What are the new rules for job hunting?

From Nine To Noon, 11:35 am on 13 July 2021

Being humble is a bit of a national personality trait, but a recruitment expert says Kiwis need to put it to one side when it comes to the job hunt.

Author Tom O'Neil has worked in recruitment and HR for decades, and runs his own career and life coaching company, careercoach.nz.

He was a contributing author to the best-selling book 'What Colour is Your Parachute' and he's just released a new book, co-authored with his mother Gaynor O'Neil - also a recruitment specialist - called The New Rules for Job Hunting. 

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Photo: Supplied

It's a guide for navigating the tricky process of selling yourself to prospective employers.

Social media has been a gamechanger for job seekers, he says.

“We are a brand and never before has this ever really been the case.

"But now with social media, particularly, we're in the space where everything we do is being captured, we put the stuff out there, there's information out there that we can be judged upon.”

The CV is the brochure and the social media presence, particularly on LinkedIn backs that up, O’Neil says.

“In many respects LinkedIn is super critical. Having a really strong CV, that's your brochure, having a really strong LinkedIn profile, that's effectively your professional website.”

Recruiters like LinkedIn, he says.

“They can go direct to people, and really start that job discussion if they see that there's some really good information there.”

Building up an engaging LinkedIn profile is work that should be done prior to job seeking, he says.

“Most people are pretty slack and they just don't spend a lot of time thinking about this. And so, they'll put together a very poor LinkedIn profile then moan that it doesn't work.

“My advice to people really wanting to develop a brand is do the work now; maybe you have a blog, particularly with LinkedIn, you know, it's putting your thoughts out there that obviously add value to your industry, your community.”

People tend to undersell themselves when they’re in the job marketplace, he says.

“A really a great way to get past that is by thinking; what are my achievements? Where have I set up systems, put new processes in place? Where have I been involved in special projects, been awarded further responsibility, training, coaching, mentoring - all these sort of things define our value, not just the set things we get paid to do.”

The CV summary is particularly important, O’Neil says.

“We've got to understand the first person who reads our CV, probably doesn't understand what we do on a day-to-day basis.

“Therefore, it's critical that we look at the keywords in the job advertisement and then mirror those into the summary of our CV, really presenting ourselves as a solution to the employer’s problem.”

Going direct to a potential employer can be effective, he says. And within that organisation the person with the hiring power.

“Decision makers, not HR, no disrespect to HR or HR people, but end of the day HR don't have the ability to hire you.

“It's the person who is the boss. So, if you're a sales rep, the sales manager, if you're an engineer, it’s the engineering manager, whatever it is go to the person that can actually hire you, that has the budget.”

When it comes to interviews, get the basics right, he says. Turn up early be presentable and anticipate obvious questions.

“Tell me about yourself that horrible, horrible question that's supposed to be an easy one that sort of gets the interview rolling, but if you answer it in the context of past, present, future - what have I done in the past? What am I doing at the moment? Where do I want to go? That can really help just put together very strong interview answer.”

And embrace the nerves, he says.

“We've got to understand butterflies is adrenaline in our system. Adrenaline makes us sit up, helps us process data faster and makes us more aware of our surroundings.

“So, in actual fact, being in an interview with butterflies is wonderful, physiologically we’re in the best place we possibly can be. So, enjoy the butterflies and make them work for you.”