infestation. Being a cynical Brit, rather than some overly eager syncophantic self-aggrandising toady, the whole concept seems very corporate and incestuous for my liking. But for some, I guess desperate times call for desperate measures, so good luck with leveraging your USPs…

    • Dear Mean Mr Mustard,

      I was told off for using USP a little while ago. Instead I was told to think of things from a buyer’s perspective. Clear Marketable Difference was the phrase I think – I’m sure folks will correct me – what can any potential buyer of your skills expect to get from you that they can’t get elsewhere.

      I’ve found LinkedIn really useful. In particular it’s proving to be an invaluable way of keeping in touch with colleagues as they fly the nest.

      Good luck with that leveraging …


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