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How to write a laser focus CV that will get you that job you love

When job searching, should you apply for all positions out there?

My short answer is No.

I get approached by job seekers from time-to-time. The one question I ask: "what job are you looking for?"

And the answer I typically get: "I am looking for any job that will pay me a salary."

Another typical answer I get: "I am looking for any job that you have in your organisation."

Sometimes I do get slightly specific responses: "I am looking for any mechanical engineering graduate position... so that I can get some experience."

It is understandable, given the high unemployment rate and skills shortage in South Africa and Africa in general.

But I still feel that applying for any position and seeking any job may have a lower conversion rate. I think being specific on the type of job and employer you want has a better conversion rate.

I think it is better to have a laser focus CV and goal. With these at hand, you can then apply for specific roles aligned with your CV and purpose.

Here is why this is important:

1. You will know everything about the skills required for the position you want

This will help you identify the type of skills you do not have and start finding ways to address the gap.

For example, when I was at Rand Water doing hydraulic designs, I wanted to switch to designing boilers.

My research indicated that one of the skills in boiler designing is understanding thermal modeling.

So, I started reading more about thermal modeling and did my thermal models. I then wrote on my CV that I taught myself thermal modeling but have minimal skills.

What did this do? It indicated to whoever was reviewing my CV that I understand the critical skills for the position, and I am doing something to be better at them.

2. You will know which industry you should focus on

This is the first step to narrowing down your target company. In my case, I knew that boiler, a manufacturing company will be my best bet. I also knew that working for boiler users such as Eskom would be good. So, I shortlisted the industries.

3. You will know which companies you should focus on

The next step I did was to list all the potential companies that I align with my CV and goals. It gave me an opportunity even to start talking to people who work at those companies to evaluate the requirements for the job I wanted.

I also asked the people in those companies about the right people to approach. I researched how to apply for jobs at those companies and find out if unsolicited applications will be accepted.

I studied the key role players - who will I follow up on my job application? Who will be on the interview panel?

I found that other companies had talent pool applications. So, I will later submit my request there as well.

The mistake I see from some of the people on LinkedIn, for example, is that they will identify the HR manager or CEO and ask for a job. Companies have procedures. I feel that it is better to ask for the process first and then follow it.

I now knew exactly how I should refine my CV even further for specific companies.

4. You will have the best CV that will not go unnoticed

Many CVs I have reviewed in the past were too generic. I know this because when we design a role, we already have a specific type of person in mind. Many recruiters can quickly identify a generic CV.

How do I know this? Generic CVs have generic sentences that describe the candidate's skills and competence.

Generic CVs are not specific on what the candidate has achieved and what they can really do relative to the job they are applying for.

You need a CV that clearly states your skills, competencies, and achievements relative to the post you are applying for.

Notice I said skills and not qualifications!? - Another topic for another day


How do you write a laser focus CV that will get you that job you love?

  1. Define your job role and goals

  2. Research the critical skills required for your dream role

  3. Identify the skills you require

  4. Attend courses, e-courses, read books, or do side gigs aimed at enhancing your skill shortage

  5. Identify the industry that best suits your dream role title and skills

  6. Shortlist the companies in the industries you have identified

  7. Research the companies requirements, processes, and key role players

  8. Update your CV to match your skills with the companies requirements

  9. Apply for the jobs according to the company's processes

Additional tips:

  1. The other thing I did was to identify where the companies I shortlisted advertised their job positions. I will then check adverts daily.

  2. Remember to keep a record of which companies you submitted your job applications. You can keep your records from something as simple as a notebook or get fancy with an excel spreadsheet.

NOTE: I will confess, there is no scientific evidence to what I am saying. It is just an observation from my experience.

Your thoughts?


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