“How to find a job?” – For people with disabilities
Summary “How to find a job?” aims to help people with disabilities in their search for a job. It consists of ten main sections which cover different aspects of the job seeking process. The introduction provides detailed information of the goals and the people that this course is for. In the next section named “Why am I a good candidate for the job you offer?” we give some suggestions that aim at increasing motivation and self‐confidence, while the part “Assessment of my skills” is dedicated to providing a deeper and more objective knowledge of skills and competences. It also helps to illustrate, prove and develop existing strengths by tools especially created for this purpose. In order to realise which career is the best for you, you will probably need a clear, well‐structured strategy. Two options that you could use are presented in the part “How to choose the best career for me?” The next section is “The job interview”. It will help you with some general tips and information that will be useful to know In advance when preparing for and going to an interview. This is followed by the chapter that provides information on how to prepare a good CV, what to include and how, etc. The final section of the course has suggestions on job seeking strategies and useful tips and links that will be of help to the job seeker. For a better understanding of the theoretical material, each section features tools, exercises, examples and templates which will enable you to better evaluate your progress and put the theory into practice.
Table of contents Table of contents ........................................................................................................................ 31. Introduction........................................................................................................................ 42. Why am I the good candidate for the job you offer? ........................................................ 5 2.1. Simulation exercise .................................................................................................... 5 2.2. TOOL for finding some more advantages concerning your disadvantaged position. 73. Assessment of my skills ...................................................................................................... 8 3.1. First self‐assessment tool ........................................................................................... 8 3.2. Second self‐assessment tool .................................................................................... 10 3.3. List of core competencies ........................................................................................ 12 3.4. Personal experiences with core skills ....................................................................... 14 3.5. Developing core skills ............................................................................................... 164. How to choose the best career for me ............................................................................ 19 4.1. Begin with your values ............................................................................................. 19 4.2. Identify your skills and talents ................................................................................. 20 4.3. Identify your preferences ......................................................................................... 20 4.4. Experiment ............................................................................................................... 20 4.5. A catalogue of options ............................................................................................. 205. The job interview.............................................................................................................. 23 5.1. How to prepare the job interview ............................................................................ 23 5.2. Typical questions asked during the interview.......................................................... 23 5.3. How to act during the job interview ........................................................................ 286. How to write a CV (practical tools) .................................................................................. 32 6.1. Why do you need a CV? ........................................................................................... 32 6.2. Contents ................................................................................................................... 327. Other useful documents................................................................................................... 39 7.1. Application form....................................................................................................... 39 7.2. Cover letters ............................................................................................................. 468. Job searching strategies ................................................................................................... 51 8.1. Resources for searching of a job .............................................................................. 51 8.2. Action plan ............................................................................................................... 52 8.3. Revealing the secret ................................................................................................. 549. Useful Tips while searching for the best job for you ....................................................... 5710. Useful sites ................................................................................................................... 58 10.1. Employment sites ................................................................................................. 58 10.2. Further help for disadvantages and disabilities ................................................... 58
1. Introduction “How to find a job?” is an e‐learning system designed to help people with disabilities in their search for a job. We address people with specific needs such as: People with disabilities (either physical or mental) Disadvantaged people facing various obstacles: Social: discrimination because of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, single parents, etc. Economic obstacles Educational difficulties ‐ early school leavers, school drop‐outs, people with no or few formal qualifications Geographical obstacles ‐ people from remote areas, living in peripheral regions, from urban problem zones or from less serviced areas Elderly people (either at pre‐pension or post‐pension age) The main objective of the training course “How to find a job?” is to provide these people with: useful, summarised information on some important issues, concerning the process of job seeking by people with disabilities. This information includes ways of composing documents for a job application, job seeking strategies, additional sources of information via useful links, tips for good self‐presentation during the interview and also after you find a job; exercises and examples that provide you on the one hand with feedback as to what extent you are ready to use the theoretical information and on the other hand will help you put the theoretical knowledge into practice; tools, that help you : o assess your skills and present them in the best way to the employer, o identify all the resources you could use, o choose the best career according to your skills, resources and preferences, and o outline an action plan and the best individual strategy for you.
2. Why am I the good candidate for the job you offer? While there is a shortage of qualified or loyal personnel nowadays, and it is getting harder and harder for the employers to find and keep their employees, part of the population drops out of the labour market because of their disabilities, social background, or age. According to the United Nations estimates 500 million people1 in the world today have disabilities. Although the figure may vary in different countries and according to different definitions, the WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that 10% of any given population is disabled2. In addition there is an important tendency marked in previous reports of the EU27 which states that by 2050 the number of people over 50 in Europe will have doubled to 40% of the total population or 60% of the working age population3. While employers are hesitant, statistics do show that people with disabilities are more inclined to improve their knowledge and develop their skills to a greater degree than others, and are more loyal to their employers. Equally, other surveys indicate that compared with other workers, workers with disabilities for example are more reliable, more punctual, more productive, make fewer requests and take fewer medical leaves4. So, what does my future employer gain when he/she hires me? A motivated employee, willing to prove himself/herself at the work place; A devoted person, used to overcoming various types of difficulties in his/her life; A long‐lasting investment since such a person is more likely to stay for a longer period of time ( e.g. IT companies sometimes even insist on hiring people with disabilities because all of their ex‐employees after being trained, moved to other companies abroad); By hiring you your employer could gain some additional financial benefits (by getting reduction of taxes for example). 2.1. Simulation exercise Let me now introduce to you Mr. Frank Jobson who needs to expand the number of his staff. Usually during an interview he asks the applicants questions like these: 1 http://www.aaas.org 2 http://www.hesperian.info/assets/GHW/C2.pdf 3 http://www.adults‐mentoring.eu/?pid=4 4 http://www.abilities.org/WIT
(You could choose some of the options given or provide your own free answer.) 1. If I hire you what kind of worker will you be? A. Hard working because I am used to making a lot of effort in order to achieve my goals. B. Careful and precautious since I had to take into consideration a lot of factors concerning the problems I had. C. Organised because in order to overcome the barriers in front of me I needed to plan each activity I was to undertake D. ________________________________________ 2. Are you a hard‐working person? _________________________________________ 3. Besides your everyday duties, what other contribution could you have to the working atmosphere in the company? A. I am a good listener and understand other people’s needs. B. I am a creative person and with a lot of interests and I can communicate easily with different people even ones that are found to be difficult to work with. C. I can work very well in a team because I needed an assistant and we had to work together. D. __________________________________________ 4. Has your disadvantaged position helped you before? How did it help you? ____________________________________________ 5. Why should I choose you? A. I am a flexible person used to searching for ways to overcome barriers and find solutions in difficult situations. B. I am used to working under pressure due to the difficulties encountered in my family status (single parent for example) C. Since I come from another country and to some extent I am different I am used to working with people who are different in a way D. ____________________________________________
2.2. TOOL for finding some more advantages concerning your disadvantaged position Sometimes it is not so easy to see and realise all of our advantages we are too concerned with the different barriers in our way. Things may slightly change however if we have time to think carefully and at ease about the possible positive sides of the present situation. In order to help you in this process which takes some time we suggest you do the following exercise: Please finish the following sentence: I am the good choice for my future employer because____________________ 1. I would like a permanent, long‐lasting job position. 2. __________________________________ 3. __________________________________ 4. __________________________________ 5. __________________________________ Try to fill all the spaces. If you want, you can go on adding more points. GOOD LUCK!
3. Assessment of my skills Think that youve probably got lots of skills youre not aware of. Identifying your skills can help you think about the right job for you. Sometimes it is quite hard to objectively and impartially evaluate your own skills since when speaking about ourselves we may be inclined either to under‐estimate or over‐estimate our skills. When applying for a job it is essential to have not only knowledge on what you can do, but also how to present and prove it. 3.1. First self‐assessment tool The following tool will help you in two directions: it will assist you in finding skills you have not been aware of, and at the same time it will provide you with good examples that could support your self ‐presentation. Step 1. Choose an event, activity, achievement etc. Example: Accomplished course or training A club or an organisation you have taken part in A challenge you have dealt with An ex‐job A sport achievement Step 2. How did you make this achievement? What skill did you use? Think of the event that you described in step 1. Which skills did you use to reach the final result? Did you acquire other skills during the process of the event? You may investigate the different skills from different angles. Did you use skill on the basis of academic knowledge? What personal skills did you use (based on your personal experience)? Did you have to take into consideration other problems such as the various interests of different organisations or people involved in the situation? Were you different in the end? If yes, in what way? Step 3. Making a list of skills and qualities After analysing one aspect of your experience, you can do the same for other events and compose a list which you can edit and update whenever you feel you have acquired a new skill.
You can select the most appropriate skills for the job you have chosen. It may also help you see if you need some further training or education. Skill and Proof of it How did you develop this skill in other situations? Print out this table in order to use it in the future. Step 4. Define your strong and weak sides Look at the qualities and skills you have enlisted. Which type of them predominates? In which sphere do you feel more confident? For which skills do you have more evidence? My strongest field is: Write down your three strongest skills: If you are not quite sure about your best skills, you may think about the profession you would like to practise. Your future employers would like to see that you are aware of your skills but they would also want you to be able to realise some of your weaknesses. My weak sides:
Writ down at least three weak points of yours: 1. 2. 3. This will help you identify each field in which you need further development. Step 5. Review of your progress. Look at the list of skills and evidence for them in step 3 and compare it with the exercise you did in the motivation section: I am the best candidate for the job you offer because _________. You will probably have a lot of other suggestions to finish this statement. 3.2. Second self‐assessment tool Here’s a list of the most demanded and important skills in the professional environment, known in the USA as SCANS skills5. SCANS skills are made up of five competencies (resources, interpersonal, information, systems and technology) and three foundation skills (basic skills, thinking skills, and personal qualities). Going through this list, be sure to note the skills that belong to you and why; the list you’ll have made in the end will be your passport to self‐assessment! The reasons why you think the competencies or skills belong to you are very important, is they will provide evidence when you have to prove to your future interviewer why you think you actually have these competencies/skills. To make this task easier, we have provided you with a table at the end of the description of the different skills and competencies. The five competencies6 Resources I allocate time I allocate money I allocate material and facility resources I allocate human resources Interpersonal I participate as a member of a team I teach others I serve clients/customers I exercise leadership I negotiate 5 Based on information provided on http://wdr.doleta.gov/SCANS/. 6 Based on information provided on http://wdr.doleta.gov/SCANS/.
I work with cultural diversity Information I acquire and evaluate information I organise and maintain information I interpret and communicate information I use computers to process information Systems I understand systems I monitor and correct performance I improve and design systems Technology I select technology I apply technology to task I maintain and troubleshoot technology The three foundation skills Basic skills reading writing mathematics (arithmetical computation and mathematical reasoning) listening speaking Thinking skills creative thinking making decisions solving problems seeing things in the minds eye knowing how to learn reasoning Personal qualities individual responsibility self‐esteem sociability self‐management integrity
Here you can specify which skill/competency you used, and describe precisely the situation in which you used it Resources Interpersonal Information Systems Technology Basic skills Thinking skills Personal qualities 3.3. List of core competencies You can also use the previous table and fill it in with the following core competencies, which present another point of view, slightly different. Communication taking part in discussions with colleagues/friends verbally explaining ideas to others composing/writing reports reading and understanding others’ reports/accounts of events giving/receiving information on the phone instructing others verbally and in writing
expressing opinions describing situations in work and personal life constructing and understanding graphic information making applications Numeracy performing calculations accurately measuring balancing accounts effective personal budgeting sending/receiving invoices controlling, ordering and dispatching components/stock Problem Solving accessing valid facts/information organising and using information using correct tools identifying solutions designing solutions adapting personal skills in new situations overcoming difficulties/challenges effective planning carrying out plans identifying suitable resources/support Working with Others joint ventures design or manufacturing teams assembly line involvement work squads office teams supporting/assisting colleagues sharing study investigations group projects collective organisation of tasks assisting with family requirements duties as part of an organisation taking personal responsibility in shared tasks Using Information Technology
computerised stock control word processing computer/video links controlled entry and security systems robotic control sending fax messages desktop publishing computer aided drawing Refer to the above lists to help identify: your own experiences with core skills ways to develop your core skills You can note experiences and development methods on the following pages. 3.4. Personal experiences with core skills Recognising and recording experiences with core skills is useful when: communicating with others about your abilities (making applications; interview and appraisal situations); transferring your skills to new situations (dealing with challenges in work and personal life); and identifying development methods. Personal experiences with core skills can be recorded in the areas provided below. Communication ‐ examples I give monthly reports, written and verbal, to my line manager. I use sign language to communicate with colleagues and friends. I compose letters to prospective customers to advertise our financial services. I give advice to customers as part of my duties in a DIY store. As a receptionist, I am usually the first line of contact with our company’s customers. Here in the provided space you can give your own communication examples or use some of the already given ones if you find they refer to you. You can follow the same procedure with the rest of the core skills as well. Communication
Numeracy ‐ examples I follow graphic and written instructions when fitting kitchen units. I measure floor areas and calculate carpet prices. I balance the family budget on a weekly basis. I have joint responsibility for controlling amounts of stock components in a parts department of a car dealership. I work in a supermarket checkout handling cash. Numeracy Problem solving ‐ examples I helped design and build a wheelchair ramp for my neighbour. I researched and obtained the correct information about tax legislation to assist our company’s accountant. I used my experience in catering to organise the community centre senior citizens’ dinner. I completed the holiday rota in our office to everyone’s satisfaction. Problem solving Working with others ‐ examples My nursing job involves a great deal of co‐operation with other members of the hospital staff. As a worker in the construction industry, I take responsibilities as part of a team to enable time deadlines to be met and safety standards to be maintained. My fellow students and I successfully organised and completed a group project and presentation as part of our degree course. To care for an elderly parent, I share responsibilities with other family members.
Working with Others Using Information Technology ‐ examples I am presently taking a course to gain a qualification in computer aided drawing. I use a computer for our family business’s accounts. I use a computer terminal to access stock availability in an electrical retail store. I am responsible for e‐mail messages as part of my responsibilities at work. Using Information Technology 3.5. Developing core skills Different people require different ‘levels’ of core skills. Activities in work, future aspirations, interests and hobbies, and situations faced in personal life can determine the core skills development needs of an individual. Referring to the core skills activities and situations in the previous pages, your personal experiences with core skills and the ideas shown below can help when identifying methods to develop core skills. Ideas for core skills development – you may think of others which will help you make use of the core skills in a greater degree. Communication Assume you have had problems on a recent holiday, e.g. travel, hotel, food. Compose a letter to the holiday company which clearly explains the experiences you encountered.
Also make a list of relevant points which could be used to support a telephone conversation on the same subject. Consider, and note, the responses you would expect from the company. Numeracy List all your cash expenditure over a one week period. Calculate the percentage each item on the list takes of your total expenditure. Review the list to decide if any savings or adjustments can be made to your expenditure. This task can be expanded to include your entire personal or family budget. Numeracy and Problem Solving are involved in the planning of your personal or family budget. In many situations different core skills are used together. Problem Solving Assume you are thinking of applying for a part time job or taking up a new hobby / activity. Consider where you might find information or support for this. Think of the factors to be taken into account – family and other commitments, time availability and any other areas of your life that would be affected. Note these factors and how you might organise your new situation around them. Working with Others Identify a situation in your employment or personal life which involves co‐operating with other people. Review and note your contribution to the situation. Think of ways you might enhance your contribution. Prepare notes to help negotiate the enhancement. Carry out the negotiations. Using Information Technology If you currently use IT in your personal life or employment, find out about available courses or training which could raise your level of competence or develop another branch of IT. These could be: at a college; in open learning format; ‘in house’ training opportunities from your employer. If you have little or no experience with IT, you can contact a career counsellor for advice about the best IT course for you. If you prefer to introduce yourself to IT or seek improvement without taking a course or training, then following guidelines could be helpful: find availability and negotiate access to a computer (or other equipment as appropriate), set aside a specific period of time on a regular basis for practice, ask a more experienced IT user for advice on tasks you should attempt, ask for a trainer who is well‐prepared to work with people with disabilities (the most important factor here is the trainer to be acquainted with your needs not his/her formal qualifications).
The following sections may be used to note personal core skills development needs and possible methods for achievement. Strengths and skills Identify the things you do well – use these to help other aspects of your development Everything you do adds to your personal store of strengths and skills. You probably possess many more than you believe. The way you manage your life requires skills: Budgeting your personal or family finances. Organising time for work, travel, leisure, education, chores. WHAT DO Skills you use in home based and spare time activities. YOU DO? Taking decisions which affect your own and others’ futures. Personal qualities you display are important strengths. Are you: a good listener to other people? WHAT punctual most of the time? SKILLS DO responsible when supervising children or others? YOU USE? You can use the area on the next page to record your strengths and skills. solving problems satisfying customers Tactful Examples well – organised oral and written communication Planning independent repairing items working with others determined numeracy presentation skills honest cooking designing and making clean driving licence persistent languages ambitious using Information Technology first aid
4. How to choose the best career for me 4.1. Begin with your values Your values are those things that are most important for you. One question you could ask yourself in order to find your values is “what do I like doing so much I would almost feel guilty getting paid for?” A job you will feel fully satisfied with will make a high match between your personal values and the everyday tasks performed. Finding your values Directions: Place a check next to the five values that are most important to you7. Being an advocate for others Having a sense of humour Being a leader Having close friends Being competitive Having community relationships Being famous Having enough time for myself and my work Being free to do what I want Having financial security Being loyal to others Having good self‐esteem Being physically and mentally well Having inner peace Being responsible for my own actions Having power or control over others Being wealthy Helping others Collaborating/working as a team Mastering a skill Discovering knowledge and wisdom Nurturing others Embracing diversity (understand and accept cultures and individual and group differences) Participating (giving time and talents) Receiving credit for my work Focusing on the meaning of life (religious beliefs and spiritual issues) Taking risks Giving and receiving love and care Using my imagination Having a feeling of tranquillity 7 The list is taken from http://www.headstartinfo.org/pdf/participating_management/Handout9.pdf
The next step is to arrange the list according your priority. When you’re done, you will gain a clearer sense of what is important to you, and this will help you focus on jobs that align with your deep aspirations. 4.2. Identify your skills and talents A skill is something youve learned to do. A talent is something you were born with, or at least that you seem naturally able to do. You may be skilled at something but not find it interesting. However, chances are that if you are naturally talented at something, that particular talent will match your values. Not only that, but you will be more keen to enjoy doing what you do well naturally than what you have simply been taught to do. 8 4.3. Identify your preferences Since we were children, we have approached the world with certain personal preferences ‐ how we perceive others, how we think and make decisions, whether we prefer people or things, and the extent to which we need to control each aspect of our lives. These preferences strongly influence the way we function with others. Some questions may help: Do you regard yourself as highly intuitive? Are you outgoing or reserved? When faced with a decision, do you rely primarily on facts or feelings? Your answers to these questions can tell you much about the type of work you will find interesting and adapted to you. One way to approach your preferences is from the pleasure point of view, and the questions you would have to ask yourself would then be: what brings me the most pleasure to do? What do I do in my spare time, in my free moments? This reflection can possibly join the one on your values, as you will obviously take pleasure in fulfilling tasks in accordance with your values. It’s important to go further in the reflection than simply filling the list. If I love going to the mountain, I have to ask myself why. In my case, I love going to the mountain to feel the fresh air and the sun touch my skin. Therefore, I can assume that if I have to work in an office all day in a dark room I won’t last long in that job. 4.4. Experiment Experience cannot be replaced, the more the better. If youre new to the job market or if you are considering a career change, get out and talk to people who are actually experiencing it. Try working in the field you wish and see for yourself if its really what you thought it would be. And dont rely on a single authority or work experience. If youre wanting to find out about a certain career, you may want to consider volunteering in order to gain work experience. That way, youll be able to test out whether it fits your values and preferences. If you arent getting paid to do it, chances are you wont stay with it unless you like it. If you still have difficulties in defining the best career for you, try another strategy: 4.5. A catalogue of options To help you adequately evaluate your career opportunities we suggest you the following: 8 As mentioned on topten.org/content/tt.AB6.htm.
1. Write down all the career options you have a) ____________ e) ____________ b) ____________ f) ____________ c) ____________ g) ____________ d) ____________ h) ____________ 2. Make a list of all the requirements for each option ‐ what skills are needed, what knowledge or experience are expected from you. It may take some time to search for the necessary information. For example: Office assistant ‐ Good computer skills ‐ English language ‐ Communicative skills ‐ To know how to work with office appliances 3. Match each requirement with proof (evidence) which shows that you are right for the position. This exercise will contribute to your ability of self‐presentation which is really important when writing a CV, covering letter or during an interview. Example: Office assistant ‐ Good computer skills: I have a certificate from a course proving that I know how to work with Windows, Word and Excel. I have a computer at home and compose all my materials on it. ‐ English language: I have studied in an English Language School. ‐ I have very good communication skills which I developed while working as a shop assistant for six months. If necessary I can present a reference from my employer. ‐ To know how to work with office appliances: I know how to work with a computer and a photocopier which I needed while I was a student You could also use the following table: Career options: Requirements: Proof / Example Office assistant ‐Good computer skills ‐ Good computer skills: I have a certificate from a course proving that I know how to work with Windows, Word and Excel. I have a computer at home and compose all my materials on it ‐English language ‐English language: I have studied in
an English Language School. ‐ Communicative skills ‐ I have very good communicative skills which I developed while working as a shop assistant for six months. If necessary I can present a reference from my employer. ‐ To know how to work with office ‐ To know how to work with appliances : I know how to work with a computer and a office appliances photocopier which I needed while I was a student … … …After you fill the table, look at the third column. Its most complete cell will probably direct you to the best career option. The process of choosing a career 1. Get to know yourself. You should make sure that you know your skills and competences and that you are aware of your weaknesses and strengths. Here you may consult the section “Assess your skills” 2. Match your skills with the requirements for the desired career 3. After you choose several options for a career, search for useful information about the chosen sphere‐ You can look at the resources for searching for a job section. 4. Develop your self‐presentation skills that will help you sell yourself by a CV, application form or an interview (you can look for information concerning this point at the section” How to choose a career?”) 5. Outline a concrete action plan (Action plan section)
5. The job interview9 5.1. How to prepare for the job interview Different kinds of interviews If youve not had an interview for a while, its worth knowing that organisations use different types of interview for different types of job. Some of the most common are: Competency‐based These interviews focus on the skills and attributes needed for the job. Youll have to relate your skills and experience to the job in question. Technical These are for technical positions such as IT or engineering jobs. You will probably be asked to display your technical knowledge of a certain process or skill. They may ask you to do this by talking about your previous experience or by asking you hypothetical questions, such as "what would you do if you were working on this project?" Face‐to‐face This is where the interviewer meets with the candidate in person. Telephone Some organisations use these as the first stage of screening. You may be warned in advance or contacted out of the blue. First impressions count, so you should prepare for a telephone interview just as much as you would for a face‐to‐face interview. But unless it takes place on a videophone, you wont need to put your interview suit on! Panel This is an interview where more than one person interviews you. Usually, one person chairs the interview and panel members take it in turns to ask you different questions. You should direct your answer mainly towards the panel member that asked the question. 5.2. Typical questions asked during the interview Your skills: What are your strengths and weaknesses? What can you do for us that other candidates cant? What would your colleagues and friends say your best qualities were? Why should we hire you? What the interviewer really wants to know: They want to know if you can do the job. 9 Most of the chapter inspired from www.learndirect‐advice.co.uk with the permission of the authors.
Know your strengths, and mention ones that are relevant to the job youre being interviewed for. Its important to quote examples of when you used the skills; its not enough to just say you have the skills. Typical strengths employers look for are: Communication ‐ the ability to get on with a wide range of people. For example, your disadvantage has often led you to meet and collaborate with other people, sometimes met in the street. You have therefore developed skills in initiating contact with unknown people. This could be pertinent to physical handicaps or impairments, as well as social and linguistic differences. Team working ‐ the ability to be an effective team leader or team member IT skills ‐ most jobs these days need some IT skills. For example, if you’re physically handicapped, you have maybe developed IT skills as you could have stayed longer at home (or indoor) than the average person. Good attitude ‐ hard worker, honest, polite, co‐operative. For example, you could explain that because of your disadvantage, you are used to working harder to show your abilities. Problem solving ‐ using your initiative to identify solutions. For example, you can stress the fact that your disadvantage has confronted you through your whole life with problems to solve, and this has trained you to identify solutions. Enthusiasm ‐ employers like someone positive Quick learner ‐ so you can take on new tasks. Does your disadvantage bring you to often learn new technologies to help you get along in everyday life? Determination ‐ shows you are focused on achieving goals. For example, your disadvantage has led you to struggle for what you want. List simple examples, such as climb the stairs, ask for the time, and other... Flexibility ‐ doing a variety of tasks to achieve a common goal. If youre asked about weaknesses, list only one, which isnt essential to the job. And turn it into a positive, such as how youve improved on the weakness. Or you could present it as an opportunity for development. Good answers: Strengths: "Im a good organiser, and I plan everything in detail. I showed this when I was given a new project, and I had to get it up and running from scratch."...”My disadvantage has led me to find creative and efficient ways to deal with everyday life on a daily basis, making it a habit for me to deal with problem‐solving and be determined and patient about it” Weaknesses: "Sometimes Im too enthusiastic when working on a new project. But Ive learned to adjust to everyone elses pace, and not go charging ahead." The employer Why do you want to work here? What do you know about our company? What can you do for us that someone else cant? What the interviewer really wants to know: Do you know what we do? Why have you chosen to apply to this company?
The interviewer wants to know youve done your homework and you know about their organisation and their aims. They want to know youve thought it through and youve chosen to apply to them for a good reason. Show your knowledge of the company by having some facts and figures at the ready, such as: the size of the organisation what the product or service is last years turnover figures latest developments in the field the history, goals, image and philosophy of the employer. When talking about why you want to work for the employer, focus on what you can do for them, not on what they can do for you. Good answer: "Smiths is a respected firm with a reputation for high quality work, and Id like to be part of that success. The quality of my work is important to me, so I feel Id be at the right place. Ive also heard you invest in your staff by training and developing them." The job What will the main tasks and responsibilities be in this job? What do you think the main challenges will be? What would you do in the first day/week/month/year? What the interviewer really wants to know: Do you know what the jobs all about? The interviewer wants to know if you fully understand what the job will involve. They want to know why you think youd be good at it, and how youd approach it if they offer you the job. To answer this question well, keep the job description in mind and research how the organisation operates. Your work history Why did you leave your last job? Tell me about a typical day in your current/previous job What experience have you got from previous jobs? What the interviewer really wants to know: What have you done in your previous jobs? When talking about previous jobs, focus on the positives. Even if you think your previous or current job wasnt very demanding, if you jot down the tasks and responsibilities it will sound more impressive than you think. You will have learned something, so mention it. Focus on the skills and experience that are relevant to the job youre being interviewed for. Dont bring up negative things like having a dispute with a colleague or your boss. And dont criticise previous employers.
Good answer: "In my current job I have developed my knowledge of computer software packages. But now Im ready for a new challenge, and want to use these skills in a more customer‐ focused role." Your motivation What motivates you? Which tasks do you get the most satisfaction from? What the interviewer really wants to know: What makes you tick? By finding out what motivates you, the interviewer can find out which environment youll perform well in. Try to think of examples of when a work task excited you. Good answer: "I like problem solving ‐ that point you reach in a project where you come up against something unexpected, and you have to think creatively to come up with a solution." About the product or service What do you know about our products/services? What do you think of our products/services? Can you think of any improvements to our products/services? What the interviewer really wants to know: Are you keen enough to have looked at our products and services? The employer wants to know that youre familiar with their products or services. They may also want you to have the initiative to look for ways of improving things. Be tactful though, and only mention small improvements. And make these the kind of suggestions people in the street might come up with; not because you are an "expert" and know best. Good answer: "Your products are recognised as the industry standard, leading the way in style and performance. However, maybe by altering your advertising style you could appeal to older consumers as well as young ones. I think older people would value your product just as much, and this could lead to increased sales." Team‐working What makes a good team? What makes a good team member?
What makes a good team leader? What the interviewer really wants to know: Can you operate effectively in a team? Employers value team‐working very highly. They want to know you can work effectively in a team, whatever your role within it is. Good answer: "A good team needs to have clear objectives and goals, and procedures to work towards these. Each person needs to be clear what their role is, and what is expected of them. There needs to be openness and trust, and clear communication. With my disadvantage and the need for help in everyday life situations, I have often been confronted by situations where I was obliged to collaborate with one or more people." Your personality and interests What was the last film you saw or the last book you read? How would you describe yourself? How would your friends describe you? What the interviewer really wants to know: Are you a well‐rounded individual? By asking personality questions, the employer wants to know how well you know yourself ‐ how self‐aware you are. Having self‐awareness means you can look at yourself critically, which means youll know what youre good at and where you could improve. When it comes to your interests, the employer wants to know youre an active citizen, who tries to get the most out of life. If you’re to be driven and enthusiastic in work, you will probably also be like this in your personal life. When choosing examples of interests to mention, try to choose a wide range to show youre well‐balanced. However, when quoting films or books, you should choose classic or mainstream ones rather than obscure or extreme ones. Some employers will expect you to know about current affairs and popular culture ‐ jobs in the media, for example. Good answer: "In my personal life Im always organising everybody. People look to me for ideas and plans ‐ I guess in some ways that shows Im a natural leader." If you are an ex‐offender You need to convince employers that your crimes are in your past, youve moved on and are no longer a risk to anybody. You can say you regret the offence, do not intend to re‐offend and now want to work hard. A change in your circumstances is a particularly good way to show youve
moved on, so mention it if youve settled into family life or have other responsibilities that would mean you would have too much to lose to re‐offend. If any of these factors apply to you and your conviction(s), explaining them to employers may make them see you in a more positive light: your criminal record is very old you offended when very young and now have responsibilities such as a wife/husband, a family, a house, a job the crime is not relevant to the job youre applying for you pleaded guilty to the crime you committed the crime because you were going through a bad time, such as financial problems, but these are now sorted out the crime sounds more serious than it is if the circumstances in which the crime was committed makes it less serious Make sure these dont sound like excuses. If youre honest and own up to things that were your fault it will show youve accepted responsibility for your actions. Dont try to hide or gloss over your record, but try not to write or talk too much about it. Stress that you are applying for the job because you think youll be good at it, and make this the focus of your application or interview. If you have more than one conviction, you could try to group them together rather than listing them all. For instance, if youve had more than one conviction for theft, you could say "I have convictions for theft, but the most recent of these is now spent". 5.3. How to act during the job interview Tips on what to do dress neatly find out where the appointment will take place, how to get there and how long it takes prepare answers for the main questions ‐ for example, why do you want the job, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what are the main tasks in this job when you mention a skill you have, quote real examples of when youve used it take your time when answering the questions. Make sure you understand the question and take your time if you need to think sell yourself. No‐one else is going to! Be positive about yourself and your experiences prepare some questions to ask at the end ‐ use it as an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company get feedback on your performance, whether you were successful or not Tips on what not to do dont be late! dont smoke
dont lie! Even if you get the job, your employer can dismiss you if he finds out dont discuss controversial topics such as religion, politics and gender relations dont read from notes or your CV. You should be familiar with your own history dont criticise former employers or colleagues. Try as much as possible to be positive! These rules apply for most jobs. However, employers in some industries can use more relaxed and informal interviewing techniques. In some creative fields (design and media for example) it may be expected that you turn up for the interview in casual clothes, as that is the dress code in the office. If youre in any doubt, do some research on typical interview techniques in your line of work. Above all, preparation is the key to performing well in interviews. Research the role and organisation, and prepare evidence and examples of your skills and competencies. How do I act if I get asked on skills and competencies I haven’t got evidence of? You can face questions like this if youre applying for promotion or going for a career change. As a general rule, you should apply for jobs youve got most of the skills for, but its ok if you havent got a couple of them. Remember that the person specification is an ideal, and no one person might meet all the points. However, you will have to show that you have the potential to develop these skills. You can do this by describing times when youve: been given extra responsibilities been left in charge showed this skill on an informal basis, either in work or at home. If you can’t think of any related experience, you could describe how you would act if you were placed in the future work situation. For example, if you had to deal with a difficult customer you could explain how you would approach it: stay calm, be polite and be clear on what your roles are. What if I get asked why I’ve been out of work for a long time? First of all, put the accent on any positive activities youve done during your period out of work, such as: voluntary work courses keeping up with developments in your field treating job seeking as a full‐time job keeping fit networking
You can also say that you were being selective, and not taking the first job that came along. Stress you were waiting for the right opportunity, such as the job being offered by the employer interviewing you. What if I voluntarily left my job? Make sure you state positive reasons for leaving. The best reason is to say that you wanted a fresh challenge, and you wanted to fully concentrate your efforts on finding your next opportunity. Reflect positively on your time in your previous job ‐ describe how you developed in the role and say you were grateful for the opportunity. Self‐confidence You may feel that your confidence has slipped away, be worried that your skills might be out of date, or that things have changed in the workplace. You may feel that your priorities and lifestyle are now different from your colleagues. First of all, think about the skills you’ve developed at home ‐ such as managing a budget, teaching your children, counselling, negotiating, problem‐solving, and time management. Also think of the skills you’ve developed thanks to your disadvantage, for example if you’re disabled, you have developed skills in team‐working and cooperating with other people, often needing the help of others. If you come from a different culture and immigrated, you have developed skills in adaptation and integration, as well as proving capable of learning a new language. And dont undervalue your personal qualities. People who get on with others and work well in a team are greatly valued by employers. If you lack technical skills, its easier for employers to teach you these skills than to teach somebody who lacks interpersonal skills how to communicate well! Remember, if you dont project the belief that you can do this job, no one else will believe it. Examples of non‐work experiences that can be used as a basis of relevant and impressive experience, instead of work‐related experiences, for example: voluntary work fund‐raising grants and funding applications committee membership of societies and clubs organising things ‐ at school, college, university, local community campaigning for a cause collecting things making things running a part‐time business teaching and helping people caring for people creating things ‐ art, writing, photography, sculpture, etc languages sports and fitness games and competitions
organising events and outings entertaining and performing computers and telecommunications music and singing theatre and dance local politics and trade union activities/responsibilities becoming expert and accumulating knowledge in anything reading travel thinking and philosophising meditating and religious pursuits overcoming personal difficulties (here is where your disadvantage turns into an asset ‐ turn these difficulties to a positive advantage and statement of determination, experience and emotional maturity Here is some data which you could keep in mind while preparing for a job interview10: 1. 80 % of employees having a disabled colleague have not noticed an extra load of work 2. 93 % of the companies say being satisfied by the disabled workers they employ. 3. 91% of the employees say they are ready and eager to help newly hired people with disadvantages or disabilities to get around with daily work and to integrate into the working team. 10 According to a Harris Interactive public opinion research (2005)
6. How to write a CV (practical tools) 6.1. Why do you need a CV? The CV is like a visit card, it contains your personal information and most of all it leaves an overall impression to the employer. It’s meant to communicate your skills, as you write them down on the CV; it’s also meant to communicate your skills in a more “hidden” way, being a proof of your written and information skills. Last but not least, the CV can win you an interview. Unless you feel it is important for an employer to be aware of your disadvantage, do not mention it in your CV. Emphasise your characteristics, your capabilities and achievements ‐ this is all fine ‐ but know where to draw the line. Positive emphasis and strong presentation is good; lying is not. Speaking about presenting yourself within the CV in a very positive light, you might find this difficult. Try to get help from someone creative and enthusiastic to assist you in interpreting and writing very positive phrases and descriptions about you for your CV. In your CV its important to emphasise your attributes in strong, relevant and expressive terms; modesty doesnt work particularly well on any CV. Additionally, there is a widely held school of thought that writing such statements ‐ powerful descriptions about yourself, your personality and your strengths and capabilities ‐ actually helps you to become even more like the person you describe. Its related to NLP, self‐talk, self‐belief, and positive visualisation: we tend to live up to our claims when we write them down and commit to them. Creating a positive CV for ourselves helps us to grow and to become how we want to be. 6.2. Contents Personal details This section must contain your: name address telephone number email address (if you have one) (If you use a telephone typewriter phone or use a telephone relay service, you might consider making a note about this in your CV, as some employers may not have communicated through these systems before) You can also include your nationality/ies, if you have a driving license, and a photo (not recommended) Profile
A few sentences about you, or some key bullet points help to focus a CV and to make it more appealing to read If you wish, you can write about: your current situation: a description of your recent achievements and what sort of job or career you are looking for. your personal profile: a short summary of who you are. Include the main skills and experience you can offer and what you would like to do next. Achievements Your CV should highlight some of the things you have succeeded in doing. It is easy to forget the things we achieve ‐ or even fail to recognise them in the first place. Achievements can include all kinds of things ‐ like getting a qualification, caring for a family member or winning an award. List your key achievements in the relevant sections ‐ like education or work history. Work history If you have had a job before, or if you have had some work experience, you can give brief details on your CV. Start with the most recent job, and list the employer, your role, and your main responsibilities. If you have had numerous jobs, or very different job experiences, you can classify them by topics, for example “looking after people”, “accounting” etc., and then complete the list with your corresponding job experiences. Education and qualifications Write about your most recent courses and qualifications first. This helps employers to find out about the person you are now. Also list the last school you attended, along with any qualifications you achieved. Do not mention obsolete courses. Often, mentioning your information technology skills is a good thing. It can be mentioned in this section or in the profile section (eventually in the hobbies and interests). Hobbies and interests Hobbies and interests can tell an employer more about the sort of person you are.
What do your hobbies and interests say about you? Make sure you present a positive image. If you want a new career, they can help to show your enthusiasms. Example 1 Ellen Marshall 10 January 1972 63 Marble Arch Westminster W1N 7HR, London 00441 866 402 0865 Work Experience April 1996 to present Reception Supervisor, Garnock Hotel, London Responsible for: supervision of six full/part time reception employees; hotel customers’ bookings and accounts; conference bookings and invoicing; liaising with Catering and Bar Supervisors. August 1994 ‐ April 1996 Full time Receptionist, Station Lodge Hotel, Bath Gained experience in: all aspects of bookings, accounts and communications; public relations; catering and work schedule organisation via ‘in house’ training. July 1992 ‐ August 1994 Part time Receptionist / Restaurant Assistant, Station Lodge Hotel, Bath Involvement in general reception and restaurant duties. Education 1992 – 94 London Further Education College (full time) Gained HND Hospitality Management My course involved training for specialist management in the reception and personnel sectors. 1987 – 92 Castle High School, Brighton Gained three Higher Grades ‐ Home Economics (B); English (C); French (C) Skills and Qualities I use a computer system for the hotel bookings, accounts and invoicing.
My work requires a high level of communication skills in dealings with the public and negotiations with colleagues. Good team co‐operation is vital for success in this field. I take joint responsibilities for promotions and quality enhancement and assist others willingly. By building up experience in many areas of the Hospitality industry, I believe I can contribute positively to a hotel management team. Interests Cycling, keep fit activities and reading novels. I have cycled extensively in this country and, on occasions, abroad. On such travels, I enjoy investigating local history and communities. This involves research, organisation of time and communication skills. I have built up a wide knowledge of Scottish tourism. References Mrs Jean Albert Dr Gareth Smith Manager, Garnock Hotel Secretary, Eastlie Cycling Club Bath PH7 4AS 27 Brown Street, Tel: 01742 476393 Bath PH1 3LB Tel: 01742 471631 Revision of Ellen Marshall’s CV Ellen Marshall decided to compose a straightforward letter, stating the job being applied for and when she will be available for interview. Both ‘Education’ and ‘Work Experience’ information are shown in reverse chronological order (recent experiences are more important to an employer). Only a brief comment on the HND Hospitality Management has been included ‐ the person reading the CV can ask for further details at an interview. The names of the Standard Grade subjects have not been listed – these are less recent qualifications. The ‘Work Experience’ section again gives brief details of the duties involved but highlights a breadth of experience. ‘Skills and Qualities’ gives a positive message, relating personal strengths to the job applied for. The comments in the ‘Interests’ section could be seen as advantageous to the Hospitality industry. Although not essential, Ellen has chosen a ‘work related’ referee and one that would be more character/personal based.
Example 2 Jean Ploy Rue du Valentin 1 30 years old 1004 Lausanne single +41 21 123 45 67 nationality: Swiss firstname.lastname@example.org OBJECTIVE: Recently graduated in vocational guidance counselling, I wish to put my theoretic and practical skills to use in a social organisation. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVIEWS Individual consultations in vocational guidance counselling 2005‐2006 Professional guidance interviews on 4 to 6 weekly meetings, adults and teenagers Assistant‐psychologist, then coach 2005 Test entering (WISC) in English for a gifted child of 5 years old Linguistic support during interview, translations Motivational coaching and individual follow‐up of a 17 years old gifted child failing at school Marketing consultant 2005 Individual interviews aiming to grasp the consumer’s behaviours University of Lausanne, University of Zurich, Association Whatever HUMANITARIAN, SOCIAL & EDUCATION Project assistant 2008 Networking and negotiation with European projects partners Construction and evaluation of vocational tools French teacher for illegal south‐Americans 2003 Studies supervisor for 10‐13 years old 2002‐2005 Nurse’s aid 1998 Whatever Association, Example company, Example company 2 EDUCATION Master in Psychology option Guidance counselling, University of Lausanne 2002‐2007 One‐year exchange with University of McGill (Québec, Canada) LANGUAGES French/English: Mother tongues Spanish: Oral: Good Written: Average German: Oral: Average Written: Average
INTERESTS Creation: painting, dancing (Argentinean tango) Sports: volleyball, running (from 20 km up), swimming, soccer Example 3: EUROPEAN CURRICULUM VITAE FORMAT PERSONAL INFORMATION Name GEORGIEVA, MARTA KOLEVA Address 4000 PLOVDIV, 300TRACIA, ENTRANCE A Telephone 032/ 691517 0889/ 643278 Fax E-mail Maria_gev@bg Nationality Bulgarian Date of birth 10JULY,1983 WORK EXPERIENCE • 2005-2007 A TEACHER IN BIOLOGY, “St. Paisii Hilendarski” comprehensive school TEACHING STUDENTS FROM THE 9TH-12TH GRADE THE SUBJECT BIOLOGY, WORKING WITH DOCUMENTATION 2006-2007 A BABY-SITTER “PROFESSIONAL CENTRE FOR DAY KIDS CARE EDUCATION AND TRAINING • 2007-present “Paisii Hilendarski” University of Plovdiv
Master degree in Molecular Biology • 2001-2006 “Paisii Hilendarski” University of Plovdiv Subject: Biology Qualification: Biology and a Teacher in Biology Computer literacy GoodMS Office, Word, Excel and Internet Driving licence Yes Languages: English Good
7. Other useful documents 7.1. Application form Some employers ask for an application form instead of a CV in order to compare the candidate’s potential more easily. If you are asked an application form do not send a CV although the information will be almost the same but in another format. Application forms help employers decide who to interview. In them every applicant is asked the same questions. When filling this form, include a covering letter to identify which job you are applying for, to give any extra information and make it more personal. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy as a reminder. Here are some samples of application forms. Examine them carefully and then the tips after them. It may be a good exercise for you to fill one or two drafts before filling an actual one. Instructions : Print clearly in black or blue ink. Answer all questions. Sign and date the form. PERSONAL INFORMATION: First Name _____________________________ Middle Name ___________________________ Last Name _____________________________ Street Address _______________________________________________________ City, State, Postal Code _______________________________________________________ Phone Number (___)___________________________________ Yes ___ No ___ Have you been convicted of or pleaded no contest to a felony within the last five years? Yes_______ No_______ If yes, please explain: _________________________________________ __________________________________________________________
POSITION/AVAILABILITY: Position Applied For ________________________________________ Hours Available: from _______ to ______ What date are you available to start work? ________________________________________ Expected salary ___________ EDUCATION: Name and Address Of School ‐ Degree/Diploma ‐ Graduation Date _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ Skills and Qualifications: Licenses, Skills, Training, Awards _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ EMPLOYMENT HISTORY: Present Or Last Position: Employer: _____________________________________________________ Address:______________________________________________________ Supervisor: ____________________________________________________ Phone: _______________________________ Email: ________________________________ Position Title: _________________________ From: ______________ To: ______________
Responsibilities: ____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Salary: _______________ Reason for Leaving: ____________________________________________ =========== Previous Position: Employer: _____________________________________________________ Address:______________________________________________________ Supervisor: ____________________________________________________ Phone: _______________________________ Email: ________________________________ Position Title: _________________________ From: ______________ To: ______________ Responsibilities: ___________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Salary: _______________ Reason for Leaving: ____________________________________________ May We Contact Your Present Employer? Yes _____ No _____ References: Name/Title Address Phone _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ I certify that information contained in this application is true and complete. I understand that false information may be grounds for not hiring me or for immediate termination of employment at any point in the future if I am hired. I authorise the verification of any or all information listed above.
Signature______________________________ Date__________________________________ How can I make mine stand out from the rest? Follow the instructions on the form. If you don’t, the employer will probably stop reading. If it says write in black ink or in block capitals, do so! You won’t need a covering letter if there is a section on the application form where you can provide additional info such as why you want to work for them. If there isn’t an additional info section, you could include a covering letter explaining why you want to work for the organisation and what skills and experience you can bring to the job. Photocopy the original form and do a rough version. When you come to fill in the real form youll need to get it right first time, so there are no crossings out or other kind of corrections. Write neatly! If your handwriting is difficult to read you could use block capitals or get it typed. Use black ink unless asked otherwise. Black ink is easier to read if the employer photocopies it. Keep the original form clean and tidy! Don’t leave it lying around for people to spill food on or put coffee cups on. And keep it away from children or pets! Use block capitals for personal details. Spelling or grammatical errors are some of the most common reasons for getting rejected. Ask someone to check over the form before sending it. Photocopy the form before sending it off. If you get an interview you’ll want to remind yourself what you wrote. Send it in an envelope big enough to hold it without folding it. If it’s folded it will look untidy. Make sure you get education and work history dates right, so it all makes sense. Don’t forget to sign the form! Any advice on answering the questions? If the boxes don’t give you enough space to put all you need into them, continue on a separate sheet. Put your name on this sheet and attach it to the main form. Read the questions carefully to make sure you understand exactly what the employer is looking for. It will give you an idea if you refer back to the job description and person specification. Look out for multiple questions within one question and make sure you answer all aspects of the question. Use a range of examples from your work and personal history – this shows you’re a well‐rounded person with varied experience. Watch out when cutting and pasting from previous application forms. The emphasis of the questions and the way you presented yourself might have been slightly different. The employer may be confused by your answer or able to tell you’ve cut and pasted it and will not be impressed! Fill in every part of the form. If a section doesn’t apply to you, write N/A (not applicable) in the box – this shows you’ve considered it and haven’t just forgotten. Use active language (verbs rather than nouns), short sentences and short words. Don’t waffle or use too much jargon). What about my qualifications? Start with your most recent qualification or period in education.
Make sure you include grades if you got a good mark – GCSE grade C or above; if you passed but didn’t get a particularly good grade ‐ and the form doesnt specifically ask for grades ‐ you can just list them as subjects you passed. What about my previous employment or work experience? List your jobs in date order, starting with your present or most recent job. Summarise the main responsibilities and achievements using "power words" like ‘overhauled’, ‘delivered’, ‘exceeded’, ‘co‐ordinated’, ‘implemented’, ‘instrumental’, ‘directed’ and ‘led’. If you’ve had a number of jobs or space is limited you don’t need to list the older jobs fully; summarise them or group them together. What about my interests and hobbies? Choose activities that reflect your personality and show you’re well‐rounded and capable. Good examples of what to put in this section include membership of societies, social clubs, sports clubs; and voluntary work. Think about how the skills you used in these activities might be useful to the employer – e.g. problem solving, project management, time management, communication skills. Don’t list incredible achievements – you’re trying to appear human in this section and no‐one likes a brag. Don’t include things like membership of political activism organisations. You may be proud of your beliefs but the employer may not share your views. You could show how your skills have developed by membership of this society, but keep the name of it anonymous. Use those power words again! What do they mean by additional information? Most application forms contain a section where you can include other information relevant to your application. Read the instructions on what they want from you. Refer back to the job description and person specification and ensure you address most of the points. You could also look on the organisation’s website to see what the work culture is and what they want from their employees. Employers are usually looking for: ‐ relevant additional skills, aptitudes and experience (include examples) ‐ why you’re attracted to this particular job (don’t put ‘the money’!) ‐ what you can offer the employer ‐ what your long‐term career goals are. Don’t repeat info already included. Structure it well so it’s easy to read. What about referees? Follow the instructions ‐ most forms ask for two referees. Both might need to be employers, or one might need to be an academic or even a personal referee from a professional person who knows you well, such as a teacher. Check with your referees first that it’s ok with them. You could also tell them beforehand what your career aims are, so that they include information relevant to your professional aspirations and know on which aspect of your experience will be relevant to emphasise. Include full contact details for referees.
What if Ive got a criminal record? The law about criminal records is complicated and you should get advice from careers advisors. If your convictions are not ‘spent’ you should disclose them. If your convictions are spent you may not need to disclose them, apart from certain exempt jobs such as jobs working with children and other vulnerable people, health care jobs, jobs in the legal profession; with these jobs you always need to disclose convictions, even if they are spent. However, the application form should make this clear. How do I answer any medical questions? Be honest about all health information. Employers are trying to find out if a medical check will be necessary. If you have any doubt about health questions, speak to your doctor. What about online application forms? Fill in online forms with the same care and attention as handwritten ones. But there are a few additional hints and tips: keep a copy of any passwords you need print off a copy and jot down ideas on it (saves internet connection time!) check your answers using spell check on a word processor print off a copy of the completed form to refer to before interview make sure the information you send will be secure save the information every few minutes to avoid losing it in the event of a system failure don’t use a jokey e‐mail address to send it from! check your form before sending, paying attention to drop‐down menus – one slip of the mouse can choose the wrong option for you Phew! why does it take so long? Filling in your first application form may take most of the day. However, it should take less time the next time you fill one in, as you’ll be familiar with your skills, experience, strengths and weaknesses. You might also be able to cut and paste paragraphs into other applications. But make sure it’s relevant and doesn’t mention the wrong employer or job. Application form checklist Make sure you have: Tick () Time to write your application form in full All the resources you need to write it ( an assistant‐scriber/reader if necessary ) A list of your key achievements –at home; at school; at work; at leisure‐ relevant to the job Details of the job you are applying for (the advert , job description and or person specification) Names and dates of schools attended Titles and dates of qualifications gained Names of previous employers and dates of employment Brief details of previous jobs or work experience placement ( your role, key responsibilities and the skills you gained) Your contact details: postcode, telephone number( s) email address Contact details of two people who have agreed to provide a reference
for you ( they may be either professional or personal references but it is preferable one of them is a professional if possible) A pen preferably black Now let’s see how much you have improved your knowledge on filling application forms: 1. When we are asked to present an application form can we give a CV instead? A. Yes, because________ B. No, ________ 2. Is it a good idea to give long answers and going into details A. Yes because in this way the employer will see that I am a communicative and eloquent person B. No, because the employer may get bored and give up examining the form 3. Are spelling and grammar mistakes of great importance? A. Yes it is important not to make spelling and grammar mistakes B. No, grammar and spelling are of minor importance if the content is impressive enough 4. Is it a problem if I need more space to answer the question, to go on writing in the next section? A. Yes it is‐ if you need more space than is provided in the form, take another sheet of paper, write your name on it and attach it to the original B. No, this is not a problem. It is obvious that the answer refers to the previous question. 5. Do I have to answer all the questions within a multiple question or it will be quite enough if I answer part of it only? A. Yes, it is really important to give complete answers to show that you are a concentrated and flexible person. B. No it is not important to go into so much detail‐giving an answer to the most important part of the question is enough. 6. Is the use of examples from my previous work and personal experience a good idea? A. Yes this shows that you are a varied and well‐rounded person B. No this is just a waste of time in which you should only talk and describe your skills 7. Shall I use more expressive language, more complicate sentences structures, phrases, a lot of adjectives etc.? A. Yes this proves that you are competent and have a lot of things to say and may convince the employer that you are well‐educated B. No when filling an application form it will be better to go straight to the point and present the essence of your information in a simple straightforward manner using active language‐verbs rather than nouns, short sentences rather than long ones‐ to catch the attention of the sometimes very busy employer. 8. From which qualification and job shall I start? A. From the most recent one B. From the most distant in time Answers: 1B), 2B), 3A), 4A), 5A), 6A), 7B), 8A) (the answers are given at a client’s request by their clicking on a button)
7.2. Covering letters A covering letter typically accompanies each CV you send out. Your covering letter may make the difference between being asked for an interview and not being asked for it. It should complement not duplicate your CV. Its purpose is to interpret the data‐oriented, factual CV, to add a personal touch and go beyond the mere facts presented in the CV. For example we have the following fact: a candidate who is a sixty‐five‐year‐old pensioner which does not look very appealing in the CV. In the covering letter however we could put the emphasis on the positive consequences of this fact. This could mean that you are a well‐balanced, calm person because of your long and rich personal experience. Or that you are responsible and good at taking care of children raising two children and four grand‐children. Your long working experience may be viewed as proof of good working habits as well. There are three general types of covering letters: Covering letters which respond to a known job opening The speculative letter which inquires about possible positions The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job search Have a look at a sample covering letter and try to answer the questions after it. If necessary you will be provided with the correct answers. 123 South Street Rochester Kent ME8 7BY Tel. 01889 389 087 email@example.com 25 March, 2008 Personnel Department e‐style Romsey Street Birmingham B60 3DH Dear Sir or Madam I read your advertisement for a web designer in yesterday’s Evening Post and I would like to apply. I enclose my CV as requested. I consider myself the right person for the job you offer for several reasons. I have been interested in computers all my life. I got my first computer when I was ten years old and ever since then I have been developing my computer literacy. I am quite young ‐21 years old but I see this as an advantage since this fact keeps me highly motivated to constantly update my knowledge on the latest developments in computer technologies.
I also believe that I have the right qualifications for the job. I have taken several courses in IT, including specialist courses in Java and Flash. I have been working part time for a web design studio as well as being a student. Lastly, I would like to add that I work really efficiently in a team and I am eager to work with people who are more experienced than me. I am very willing to work hard and to become part of your team of professionals. I strongly believe that I can add my contribution to the quality of services you offer. Yours faithfully, Sandra Johnson 1. How do we start a covering letter? A. With our address B. With the address of the employer 2. What do we write next on the left hand side of the sheet of paper? A. Date, name/department and address of the employer B. Date, our address and our name 3. How do we address the person we are writing to? A. Hello Mr Stevens B. Dear Mr/ Mrs/ Ms or Dear Sir or Madam if we don’t know their name 4. The longer and more expressive the covering letter is, the better A. Yes, it is always better when you use unusual language and more complicate structures such as jargon or long and complex sentences to make the cover letter bigger. B. No, it is better to keep it short, well‐structured and not more than one page long 5. How do we end our covering letter? A. By writing your name and “Good Bye! I hope to hear from you soon!“ B. By printing your name and: “Yours sincerely” or “Kind regards” or “Yours faithfully” if you started with Dear Sir or Madam Answers: 1 A), 2A), 3B), 4B), 5B) Here are some tips especially for targeted covering letters:
Make a match‐it is important to show your strengths not only for the sake of it but only include those which will be useful or will probably impress the future employer. One strategy to do this is to make a list of the criteria the employer is looking for. Then match them with skills and experience you have. Either address how your skills match the job in paragraph form or list the criteria and your qualifications: Sample Job Posting A Baby‐sitter wanted. Take care of two children aged 2 and 4. Take them to the kindergarten, prepare them breakfast and dinner. Be available in the evenings and on holidays. Accompany the parents when going outside the city and abroad. Driving licence would be an advantage. Covering Letter Example 1: Paragraph As a member of a family with four children I learned to communicate with kids quite easily. Since I am the eldest of the four and my father and mother had to work, I took care of my baby brother and my two sisters since they were 4 and 6 years old. I took them to the kindergarten in the beginning and later to school, prepared them breakfast and brought them home after they finished school. I didn’t have much free time after school but looking after my brother and two sisters I became a responsible and well‐organised person. I love working with kids and am really motivated and if necessary I could go to a course to get a driving licence. I don’t have children of my own and have a lot of free time so I will be available in the evenings and on holidays. Covering Letter Example 2: List Baby‐sitter Requirements: Take two children aged 2 and 4 to the kindergarten Prepare them breakfast and dinner Be available in the evenings and on holidays Accompany the parents when travelling out of the city or abroad Driving licence will be an advantage My Skills and Experience: I took care of my baby brother and two little sisters aged 4 and 6, prepared them breakfast took them to the kindergarten and then brought them back home I am an organised and responsible person used to looking after kids I have a lot of free time and am available in the evenings or on holidays I love communicating with kids, I am very motivated and if necessary I could get a driving licence
As you can see, in both cases, the candidate has written a detailed covering letter that should pass the first screening. In order to pass that screening, you must specifically address the job ad and state why you are qualified for the position. Given this competitive job market, it is critically important to target your covering letter and your CV. That way the employer knows exactly why you are qualified for the position and why they should consider you for an interview. Try to make it look optimistic and confident. In order to get to know your skills better use the skills self‐assessment tool. Examine the possibilities of getting the job. If you don’t have the right stuff for example the required qualifications, judge carefully where to spend your efforts. Maybe it would be a better idea to save your energy and invest it in acquiring new qualifications. Now you can try to fill in a template of a covering letter as an exercise: Contact Information The first section of your covering letter should include information on how the employer can contact you. If you have contact information for the employer, include that. Otherwise, just list your information. Your Name Your Address Your City, State, Zip Code Your Phone Number Your Email Address Date Employer Contact Information Name Title Company Address City, State, Zip Code Salutation Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name: Body of Covering Letter In the body of the covering letter you outline three major things: what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you and how you will follow up.
First Paragraph: You should start with why you are writing. Specify the position you are applying for and include the name of a mutual contact if you have one. When you express your request be concrete, clear and concise. Middle Paragraphs: In this paragraph you should describe what you have to offer. Try to catch the attention and present your most convincing points in the first paragraph. Make strong connections between your abilities and their needs. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for. Remember, you are interpreting your CV, not repeating it. Try to support each statement you make with a piece of evidence. Use several shorter paragraphs or bullets rather than one large block of text. Final Paragraph: Finish your covering letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow‐up. State that you will do so and indicate when (one weeks time is typical). You may want to reduce the time between sending out your CV and follow up if you fax or e‐mail it. Complimentary Close: Respectfully yours/Yours sincerely: Signature: Handwritten Signature (for a mailed letter) Typed Signature
8. Job seeking strategies The strategy you are going to choose depends on the sphere you want to work in. Knowledge on the situation in this sphere or consultations with a career counsellor could help you. The strategies include: Usage of database about the employer or directories. This will help you look for a job according to certain criteria. It will be quite useful for you to know for example that some of the firms you are interested in offer specialised training. You could find such details on the Internet. Job advertisements: You may find them in the newspaper as well as in some specialised magazines. Anyway, sometimes it is quite difficult to find advertisements in the newspapers offering employment for qualified people or ones with university degrees. However, it is important to know that there are some other ways of job seeking besides the ones that include the press. Speculative approach: It means to send your CV to a firm not answering to a given advertisement with the hope that they may have a job position for you. However there is the great possibility of sending a large number of CV‐s without any answer. But there is still the chance to find a job in a smaller firm or in some spheres that are not inclined to use mass employment campaigns. Another possible option is to find a job after joining an organisation. In this way you could establish a lot of useful contacts and find a group of people with the same needs and interests as yours. A good start may be to work as a volunteer at first and then gaining experience you could apply for a paid position. It may happen through membership in an organisation to find a job as a volunteer and then start a paid job. Job centres: Some of these are specialised in a specific sphere of employment and if you choose the right one for you, it may help you find the desired job. Networking: Establishing and maintaining a network of contacts could help you understand about a possible position even before it is announced as available. The proper contacts may help you present yourself in a better way in front of potential employers. This is a strategy that is used mostly when developing your career, not when starting but it is quite useful in the media industry for example in which new working positions are rarely widely announced. 8.1. Resources for searching of a job National press The most widely circulated newspapers (the national ones for example) most often include ads for people with university degrees. The different sectors publicise the job positions in different newspapers and on different days. A lot of the job positions are advertised during the summer when the employers try to fill the missing staff after their quitting or after their being fired.
Local newspapers They publish ads about people with university degrees and professionals but more often they are about positions requiring various competences, skills, qualifications or experience. Anyway they are worth checking for administrative and clerical positions and for university graduates wanted in the region. Specialised press The positions included in each issue depend on its subject. In the newspaper “Capital” for example there will be mostly positions connected with finance. 8.2. Action plan After you have a list of your skills and your CV and after you have evaluated your career perspectives, it is a good idea to compose an action plan of your future actions. We are offering you an action plan format. After writing it you can change it or edit it but the most important thing is to have something written. When following a systematic approach based on a number of steps the task looks easier to perform and in addition it will help you ask the right questions if you feel that you need help. Step 1. What exactly do I want? It may be a job, course, work experience or a holiday. If you don’t know the answer, look for advice from a career counsellor. Whatever your goal is, it is important to formulate it in a clear way so that it matches adequately the thing you really want. This first step is really important because it provides the basis for your future actions. Step 2. Are my skills appropriate for the job I want? Do you have all the resources for the chosen job? Do you need any additional training, experience or practice? Step 3. Who offers what I want? If you don’t know that, check resources such as course databases, employers, databases or some Internet websites. Step 4. When and how to apply? Once you have defined your goal, find what it takes to achieve it. What forms do you need‐ an application form, a CV or a covering letter? What are the deadlines for submitting the needed documents? How should I send them? Where does the interview take place? Do you need any other documents besides the forms‐ diplomas, certificates, references etc.? Step 5. Can I “sell” myself?
Can you convince the employer that you are the right person for the job and answer his/ her requirements? A good exercise for improving your self‐presentation skills or your presentation as a whole would be practising to talk about yourself in front of a mirror. This will help you look more confident even when you are under stress as it is sometimes during an interview. Step 6. What resources can I use? Advice from a friend e.g. a friend with the relevant job experience‐someone who is already employed either in the same company or at the same or in a similar position. Advice from a career counsellor Personal experience ( try to find all the personal resources which could be useful while applying for a job) Step 7. What is the result? You may think about this aspect each time when you apply for a job and mainly after an interview. Even if it is not successful, it will be useful to realise what you have learned regarding the recruitment procedures which will be of great value for you in the future. Our Action Plan form provides you with a simple, easy‐to‐follow procedure which will help you save energy and time. Now it is your turn to make use of it and fill in the following template: Action Plan Step 1. What exactly do I want? Step 2. Are my skills appropriate for the job I want? Step 3. Who offers what I want?
Step 4. When and how to apply? Step 5. Can I “sell” myself? Step 6. What resources can I use? Step 7. What is the result? 8.3. Revealing the secret Shall we reveal it or not? Choosing when or whether to reveal the secret about your disability is a complicated matter. There are several different approaches to this problem. Some people prefer to include the information about their disability or impairment in their CV or in the application form. In this way the potential employer is aware of the fact from the beginning. Others prefer to leave it till the interview stage, either disclosing it immediately before the interview or during it, while some people don’t say anything at all. The decision, whether or when to reveal the secret of your disability, is entirely yours. In spite of this fact it is a good idea to think about it and choose the best strategy for you before applying for the job.
If you have made up your mind how to approach this matter, the situation will be under your control. Shall we reveal our disability or not? Those who decide to keep it a secret have their own reasons. A lot of people simply think that their impairment is not connected with the job position in question and there will not be any need to mention it in the future. On the other hand, some people believe that when disclosing their disability, the employers will focus their attention on this fact and not on the employee’s abilities to do the job. After considering the situation on the labour market, many disabled people are afraid that they may be rejected at the preliminary stages of the selection procedures because of their disability. There is also the concern about the unrealistic employer’s view over the nature of the disability. He/she may believe for example that this places too much responsibility about the health and security of the disadvantaged person on the employer. It is not surprising that people don’t want to be included in stereotypes. While the negative attitude of some employers and continuing discrimination are sometimes a fact, there are some serious arguments supporting the idea that it will be better for you to disclose your disability. If you manage to present it in a positive light, it will not be that likely to be viewed as a barrier by your potential employers. Even if they learn more about it later, they will be under the impression of what you have told them and this will contribute to the mutual trust in the employer‐employee relationship. By demonstrating that you can fulfil your tasks you will remove some of the prejudices towards hiring employees with disabilities. This approach may prove to be the best for you. If you disclose the problem, you will choose how to present it and you could make use of all the support you need. In this way the employer will be able to make use of the available benefits. If you don’t do that, at a later point the employer may understand it anyway but you will not have the opportunity to present the information in a positive manner. When shall I do it? It is up to you to decide. It depends on the type of disability and to some extent on the job you have chosen. You may want to share the information before the interview which means to mention it in the application form, the CV or the Covering letter. One of the advantages is that you can make use of the skills developed by you as a result of your disability, with which you could prove that you are good for the job. It may show the employer
from the very beginning that you can do the job and prove that you can overcome various difficulties concerning your disability. If your disability is visible, the employer may be surprised at the interview if you haven’t informed him about it beforehand. It may mean that they will focus their attention on the disability itself, which could distract attention from what you can say about your skills and the job. If your writing skills are better than your speaking ones you can present the information in written form. In the other case you can leave it for the interview stage. Putting the disclosure off till the interview will mean that it won’t affect the employer’s evaluation at least till the interview phase. If you need help during the interview for example a ramp for a wheelchair or an assistant, it will be better to contact the employer in advance. Letting the employer know is in your interest because this will provide you with all the needed support and you will be able to show all of your potential during the interview. If at any stage of the selection procedure, you are asked about the presence of disability or some other concerns (health card may be required for example), you should answer honestly. If it is an application form, use this fact and present the information in a positive manner. The branch you chose. It is worth mentioning the fact that there is a difference in the selection procedures of big companies and the smaller firms. Big companies usually have application forms unlike the smaller ones. Although the absence of application forms may change your mind, it is even more important to tell about your disability because in the smaller firms they may not have the experience of working with disabled people. Evidence shows that there are a lot of firms which will highly appreciate the alternative approach and will mostly take into consideration what you have to tell them about your ability to cope with the job and the support you will need. Your skills Remember that it is important to present your disability in a positive manner by associating it with the appropriate skills and experience. You should be prepared to answer all questions that you think the employer may ask you about your ability to cope with your job. The more detailed research for information you have carried out in the given branch and about the position of interest, the more prepared you will be for it.
9. Useful Tips while searching for the best job for you Continue with the career counselling service even after you have already found a job. You may need further support from the career counsellor regarding work placement adaptation, relationships with colleagues or employer, improving the accessibility of the premises in which you work etc. Don’t let yourself be overcome by the difficulties‐if the activities you have undertaken don’t have the successful outcome you expected, stop for a while and evaluate the situation. Try to find new strategies using the conclusions you have reached while analysing the situation. Start teaching yourself to settle for more not less. Remember that with each attempt in the right direction even if it fails, you are getting closer to what makes you happy. Don’t try to follow the path others have followed. Don’t forget that each of us is a unique person and that when losing one thing we win another. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to get what you want. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain. You have proved that you are a motivated and strong‐willed person by expressing the wish to overcome the barriers in front of you and start a job. In case you feel nervous during interviews you can use a small card which lists brief personal data as well as job objective and a summary of your skills. Remember that you have the right to earn a salary equal to your experience, ability and current labour market standards. While at work your role as an employee can also be enhanced by enrolling in continuing education, learning a new skill or by joining an association. You can read books and articles about negotiation strategies, interviewing and what is of value to employers.
10. Useful sites 10.1. Employment sites Most large organisations have details of vacancies on their website. You can also find job vacancies on: http://www.adecco.com http://www.manpower.com http://www.monster.com As well as any newspaper’s website The following provide very useful further information on how to deal with CV – building and covering letters: http://www.businessballs.com/curriculum.htm http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/careertools http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverletters/a/cuttingedge.htm http://www.jobscareers.com/articles/ And this link leads to very interesting and complete e‐learning tools: http://www.careercenteronline.org/index.php?inc=learning&php_file=training.php&php= Training%20center&lng=2 10.2. Further help for people from disadvantaged groups and those with disabilities http://www.learndirect‐advice.co.uk/ http://www.independentliving.org and in particular http://www.independentliving.org/studyworkabroad/internship_recruiting_exchange.ph p http://www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Jobseekers/ http://www.youreable.com/ http://www.jobscareers.com/articles http://www.abilitiesinc.org/WIT/WITNewsletter