If you are a job seeker in today’s market, you have a much harder challenge. In simple terms, there are a lot more candidates applying for a lot fewer jobs, so competition is fierce. You may have never envisaged finding yourself in this position and possibly not had to job hunt for many years. You may not even have a CV. There are however certain steps you can take to help you stand out from the crowd.
Is your CV doing you justice and will it be found? Your CV is generally the main way to get your foot in the door. Remember you work in the architectural and design sector and a CV is one way to showcase your design skills. Over the years I’ve seen CVs become more and more elaborate, incorporating images, work samples and presented to a very high standard. The days of a 12pt, Times New Roman CV have long gone. Consider the content too. Employers and recruiters will want to see the roles you have held, the projects you have worked on, team sizes you have managed, the stages you have worked at and your IT skills, in particular CAD and graphics package skills.
Often CVs are searched against using keywords. Consider the words you are using. If a recruiter is looking for a Project Architect to work on a healthcare project with Revit experience, it would be advantageous to have the words healthcare, hospital, “project architect” and Revit on your CV. I’ve also seen people use package logos to illustrate their software experience which looks great but can’t be searched against. If you can use Revit, state it on there. Finally, occasionally I receive CVs that have been produced using a graphics package and the text is an image which is not searchable. If you can’t copy and paste the text off your CV, it won’t be picked up in a search.
For many years now and in almost all cases, employers will want to see a digital portfolio or at least some samples of your work before arranging an interview. Like your CV, this should be well presented and really showcase your experience. This of course doesn’t have to be your full portfolio including a 50 page drawing package which I would suggest is better reserved for a face to face interview but it should include samples. It’s really important to only include your own work. A keen eye will spot someone else’s initials on a drawing or question a visualisation that isn’t in your skillset. If you are caught out it will leave your credibility in tatters. File size is also important and in general you will want to make sure your portfolio is less than 10MB.
Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? Treat your profile like your CV. You’ve now put a lot of work in the content of your CV so why not use this on your profile too? Recruiters are constantly searching LinkedIn against keywords. If your profile just shows your position and dates of employment, it makes you a lot harder to be found and identified for suitable roles. Include detailed descriptions, project information, skills and software experience. Also include a photo of yourself.
Again, consider what searches recruiters will be doing and ensure your profile contains keywords they will be looking for. LinkedIn has a feature where you can announce to recruiters you are open to opportunities which will increase your exposure. Since Covid-19 they have also introduced an open to work frame it will add to your profile picture. This is a good visual indication to both recruiters and your network that you are looking for a new job.
If you haven’t previously been very engaged on LinkedIn, now is a great time to expand on your connections. Are you connected to your existing contacts? Furthermore, send out connection requests to key decision makers within companies you would like to work for or in your sector. If you receive an acceptance, follow this up with an InMail explaining your situation, your interest in their company and attach your CV. If you hit restriction levels, you may wish to upgrade your account to LinkedIn Premium until you find a job.
It will also help to become an active LinkedIn user. Write a post stating you are looking for a new job, like other people’s posts and even comment on what they have posted. This gives you a lot more exposure and will raise your profile. Avoid negative comments however and consider how your comments will reflect on you.
You may have been applying for jobs advertised on job boards but have you uploaded your CV to them? Both recruiters and employers pay job boards for access to their CV database. Specialist recruiters in your sector will be able to find your details, widening the net of people helping you find a job as they have “watchdogs” always alerting them of new CV uploads containing keywords. Employers may also contact you directly. By having your CV uploaded, it also makes it a lot easier to apply quickly to a job, even if you are mobile. When certain adverts are receiving 200 plus applications, getting in first can make the difference.
Engage with specialist recruiters in your sector
Recruiters are currently receiving hundreds of applications per advert. If you see a job which is relevant to you it’s definitely worth calling the recruiter following your application. This is an ideal opportunity to introduce yourself. It will prompt the recruiter to look at your application there and then but you can expand on your experience in the conversation and overcome any reservations. This might include having the opportunity to tailor your CV to a role prior to submission. Furthermore, not all jobs get advertised in a candidate rich market so it is also an opportunity to discuss other positions they may have available with their clients.
Today’s market is very different. Employers are running a lean operation and a new project can mean they need to hire quickly, often taking advantage of good people being available at short notice. It’s therefore important to be prepared. Is your portfolio printed and in a presentable form? Does your best suit still fit? Have you made commitments that will stop you interviewing? In recent weeks I’ve been asked if a candidate can interview tomorrow or even that afternoon. If you can’t attend an interview at short notice, someone else might be able to and you could miss out.
Covid-19 is affecting everybody to a greater or lesser degree but we are all in this together. Life might be tough right now but it’s important to come across positive when interacting with potential employers or recruiters. Avoid badmouthing your previous employer, coming across negatively or even bringing up conspiracy theories about the pandemic as this will not do you any favours.
Free CV review
No one is saying this is easy but as the furlough scheme comes to an end, it’s anticipated unemployment will rise further. Raising your game and doing the extras other aren’t is going to give you a competitive advantage in a crowded space. People are still getting jobs during these challenging times so there is still everything to play for.
I have over 16 years’ experience in the architectural and design sector. If you would like me to review your CV and portfolio, I’m more than happy to take a look and provide constructive advice. Please email your CV and portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org with CV Review in the subject and I will come back to you promptly.
Good luck and don’t give up!
020 7993 6980