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A Career Journey - From Job Application to Establishing Yourself

April 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 169

Career Coach Steve Nicholls interviews his client Jenna, a HR professional who recently made a transition into a new HR role. There are some learning points here for anyone looking to find a new role, whether it's in HR or any other profession; the insights apply equally.

How did you first find out about the role?

This was either pure luck or divine intervention. I had subscribed to 'Seek' notifications for some time and would usually glance at emails late at night before going to bed. More often than not I would delete the emails without reading them. Luckily, one night, I did read the notification email and it sounded like an exciting opportunity and one too good to pass up so I decided to inquire about it.

On reflection, I should have been more actively seeking an opportunity to change my previous job. I wasn't unhappy but I was also comfortable and definitely not feeling challenged. It is very easy to be content with being comfortable which unfortunately also means that one could easily miss out on an opportunity that could be the next exciting career step. In fact, I wish I had contacted you (Steve) sooner, which may have prompted me to get started!

Could You Explain The Application Process?

In summary, the application process was as follows:

• Application submitted to the recruiter

• Meeting with recruiter to discuss application

• Shortlist to interview with CEO who the role reported to

• Shortlist to interview with major stakeholder

• Friendly interview with Head of Human Resources

The initial inquiry about the role went to the recruiter who I later discovered wasn't actually a recruiter but a consultant who had a long standing relationship with the organisation. I think this was a smart way to recruit for an important role because the consultant was intimately familiar with the organization, its culture and what they are looking for in a recruit.

The first step of the application process was to submit an application to the consultant. I reviewed my CV and customized it so it specifically addressed the requirements of the ad. My impression of the ad was that the organization had a more senior person in mind but I knew that I would be great at the role and had the necessary skills and experience and more importantly the enthusiasm and passion. I wanted my CV to reflect that. I asked two people to review my CV - a mentor who works in learning and development and my husband who is in commercial property development and has a great eye for detail.

I was shortlisted for an interview with the CEO and then with the major stakeholder. The final step was a friendly chat with the Human Resources manager who would be working closely with the role.

What was the "style" of the interview? Questions Asked? Did you do a Presentation? Any Other Factors of Interest?

All the interviews I participated in were more like getting to know you chats, which suited my style perfectly. Interestingly thought, all four people I interviewed with were very different people with very different personalities so I did have to adjust my style a little but ultimately I think the best policy is to be yourself.

I received interesting feedback from the consultant about the interviews. The CEO thought that I was qualified for the role and had the experience he was looking for but perhaps I sold myself a bit too much or was trying to over compensate for something. I took this feedback on board before I met with the major stakeholder but I was careful not to let the feedback diminish my enthusiasm for the role or the need to demonstrate my knowledge, experience and suitability for the role. Sure enough, the feedback from the major stakeholder was that he was impressed by my passion and enthusiasm for the role and my energy was what the role needed. The organization also recognized something unique I could bring to the role despite being a bit younger than what they had in mind when advertising the role.

On the question of presentation, I always dress conservatively for interviews - black suit and business shirt. I think that is important when you don't know your audience. I would probably change this slightly if I was meeting with someone twice and got a sense of their style.

How Much Did Your Social Skills Feature In Influencing The Process?

I am lucky that I can build rapport with people quickly and easily. I think the reason for that is because I am genuinely interested in people and their stories. I ask lots of questions and not surprisingly I find similarities or areas of common interests very quickly. This helped make the interviews more of a conversation and gave me as much of a chance to get to know the organisation as the interviewers getting a chance to know me and assess my suitability for the role. The question of cultural fit is imperative when assessing a candidate's suitability for the role and it was equally important to me to decide whether the organisation had the culture that I was looking for. Creating rapport quickly helped me assess this quickly.

Once In The Job, What did You Do To Build Your Reputation?

I have been in the role for 3 weeks and it has been fantastic so far. The things I've done to build my reputation have been:

• Meet as many people as possible - I have been going along to Friday night drinks, travelling to other offices, going to see people instead of calling or emailing them

• Focus on quick wins - I noticed gaps that I have been able to fix quickly which has made a big impact

• Be responsive - quick turnaround on returning calls and replying to emails

• Get to know the business - asking lots of questions of everyone so I can understand the drivers of the business but also a great way to build relationships - people love to talk about themselves and their career stories.

• Demonstrate trust and reliability - I have been owning my word (Note from Steve - I love that phrase!), delivering what I said I would deliver either before it is due or right on time

• Over-communicate - I report to many stakeholders in different cities so I have been consulting and over-communicating to get an understanding of the various people like to work. It is always best to over-communicate initially to confirm, test communication lines within your particular setting

Jenna's situation demonstrates the importance of not only the application and selection processes, but the importance of embedding yourself into a new role; building a "rep" (reputation) within the first few weeks is crucial and can have a much longer term positive impact on your career progression.

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Source: EzineArticles
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