Ask James Caan 28th February 2011
This week I’d like to explore the challenges facing senior-level candidates in today’s market. As a result of wide-spread public and private job cuts, we’re seeing some of the UK’s most highly skilled workers settle for any job they can.
Take this letter from Helena:
‘I lost my job a while ago due to redundancy. I was at a fairly senior position being a manager covering EMEA and was on a good salary. I am now looking for work, at times paying half of what I was on in my previous job.
I have been recommended to re-create my CV and take off some of my experiences to not be intimidating, or look like I would be over qualified and therefore most likely not stay should something better come up. It seems strange that you would have to “lie” in order to land an interview’.
Unfortunately, Helena, your situation is a common one. In a desperate bid to secure work, many experienced workers are applying for much junior salaries, only to find their application doesn’t even get them to interview stage. They’re also being told conflicting messages about what or what not to include on their CV.
Rather than focusing on the negatives of the situation, look at the state of the market as an opportunity. View it as a platform to identify your strongest skills and what value you could deliver an employer.
My first recommendation is to look at appointments at the correct level of seniority. I understand you need to pay the bills, but the reality is, if you continue to look at junior-level appointments, you’re only increasing the chances of your CV being overlooked.
I appreciate this is a lot harder than it seems. But put yourself in an employer’s shoes. Of course they’re going to be cautious when it comes to considering a more senior level candidate. It’s not because they doubt your ability, rather they think you’ll up and leave at the next chance that comes along.
Recruitment can be a timely and in some cases, expensive process. Especially for the average small business owner who may not have an HR department, investing this much effort into finding the right candidate, only for them to leave when a higher-paying opportunity presents itself, can be a frustrating experience.
But there are ways to get around this. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest targeting your efforts towards corporate businesses. I’d be tempted to look at the smaller businesses – companies filled with entrepreneurs who have survived the recession. They would have learned from their mistakes and will be in a much stronger position.
Ensure to conduct both online and offline job searching activities. In terms of offline activity, I’d suggest trying your contacts you would have built up in your last role. After all, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Online activity should include using the executive-level resources as much as you can. Whether that’s applying for roles or finding out how to position a senior-appointment CV – use them to your advantage.
Also, I would advise against leaving your extensive experience off your CV. If you’ve worked hard over the years, I don’t understand why you would omit such a crucial piece of employment history. This may make it harder to get noticed by some employers, but would you achieve career satisfaction in a lower level appointment?
What sets you apart from the competition will ultimately be your passion, so keep onto this at all times, even when things look bleak.