Is Your Voice Falling On Deaf Ears?

Shannon Dolan is Director of Performance Power. She works as an executive coach, trainer, and keynote speaker. She specialises in corporate performance skills, elite presentation skills, and personal branding. She has had great success coaching women of all levels ranging from Managing Director to Graduate level at such firms as Citibank, Commonwealth Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cochlear, and Oracle Corporation.

In business, I do not believe there are necessarily a lot of gender differences. There is one area however where there is, our voice. Men, due to their physical structure often produce a voice with greater depth, volume, and resonance. Women due to their physical structure often produce a voice that is lighter, softer, and finer. This causes some problems for women and I have been called in many times to work with women where their voice is actually getting in the way of them moving forward in their career. Their voice may sound too young, too unconvincing, too whiny, and to be honest their voice is being tuned out. We are drawn to a voice that is warm, strong, passionate, interesting, and melodic. We move away from a voice that is strident, nasal, and flat. 38% of the impact we make face to face is the sound of our voice, and on the telephone it is just about everything. If that voice is one that people do not want to listen to, then they are definitely not hearing that great initiative you want to put forward or any message for that matter. It is certainly not about having a voice like a man or acting like a man in any way as far as I am concerned. There is great power in being a woman in business. But awareness of your “business voice” can support you in moving forward in your professional goals. Your voice is one of the most important business tools you have.

Here are ten tips for enhancing and developing your professional voice:

  1. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm. Feel your ribs, waist, and back expand. Most people breathe rather shallowly into the upper chest. This gives a weak sound.
  2. As you exhale allow your sound to ride on the breath. This will give it a sound that is connected and impactful.
  3. Hum in the shower, with the radio in the car, around the house, and feel the vibration in the face and body as you do. This is the resonant part of the voice. Develop it and connect to it to have a warmer tone.
  4. Bite into your consonants and open your mouth on your vowels. Create a clear sound. It does not matter what accent we have or what language we speak, these are unique aspects of ourselves; but we need to be understood.
  5. Remind yourself often to relax any areas of your body that are tense. Relaxation in the body creates a great sound that really travels with very little effort.
  6. Project your voice in meetings taking a breath and then sending your voice to the person you are addressing. Really see it travel outside your body and reach the others at the end of the table.
  7. Read the newspaper out loud. Concentrate on bringing the words to life. Be aware of the commas and full stops to give your speech a considerate and engaging pace.
  8. Read out loud to children to build melody and interest into your voice. No one stays engaged very long to a monotone voice.
  9. Yawn. Just not in front of your audience! Yawning is one of the quickest, easiest, and best ways of warming up your voice and giving it a great sound. It relaxes you as well.
  10. Consider your words and what you are saying. Words have meaning. Words are beautiful. Words can move mountains.

Shannon Dolan’s work is all about you! She supports people and businesses in being the very best they can be; in understanding their true strengths and their personal power. Learn more at www.shannondolan.com

Up Your Image… Up Your Results

How to use personal brand to support your professional expertise

Will you make 2010 the year of your professional best? Whether it’s generating leads, closing deals or stepping up the corporate ladder, it’s tough to achieve results without feeling positive and worth.

While the way you look is not a substitute for the knowledge and discipline you need to perform in your role, knowing your are ‘branded’ for success will give you the confidence to walk into many doors.

Like property requires maintenance, looking professional does not happen by itself. You need to plan for it, you need to budget for it and you need to take some action. Here is what you can do immediately to capitalise on your personal brand:

DRESS FOR NOW

If only I lost weight, had more time or paid off the debts …. have you ever said that?

Waiting for the perfect circumstances is the highway to failure. Dress the body you have now and you’ll instantly feel stronger. Sort out your wardrobe today and you’ll stop wasting time over nothing-to-wear. Tweak the clothes you own and you won’t spend big for buying new outfits.

ACTION: What is holding you back from creating a winning personal brand? Commit to make a move in the next 7 days and follow it through.

TAKE THE LEAD

When the majority wears black, standards are questioned and grooming is relaxed, being known for immaculate presentation is a smart business move. Dress a cut ‘sharper’ and you’ll be seen as ‘promotable’ when opportunity knocks. Look a bit ‘edgier’ and you’ll be though of when what you sell is needed.

ACTION: How can you take it up a notch? Choose one thing at a time, like adding colour or accessorising better, and stick with it for a month to make it a habit.

MIND THE CONTEXT

Would you rate trustworthy if you looked under-dressed or sloppy by comparison to a perspective buyer? Being over-dressed may also be alienating. As shallow as it feels, most people jump into conclusions based on what they see and the messages they interpret. Your appearance is a source of non-stop visual information. To connect with clients better try to match your clothes to the audience expectations.

ACTION: What will they think of you when you walk into the room? Check your diary ahead and plan your outfit according to desired branding.


The Secret of Effective Wardrobing

Have you ever been stuck with pieces you either wish you didn’t buy or have to go out and spend more money to make them work? There is a magic formula that can be applied that will assist in making decisions about how and where you spend your money when it comes to fashion. You don’t need to be Pythagoras to use it. It’s simple, makes sense and the best part is you may never feel guilty again about purchasing that item you bought on a whim if you know you’ll wear it a lot.

Count your CPW’s – Cost Per Wear & Cost Per Wow

Cost Per Wear is a time-tested strategy of building a wardrobe cost-effectively. By taking the cost of an item and diving it by how many times you expect to wear or have worn it, you get a better idea of its real value. Basically, the more you wear it, the more it’s worth it.

As an example, let’s say you’re in love with a stunning jacket that costs $750 but you know you’ll be wearing it at least twice a week for the next five years, then it really costs you $1.44 each time you wear it.

Cost Per Wow is very similar but takes into account that what costs more should generally mean that you will get more out of it. If you have two different shirts, one worth $20 and one worth $200, then technically you should get ten times more wear and pleasure out of the $200 shirt. In other words its value is realised.

In a nutshell, it’s quality that counts, not quantity. It’s always better to invest in a classic piece than several inexpensive outfits. When you wear quality you feel better and …when you feel better you project confidence.

 


Sell More With Good Business Etiquette

The initial stage of meet and greet is crucial. If you are not confident, unprofessional or disrespectful, you lose credibility before you start. You’ll never get a chance for a second first impression. Treat a woman equally important when selling to a couple. If you win trust of a wife, the husband will follow. In most western cultures men are expected to shake hands with women. Do it slightly softer not to crush her fingers but not too loose to come across as dead fish.

 


 A moment with Elena – Let’s Test Your Handshake

The question I often get asked by men in particular ‘I never know about shaking hands with women’. The answer is, all the time. For men and women in a business situation initiating a handshake shows confidence. We shake hands when meeting somebody and when saying goodbye.

In my experience however very few people have ever received feedback on their handshake which is bizarre when it is one of the first things you do.

So why not to test how you rate? Find a colleague you trust and invite them for a handshake. Do what you’d normally do when shaking hands. Shake couple of times then freeze.

The person whose hand ended up being on top basically says ‘I’ll be in charge from now on’. But what has that handshake told you about that person? Was it a handshake of a confident man or a wet fish? The bone-crusher or the limp looser?

The idea is to create the rapport through the handshake. Ideally we want a firm, friendly one. Extend your hand and grip the other person’s hand so that it is palm to palm and web to web. Note: there is nothing worth then squeezing someone’s fingers or making your handshake ever so gentle that other person left wondering what happened to them.

Make an eye contact. While this will vary from culture to culture, in Australia we expect the person shaking our hand to make eye contact with us. Have something to say as you shake hands, if possible. It doesn’t require anything witty. You can even use the old stand-by, “Pleased to meet you.” Shake just a couple of times. The motion is from the elbow, not the shoulder. And end the handshake cleanly, before the introduction is over.

You are now a master of a professional handshake!

How to Make It in Business

I left school just after I turned sixteen years of age, without School Certificate. My first job was as a florist which only lasted two months on account of my being fired for my stroppy attitude! What a wake-up call that was! However, it was a great lesson for me and ever since that dismissal I have been a diligent worker.

For the next 25 years I worked in administration roles, had my two daughters and worked myself up to being an Office Manager for the Federal Government. Not bad for someone with little education I guess, however, I have always had a yearning to have my own business.

Today, I am a Director of True Colours Group – I head up the Recruitment and Keynote Speaker Divisions of the business. True Colours Group is a Training company with a heavy focus on helping to develop women as leaders as well as linking training to Corporate Social Responsibility.

My first business was a speaking bureau called Coyote Management International, and let me tell you it nearly sent me broke, however it was the best learning curve of my life. When I started the business I was working as an Office Manager and met my then partner who is a well known Professional Speaker, Ron Lee aka the Corporate Ninja. His client invited me to join them at a conference in Fiji, which Ron was speaking at. I was in awe of the Ninja’s career…here he was getting paid thousands of dollars and spending five days in Fiji as part of his work! I asked him, “How do I become a part of this?” and he replied “Become a Speaker or start a bureau.”

Well that is exactly what I did. Within a couple of months I had a name, a website www.coyote.com.au (which I taught myself to build) and was on my way. I kept my full time job for those two months then took the plunge and left my secure employment to run my business out of our home. Big Mistake Deb!! Here I was in business having never sold in my life, knew nothing about marketing, let alone how to run a business! Six years on, I still have my bureau and I am now a Director, along with my business Partner, Tanya Harris, in a wonderful, exciting business.

My Mistakes Were:

  • Starting a business with zero capital
  • Didn’t have any savings to keep me going
  • Left my job so stopped my income altogether
  • Didn’t research the market
  • Chose a stupid name! Coyote Management International? Good grief!, Do I look after Coyotes? No! I represent keynote speakers! I laugh at it now, however it does have a brand so hard to change, however I am in the process of changing it.
  • I had no experience in selling
  • I had no experience in marketing
  • I actually had no experience in professional speaking

What I Did Right:

  • I had the guts to stick to it
  • I believed in my services and product
  • I had passion..I lived and breathed my business
  • I acquired mentors
  • I learned from my mistakes
  • I learned how to sell, market and run a business
  • I attended every networking event I could
  • I built a name
  • I learned how to build an internet profile
  • I made contacts
  • I was a sponge soaking up “How To”…..just like you are now
  • I had guts
  • I never ever gave up
  • I compromised

So how did I get here today? Three years into Coyote I was making enough to live on, but not the type of money I dreamt of so I decided to get a sales job and run Coyote on the side. This was an excruciating decision to make as I thought of myself as a failure and I didn’t want to work for anyone else. As it turned out, I applied for a job that was advertised through a recruitment company. The Managing Director of the recruitment firm rang me himself and told me he didn’t want to put me forward for the role I applied for, he wanted me to work for him as a Recruiter. You see by now, I had learnt so much about marketing and business that I was a pretty hot candidate to enter the world of recruitment.

I accepted the role and was put in charge of heading up the business support desk with the proviso that I could still run Coyote out of hours. The company put me through vigorous training and I learnt very quickly how to build rapport with candidates and become a savvy recruiter. I utilised my strengths which is tenacity, passion and building relationships. A year on I wanted to work in the city not Chatswood, so I applied for, and was accepted, for a position in a recruitment firm for their Business Support team. Within two months I was promoted to the Executive Team heading up the Sales & Marketing Desk.

All was going well until the Global Financial Crisis hit. I was dissatisfied at work, I didn’t think there was anything unique I was offering my clients, especially in such a hard economy. It was then I mentioned to Tanya Harris, my now business partner, that I was going to put a recruitment arm into Coyote and once I placed a candidate would get a speaker/trainer to come in and conduct a team training or sales training workshop as part of our fee. I can still remember that moment because we looked at each other and exclaimed “True Colours!” – it was perfect to add Recruitment to True Colours and our point of difference is we offer an on-boarding session either by training the whole team the candidate is placed in, or a one on one coaching with the new candidate as part of our package at no cost to our client.

True Colours Recruitment became a Division of the True Colours Group and more recently we added another Division, True Colours Keynotes which is Australia’s only female speaking bureau.

This is a very abbreviated story of how I started a business and got to where I am today. You can read all about it at seemingly-sane.com. Below I have dot pointed what I learnt along the way and I hope that any woman reading this, who has a vision for herself will think “If she can do it, so can I!” Let me tell you, YOU CAN!!!

  • Have a dream and write it down
  • Create a plan of what you want in 3 months, 1 year and 5 years
  • Have a vision of what it looks like in your business, how much do you earn, where do you work? Start of vision board and pictures of the lifestyle you want on it. In my case I have a book that I put photos of what I want to achieve i.e. the type of car, holidays etc and I am always putting a tick to these items as I achieve them!
  • Read everything you can on entrepreneurs, marketing, sales, other people who have succeeded, read until you fall asleep
  • Always keep a positive mindset and see your vision
  • Except that you might fail and fail again
  • Be prepared to pick yourself up after every knock back
  • Never ever give up your dream
  • Find mentors. Some of my mentors don’t even know they are my mentors. People are always flattered to be a mentor. I am happy to mentor anyone if time permits.
  • Investigate if you can raise capital or get a government grant
  • Use free resources i.e. zoho.comskype.com and other great websites that you can learn to create your own logos, likelogomaker.com. Check out the Government Business Websites – they want you to succeed!
  • Research your competitors
  • Network, even if you are shy. Just do it!
  • Be creative with marketing i.e. become an expert in writing articles or learn how to write a great press release
  • Be prepared to work 14 hour days or more
  • My biggest mistake was trying to take on my competitors. Today however, I found a niche market in the speaking industry and started a women speaker bureau: truecolourskeynotes.com
  • Learn how to build websites
  • Take calculated risks
  • Learn to sleep – this is hard when funds are not coming in so in my case I have a mantra if I want to sleep.
  • Leverage off other people, doing it alone is tough
  • Learn to Barter
  • Believe in yourself
  • Find someone to work with, leverage off people
  • Be prepared to give
  • Be confident
  • Love what you do
  • Tell yourself every day “I am successful”….this could even become your mantra when you can’t sleep

Go Girl! You can do it if you have the passion.

Debbie Carr is a director of the True Colours Group and Coyote Management International. You can find her atwww.truecoloursrecruitment.comwww.truecolourstraining.comwww.truecolourskeynotes.com andwww.coyote.com.au/debbie_carr.html and you can read her story at www.seemingly-sane.com

How to Be Happy at Work

In 1990 the World Health Organisation declared depression to be world health burden number four and predicted it would be number two by 2020. At the New Zealand Mental Health at Work Conference in March 2003 it was stated that in any 6 month period 25% of people in this country will have a mental illness. In both developing and developed regions, depression is women’s leading cause of disease burden. Depression is referred to as the modern plaque and affects peoples ability to perform across a wide section of activities of daily living. The stresses of daily living, including grief, low morale and poor self esteem affect decision making, concentration and productivity.

The practiced application of good humour in the workplace can aid in the reversal of this modern day malady and create a fun and productive environment.

Humour in business is not about clowning. It is about demonstrating that you are a warm, responsive, intelligent and considerate person. Learning to understand humour is no different to learning to understand any other business communication tool. Humour is a creative tool that sharpens the mind, engenders positive attitudes, fosters friendships, encourages mateship, generates optimism, boosts enthusiasm, restores hope and is simply fun.

Humour takes a positive and a negative form. Using humour in introspection is the first step to overcoming the imperfect and contradictory aspects of business communication. Being able to laugh at yourself enables you to feel good about yourself. Positive humour is constructive, appropriate, relevant and strengthens relationships, whereas negative humour is inappropriate, destroys and alienates. There are three basic types of wit or humour; sarcasm or laughing at others; nit wit or laughing at the wrong time; clowning wit or laughing with others. It is appropriate to aim to be amusing, not abusing.

In the world of comedy, humour is about creating maximum laughs per minute as a measure of success. In business being good humoured is about creating an open, positive, receptive and cheerful mood with successful communication the end product. The greatest challenge for every business leader is finding a way through the human capacity to create chaos, finding the good within each individual and then harnessing that to support business outcomes. By getting out of the office and managing by walking around you will get to know your people and the rewards they want from the workplace .

You can optimize this less formal communication by having fun, being responsive and in the moment. Use all these encounters to generate goodwill. If you made someone else’s day every day your business would grow exponentially. All you have to do is catch people doing something right and acknowledge it. Maintain this sort of environment and you would see improved and sustained bottom line results.

The first Humour in Business conference was convened in Australia in 2002, following a survey that revealed a FUN workplace would make employees more productive and could even mean the boss had to pay them less. The study by consulting company Customer Care Solutions in Sydney found that 81 per cent of people believed a fun work environment would make them more productive while 55 per cent said they would take less pay to have more fun at work. Ninety-three per cent of respondents said that laughing on the job helped to reduce work-related stress. The survey of 2,500 employees was released ahead of the “Humour Summit”—a conference which looked at the issue of fun in the workplace and its impact on a business’ bottom line.

Recent research done in Victoria University by Professor Janet Holmes and Maria Stubbe confirms that effective workplace communication has many facets and that humour along with small talk and repetition play an important part. They found that feelings of solidarity were fostered when workers contributed to office humour. People were considered to be part of the team and these workplaces tended to be happier . They also cited subordinates using humour to contest their superiors, and as a self-depreciation device defusing the pressure when they know they have done something stupid. ( Full research results are available in their book , Holmes, Janet and Maria Stubbe 2003. Power and Politeness in the Workplace. Harlow Essex: Pearson Education.)

The qualities that mark people who excel in real life, who have successful personal relationships, and who are stars in the workplace have nothing to do with IQ. Daniel Goleman US Author of Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ says those qualities include self awareness, impulse control, persistence, zeal and self motivation, empathy and social deftness. These are all evident in people who are good humoured.

Combine this thinking with Howard Gardner, Professor at Harvard Business School, who expounds the theory that we have in fact eight or more intelligences including linguistic, musical, physical, analytical, practical, intra-personal and inter-personal. People with strong inter-personal intelligence who have the ability to get on with other people, and are good at getting things done with and through others. These people are more likely to be good humoured.

All of these intelligences relate to individual core competencies and learning styles in a workplace setting. When the needs of the job are a match for the needs of the person then performance outcomes and productivity stand to grow exponentially. These intelligences are easily determined and isolate strengths and passions of employees. Use them to find out what makes your people sing and then create a plan to help them enjoy their time at work. When you do they will bring a new zeal to encounters with your customers and be the source of increased revenue as a result.

The art of improvisation is a skill developed by actors that boosts creative thought and potentiates deliberate brain activity. It is not uncommon for participants in programs to quickly develop skills that allow them to perform five or six complex tasks simultaneously. It is a process that involves unlearning old habits and thinking laterally to create new solutions to problems. It’s application in business is relevant as decision making abilities are markedly enhanced, saving time and money and therefore improving productivity. Improv has a pattern that can be learned and is intentionally reliant on the deliberate creation of humour.

It is no great surprise that people perform to optimum when they are having fun, doing what they love, in a high trust environment that rewards and acknowledges their efforts. Being good humoured is a state of mind. In that state we are more likely to laugh and be the trigger for others to laugh. Laughter is a great medicine. Like intense exercise, laughter increases brain levels of serotonin and endorphins that can calm and relax the mind. In that more relaxed state people are more productive. The notion of being able to lift your bottom line by developing a high trust environment where people are rewarded for having fun and doing what they love ….is not as elusive as it seems!

People get beaten up enough by life; they don’t need to get beaten up when they come to work. The new adaptations to the Health and Safety Act see employers and employees having a shared responsibility for the provision of a stress free, safe work environment. The people who walk through your doors each day are affected by life events. Positive relationships can be built using good humour and the mutual respect that ensues contributes significantly to a safe and productive workplace.

 

Pat Armitstead RGN, Dip Ed, Dip FTM
World’s First Joyologist
649 428 3836 * 021 687635
joyologist@humour-resources.com
www.humour-resources.com
skype joyologist1 * twitter joyologist1
Radio PlanetFM 104.6 * “Find your Joy”

Women Are Their Own Worst Enemy

Jen Dalitz, business consultant and founder of sphinxx.com.au – the network for business women in leadership, believes that women are their own worst enemy when it comes to realising their full career potential. There are of course many other factors that come into play, some of which are unique to women, but put simply, “Women often just don’t believe in themselves enough”, says Dalitz.

To address this issue, sphinxx is running a new series of events, the sphinxx Ascend development days which aims to significantly boost the confidence levels of businesswomen and help increase the number of women in senior leadership roles. The program is a series of four events throughout the year, in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne (next round in May 2010)

In a recent survey – sphinxx survey of working women – 27 per cent of respondents said they had turned down an offer of a promotion due to a lack of confidence in their ability, while a further 14 per cent had turned down a promotion due to a perceived lack of competence to perform the role.

Both of these last two points are linked: If a woman’s confidence isn’t at its best, nor will her perception be of herself, her skills and her ability to take on a new role.

“In the various leadership and executive roles I held in finance and consulting before I started sphinxx I was always amazed at the difference between men and women when it comes to self promotion”, says Dalitz. “It becomes much more obvious when you are managing teams in the hundreds, and this is when I really noticed the difference.

“Every week I would have male members of my team dropping by my desk, sending emails or booking coffee meetings to make sure I knew they were ready for their next promotion or to let me know they needed time off for study or travel or family commitments.  Although I had just as many women on my teams, I never heard from them on these points, unless they’d managed to secure another job altogether or they’d decided the work-family-life balancing act was so out of kilter that their only option was to resign.

The thing is this: if someone comes to you and offers you a promotion, they’ve already determined you have the skills and competence to do the job.  Even if you don’t have confidence in yourself, someone else does!  So why not take the job, and the payrise, and live happily ever after?

Clearly it’s not as simple as that.  Research by Catalyst shows that women won’t apply for a job unless they have 90 per cent of the required competencies, whereas men will apply with fewer than 50% of the competencies.  Women on Boards research also shows that 35 per cent of women lack the confidence to apply for a board position.

So what is this research saying?  Women need to get over their nervousness and start believing in themselves.  Carla Zampatti recently told Dalitz: “If you can’t sell yourself then how can you expect anyone else to believe in you and all you are capable of?”

Jen Dalitz’s Tips for Giving Yourself a Shot of Confidence

  • Recognise the little wins:  start carrying a journal or notebook with you every day and write down your successes – whether large or small – as they arise.  When it comes to performance review time, or when you just need a shot of confidence, you can read through your (very long) list of achievements and see for yourself how great you can be!
  • Create a forum to get other women together for brainstorming and discussion groups on the common challenges women face in getting ahead.  Brown bag lunches in the office, teleconferences and even a causal coffee all work well. Negotiation, innovation, communication and personal branding are all good topics to get you started.
  • Get a mentor or a role model you can ask for advice and to work through tricky situations with.  Girlfriends are also a good substitute for mentors, if you prefer.
  • Do some professional development, formal study or qualifications – but beware: Australian women are among the most qualified in the world.  It’s what you do with your new found knowledge that matters.  Make sure people know about it at work and in your professional networks.
  • Network.  Did you know that about 80% of all job appointments are made before they are even advertised?  That goes for internal and external appointments, so you should be spending just as much time on internal networking (with peers, clients, suppliers etc) as meeting people outside of your business.
  • Get involved in programs that support the advancement of women – as a participant or a contributor. The more you socialise with other women that are going through the same issues, the more shortcuts you’ll pick up and the more you’ll realise you’re capable of (we see in others what we are best at).

sphinxx runs a leadership program that brings together senior women in business – and many other organisations do too. Check out the Networking page on sphinxx.com.au for a list of the networking groups and organisations that hold regular networking and development events.

 

About Jen Dalitz

The SheEO! Jen Dalitz is obsessed with getting more women into leadership roles, in our workplaces, businesses and communities. That’s why she started sphinxx and why she writes about, speaks about, mentors and consults on topics relating to women in business. As an executive and business consultant, Jen experienced first hand the challenges women face as they climb the corporate ladder; and the impact on the bottom line when female talent is under-utilised. She created sphinxx to support women on their leadership journey, and to help employers in retaining and developing their high potential women. Sphinxx provides support and services to assist businesswomen in managing their work and life priorities, and leadership development to help them scale the heights in their careers. For more information or comment from Jen Dalitz, please contact Sophie Cross on 0421 996810 or email sophie@prchicks.com.au

How to Grab a Recruiter's Attention

I read hundreds of CV’s a week. It becomes tedious and at times frustrating. Other times I get a good laugh because of the blatant mistakes or dreadful grammar. Most CV’s I read have literally a few seconds to grab my attention. So what does grab my attention?

Most CV’s I read have literally a few seconds to grab my attention. So what does grab my attention? Firstly, the cover letter, if I am privileged enough to be sent one! Often the letter is a short note written like a sms to a friend (I have mentioned this in a previous article of mine). If the cover letter is so horrendously written it may grab my attention to take a peak at the CV just to satisfy my curiosity.

One thing that really irks me is when I receive a cover letter from a candidate who has applied for a job and they have obviously not read the job description. Some send me a cover letter applying for a job with someone else’s name on the letter! Some apply for a position of say, customer service representative when in fact the position advertised was for an accounts clerk.

I receive some CV’s which are so ill-prepared that I am aghast that the candidate would even dare to send it in. They can be full of spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar. I think one the worst one’s I received was in his previous experience he put down “I have been a raper”. Often the CV will be perfectly typed and grammatically correct and I know instantly the candidate did not prepare it themselves when I compare it to the cover letter.

Of course then there are times when the cover letter is perfectly written and I quickly go to the CV hopeful that I probably have a quality candidate here.

I realise most people these days have their “Career Objective” at the top of the CV. I don’t read this, I don’t have time. I jump straight to the last or current job to establish how long the candidate has been there. If the previous position seems to have been stable the CV has my attention and I continue to read through it. If the last position was short, I will glance quickly at the previous job history. I do not like job-hoppers and unless the job hopper has written a valid excuse as to why they only stay in positions for a short time, I’m not really interested. This is because I’m looking for loyalty and stability.

Of course, if the job-hopping was due to the TEMP assignments this does grab my attention as I also run a TEMP desk.

When a CV does grab my attention, I then start to study it in depth and if I am happy with it, the candidate gets a phone call immediately.

Here are my tips for sending in a CV and please remember this is just my personal preference:

  • Write a well thought out cover letter (not more than one page).
  • Ensure you have the recruiter’s name on the letter and NOT one of another person
  • Dear Sir/Madam or HR Officer tells me you haven’t really bothered to find out who you are dealing with
  • Do not write your letter as if you are sending a text message and please have a capital for when you are writing I not i.
  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of the position you are applying for and that you have the right skills and meet the criteria.
  • Do not ever send a standard cover letter without first checking the name of the recruiter, the company you are sending it to and the right job title in it preferably with the reference number
  • If you have changed jobs a lot, explain why you have left each position
  • Always mention your achievements – this is a big selling point
  • Try and give specific details on what your experience is in each job
  • Have your CV neatly typed and easy to read and in WORD format. We never send your CV out with your own details on it and we format it into our own template.
  • I personally prefer to have the period of employment written as exact dates, I realise many other recruiters do not agree with this, however this is my preference i.e. 4.3.06 – 22.12.07 not 2006/07
  • At the end of the cover letter give the best times to call you should the recruiter wish to obtain more information on you
  • And lastly, if you do get an interview please be on time, do not chew gum (oh yes it happens), dress as if you really want the job and relax, we are here to help you not hinder you.

Debbie Carr is a director of the True Colours Group and Coyote Management International. You can find her atwww.truecoloursrecruitment.comwww.truecolourstraining.comwww.truecolourskeynotes.com andwww.coyote.com.au/debbie_carr.html and you can read her story at www.seemingly-sane.com