This week we will analyze the very first stage of any job search, whether you are looking for your very first job or looking to switch positions after 20 years at the same company. Specifically, I will explain the meaning of the first two (an a half) steps referred to in my last column:
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“Good morning! I am the plumber!”. Can you say this simple sentence with confidence? Do you feel comfortable presenting yourself with a very specific job title? If the answer is no, and you are looking for a job right now, then think twice: you are probably not ready yet for the move and you are going to waste a lot of precious time trying to impress employers who cannot possibly understand who you are!
One of the reasons we ask candidates to come to NemCV workshops prepared with one or more links to job ads that are suitable for them is that we want to avoid the usual conversation, which goes something like this:
Me: “Ok, let’s start to work on your CV: which job do you want to apply to? What’s your job title?”
Candidate: “Ooohhh, actually I am good at many things, it’s difficult to explain who I am and what I can do…”.
If it’s difficult for you to explain who you are, how can you believe that the five seconds (if you are lucky) an employer spends looking at your CV will understand what you can do for her/his company?
It is actually not so difficult to determine which label to stick on top of your CV as a job title, but first you have to first understand the targeted company’s language.
This task is as easy as opening a web browser. Point your browser to any of the job search engines that you know (JobIndex, IT-Jobbank, Stepstone, our The Local’s own job listings, to mention a few) and search for the skills that you intend to offer to employers. Searching through the different job titles that you find and reading the job descriptions, you will be able to understand which job title best describes your skills.
This is an iterative process: search for a job, look at the job description and refine the search parameters looking for the job titles that better describe your skills. If you cannot find any suitable jobs, search again based on your skills but this time slightly change the keywords until you hit a number of job ads that are relevant to you. When you find a position you would like to apply to, you will write in your CV the same job title that you found in the job ad. If the company is looking for a plumber, then you must be a plumber!
Here is an example in NemCV format. I used this CV when I applied to a job as an “IT Operations and Support consultant”:
In case you are a new graduate and/or do not have much work experience, you should look at jobs where experience is not a requirement, like junior positions or internships.
Choosing the right internship or first job is matter of personal experience and attitude, combined with your degree title (if you have one). According to your specialization (and attained degree), you should pick the jobs where you can apply previous personal experience or study experience – remember, all experience counts! Do not underestimate voluntary work, as it is still work and it requires a special set of skills that could be used in your first job.
This is not a simple subject and I know that it can be a challenging and time consuming task for most readers. If you are in trouble with this task and need some advice, please send us an email and describe (with an example) your challenge. When I receive a number of requests, I will be able to dedicate an article that goes through your examples and offer some clarification based on real cases.
Franco Soldera is the co-founder of NemCV, together with Zubair Quraishi. Since 2011 they have focused on creating the right web application that allows a superior match between companies and candidates, overcoming the common misunderstandings that affect the hiring process. They have helped more than 1,000 foreigners in Denmark get their first job interviews.
Franco is an IT consultant with more than 15 years experience and has a past as musician. He got his first job in Denmark in 2003 and moved from Italy to settle in Copenhagen. You can follow him on Twitter at @fsoldera.