IF you have not written a CV or been for a job interview for a few years, you might be in for a shock. The sheer number of applications received for every vacancy means that recruitment consultants and HR departments increasingly scan for the key competencies when selecting candidates for interview.
While experience and qualifications are usually a given -- and there are likely to be plenty of candidates who have "a minimum of two years in a managerial role" -- what recruiters want to know is how you will perform in the job.
However, as the average time taken to scan a CV varies from eight to 20 seconds, depending on which poll you believe, these core competencies need to be clearly demonstrated within the first two- thirds of your application or it will probably end up in the reject pile.
"The first thing to find out is the 'why' -- why the organisation is recruiting," says Wilson Wong, senior researcher at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). "This context will help you to understand the kind of candidate they want to recruit and can tip your application in your favour."
The next thing to determine is the "what" -- what the employer is looking for.
"The one thing that candidates often fail to do is match these competencies to their own," adds Wong. "So if the recruiter lists essential criteria, you need to match these point by point.
"If you cannot demonstrate that you have the experience or the transferrable skills required, your application will be rejected. But remember, it does not have to be in the same sector or industry unless that is specified. Reflect on your experience and make it relevant to the requirements of the job." The next step is to demonstrate "how" you will do the job.
"For example, if you are applying for a role in customer care, communication will be essential and you will need to crystalise clearly that you have done this before or something very similar.
"The skill is down to how much homework you put into the context of application and the culture of the organisation. This will help you define the particular competency in a way that is recognisable to that organisation."
EVIDENCE IS THE KEY Gaelle Blake, who heads up Career Transition Services at recruitment experts Hays, says that applicants need to do more than just list their qualifications, experience and competencies -- they need to evidence them too.
"It is not enough to say you can demonstrate these competencies, you need to provide evidence -- and in a way that those scanning the application can easily see and understand," she says. "Remember, recruiters or HR departments probably only get two-thirds of the way down the first page. So if you do not make it easy for them to understand that you have got what is required, you are unlikely to be put forward for an interview."
If you are applying online, your application may be scanned electronically. If this is the case, you need to repeat exactly the words used to describe each competency.
"If the job specification says 'team leadership' do not call your competency 'people management'," adds Blake.
DON'T FAIL AT THE FIRST HURDLE "The application is the first initiative test," says Blake. "It is a test to show you can read the job description, know what you are applying for and can prove that you have comprehended and interpreted the requirements of the job and then have come back with concrete examples of how you have what is asked for. So treat the job description as a question rather than a statement."
Of the 12 core competencies, most jobs require between three and five. They can be called different things but essentially they sum up the "how" of doing a job. So scan for these in the job specification. …