Introductory narrative giving an explanation of the importance of the different elements of the form and the job market
The market today
Building your job profile is much aligned to, and influenced by, the condition of the job market. If there is a recession and an oversupply of your particular skills, then these factors will dictate your approach to your job search, which will require a flexible and creative attitude.
We can confidently describe the commercial climate as permanently evolving, competitive and uncertain of its own future. Our approach to job hunting must reflect this culture. Recognising these employment market dynamics will mean you will benefit positively from the skills coaching outlined in this programme.
Building your Job Profiler
Your work experiences, your personal circumstances, your personal preferences and your personal development are never static. They are continually evolving and changing and your career goals and aspirations must reflect this change and adaptation.
If, by using a structured method, you can confidently define your ideal job profile incorporating your core skills, then this knowledge will help you to be more creative in your job search. You will confidently identify roles where, through skills transference, you can make a strong positive application. From my experience, many candidates are too insular in their job search and application of skills. There can be a tendency to underestimate their abilities, for example, not to apply for a particular role within an oil company as they have no previous experience of the industry.
Yet, frequently, employers do not require industry experience as the skills required are not industry specific. The purpose of this exercise, which invites you to define and review all the facets of a job profile, is to give you a stronger focus in terms of the roles you can target in your job search. To build a job profile you should incorporate the following five important elements, which, from research based on my interviewing experience, are considered to be critical to career choice:
- Personal preferences
- Personal circumstances
- Soft skills
- Personal experience
Using these parameters, you can build your job profile and use it for job applications and as a reference for generating a professional CV. Review your choices and transfer your conclusion and comments to create Your Job Profiler. Be mindful that this exercise is a process, a road of discovery, not a sudden revelation. Let’s look at the first signpost.
We all have individual dos and don’ts. Our choices are personal; they are not right or wrong and do not require justification or qualification. Reviewing your preferences helps you to focus on roles that fit your profile and eliminate those that clash with your selection criteria. Most candidates will consider the following options on a ‘must have’, ‘must avoid’ or ‘don’t mind’ basis.
Many people will choose to work and live in the same area. They feel part of and engage with their community. Others will travel out of the area to work and may feel that they neither have the time nor the inclination to integrate with the local community.
Do you prefer a rural location where you can drive to work, or do you prefer to work in a large commercial conurbation?
How important are the work and home locations to you?
Do you feel strongly about either choice?
Employers will normally have a culture of nine to five, or long hours incorporating indefinite finishing times – which is your preference?
‘Work is my life – I love it!’
‘I am a member of a canoe club and I enjoy the twice weekly practice sessions.’
‘It is important that I spend quality time with my family during the week as well as at weekends. Work/life balance is my priority.’
‘I don’t have time for hobbies – we are too busy at work.’
These comparisons will be familiar to you from when you were introduced to the various personality types. Follow the advice. If you are an Influencer or Supporter, your preference will be for roles that have a high level of people interaction. If you are an Analyst or Creative, the focus on the role content will be your choice. The job description will highlight the required skills and you can ascertain if they match your dominant personality traits.
The larger organisation will have good sports and social facilities and can offer a more structured career path. The smaller organisation can offer better scope for initiative, greater opportunity to feel part of a team and provides an environment whereby you can make an identifiable contribution.
- Do you prefer the work environment to be within central or local government, not for profit, a charity or a commercial organisation?
- Is it important for your employer to be nationally or internationally based? Do you prefer a large corporate environment or a small, more intimate working atmosphere?
- Do you prefer your employer to be a long-established organisation or a new start-up?
- Is ethical trading important to you in terms of product or service? Do you need to know your employer’s sustainability policy if they have one?
This preference links well with the Location and Hours sections discussed earlier, but it is worth reviewing on a standalone basis. I know candidates who will only travel to work by car and who will not consider roles based in city centres due to the expense of parking and the inevitable travel congestion.
Where living environment is important, candidates may choose a seaside location and travel up to two hours to work. If you are flexible regarding location, then securing the role first and then matching your other criteria can be a sensible approach to location.
Working from home for most or part of the week will become a more frequent phenomenon and you should factor this in to your choice of job and accommodation location. Working from home gives you the flexibility of living further from work as the long journey is a more occasional occurrence.
Hot-desking – attending the office only for client or internal staff meetings – can significantly reduce employers’ accommodation overheads and is more likely to increase rather than diminish however much emphasis is put on the importance of face-to-face interaction.
In the hierarchy of choice, I would advise candidates to give primary consideration to their choice of location. Volatile recruitment markets mean your work location will change many times.
When the objective of a meeting is to sell or market a product or service, then most often the parties will meet face to face. The personal touch is regarded as critical to the sales process.
I have asked our Technical Director to comment on the influence of technology and how it impacts on the modus operandi of working behaviours:
“The widespread availability of good internet connectivity and VPN technology means staff have access to the same applications whether they are working in or out of the office. 3G and wireless access in towns and cities means people can also continue to work whilst travelling or at a client site. Email on small hand-held devices gives people the ability to monitor their company mailbox continuously without sitting at a desk, and the work style of clocking on and clocking off is now becoming less common.”
“Use of instant messaging software is becoming more acceptable in organisations. As a communication tool, it can be more responsive than email. People use a telephone far less than they used to and they will often send an email instead. Most instant messaging tools allow a user, once logged in, to set their availability status, which for example, may be ‘busy’, ’away’ or ’online’. This provides the other user with some instant feedback and they can decide to send either an instant message or use another method of communication. It is used to get a quick answer.”
“Virtual meeting software further facilities collaborative working, allowing individuals to schedule meetings and send invites. Attendees use a link to log into a web page and they are presented with a dashboard view. Here they can see a list of others who have also joined. The meeting organiser is able to share a view of their desktop which the attendees can see on the main part of the dashboard screen. If the attendees are using a headset, they can also talk to each other within the virtual meeting room using voice over IP protocol, which eliminates the need to setup a parallel conference call via the regular telephony system.”
“This type of virtual meeting software reduces even further the need to meet face to face, and a group of people working on the same project will be able to join the meeting from any location, if they have a good connection to the internet.”
It is important to be realistic and confront factors that will limit your search options. All candidates have individual and particular dos and don’ts, and you should not view these restrictions negatively. They are just particular to you. Personal circumstances limit your choice when searching for suitable roles.
- You may dislike a certain mode of travel.
- You cannot cope with the rush-hour crush.
- You have a relative whom you need to care for.
- You are divorced and consider it important to live near to your children who are living with your ex-partner.
- You were born in a particular area and do not want to move despite the scarcity of employment opportunities.
- You have a large mortgage, are paying school fees and need a minimum salary of £100k. Work content and challenge may then be secondary considerations to salary level.
Soft skills and personal experience
We have reviewed your preferences and circumstances and now we shall look at skills and experience. We could say that the first two are what you want and the latter two are what the job requires.
Overarching all of these is salary – the financial element. This will be dealt with in Remuneration.
You will have already identified, and be familiar with, your personality strengths that are frequently referred to as soft skills, or the personal specification or attributes within a job description that may describe the need for the candidate to be flexible, creative, industrious, ambitious, to be able to multi-task and cope under pressure, etc.
Your particular skills will match your preference for a predominantly people or task environment. However, soft skills cannot be considered on a standalone basis. Your skills are facilitators in the application of your other range of talents – your technical expertise. Though we can refer to soft skills and technical skills as separate, they are interdependent.
Technical skills are quantifiable and can be readily matched to advertisements as you scan the job boards. Technical skills will be obtained through education and work experience. The final parameter in building Your Job Profiler is to examine the extent and time over which you have acquired these skills.
When recruiting, the advertisements I write will frequently specify, ‘You should have at least 5 years experience’ or ‘Ideally you will have 2 years experience’ and salary levels will directly reflect the experience required.
This section on your job profile has been a prompt to encourage you to look more intently at your job opportunities and to apply a more selective mentality to the exercise.
By reading advertisements you will, through live research, get a good idea of salary ranges. Salaries are a personal subject and will be determined by your job priorities and domestic commitments. If job content and challenge are your most important criteria, then you will compromise on salary. There is no right or wrong. Some roles require a flexible attitude as the income initially may be below your expectation, but after six months or a year it may increase dramatically, subject to your performance.
Location can be a major determinant regarding salaries. Inner-city roles will normally carry a higher salary than a country or suburban location. The compensation takes into account the travel inconvenience and cost, as well as supply and demand.
Salaries can only really be determined on an individual basis. The determinants are many and diverse and, therefore, throughout your working life, will require an adaptable and flexible approach, particularly during recessions and credit crunches. For instance, oil, pharmaceutical, finance, IT and consultancy have a reputation generally of being better paid than hotel and catering, whilst advertising, PR and design can be company dependent.
Salary packages will vary from employer to employer in terms of benefits. The range of benefits may include: basic annual salary and a commission or bonus (individual or company performance related), pension, which may or may not require an employee contribution (contributory/non-contributory), annual paid holiday, gym membership, maternity/paternity pay, private medical insurance, life assurance, company car or car allowance, flexible working hours, and share option schemes.
When reviewing vacancies, calculate your minimum salary in terms of your financial commitments, incorporating special factors such as commuting costs and, if relevant, accommodation. Be transparent about your salary expectations and if it is not specified in the advert, ask for clarification of the salary range. ‘Should I discuss salary on interview?’ ‘Should I leave it until the second interview?’ ‘Will I appear too pushy or mercenary if I mention salary – they might think I am only interested in the money?’ My advice is yes, do ask for clarification – it is not construed as a weakness, quite the reverse. ‘I understand the salary range is...’ ‘I am seeking a minimum salary of...’ are construed as non-aggressive formats to introduce the issue of remuneration. Headhunters will often play an important role in the negotiation of final terms. Salary negotiation can provoke fascinating and diverse reactions. Some candidates will view a salary very personally: ‘I am certainly not accepting that offer – it is far too low – I am worth a lot more.’
This personal affront response will be the likely domain of the Supporter and the Influencer, whilst the Creative and the Analyst will be pragmatic and look elsewhere for the more competitive income.
The fluidity of the employment market requires greater flexibility on the candidate’s part whereby employment on a temporary/contract basis has increased dramatically. More frequently, salary negotiation involves agreeing an hourly or daily rate. Where a technical skill is the dominant prerequisite for the role, there is a higher incidence of candidates working on a non-permanent basis. Examples are Creatives being employed as freelancers and IT specialists working on a contract basis.
View all salary negotiations on a supply/demand non-personal basis and you will most likely achieve a fair and realistic conclusion for both parties.