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Consultants File 2010: Recruitment tips

Hays Civil Engineering director Greg Lettington shares his top tips on how to stand out and move up when it comes to securing a new job

While no one can deny that there are fewer jobs than there were before the downturn, there is no need to panic.

Although the competition has intensified, there are still jobs out there. It’s vital to stay positive; employers are looking to hire individuals who can demonstrate an ability to add value in a challenging environment.

To stand out from the crowd start by focusing on your CV. The first thing to do is to focus on competencies. Never lose sight of what potential employers are looking for - match their technical and personal competency requirements and you’re off to a solid start. This means studying the job description and person specification carefully.

Writing a CV is your sales pitch to the employer and your personal statement is your opener. This should sit below your personal details and should be no more than 50 words, making each sentence a key selling point.

Writing a CV is your sales pitch to the employer.

It is crucial to keep your formatting consistent. Limit yourself to the most relevant work experience and list employers and job roles in reverse chronological order.

You will need to include company name, address, job title and responsibilities and stick to this format consistently throughout.

Quantify your achievements where relevant and write in the first person. Statements such as: “We generated £x profit” won’t do - the employer is interested in your personal contribution.

Make sure you list all relevant skills and state whether you are chartered or incorporated. You would usually be expected to include all higher and further education, including your degree and masters in your key areas of specialism.

If you have no formal qualifications, focus on your skills ie apprenticeship or traineeships. Once you have covered the technical requirements, any modelling packages you are adept with and any other institute or membership achievements, it’s always a good idea to include language skills (especially for multinationals) and additional IT skills.

As for referees, it is sufficient to mention that these are “available on request”.

Quantify your achievements where relevant and write in the first person. Remember that the employer is interested in your personal contribution.

Once you secure an interview, prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. Competency- based interviewing (CBI) is the most popular interview approach, based on the premise that future performance can be predicted by past behaviour - do your skills match the job criteria?

If you meet the competencies laid out in the job specification, chances are you’ll be a good match for the job.

So, what’s the best way to prepare for CBIs? Re-visit the job description and person specification before your interview and ensure that you have covered off all bases, including tasks and responsibilities, and ensure that you can comfortably provide an example for each competency.

It is a good idea to memorise examples and to be able to reel these off: describe the particular scenario, the actions you took and the impact on the business. Depending on the role applied for, more specific competencies will be tested.

In the current market you should make sure you consider all of your options - being flexible is key. For example, think about your transferable skills and consider unpaid experience or re-training. Focus your efforts on areas that are showing resilience, such as bridge or highway maintenance engineering.

The infrastructure market is also currently recruiting senior chartered professionals and consider areas where new legislation is being introduced.

If you are still struggling, a good recruiter can help. Expert consultants will have supported the career paths of many professionals before you and will have a thorough understanding of where the jobs currently are.

  • To access the latest jobs or to find out more about Hays Civil Engineering please visit the Hays website

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