Toolbox with further tips and tricks

A fool with a tool is still a fool

On this page, you will find my “toolbox” with practical solutions for specific issues you may come across during your job search and application processes. It is meant for those who have already thoroughly read and understood all the content that forms part of my guided tour starting on the homepage of this website. If you are not yet a member of this circle, please join first and start with reading how to avoid the Applicant’s Error No. 1. Understanding the information below requires knowledge of the other pages and I do not want to be misunderstood with my suggestions.

On November 17th, Mr. Ronald B. from Hamburg wrote to me:

»I have just taken a look at your website and am positively surprised by the abundance of materials offered. I’ll certainly browse a bit more.«

General recommendations

> Abbreviations

There is nothing to be said against the use of abbreviations, as long as you are sure that the recipients of your application documents will also be familiar with them. Especially if you aren’t planning on changing industries, it’s fine to keep things simple here. On the other hand, not only has professional specialization become extremely advanced, but also new expressions, especially in scientific-technical fields, are constantly emerging, so that you cannot always be sure that you are going to be understood correctly. Therefore, if you want to use abbreviations in your documents, I recommend writing them out the first time.

»During my 9 years’ work as an OLAP specialist (OLAP: Online Analytical Processing), I acquired extensive knowledge of the design of multidimensional databases. That allowed me to always provide reliable cost estimates for database changes in OLAP projects while working in sales later.«

It also assures that the other side is aware of the full and correct terms before the first interview with you and thus preventing any embarrassment caused by a lack of knowledge then.

In any case, it is NOT a good idea to assume that the readers will look up the abbreviations used in your documents in Wikipedia if necessary, and therefore not think twice about them understanding your writings!

> Damaging information

It is very important to develop an eye for spotting any potentially harmful information in your current CV and other application documents. One would think that the avoidance of counterproductive information in them is self-evident for any applicant. In fact, for many, it is not. Watch the video below to do better:

> Don’t prove, just explain

At various points in my articles, I recommend that you follow the slogan: “Don’t prove, just explain.” in your applications. It is important to take both elements seriously. This means that you should definitely use a certain aspect of your work experience to your advantage even if you have no real “proof” of it. In most cases, a reasonable explanation as to why you see it that way is sufficient. But: There should definitely be a justification! Those who throw around hollow phrases make themselves ridiculous.

For example, avoid statements like these:

»As a creative and responsible person, I believe I am best suited for this position.«

Such a self-portrayal is merely an unsubstantiated claim because none of the three statements in this example (“creative”, “responsible” and “best-suited”) is backed up by relevant information. As a result, it will be of little benefit to you. Strangely enough, such phrases are often used by people who otherwise lack self-confidence when applying.

Here is a way to do better:

»As a member of the student council, I was also responsible for the timely publication of our monthly student magazine during the last 2 years of my studies. I am sure that the creativity I developed in designing visually appealing publications during that time now provides an excellent basis for successful work in the position you have advertised.«

> Numbers

Properly used, numbers can have enormous persuasive power and I would therefore like to emphasize their importance for your applications here. They have the best effect if you use “crooked” values instead of even ones and write them with digits (e.g. 57%, 18 days, $9,700 etc.). This way, they can be perceived visually easier in the text than they would be if you used words. Of course, there is a limit to it, so please be careful not to make it look ridiculous.

Numbers don’t just liven up your texts but are also important for implementing the motto: “Don’t prove, just explain.” that I have described above and at the end of the page “Gain interest through your previous achievements”. By the way, if you cannot avoid mentioning a negative number in your application documents, you should write it nicely hidden within words (e.g. 156 correct answers for nine mistakes).

I have prepared some examples of this as well. First, let’s take a look at a few statements where potential is wasted:

»During my employment, I regularly served many clients.«
»I was responsible for many tasks.«
»I achieved a result of fifteen percent above the target in my department.«

And here are ways to improve them:

»From 2014 to 2018, I enjoyed serving a total of 173 customers.«
»I was solely responsible for the punctual completion of 2/3 of all team assignments.«
»I led my sales team to a new revenue record of 116.5% in 2017.«

Search for job vacancies

> Employer evaluation

Not only do you apply to potential employers but all companies looking for employees also apply to their candidates at the same time. In other words: You should never see yourself as a petitioner (and certainly not present yourself as such). Instead, conduct the application process with self-esteem right from the start. Make use of employer review platforms such as Glassdoor to find out as early as possible what a typical day at work would look like for you in a particular company. This is also good preparation for asking the hiring manager the right questions during the interview.

> LinkedIn Headline

Don’t overlook the potential of your LinkedIn headline for your job search. It’s the most valuable self-marketing place you have there as it is always shown with your name.

So, do not write something like:

Attended XYZ college
Available for a new challenge
Activist, motivator & blogger

That will not improve the chances to get your profile noticed. Instead, state your actual goal as clearly as possible like in these examples:

Seek Junior Sales Rep position (IT/telecom/fintech) in Kigali
Seek Senior Accountant position with Chinese manufacturer in Mavoko

And, of course, make sure that the rest of your neatly filled-in profile page supports it with relevant evidence of your experience and achievements.

Curriculum vitae (CV) / Résumé

> Total number of pages

I don’t know who invented the nonsense of generally limiting a CV to a maximum of 1 – 2 pages but it was certainly someone who had no clue about the topic. Such a general target is foolish, simply because it doesn’t even distinguish between a 20-year-old career starter and a manager in his late fifties with a respectable international career. It also makes a difference whether you’ve been with the same company your entire life or have changed several times.

In fact, the number of pages does not matter. It is important that your CV is exciting to read and fulfills its purpose. If it does, no one will stop reading it after the second page. If it doesn’t, even a CV with only two pages won’t convince the recipient. I am of the opinion that three pages usually suffice in general since you do not have to present everything at the same level of detail (see my advice on the presentation of work experience). However, I can imagine that a good CV can get a bit longer still in individual cases. At the same time, I do not know how someone in her fifties, who has climbed the career ladder for a long time, could create an interesting two-page document including all her relevant accomplishments.

An elegant way to control the length of your CV is the use of attachments. This allows you to describe successfully completed projects, research work, publications etc. in more detail in the form of a separate document. Those who aren’t that interested in the details can skip it and will still have a sufficient overview of your career to date.

Ultimately, it is YOUR CV and YOU alone decide how you present yourself. This also applies to the number of pages.

> Email course “How to Write a Power CV”

Book my email course “How to Write a Power CV” now to implement these and many other tips and tricks step by step in your own CV in a very convenient way. In each lesson, my concrete examples, instructions and tasks will help you to put theory into practice. This way, you can create a powerful CV for yourself quickly and easily.

Personal questions

I will be happy to coach you in person if my already demanding workload allows it. If you are interested, feel free to contact me.