Monday, November 28, 2011


There are certain aspects of resumes that may if not managed properly have implications on the impressions that a job seeker employee earns. Many of them certainly do not imply that the job seeker has not communicated exactly what they need to put through but that there is an extent to which their self projection has remained static – basically functional. Competencies can be defined in terms of career growth. When one starts a career, the first career growth competencies they acquire are basically functional competencies. These are the competencies that require one to be able to do their jobs as required. The next level of career growth competencies are usually qualitative – how better or consistent can you do the job. The third career growth competency usually is integrated or strategic competencies which enable one to place their jobs within the organisation wide context or professional contexts. The final levels of career growth competencies, which unfortunately, are never mandatory for all positions, are those that are associated with self actualization. Such may include etiquettes, style or disposition. The misconception in the career seekers' minds is usually that the requirements for the various competencies are more related to what level of management that one has acquired. An Executive Assistant may require some level of etiquettes that the Chief Engineer may, without much to lose, do without.

In terms of one's impression in career search, there certainly should be a difference in the way one portrays themselves at the beginning of their career from when they are beyond functionality. This may not necessarily be the same for different positions but it should be consistently reflected in ones cover letter or resumes.

Below are examples of resume goofs that may reflect how progressive, biased or conceptual one is in their appreciation of themselves.

a)         using the template of their job descriptions to list responsibilities in their resumes
b)         being  more expressive verbally than in their resumes or otherwise
c)         using past tense to describe responsibilities of a past job – took, wrote, supervised, etc
d)         being overly elaborative – purchasing "books, pens, milk" etc; instead of purchasing office supplies
e)         repeating common responsibilities – "arranged travel, arranged meetings, arranged seminars etc"
f)           including unnecessary details – mentioning machine models
g)         rĂ©sume style – inconsistent font style, spacing etc.

 At some point, George, a Procurement Officer, gathered the guts to ask the HR Manager why for three years he has not been promoted to the Procurement Manager position, adding that many junior staff have overtaken him. "The truth be told" the HR Manager said, "you know all that needs to be done in the department, but you lack any sense of style that would distinguish you from your current level. We need Managers that, more that being competent, will afford our clients an admiration for the managerial sense of style. It is not the same in everybody, but at your level you should have some style. The last interview you went for when the last promotion was on, all you said is what you do but you never gave a managerial touch. You do not even know how to put forward other conceptual things you do. When we asked you about your knowledge of procurement quality assurance, did you notice that is exactly what you do when you carry out quarterly supplier assessments?"

You certainly have all competencies that you need to do your jobs. Otherwise your boss could have fired you. But wait a minute; does your resume reflect your own appreciation of your competencies? Are your work competencies established in your instincts? Are you developing a style?



Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Ambush of an Aptitude Test

Aptitude tests are often assessment criteria that many job seekers find hard to understand and even prepare for. They may have relevance to the subject matter in the job of interest and at time be very general to dig into a candidate’s adaptable judgment al abilities.

A well designed aptitude test will bring out what it is targeted to bring and most often subject a candidate into surprise.

There are often many types of aptitude tests. Here are brief outlines of the commonly used types.

Reasoning and Judgment - Abstract Reasoning; Critical Thinking; Inductive Reasoning; Logical Reasoning; Diagrammatic Reasoning; Situational Judgment Test and Verbal Reasoning

Such often include case studies that may require that you take on commonly accepted principles and notions to make an assessment of a case scenario.

Example; How best can market best practice be?

Creativity and Sensitivity - SiftAbility Test; Spatial Visualization; and Perceptual Speed
These may range from diagrammatic reviews to case studies where trouble shooting is required depending on the level and type of role being recruited.

Presentation, Accuracy and Precision - Document Review and Fast Track Test

A candidate may be provided with a lengthy document to review with specific objective of coming up with a target objective. The tests may also include summarizing a document into specific bullets on the key points.

Leadership and Management – Personality Review; Crisis Management; People Management; Conflict Resolution; and Strategic Focus Tests

Such tests may ordinarily be designed like presentations or write ups and may include case studies and even personal declaration of career strategies and leadership styles

Interpersonal Skills and Personal Orientation - Personality and Preference Inventory (PAPI)

Such test may include preferences, dislikes, specific case studies and personal assessment.

Numerical Reasoning

Such tests are very common, perhaps because a large number of candidates and even assessor would rather deal with situations where answers are discrete rather that judgmental prose. The most common areas of tests are probability, arithmetic, accounting, permutations and compbinations. This is perhaps why an elementary math book at home would really be a though in the right direction.

Example: A soccer match analyst in trying to assess some outcomes of the match sought to have two parameters – ball possession for the two teams and the average distance run by a player from the two opposing sides. What could this analyst be trying to establish?

The result of an aptitude test is a reflection of the actual present state of your mind. No prospect employer will test you in something that you have no chance of knowing.


Monday, November 21, 2011


In many career seekers profiles and resumes, there is often this one section that is hardly a mandatory part – but which plays a key roles in displaying job seeker's credibility in terms self focus. This is the part that declares ones career objective.  Career objectives should, like with nay natural distribution vary considerably as personalities vary. However, one of the things that is relatively consistent is the potential recruiters desired perceptions.

suitability for a job, beyond the technical abilities to perform – which are mostly evident in ones training and experience, may also involve ones own drive and its relevance to the desired performance in a job. Any employer who finds an employee who has genuine passion for the career for which they are recruited is absolutely lucky.   If your passion, career purpose and aspirations coincide with the person specifications of a job, then you deserve every employers consideration for a position. Career objectives should;

1       Exhibit that you have an in-depth appreciation of your career
2       Show that you have a career purpose independent of what employer you may have
3       Show relevance between your profile and your desired destination
4       Clearly state a profession or desired industry.

Objective 1:   To be able to exploit my potential towards achieving company objectives

Prospect Employer Mindset: What potentials? Do you even know what potentials you have? Are you waiting for work assignments to help you know what potentials that you have? Wait a minute – you have not even implied a particular career or profession. I can understand this kind of objective with a fresh graduate who is still discovering their potentials.

Objective 2:   To work in a reputable blue chip company where I can use my skills in financial management

Prospect Employer Mindset: What if we were not a blue chip company? Could you still have showed interest? Are you attracted to the big salary? Can't small companies enable you to use your financial management skills? Now that you have positioned yourself to be blue chip focused, are you a blue chip material? Let me now establish that in your profile (you have attracted a fault finding mindset).

Objective 3:   To develop my skills in audit.

Prospect Employer Mindset: I guess your objective purposes you to a student for life. Perhaps you should be the one to pay us some college fees to learn. What do you have to exchange for the free learning that you want to get from our company.

Objective 4:   To be a reliable Office Administrator with potentials of planning organising, coordinating, carrying out liaison and overseeing resources of a vibrant and competitively managed office.

Prospect Employer Mindset: You have a destination career and you have performance benchmarks or role overview. I need to understand what vibrant and competitively managed office implies. Do we fall in such categories?

None of the above responses are gospel truths or model feedbacks. It is a personal choice on what objective one develops in a resume.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Inspiring: 12 year old Thomas Saurez's Presentation

Career Pursuit Resolutions

With more experience in job search and occurrences associated with many of the positions held, reflective job seekers begin to have structured mindsets of what they will or will not do. Some are personal resolutions to aspects of interviews that they will not redo; types of employers that they will no longer pursue and perhaps types of recruiting processes that they will not undertake. Here are some of the typical resolutions.

Jane has been an Administrative Assistant in a number of companies. Her experience has been that of unprocedural dismissals, harassments, indiginifying encounters and unstructured supervision. She has since resolved not to pursue any opportunities in firms owned by persons from the common race that owned the companies.

Patrick is now a renowned Marketing Manager with a blue chip company. Just five years after he started working, a head hunter called him and made him an offer to place him in a more lucrative position in another company. He accepted – of course part of the first month salary became the head hunting fee. To his surprise, his job ended with the same head hunter hiring his replacement. This became the experience with another head hunter. He has since resolved not to be headhunted. He will only respond to normal structured recruitment processes.

Until 2006, John had not realized the unspoken policy of this then employer. He was employed at a very competitive marker salary. He had for sometime wondered why the predecessor left. Nothing unusual was spoken about her that could qualify her having to leave.  From the hearsays, her job was temporarily redesigned and consequently diluted. She was left without authority and she opted out. The annual salary increments had also been frozen. This is exactly what they had done to John in 2004 but he was not embarrassed enough to leave until the CEO called him to his office to make a resignation offer. It was there that the CEO explained that such demotivating job redesigns processes are ordinary in certain companies since each and five year they have to hire fresh brains for certain functions. John is still in search of a job. Most potential moderate employers see him as unaffordable and therefore unemployable. He has since resolved not to pursue high profiled, high paying employers; but seek moderate incomes that can create stability in his life for longer duration of time.

The three case scenarios are not scriptural. They are subject to personal emotional character, strength of career strategy or even circumstances, but they are real.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Often people change careers for different reasons; career growth, better challenges, job enrichment, remuneration etc.  Surprisingly, remuneration is normally the major trade off for which many career seekers opt to overlook other stronger priorities. Here are some examples.

Caren, was till two years ago a Human Resources Officer in a financial institution. She then got a job as a Remuneration specialist in a large NGO where she only specialized in salaries and benefits administration and policy oversight. Right now she has now lost three interviews for the Human Resources Manager since the market has a general perception that specialist hardly make very good oversight managers.

Grace has been an administrative assistant for many years in a middle level firm. Three years ago, a multinational offered her the opportunity of being a receptionist at twice the salary. She now finds it very hard to get to be short listed for even the position of an Administrative Assistant, a position she has held before. She is also under the threat of down sizing since her kind of skill is abundant and a fresh diploma graduate could be cheap.

Willis has always been referred to as a go getter in terms of the manner in which he has handled the marketing of his products, mostly house cosmetics. A head hunter managed to convince him to get into a company that marketed detergents. To date he has not managed to achieve his targets. Certainly, he will be relieved of his duties. Perhaps he never conceptualized what gave him an edge with marketing cosmetics.

In making a career move, ask you self;

Does the move enhance or build onto your acquired competencies?
Does it build onto your ultimate goal?
Does your career saturate and what would make you vulnerable to saturation?


Monday, November 14, 2011

Creative Interview Expressions and Associated Blunders

Creativity in speech is often one thing that initiates possible chemistry between the interviewer and the interviewee. This may often range from clarity of speech to use of figurative language. The real caution is usually to what extent a candidate may get to the extent of entertaining the interviewers rather than engaging them into healthy deliberations. Entertaining candidates are often very tempting for many interviewers but may be dismissed two minutes after they leave the interview room. After one session an interviewer commented the following about a candidate. “Well, I was sufficiently engaged and excited about her. I tend to believe that she projects more of a show off personality who may be frustrated if not openly recognized. I recommend that we talk about the other candidates”

Sometimes our language and means of communication may as well be portraying different things about us – some times unethical work behaviour. Below are some of the phrases, always meant for good, but behind which demeaning translations can be derived.

I am a go-getter. (Overly driven – the end justifies the means, dignity is no priority)

It is not strange to find me in the office on Sunday afternoon(because the whole week you are on facebook)

I am a no nonsense person with respect to substandard work (no one can grow through your supervision)

At some point, I think, my supervisor became jealous of my performance. (You are a lone ranger who cares the least about other people’s levels of contention – all credit for yourself. You seem to be celebrating conflicts that favour your opinion)

I strictly abide by company’s regulations and no thing else. (Do you have an idea that many breakthroughs come from people thinking beyond the obvious?)

Next time you think of an creative way to market yourself or stronger means to project your disposition, think about alternative messages that this could send to the potential employer.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Job Seeker With a Purpose - Some Insights

Jobs can only be as available as the industry demands. The industry may not be knowledgeable about its solutions and therefore some industry needs may not be reflected by the design of jobs being advertised. Many employers are still stuck with empirical job descriptions that do not embrace the required levels of competitiveness. It takes the job seeker to develop ability to challenge the market (not jobs) by growing their command of the market and developing strategies for pursuing such identified opportunities.

There are three levels of job seekers.

Level One – Elementary

They have no connection with the industry needs. All they know is that they have some training and skills that (they heard) the market requires. They will only respond to advertised jobs that correspond to titles that they are familiar with. Many times they will not read the job descriptions. When they come across opportunities, they will always wait to be led and unless someone else does something creative, they do not have a chance to identify new scopes. They are there to be directed and in their opinions, careers grow by the duration one takes on a job rather than what they do in such jobs. They are likely to pursue advanced training not on the basis of tangible skills that they want to acquire but on the perception they want the market to have on them or the potential material benefits that they stand to accrue on that basis.

Level Two – Intermediate

They have no connection with the industry needs beyond the jobs that they are suitable for. They are keen on job descriptions and the type of companies they want to work for – most often they prefer high end employers. They are clear of what it takes to get the job and deliver on the same. They are likely not to be creative beyond the circumstances of their current employers. They apply for advertised jobs or opportunities that are shared through the grape vine.

Level Three – High End

They have a good command of the market beyond the employers that they have worked for. They also have a good command of their career directions. They know what they are capable of, what they need to work on and the skills that the market requires both in the short and long term. They are able to develop position concepts that can lead to the creation of jobs that do not exist. They do not fear losing jobs – in fact they would rather have a job whose purpose they can identify with rather than one that they do not appreciate. They solve market challenges through their careers. They are choosy and have no problem being paid the right salary – they are very compelling. They may not necessarily be highly knowledgeable but they are serious thought leaders with structured problem solving abilities.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Presentability and Other Risks in a Resume and Cover Letter

Its is common that many job seekers look forward to prospect employers reading through their CVs to establish what their true potentials are. The risk that many often do is to assume that none of the targeted attributes can be picked from the resume. Some of the very judgments that can come from perusing through ones CV without even reading the content are issues to do with language prowess, personality, sense of style, personal organization and resource management orientation. Below are some of the common aspects of judgment that a prospect employer may have.

§ The choice of fonts may distinguish between the extent of formality or otherwise. Some fonts are better reserved for entertainment posters. The same would apply to the choice of bullet types
§The setting of your document and particularly the consistency of your spacing denting or even the variation in fonts may betray ones self proclaimed proficiency in computers. Worse than this, it may as well show such aspects like lack of organization and consistency. This may be very risky for such positions like Executive Assistant or Secretary to the Managing Director
§Whereas many employers are keen to limit the number of pages in a CV, some candidates may stay within such limits but the utilization of space is questionable. The most common type of utilization is that in which the main contents are indented towards the extreme right side leaving a half a page for only headers and reference to dates. This may manifest itself as a potential lack of resource optimization skills or attributes
§That recruiters are people with biases is not questionable. Some employers may ask for photos for applicants while other may not. A photo may attract a bias depending on the viewer’s inclinations. Hair styles, facial expressions or even personal grooming may attract the risk of subconscious bias.

With a CV or cover letter, first impressions really matter. Limit your risks and take every opportunity to impress the reader from the outward presentation.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Imagine having been put through a sequence of interviews towards getting into a leadership role in an organization. Sometimes one fails even to project what the next meeting with the Director is all about. All questions have been asked and there is nothing left to your imagination.

Sometimes some interviews are not intended to gauge what you can do but rather the mindset that you adopt in doing whatever you choose to do. Higher level positions are for thinkers, facilitators and analysts who doe not shy from giving way to opportunities and ideas that have not been envisaged. It is not easy to define the mindset of a departmental head or a CEO, but in terms of interviews one should project a personality that;

  • Demonstrates focus on the strategic goals of an organization
  • Cherishes delivering results through people as a leader, a facilitator or coordinator
  • Who is consultative and empowers their supervisees and does not feel shy to have an alternative idea winning the day
  • Cherishes a structured though process and does not feel embarrassed exposing their thought process in addressing an issue. Straight answers given in interview questions where there are variables to consider may go against this mindset. This is why answering questions by stating assumptions may sell at this level
  • Demonstrates a balance between their areas of specialization and alternative wholesome management perspective
  • Sees controversies, conflicts and disputes as realistic and reasonable challenges in any pursuit of an objective
  • Does not become vulnerable to emotions, biases and opinions
  • Questions issues from first principles and objectively puts trust on market best practice
  • Demonstrates awareness of the current state of events and can project possible future developments.

These are aspects that may be picked out from the tone of speech or even answers related to case studies. They are aspects that once polished, a candidate does not need to overly prepare for the interview – instead, an interview becomes just an enjoyable sesson or perhaps even a chat.

Can your mindset, as evident from your presentation, win you a job – especially at a stage when all technical interview questions have been exhausted?