I have learned how to effectively draw key skills from my previous work experience, put it into a clear and concise sentence. I got some really good pointers today to improve on this.  - Undergraduate attending Sian's seminar

Under employed and looking for more challenges? Make sure you know what you contribute now....

30th November 2012

So, this week's survey suggests that at least  3 million of us are 'under employed'. In plain English that means that we are either working part time and want full time hours, or in temporary work and want permanent jobs or are stuck in less challenging work than we are capable of (posssbly, all 3 contexts apply to you).  Whatever your situation, you want to offer more to the workplace than you currently do. 

 First, the good news. There has been a lot of debate about how this recession is different from earlier ones in that fewer  people appear to be unemployed than before and yet we are still not productive as a nation. Those economists better qualified than me with my O level Economics, reckon that it's partly due to reduced hours rather than wholesale redundancies. So the good news is that we may not have as much work and therefore income as we all want, but at least fewer of us have completely lost jobs and consequently our skills.

The bad news is that there are few signs that employers in any industries have yet gained enough confidence to start  re-investing in more jobs or more hours for existing workers, or committing to permanent rather than temporary roles. So, while you are in some work but are looking for more, then what will help you? 

When recruiters start sifting through the pile of CVs that have appeared in response to our adverts, we look for something that stands out. If you can describe clearly and concisely a key achievement you have made for your current or past employer, however small, that gets our attention. Even if you are currently bored rigid by your underuse, you are still making a difference to your employer in some way, or there would be no purpose in spending money to pay you. 

When I work with 'lost'  jobseekers, who don't know how to start  a CV, I suggest dusting off your job description (you've all got one somewhere, ask your boss) and reading it very carefully. Ask yourself the following questions and write the answers down:


What exactly am I paid to achieve each day? 

How does that get measured?

How do I know when I have made a difference to anyone? ( customers, colleagues, end users, my boss, other departments, the entire organisation, partner organisations) 

 What would the organisation miss if it wasn't employing me? 

 In the last month/3 months/ 6 months/ year, what have I achieved for the organisation that was unique? 

These questions may sound a bit deep but they are the start of defining who you are, what you have done for past  employers and what you could achieve for future employers. The candidate who can describe these things clearly on their CV, stands out from the crowd. If your job is currently too small for you, describing past achievements is the key to unlocking a strong CV. 

Find out more about how to build that strong CV from my book: Nail That Job, the complete guide for the less-experienced jobseeker, or pick up the phone - 01789 740948 and start to talk to me about how some focused coaching could help you uncover the CV that you deserve.

My top tip for nailing those achievements for a recruiter? Find a number to quantify your achievements, such as 3 %  drop in wastage over that month, 2 % increase in sales, complaints reduced by 10%, etc. 

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