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Last week I applied for a job. Not an “employed” position but a coach-trainer associate role for 10+ days per year. And it was a great exercise to do this – something that I support clients with frequently but that I haven’t actually done myself since 2014.
And, as with everything, when you do it for yourself, you learn stuff. So today, I thought I’d share my learnings as they may well help you next time you apply for a job that you’re really interested in
So the first thing that happened OBVIOUSLY was my old friend the Inner Critic stepped in (mine is called Prissy Perfect Pants by the way – see LinkedIn post). Now Prissy, as her name would suggest, doesn’t like me to do anything that isn’t going to be perfect. So her voice started whispering in my ear:
“Who are you to apply for this job? You don’t fit all the criteria?”
“I bet there are much better qualified people than you. There’s no point going for it.”
OK. Deep breath. I know that the Inner Critic is trying to protect me but that she’s not an adult. I’m the adult and I make the decisions.
Reframe: “what I don’t have in EXACT criteria, I more than make up for in willingness to learn and enthusiasm.”. Now, move forward.
I do have a CV but this role calls for something a bit different. It’s a coaching role and, for the first time, I need to angle my CV very much towards coaching and facilitating so I decide to start from scratch.
I have some very clear criteria for a compelling CV:
1. It passes the 8 second rule – this is how long someone reads it before potentially rejecting it. First you need to figure out what you want the reader to ascertain about you in those 8 seconds. Read the role profile – are there any key criteria that you meet that you want to highlight. What else is it important for them to know so you don’t end up on the reject pile?
For me, I made sure that it would be easy to spot: (i) my coaching accreditation and academics (ii) how long I had been successfully running a coaching practice and (iii) my top energising strengths. The first two were relevant to the role profile criteria and the third to how I would perform in the role.
2. Everything in it is relevant. Look at everything in your CV and ask yourself “So what?” If you can’t justify why it’s relevant, it comes out. This is how you keep your CV to a succinct two pages.
This is why I decided to start from scratch. My corporate experience was not relevant to this role so it took up a small amount of space on page 2. What was relevant was anything and everything to do with coaching and training and that’s where I focused. Oh yes, and my outside interests were in there because they evidence my energising strengths around adventure and performance.
3. It focuses on achievements. This was an easy part of the CV to write, using the Challenge-Action-Result model.
4. It portrays your personality. This will mean something different for each and every one of us. For me, it was important that my CV looked a bit different (unconventional) and showcases my creativity as well as my qualifications and achievements.
I was delighted that they had requested a cover note – they would have got one anyway! I believe that this is another great opportunity to showcase your personality and (as you may have guessed) I love writing.
As well as what I wrote in my CV, this was my opportunity to tell them why I was interested in training coaches as part of my portfolio of work AND why I really wanted to do it with them. I didn’t hold back but put my personality and heart into the cover note. I did a sense-check by reading it to my husband (generally not as touchy-feely as me but a great writer). He didn’t wince so I was good to go.
And now the application has gone in and I feel that I have portrayed myself in a genuine, authentic and holistic way. And that is ALL you can hope for.
I will let you know how I get on!
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