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Julian Daniels from www.cpandmarsec.co.uk has written the most comprehensive guide to finding work, dealing with interviews and what to do once you have your new job, on the internet.
Julian’s guide is based on his vast experience working in the field’s of Human Resources and Senior Management as well as a professional CV writer and is designed to give you the inside track to finding employment in the security sector.
Julian has helped hundreds of people gain employment with his professionally written CV’s, cover letters and other products.
Finding a job
Here are some tips to assist you in finding work:
- Not all vacancies are shown on company websites, which can be for a number of reasons including the fact that they may not have secured a contract or they do not wish other companies finding out what projects are pending. Send out your CV and cover letter to every Security Company that provide services within your sector who are not advertising a position. The best response is to email the letter first along with your CV and then follow this up 2 weeks later with the same letter and CV but via post. Repeat the process every 6 weeks.
- When applying for a job online also apply for the same position via post a few days later. Fewer people apply via post and you are doubling your chances of your CV and documents being viewed. WHEN YOU POST IT SEND IT TO THE MANAGING DIRECTOR NOT THE HR DEPARTMENT, THIS GETS GREAT RESULTS.
- If you have registered your CV with a recruitment company phone them every 2 weeks to see whether they have any pending vacancies coming up. Believe me they will be so keen to stop you phoning them that they are bound to put you forward for a position!
- Network by contacting your old friends who are in the industry and ask their permission to use their name when writing to the company they work for.
- Look at old job adverts and apply for these positions even if you have missed the deadline. Do not worry if the positions have been filled as the market changes on a regular basis and I know many people who have secured positions when staff have left after just one or two rotations. The best results came when they sent their CVs around 3 months after the deadline displayed on the advert.
- Don’t be afraid to approach potential Clients directly to offer your services. You may hear of an incident that took place, which involved this potential Client, and you are able to provide solutions to their problems. You could also contact corporations, for example Oil & Gas companies, that are operating in medium to high-risk countries. I know 2 people who followed this advice and both are working directly for the ‘end-users’ in North Africa.
Put yourself in the employers/interviewer’s shoes
Imagine you have 100 CV’s and only 2 positions to fill, would you really sit there reading every CV or would you first look at the CV’s that stand out from the crowd? To make your CV stand out within their inbox, use the ‘Subject box’ to get across your initial message. Most people just write ‘CV’ in the subject box and many simply leave it blank. Your email will stand out by adding a message within the subject box, which could include the following:-
Dedicated and highly experienced PSD Team Leader & Team Medic who is a former SNCO in the British Army and has demonstrated the ability to bring ‘added value’ to contracts by being able to take on more responsibility
The employer’s will have a ‘wish list’ of the key skills, experience and strengths they will be looking for within their ideal candidates, which if they are doing their job properly should reflect the characteristics found within their best performing current operators.
Surely if you were in the employers shoes you would want to ask yourself the following questions:-
1. Is the applicant suitable for the role with the requisite ability and experience?
2. Are they willing to go the extra mile/take on greater responsibility?
3. Are they manageable?
4. Will they fit in with the team?
5. Will they conduct themselves in a professional manner?
If your CV demonstrates elements of each, you stand a huge chance of getting through the initial ‘screening’. I say elements because the answers to most of the above are often only established at the interview stage but they must narrow the field down at the ‘screening’ and therefore they will be searching for the right signals.
At the screening stage, an example of point 5 ‘professional’ will be how the CV is presented. As your CV looks ‘professional’ it will place a huge tick in the box and it is a fact that the best presented CV’s get noticed but don’t forget to bring it along!
So at this stage the employer has narrowed the field down from perhaps 100 people to say 10 people, who will be interviewed usually over 3 days. Assuming you are within the selected applicants then you need to improve your chances and therefore the odds of you getting the job BEFORE the interview even begins.
This is how you increase your chances at the pre-interview stage:-
Select the interview time – NEVER accept an early morning or late afternoon slot. The reason behind this is the fact that you do not know whether they will be at their strongest or their weakest in the morning or late afternoon. People who tend to start the day strong often fade towards the end and vice versa. Therefore if you get a slot in the late morning or early afternoon you are at an advantage as you avoid the peaks. The other point is to try to avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons; Mondays mornings are often frantic with people catching up with paperwork from the previous week and on Friday afternoons you tend to find people not concentrating as the weekend is just around the corner. Try to aim for a 2PM slot on a Wednesday or Thursday by saying you are free on these days at this time. This allows you enough time to get to the interview using alternative transport if there was a problem and avoids the danger times (it also gives you time to prepare for the interview).
Use the excuse that you have another interview or do whatever you need to do but get the prime slot.
Write to the interviewer – Produce a simple 1-page letter making 100% sure that you have their correct name, title and their office address, which could be different from the address of the interview. The letter should mention that you look forward to meeting them on the date and time of your interview and also enclose a copy of your CV. I can assure you from personal experience (from both sides of the fence) that this really works well. Again get in the mindset of the interviewer who is meeting 10 people and who only receives one professionally presented letter and a brief outline of that person’s strengths…….who are they going to remember?
Research, Research and Research - I have said this 3 times as I would like you to carry out research using 3 methods: Google, their web site and Companies House. I would also put in a search for the name of the person interviewing you and see what comes up. If you can find their annual turnover on their web site, which could be under ‘Investors Information’ or similar then there is no need to go on Companies House. If you do a search on Companies House, which I would highly recommend, you will need to register your details and then you can purchase their last tax return showing their turnover. You could find that the company is losing money and therefore do you really want to work for a company that could be making your position redundant?
Plan ahead – PLEASE make sure that you have a suit/outfit that represents a professional individual. You have already made a first impression by sending out professional documents so you do not want to let yourself down now. The old rule of thumb was to spend the equivalent of 1 weeks’ salary on your total outfit and I would certainly recommend this as a guide. Make sure your outfit still fits (including the shirt/blouse), no buttons are missing and it has been recently cleaned. The shoes need to be polished and guys you must wear a tie.
I would also highly recommend investing in a good quality pen as this is very likely to be noticed by the interviewer. At this point you may think who on earth selects someone due to their choice of pen but believe me it is usually one of the first things a manager/interviewer invests in when promoted to that position and from now on you will notice that interviewers rarely use poor quality ball point pens like a bic.
Print off 2 copies of your CV on good quality paper along with copies of any recently written references and appraisals. Have these documents in a presentation folder that represents a professional.
Finally organise your journey with a back-up plan in case of emergencies.
Day of the interview
Allow plenty of time to get to your destination and as a rule of thumb I would suggest you double the usual time it would take. When you arrive in the area have a drive by/walk by the building to make sure you can find it. Now TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE and RELAX!
Arrive 10 minutes early than your interview time and approach the reception desk in a confident manner. Introduce yourself and say that you have an interview with X at Xpm. If offered a drink I would tend to refuse rather than sitting with a hot cup of coffee but if you feel you need a drink then you could ask for water.
When you are introduced to the person interviewing you, shake their hands in a confident manner. There is NOTHING worse than a limp handshake but at the same time you do not want to squeeze their hand too hard.
Interviewers usually fall into 3 categories as follows:-
A. Professional interviewer who will ask set questions in the same order
B. Professional interviewer who will prepare specific questions that may or may not follow a particular order
C. A non-professional who does not plan the interview, is erratic in the questions (often asking irrelevant questions) and follows no particular pattern
Pretty early on you will be able to recognise a category C, as they will be unorganised with CV’s all over their desk and often they will not even be able to find your actual CV. They may start having a quick read through it and then they begin their questioning (often being disrupted with phone calls or events outside of their office). Their questions are presented in a way that can be answered with a simple Yes or NO but DO NOT allow this to happen. Here is an example of what they may ask:-
Q: Can you handle pressure?
This is a dreadful question to ask because people can simply answer yes.
The professional interviewer would ask this in a different manner as follows:-
Q: How do you handle pressure?
As you can see the professional’s question does not allow a yes/no response.
You must treat BOTH questions in the same way and if you can build a picture in the interviewers mind you by using a description/story then you will be ahead of the game.
Here are two examples:-
A: I handle pressure by breaking my work load into manageable pieces without losing sight of the objective
A: In my previous job we had to work to tight deadlines and I mitigated the pressure by focusing my efforts and my time on what was relevant without getting distracted. I would break my work load into manageable pieces whilst remaining mindful of the overall project. My ability of handling pressure has always been well received by my managers as they know they can trust me to get the work completed on time.
Whilst the first answer is a very good response the second answer paints a picture that will remain longer in their subconscious.
If you can paint a picture, which could be using examples of your work/benefits of your work within the company within your answers then you will be well ahead of the field. This can be further enhanced by having written references that back up any claims.
The unprofessional interviewer can be very frustrating individual but you must remain focused.
Here are some key points that will help you within any interview:-
1. Always look interested
2. Sit up straight in the chair
3. Do not fold your arms
4. Make eye contact but do not simply sit there staring
5. Use mirroring techniques (see below)
6. Nod in agreement
7. Keep looking ahead and do not get distracted
8. Make sure you maintain regular breathing (very important)
9. Listen carefully to the questions
10. Pause before answering (2 seconds is perfect)
11. Do not start rubbing or touching your face or make any sudden movements
12. Use an open palm or palms occasionally as you make points but do not overuse this gesture
13. ALWAYS ask them questions when you are offered the opportunity, which should be at the end of the interview
Point 13 is very important and if you take the opportunity of asking questions it will demonstrate that you are enthusiastic and professional. The amount of applicants who sit there and say they have no questions or instead ask stupid questions about pay and holidays means that if you ask sensible questions, you will be increasing your chances of getting the offer.
It is all about increasing your chances/your odds of being selected by standing out and being remembered.
Your questions could include, why the position has come available and what does the interviewer like about the company and why did they decide to work for them?
Body language is so important and in the early stages of your interview, which is where the interviewer should be doing the introduction and therefore all of the talking, it will be your only source of communication. You need to start points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 at the commencement of the interview and NOT when they start asking you questions. I have seen so many people start slumped in the chair, looking around the room, stroking their face and then they suddenly go into the correct mode albeit 5 minutes too late. How fake does this look?
Mirroring techniques are used to build a subconscious rapport with the interviewer and when conducted correctly it could be the deciding factor that tips the scales in your favour.
As mentioned above, the first part of the interview should commence with the interviewer providing a brief bio about themselves and the company. Whilst sitting there looking interested and attentive you should be watching out for their key body language signs or as important lack of such signs.
The points you should be looking for are as follows:-
1. Do they regularly nod their head when talking?
2. When they nod their head does it sometimes tilt to one side or both sides?
3. Do they use their hands when making a point? If so is it one hand or both?
4. Do they lean forward when making a point or are they sitting still?
5. What is their volume like and does it alter?
With this information you can start to mirror these traits when you give your answers. The key is to keep it subtle and it will certainly work. If they do not show any of the signs then stick to the default position of the 13 points.
End of the interview
When the interview comes to a close thank the interviewer for their time and whilst maintaining eye contact, say that you look forward to hearing from him or her soon and shake their hand in a positive and confident manner. Say the word confident in your mind just before you shake their hand and smile.
You MUST come across confident throughout the interview and it is imperative that you finish on a high note. If you walk past the reception desk on the way out say goodbye or at least acknowledge the person you originally spoke to when you arrived at the building. Often interviewers will ask the opinion or make a comment to the staff who first met you so it is best to leave a good impression as well as making the initial first impression.
As you leave the building head straight back to your car/mode of transport and make notes of what you were asked, how you responded and how you felt the interview went. Also make notes of their body language.
This is not the time to relax as you have now entered the crucial stage of the process and you are this is the point where you are going to increase your chances further.
When you get home complete your Post- Interview letter and either email or post this letter to the interviewer WITHOUT DELAY.
This letter should thank them for their time (professional), shows you have listened to what they have said (good communicator), expresses an interest (enthusiasm) and confirms that you have the requisite skills to perform the role (confidence).
In a closely run race the Post-Interview letter, when combined with the other points detailed in this document, will really make the difference.
In my opinion there is no benefit in bombarding the interviewer with further emails or letters or phone calls. You have done your best and once you have sent your post interview letter you are far better spending your time on trying to secure other job interviews. By securing other interviews you are in a far stronger position should the first company come back to you with an offer or 2nd interview. You will also find that you will appear far more confident during the pending interviews with the new companies as you will be approaching them in a position of strength.
Usually 2 or 3 applicants are called back for the second interview stage, although some companies make their decision based purely on the initial interview.
I would re-visit their web site and Google to see whether there have been any changes within the company since your initial research.
Above all else you must remain true to the style you portrayed during the initial interview but you need to appear even more confident and enthusiastic. Again before the second interview write to the person confirming your interview etc and follow the same process as before.
Most importantly read back through the notes you took immediately after your interview and your answers to these questions as these will be explored in more detail during the second interview. If you have followed my advice your notes will include details of their body language so again you can use the mirroring technique.
As I said before keep applying for other jobs after your first interview and continue this approach after the second interview. Those who hold back for the results of an interview without looking for other options are those who end up either disappointed if rejected or in a weaker position if offered the position. In the ideal world you really need to have 2/3 interviews taking place within a week of each other to keep the odds in your favour.
Always get the job offer/terms/contract of employment in writing before making a decision. Too many applicants just get excited over the fact that they have been offered a job and they forget about looking through the terms and contract of employment.
A true professional will look through the documents before agreeing to commence a position and even more important a true professional will carry on applying for other jobs and attending interviews/second interviews. At least now you have an offer in your bag and you can draw like for like comparisons when at other interviews.
Starting your new job
After 6 weeks within your new job you MUST drop the interviewer a quick email to say that you are enjoying the new position and that you feel you are already making a contribution (not forgetting to thank them for selecting you in the first place). This works for the following reasons:-
- If they stay within the company and a higher level position comes available that you wish to apply for then you will have the head start on the other applicants.
- If they move to another company they could have jobs come up for you and again they will always prefer to put forward someone they have selected before as the chances of it going wrong are drastically reduced.
There is no real secret to getting promotion and the ones who do tend to get noticed for the right reasons. What is important, in fact imperative, is that you MUST keep a detailed log of your achievements and what you have done to solve problems. This list of achievements will prove invaluable when seeking to further your career.
Above all else remember the points shown on the second page of this document and you will find that promotion is a natural progression with the odd prompt from yourself.
Here are these points again with a slight update:-
1. Is the member of staff suitable for the role with the requisite ability and experience?
2. Have they proved their willingness of going the extra mile or taking on a greater scope of responsibility?
3. Have they been manageable yet willing to give their input at the appropriate time?
4. Will they continue to fit in with the team despite their promotion?
5. Will they continue to conduct themselves in a professional manner?
By following the points shown in this document you will be placing yourself ahead of those who simply do not bother or have never even given it due consideration.
Keep applying for other positions right to the point of agreeing to the terms of the job you have been offered.
Within 6 months of starting your new position I would highly recommend applying for jobs of a higher level through other companies as you are in a ‘win win’ situation.
Always keep notes of your achievements and any appraisals or emails that comment on your performance.
Finally, I would like to wish you all the very best in securing your ideal position by getting ahead of the field and making the interviewers job easier by reducing their options as early as possible.
About the author
My name is Julian Daniels and I own Close Protection CVs, which I started in 2008, and through my expertise and hard work I have helped hundreds of people gain employment in all fields of security. The reason behind my success in creating ‘interview winning’ CVs can be attributed to many factors, including the vast experience I gained within Senior Management and Human Resources. Details of my CV service can be found on www.cpandmarsec.co.uk
Copyright © 2016 Julian Daniels