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Ask James Caan – Issue 58

Written by Kimberley Startup | August 2, 2011 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

Last week webrecruit celebrated its end of year. It has been an exciting 12 months – what with growing our international presence, the chance to work with some interesting people, and of course, our increased social networking activity – and I look forward to what next year has in store!

This week, i’m focusing on Daina, an administrative professional who has been advised to pursue courses or seek the services of professional CV writers to stand out.

She writes:

‘I am actively seeking a receptionist job. It is very frustrating though, because I have a feeling that no one job agency is interested in helping me.

‘I have got experience and good education, but it is not enough…Instead they offer me courses and CV writing services?’

Daina, unfortunately your predicament is not uncommon. When the recession hit, businesses nationwide shed their administrative personnel in a bid to save costs which simultaneously cut thousands and thousands of jobs. As a result, there is a huge pool of support personnel, not only seeking jobs, but looking at ways to add further value on top of their existing skill set.

The good news is people are starting to hire again, but this time, employers are spoilt for choice. The team at webrecruit, for example, continue to see a surge in interest for administrative positions, and it is not uncommon to receive over 70 applications for a receptionist post.

So how do you make your CV stand out from the crowd in a competitive industry? And how do you distance yourself from the hundreds of applicants applying?

To put it into context, competition for administrative, reception and secretarial roles is extremely fierce. Whether it’s a PA supporting an MD, an administrator processing payroll, or someone completing administration for a sales team – these roles are essential to a business’ success.

From talking to my portfolio companies, I’ve seen that the calibre of administrative personnel has increased tenfold. Savvy candidates have used the recession to add value to their CV by undertaking courses or honing their transferrable skills to make them stand out of the crowd.

When I’m looking through CVs I ask myself, what value would this person add? This may be a root cause for your lack of success at present. Your CV may not be communicating your talents as effectively as you hoped it may.

Think about the attributes required for a receptionist job. A basic level of IT literacy is a must, as is an excellent command of the English language, a good telephone manner and the ability to build rapport. On top of that, you must be organised, efficient and diligent.

But when the number of applications for a job is frankly astonishing, passion is an essential component to your job hunting kit. And this brings me onto ways in which you must tangibly demonstrate the value that you would bring to a new employer.

What are your unique selling points – your skills that really make you stand out? Historically, how have you added value in a reception capacity? Do you possess any transferable skills which make it worth investing in you over your competition? In today’s ever-changing economy, it’s important to be able to demonstrate the talents that you bring to any organisation.

As suggested to you previously by some recruiters, courses for this particular industry are an excellent way to add value and gain a competitive edge over your competition. An OCR (RSA) administration qualification is particularly sought after, enabling candidates to gain a thorough grounding of what is required in an office environment. You may also want to explore taking a course in basic computing skills or even accounts – depending on your interests.

Good luck,

James Caan

***** EMPLOYER OF THE WEEK***** Group NBT –

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