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

> Determine the grade of your job security

Most employees across the world care about job security as it has a far-reaching impact on so many decisions in life. Learn about three good reasons to determine the grade of your job security and the best way to do it on this page.

> Treat your job search like a business

In general, you should treat your job search as if it were a small business with you being the “product” to market and sell. Adopting such an approach will make your job hunt highly efficient and effective, which is why I have dedicated a separate page to this topic.

> Remove damaging information

It is very important to develop an eye for spotting any potentially harmful information in your current CV / résumé 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.

As avoiding this problem is crucial to the success of your job applications, I have dedicated a separate page with a detailed explanation to it.

> 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 render themselves ridiculous.

For example, avoid statements like these:

»As a creative and responsible person, I believe I am optimally 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 “optimally 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.«

I have dedicated a separate page to this topic titled “Present your soft skills without sounding ridiculous” where I explain the matter in more detail.

> Do use numbers

Properly used, numbers can have enormous persuasive power and I would therefore like to emphasize their importance for your job applications here. They have the best effect if you use “crooked” values instead of round 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 spelled out as 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.” 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.«

> How to handle 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 of 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!

> How to get your job applications through ATS and AI barriers

Many job applicants dread the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) by employers in general and the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) for preliminary decision-making in particular.

In my opinion, those worries are often justified which is why I have dedicated a separate page to this topic where I explain how to get your job applications through those barriers safely.

Search for job vacancies

> Discover the giant hidden job market

Do not limit your search for open positions to the use of well-known job portals such as Indeed and plain job listings on social networks for professionals like LinkedIn. I have dedicated a separate page to this topic where I explain why such tools should better not become the main focus of your search and what to do instead for tapping the potential of the giant hidden job market.

> 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. That means that you should always present yourself as a confident candidate right from the start and NEVER as someone in dire need of a job even if your situation is very difficult!

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.

> Job descriptions

It’s common to analyze the job descriptions of advertised vacancies to decide whether one should apply for them or not. However, more often than not, those job descriptions are incorrect and very misleading. I have dedicated a separate page to this topic where I explain why this happens, how it may negatively affect you, and what you can do to avoid it.

> Networking on LinkedIn and other social networks for professionals

While many job seekers acknowledge the importance of professional networking for getting in touch with suitable employers more quickly and obtaining valuable information for optimizing their application strategies and documents, a significant number of them remain uncertain about the right way to do it.

I have therefore dedicated a separate page to this topic with a lot of practical tips for making networking on social networks for professionals fun and effective.

> The power of your 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 about always limiting a CV / résumé 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 23-year-old graduate and a manager in her late forties with a respectable international career. It also makes a difference whether you’ve been with the same company for most of your professional life so far or have changed jobs several times.

In fact, the number of pages does not matter. It is important that your CV / résumé 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 / résumé with only two pages won’t convince the recipient. I am of the opinion that three pages suffice in general since you do not have to present everything at the same level of detail (see my tips on how to present your work experience). However, I know that a great CV / résumé may become a bit longer still in individual cases. At the same time, I wouldn’t know how someone in his fifties, who has been climbing the career ladder for a long time, could create a compelling two-page document including all his relevant accomplishments.

An elegant way to control the length of your CV / résumé is the use of attachments. This allows you to describe successfully completed projects, research work, publications, etc. in more detail in the form of separate documents. Readers who aren’t so interested in those details (yet) can skip them and thus get the wanted high-level understanding of all your achievements to date from your shortened CV / résumé faster.

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

> Email course “How to Write a Power CV / Résumé”

Book my email course “How to Write a Power CV / Résumé” now to implement these and many other tips and tricks step by step in your own CV / résumé 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 / résumé 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.