I picked up Brilliant Job Hunting on the spur of moment since it appeared on the new book shelf in the library. While I am at it, I thought I borrowed another 2 books just to compare notes and even if it takes just skim reading, there is much to learn from different perspectives from different books.
Being a season job hunter, I have attended many interviews and seen different types of companies and believe my interview skills are above par albeit a lacklustre networking skills :p. Truth remains that to secure a job depends a lot on good fortune. There are so many things that can go wrong in a job interview, and job interviews are hardly objective, especially when it comes to the cultural fit interview that happens at the final round. Having said that, there is no excuse for poor preparation before the interview!
Out of the 3 books, Brilliant Job Hunting is the most eye-opening, whilst the other two books are trite and elementary. Brilliant Job Hunting takes you through the process of identifying your motivation to make career move, to job hunting, to writing a CV, attending the interviews and finally securing the job. The hundreds of job site addresses are available for reference, include some pointer which I find useful:
- Take a look at your hobbies and interest, do they demonstrate all solidarity, social, mental and physical hobbies and interests?
- If you think you may subject to discrimination by the mention of your gender or last names, you may omit including them. It is not advisable to include photographs even if you think you are good looking!
- Aim to match 80% of the requirements listed in the job ads, even if you do not have a first degree!
- You can opt to expand relevant experience, irrelevant experience describe not more than 2 sentences.
- Quantify your claims of achievements, include skills, achievements and relevance in describing your fit to the company. Keep sentences short.
I find only 45% of the second book, Brilliant Answers to Tough Interview Questions, useful for me. Probably half of the tough questions asked are more suited for new graduates, for e.g. “Why do you choose to study art and history?” “Do you take part time employment while you are at college?” etc. When asked whether you are the kind of person who is thoughtful and analytical or make up your mind every quickly? You are encouraged to answer “I would consider myself a little of both, i put thoughts and planning into any decision i make while having an awareness of the timescales,” (Cringe now, with discomfort!) There are answers suggested that you make you cringe. You are advised that you indicate you do not need further training on the job you applied for. The most insightful chapter in the book is the part that tells you to bring it up to a level playing field when faced with a nasty interviewer who asked personal questions about whether you can cope with work when you have children at home, and the fact you are too young / too old for the job, are you married? Do you have any personal issues outside work that are likely to affect your ability do this job? (Although this is an unpleasant question, it is not actually an illegal one.) and more and more stupid tough questions: From the scale of one to ten, How well do you think you performing in this interview? What do you think of me as an interviewer? How did you manage to attend this interview while you are still employed? Trust me, rarely you will get these kind of questions. And if you get interviewers who are mean, don’t feel sorry that you don’t get call back for a second interview, your self-worth is more than that.
As for the third book High Impact CV, is a waste of time. The entire book propose to give you 52 brilliant ideas to improve your CVs. The prose is jazzy, reminder and pointers everywhere, corny humour injected and cute statements aim at drawing a smile from readers. The truth is, it is a book with trumpets and horns but with little substance. It took me a few minutes to skim read and browse through it, 15% of anything said of this book is of importance to me.
After (skim) reading the three books, the answer I have yet to get was when to use a functional CV format? Most common CVs are chronological, but if you are not happy with your current jobs, you might want to highlight your key skills and relegate your irrelevant job experience between the pages.
Reading Career guide, Job hunting or job interviews books should be read in its relevant geographical context. Reading one that is written for the American cultural context is definitely not applicable for the British job market.
End of the day, you may keep a job hunting diary, keep a record of the outcome of every job you applied for, learnt from every interview that you failed to secure a job, gave all political correct answers to tough interview questions, everything boils down to luck and if you are job hunting on an economic challenging times. Hard work and determination gets you to the finishing line. After all job hunting is not so different from an athletes preparing themselves to achieve their goals says Brilliant Job Hunting. Well, I better get going on improving my CV, I have some good ideas from these books (well, the first two books) that I can work on after all!