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Personal Reputation

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

Pocketblog has gone back to basics. This is part of an extended management course.

A career in management is built on the reputation you create for yourself.  This is not about arrogantly promoting yourself at every opportunity, but it is about managing the opportunities you seize and your personal PR.

Exercise 1: 15 Minutes of Fame

‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ said Andy Warhol.  What will you be famous for?  Take some time to note down what you are good at, what you want to become good at and how this can help you make a positive name for yourself.

When you have done this, keep an ear open for projects and initiatives that you can participate in at work and in your community.  To increase your chances of finding good opportunities, increase your network.

Exercise 2: Expand your Network

Make a list of all of the people you know in your organisation who could help you develop a strong reputation.  Classify each as a major or minor player (you will need to review this list and these classifications from time to time).  Now look at each and decide whether you need to strengthen your relationship with them, through meeting for coffee, offering support on one of their projects, or having lunch with them.

Exercise 3: Review your CV

We looked at preparing a CV in a blog called ‘New Job’.  It is time to review your CV and to give it a little more impact.  Work on your CV to make sure:

  1. It is absolutely clear what you do and why you are the best person to do it
  2. It demonstrates why I should trust you with the best, most challenging role
  3. The quality of its presentation, layout and production reflects the quality you want to portray for yourself

Exercise 4: Who are you?  What do you do?

These are two questions that often throw people.  Yet they ought to be the ones we really know the answer to.  So write each question at the top of a sheet of paper and start jotting snippets, phrases and words that will start to answer the question.

Gradually shape those gobbets into a coherent and concise answer.  Now word craft your answer to give it real impact.

Finally, practise it, until you can say it clearly and correctly without referring to your notes.  Make sure you have the final version properly recorded in your notebook and, from time to time, review and update it.  When you do that, always start from scratch.

Further Reading

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New Job

Maybe you are newly on the job market… a recent graduate without a job, a school leaver at the end of the summer, ready for work, recently redundant, or bored with your job and looking for a new one.  Or maybe you have been looking for a job for a fair time and are hoping for a new tip that could make the difference.

The Perfect CV

The perfect CV or job application does not exist.  The best one for this opportunity, at this time, with your skills, experience and personality is what you need to create.  Yes; you read that correctly – each CV and each application needs to be tailored to the role you are applying for and the culture of the organisation you are applying to.  This is not to manipulate the truth, but to make the relevant truth easy for selectors to find and appreciate.

What General Principles Apply?

There are some general principles, and these are important.  They will dictate in part the base document you create and in part how you adapt it each time.

Character First

There is an old saying: ‘hire for attitude: train for skills’ and many organisations apply that ethos.  What is becoming more evident is the desire to place character before capability.  Where there is an over-supply of skilled or experienced candidates, what really matters is character.  How can you use your application documents to demonstrate your character strengths?

As an aside, what can you do while you wait for that job, to develop your character?  Working at this is, itself, a sign of character and an important asset in your job search.

Stand-alone CV?

Your application documents no longer stand alone.  If an employer is interested in you, the HR department or interviewing manager may well punch your name into a search engine.  There is a debate in the HR profession around the ethics and the reliability of this, but the safest thing is to assume it will happen.  So do it yourself and find out what they would see on their screens.  If it is not good, fix it.

Pay particular attention to social media and use professional social media websites like Linked In to your advantage.



Printing your CV on Day-Glo paper may be good for attracting attention but will not attract an interview.  However, a well-laid out, carefully prepared and proof-read document with a little design consideration may help.  Look at the corporate style of the organisation you are applying to: download their brochures and reports from their website.  Are they traditional or modern in their design ethic?  Do they like dense information or a lot of white space?  Don’t copy their style, but do reflect it.  A small number of excellent applications will beat a vast number of low quality all-the-same ones – and save you on postage.

The Core Message

What is your SHA?  Your Specific Hiring Advantage – for this job, for this employer.  Build your CV and application around that one message.  Keep the content concise and relevant and address any criteria or clues you get from the job details, the advert, the organisation’s public image.  Two good pages are perfect.  Any more and it won’t get read.

A Really Good Cover Letter

… will grab attention on line one and leave the reviewer eager to read your CV and subconsciously biased in its favour.  The confirmation bias means if they like your cover letter, they will look for the good in your application and CV.  If the cover letter fails to impress (or worse) then they will notice every tiny flaw in your application and it will be scrapped (emotionally if not physically) long before the bottom of the last page.  Hone your cover letter to perfection – don’t treat it as a last minute rush job.  That would waste all of the other efforts you have made.

Be Honest

‘Character first’ was the first tip – and it is the last.  If they have the slightest reason to doubt your honesty, you are burnt burger and in the bin.  Avoid exaggeration and provide evidence.

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The New Manager’s Guide to Interviewing Part 1: Preparing the Ground

One of the most daunting tasks for a new manager is conducting their first job interviews.  The stakes are high: get it wrong, and you may be stuck with a capable – but not that capable – colleague for years.  Get it right, on the other hand, and you have not just added a huge asset to your organisation, but you will probably make your own life easier.

So what can you do to improve your chances of securing the right candidate?

In a series of three articles, Management Pocketblog will offer you:

  1. Preparing the Ground
    Increase your chances of success well before the interview
  2. Getting it Right
    Hints and advice for conducting and effective interviews
  3. Polishing your Process
    Tips and tricks of the trade

Preparing the Ground

Your interview can only be successful if you get the right candidates in front of you, so your process needs to start right back at the beginning – thinking clearly about the role you need to fill.  Avoid the lazy option of re-issuing an existing job description and start afresh.

The Job Requirements

Look at your requirements in terms of the job, your organisation’s short and medium term plans, the team of people that is there, and what you believe it will take to do the work to the highest standards.  This is time consuming and will doubtless require consultation and negotiation.  But if you get it wrong, two risks emerge; either:

  1. You get someone who fits the job description (JD) perfectly, but it is the wrong JD, so you have the wrong person.
  2. You get the right person despite the poor JD, and then other candidates can legitimately claim that the interview process was unfair, in not selecting against the published JD.

Handling the Advertising and Admin

How you advertise the vacancy and handle enquiries will tell candidates a lot about your organisation.  The impression that they form may be fair or false, but it will influence everything from how candidates present themselves to you at interview to whether they accept a job you offer.  So, if you get that wrong, a good candidate may mis-judge you and perform poorly or may succeed at interview, only to turn you down.

How many times have you phoned a business up and had to wait for a grumpy person to take your call and then lose you in the system?  Would you want to work for that company?  No?  Neither will the best candidates.

Do your Reading

When applications and CVs come in, take the sifting process seriously.  Evidence-based sorting and shortlisting is not just fairer than impression-based selection: it gives better results.  So before any responses come back, devise a set of criteria to rate or rank all applications.  Do so on the basis of the factors that matter most to this role, and choose a small number of factors.  Keep the process simple and then evaluate each application scrupulously against these criteria.

Ideally, have two people do it independently and average the scores.  Before doing that, examine any applications where the two give substantially different scores.  Work together to examine the evidence in the application and decide which of you mis-read the application.

Prepare for the Interview 1

Create an interview process that focuses on the most relevant skills, experience and characteristics for the job.  Avoid clever tricks (more in the next blog) and questions designed to catch the candidate out.  Instead, presume that each candidate is ideal for the job and design a process that allows each to show how she or he fits perfectly and what extra qualities they bring.  Some will fail to give you the evidence that convinces you, and you will exclude them.  This approach is better than risking catching out a perfect candidate with a clever trick, while the so-so candidate sails through by playing it safe.

Prepare for the Interview 2

In the perfect world, all applications would be rendered into uniform, relevant data only briefs before interviewers read them ahead of the interview.  This means that, in preparing,you only see the relevant information and are not distracted by irrelevancies (for example, gender, age, and sometimes layout and handwriting).

Whether you have the resources to do this or not, read the information that you have carefully and highlight the most salient details, which you wish to explore in the interview.  Highlight those sections and note your questions.  Avoid putting smart remarks like ‘obviously a lie’ on them, as these papers may be disclosable under the Data Protection Act and so open you up to tribunal or worse.

If you do suspect a problem, use phrases like ‘explore in detail’  instead.  You need to know each application and CV thoroughly before the candidate walks through the door.

Next Time…

… we’ll be looking at the interview itself.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

The Interviewer's Pocketbook

The Interviewer’s Pocketbook

The Managing Recruitment Pocketbook

Or, if you are expecting to be on the other side of the table…

The Succeeding at Interviews Pocketbook

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