Q: I have just qualified as a teacher, and, like so many others, I am trying to get on the employment ladder. I realise it is a very difficult task right now, given the economic circumstances. What advice would you give me? (Teresa, email)
It is very easy to get pessimistic about your chances of getting employment right now. Media coverage is understandably negative, given the condition of the country, but you must remain positive – and one way of doing this is by focussing on how you can improve your chances. Ultimately, that’s all you can really influence.
The first area you can control is the information you use to ‘sell’ yourself, be it on application forms or on your CV. Look upon these as sales documents – and you are the product. Many people treat forms and CVs as dry, academic affairs, and simply list stuff without any embellishment. They fail to give prominence to the areas that might help them get called to interview, and also help them to do a better interview they you get there.
If you’re keen on drama, that might be something to bring to the forefront of your CV or application. We favour a Key Achievements & Attributes section early in your CV. If you’re a sportsperson, let it be known you’re keen to impart your sporting knowledge to the students. That could be just the thing that would tip the balance in your favour.
In your current scenario, where you’re waiting to get on the career ladder, we would encourage you to expand your list of hobbies. It might be a good time to do a short course that will give breadth and depth to your CV. Sporting, cultural and social organisations have all types of courses.
Plus, courses of this nature are good opportunities for networking too: and, whether we like it or not, Ireland is still a fraternal country, with informal networking among the most powerful ways of hearing about jobs and earning recommendations.
Voluntary work always looks good on a CV, particularly when it relates – however loosely – to the sector in which you are seeking work.
When you see a job advertised in a certain school, look before you leap. ‘Research the school’ is almost a cliché at this stage: but no less pertinent for that. Research includes thoroughly checking the website (if they have one), reading news reports about school events online, and, if possible, talking to a current or past teacher at the school.
You need to know what the school stands for, what it believes in, and what it tries to imbue in its students. Some schools promote whole-pupil development more than anything else. Others are points-driven.
You need to know what the prevailing ethos is in the school, and tailor your application accordingly: it is not disingenuous, rather a matter of highlighting information that helps to sell you better.
This week’s quick tip from Sli Nua Careers
While it is good to prepare answers to questions that may come up in the interview, you can never cover every eventuality – which is why we encourage people to focus more on answers than questions.
Each job involves a series of skills, competencies and attributes. The questions the employer asks in interview are generally an effort to ascertain if you have those skills, competencies and attributes.
So, prepare yourself to show you have. Thus, when a question is asked that you hadn’t expected, you can see how you might answer it in a way that shows your suitability, by referring to those skills, competencies and attributes. Take the answer where it needs to go to: as we said, prepare answers, not questions.
Sli Nua Careers (Watson’s Lane, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo / Drum East, Bushy Park, Galway, tel 094 95 42965 / 091 528 883, www.SliNuaCareers.com) carry out CV Preparation, Mock Interviews, Interview Training, and Career Direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email GetThatJob@SliNuaCareers.com.
Online CV Preparation and Interview Training services provided in Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Derry, Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow