Podcast: Applying for a Conservation Job – CVs and Resumes | Conservation Careers
Competition when applying for a conservation job can be tough. The good news is that there are more jobs available than ever before. We list over 8,000 conservation jobs on our site each year and that continues to grow.
The bad news is there are more people like you looking to work in the sector. So how do you stand out from the crowd and get an interview?
We check application forms, CVs, cover letters and resumes each week at Conservation Careers and the majority contain simple errors which are holding applicants back from getting their dream jobs. You might have all the right experiences, skills and qualifications for your chosen role but if you can’t sell yourself on paper, this could be a major hurdle to getting hired.
To help we’ve produced a free step-by-step guide ‘How To Apply For A Conservation Job’ which you can download from our website. If you’re applying for a conservation job, download it and use it; it really works!
We’ve also started a series of live training events at Conservation Careers and in this episode of the podcast, we’re going to dive into a webinar we held recently whereby Kristi Foster, our Head of Engagement, and myself walk you through some steps to pulling together a successful CV or resume. If you’re applying for a conservation job, or if you’re struggling to get an interview, you’re gonna like this one. Enjoy!
You can listen and subscribe to the Conservation Careers Podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher using the following links, or search for ‘conservation careers’ and you’ll find us!
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NICK: What do employers want? In this first section I want to talk through an example from Save The Rhino and this is for the Michael Hearn internship. So you might have heard about this, this is a really fabulous 12-month paid internship with Save The Rhino here in London but you get to spend I think a month out in Namibia each year also. It’s a hugely popular internship, why? Well cause I’ve already said it, it’s paid, ok so there’s not many internship last that long and actually pay a fairly reasonable living wage for London. So they get a lot of applications in the door each year. These two guys you can see in front of you here are Rory and Aaron. They were the Save The Rhino interns back in 2014 and 2013 I think? We’ve interviewed them on the website to hear what it’s like to do that. And what’s really interesting about the whole process, and they’ve just published their results actually recently, is they actually publish the results of their recruitment process. So they talk about, you know, what is it… how many applications do they get? What are some of the issues that means short-listed applications go straight in the bin? And why did they select their top seven to get to interview? Because they said they interview seven people each year. Really fascinating and it’s really kind of good evidence-based recruitment which is what we’re all about, finding the stuff that works and what’s really important. As we start this webinar let’s just go through some of the feedback they get because I think it’s really insightful, it kind of gives a bit of an overview, it kind of gives a nice overview of why people make silly mistakes. So first of all it was a really… this is 2013 these stats, ok. It was an incredibly popular year for their paid internship, they had 299 applications, ok. Now that isn’t typical so don’t get scared about that. This is just like the most popular of internships going because as I say it’s a nice paid role. This year I think they had about 146, something like that. So it’s come down a little bit and that might be because they’re sharing their feedback actually and being really clear on what they want and what they don’t want, and that’s kind of helping to kind of refine down the application pot slightly. So what happened? So the first sift, they went through those 299 applications, one person did this, ok. And 66 applications were excluded immediately, ok. 14 had silly errors. What sort of silly errors are we talking about? Well seven people misspelt either Michael Hearn or Save The Rhino, which kind of seems… well, it’s not unbelievable but it’s a mistake that really shouldn’t slip through. It’s the sort of thing that really gets people’s back up. I worked at BirdLife International for a while and the L in Life is a capital L. And a lower-case L would wind me and anyone else up, you know. Because it’s all about an eye for detail so don’t make silly errors like that, really get your applications checked thoroughly. Seven people also hadn’t really done their cutting and pasting really well. Some of them sent applications for jobs from other organisations to Save The Rhino so kind of sloppy stuff. One person had addressed the application to WWF for instance, you know, those sorts of things just mean you go straight in the bin. So don’t make silly errors, ok. 52, so an even bigger proportion, failed to follow the instructions clearly. They were really clear on their application what they were looking for, and 52 failed to either offer up a CV, they didn’t have the appropriate experience that they were looking for, they weren’t available on the interview date, just the stuff that they asked for. If you didn’t fit exactly what they were looking for you were straight in the bin. So that’s 22% so nearly, you know, just over a fifth, nearly a quarter straight in the bin through silly errors. So you can avoid that straightway ok, and be in the top three quarters. What happened next? So that left 233 applications left. What happened then was then five staff went through each of the 233 applications each and then marked with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ depending on the criteria that they set out in their personal specification. So they said really clear what they were looking for, we’re looking for someone that has or hits or meets these criteria. And five staff looked at them and if they got five ‘yeses’ then they went through into that final shortlist and that was 41 now. So 41 people had all the criteria that they were looking for out of 299. And from those 41 they had to choose seven people to invite to interview. So why did the final seven stand out? Well they stood out because, well firstly their CV really clearly demonstrated a commitment to conservation, ok. That was really important to them. We’ll talk a bit more about this in a minute but it wasn’t just about saying you’re passionate about conservation or you’re committed to it, it was clearly evidenced, ok with the sorts of stories that you’re weaving into the CV and it stood out a mile that this is exactly the sort of person we want to attract to us. They’re not just saying, I love rhinos, which they probably weren’t, you know, they’ve actually gone out and done something around rhinos previously, ok, for example. In their cover letters it also stated really clearly why they want the job, and that was actually part of the guidance, you know. In your cover letter, state why you want the job. Lots of people didn’t say that and went straight to the bin so just follow the advice clearly. That’s the key lesson here. They’d also done their homework really clearly and showcased that a) they understood the role, what the internship meant and entailed and also what Save The Rhino were trying to achieve. They clearly showed they understood it, it wasn’t just like preaching the mission back to them but they considered the role, they considered how it suited their needs and what they could bring to that role. They tailored their cover letter and their CV to the exact job in hand, ok. And that is vitally important, it was never one CV or cover letter fits all, you really have to bespoke it every single time and tailor it to what the recruiters are looking for. And then finally also in terms of cover letters, they followed the formal letter layout. A lot of people didn’t follow what would be a formal, and that’s what the cover letter is, ok. So you have your address and you have the date and then you have the contact details, you know, and the employer’s name and address on the other side as well often. You know, then it’s ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ so on and so forth, you know, with a signature at the bottom. A formal letter is what they were looking for and many people didn’t offer that and they didn’t like that. So the final seven just got it all right. Sort of pitfalls when we’re talking specifically about CVs and Save The Rhino what they found, well first thing, and we touched on this already, they lacked evidence. The ones that didn’t do very well talked about being you know, committed and passionate and that probably is absolutely the case but they didn’t… they failed to evidence that. It’s one thing to say, I am something, it’s another thing to kind of prove and show that you are that thing. And they were looking for evidence, success stories. We’ll talk about that more in a minute. Other CV pitfalls, well some were too short. They said that one side just isn’t enough on a CV to actually get enough detail in there for someone to… to really judge how good you are and whether you’re a good fit for the organisation so it needs to be longer than one page. But then more than three pages was just way too long. 299 applications, you don’t want to be reading War and Peace every time. So between two and three pages was ideal for what they were looking for, and that’s pretty typical actually within recruitment. So you want to be aiming for two, maybe three sides maximum. Interestingly as I say we’ve released this free guide, you’re gonna get this anyway so it’s not a plug but we had feedback from someone recently that used our guide, the step-by-step approach that we’re gonna talk through a little bit in this webinar, and they actually got to interview stage for the recent Save The Rhino application. We don’t know if they got it yet, we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed, but we know that what we teach really does work and it works for some of the toughest applications going. So we’re gonna give you as best as we can, ok in this webinar and beyond. So let’s talk about the meat of the issue today which is all about success stories and creating success stories that showcase to an employer just how good you are. We’re gonna talk about the building blocks of a successful CV. So how do you supercharge your CV? There’s an example of the same CV in front of you, a before and after, if you like ok. So on the left you’ll see imaginary Amy Griffin and on the right you’ll see it afterwards. This is actually a CV that we worked on, it’s been anonymised ok, so Amy doesn’t really exist. But on the left it was a CV that we got before and on the right after we worked with them and gave them some feedback and helped to restructure and refocus things. And hopefully if you look at it you can see there’s a few differences there straightaway. CVs are really personalised documents so we don’t say, follow this template and you will do well, ok. It needs to be something that matches you, your style, your personality in a way. But what we did with Amy is we’ve just helped to clean it up, tidy it up, make it much more visually appealing, hope you can see that on the right-hand side there, we used some blue key accent colours, we made it much easier to kind of find the evidence that they’re looking for. We even included in this one some logos from the employers actually because this person had really quite relevant experience for the employer they’re looking for in their back pocket and we thought, actually rather than just text why don’t you drop the logos in there and it should showcase really clearly that you’ve worked for Northumberland National Park, North York Moors and the Wildlife Trust. This new employer is gonna know that and they’re gonna really like that. So that was quite a neat thing and it really helped to kind of make it more visually appealing. In terms of the content, we’re gonna talk more about this in a minute but we worked really hard to make sure that what’s written in there is really nice, clear, succinct success stories about what someone has achieved and trying to make it as quantifiable as possible and as complete as possible, ok. So we really worked hard and hopefully you can see there’s a bit of a difference between those two. We’ll talk more about that in the coming slides. So let’s focus on career success stories because these were like Lego building blocks, they are the building block of your CV. They are the building block of your cover letter, of your application form and also of the interview that comes later. So we always encourage people before diving in, once you see a job that you really like, ok stand back and start to pull together – and I’m gonna talk about how to do this in a minute – how to pull together your success stories. Once you’ve got those little Lego bricks you can then start to piece them together and weave them into your CV and your cover letter and elsewhere to make your application shine. It makes the world of difference. So when people think about recruitment, you have about, well I hate to say it, 20 seconds to impress. Which is why, you know, this previous slide here, hopefully the one on the right just makes you want to kind of read and look a bit more than the one on the left, and that’s what it’s all about. So it’s 20 seconds to impress. You want to hit people with the most compelling evidence as quickly as possible. And in order to do that you need to have identified it in the first place. It’s easy to tell an employer that you can do something, I call it an empty-worder. You know, I’m a great team player and I work really well to deadlines. It’s very easy to say that but tell me about some teams you’ve worked in, ok. Tell me about some deadlines that you’ve met and what you did and what was the outcome of that deadline. You need to provide much more than just saying you can do something. You need to kind of prove you can do it. And the way to do that is using stories. Stories clearly showcase your evidence that you can do a job to an employer. So more and more we talk about competency-based interviews. And in a competency-based interview then the employer is saying, right I want someone who can meet deadlines, you know, work in a team, manage a project, manage a project, so on and so forth. Your job then is to tell me about a time and an instance and place when you hit a deadline and what happened as a result of that, ok. So these little stories are the building blocks of a successful application and a successful interview. Let’s give you a quick example, ok to try and bring it to life. What do we mean? So here’s an example of a job that was online ah, a couple of years ago now, last year, January 15th as it says there. The Media & Communications Officer in Brussels. And you can see, you know, really nicely nowadays, you know, employers tell you exactly what they’re looking for. The key requirement for this role was good English writing skills, experience of traditional media, a highly collaborative team player, you can see them all laid out there nice and clearly, ok. So your job as the applicant is to showcase to the employer you can hit all these requirements that they’re looking for. Or as many as possible, Superman doesn’t exist but you want to try and get, you know, as many as you possibly can and to showcase your best evidence against each one. How do you do that? What we do, what we encourage you to do, step one, ok is to start what we call an evidence matrix. It’s a dead-simple document and it’s a spreadsheet that kind of builds and grows as you kind of do more jobs, as you put more applications in. So it’s a document that kind of… it’s kind of like a mechanic moving document that helps you to prepare and submit applications quicker, better and get interviews through the door also. Down the left-hand side, first column just say, you know, who’s the employer and what’s the job, it’s BirdLife Media & Comms Officer, then those are those requirements listed below that. You can see them all there again. Then columns next to that, what you do is to put down all your experiences or studies, or even relevant hobbies actually and interests to date. So as an example, here’s the Director of Career Changers – in other words, Conservation Careers – the Pacific Programme Development Manager at BirdWorld – so BirdLife – and consultant in colleges for NPA ecology. Just an example, ok. For each one, work down each job that you’ve had to date, so the Director of Career Changers, and just think, what is the most impressive thing against each of the requirements that I can actually use to showcase I can do that? Here’s an example, so good English writing skills there with a clear and engaging style, whilst I’ve been working for Career Changers, what have I done that kind of evidence against that. Well I’ve written and edited over 400 interviews on the website. So that’s one thing that I could probably put in there to talk about. Let’s just bump down a couple more. Good social media and marketing skills. What have I done within Career Changers? Well I’ve built an online community on Facebook, Twitter and email and I’ve put some stats there as well just to give people an idea as to how big those things are. So do that for all the jobs and studies that you’ve had to date. Across it, then you have a full picture of all your background and what you can actually bring to the party, what those Lego bricks are for a successful application that you can start then as the building blocks. Having done that, what I’d encourage you to do is work across then each line and try and find your best piece of evidence. So for the good English writing skills I actually thought those 400 interviews might be quite a good thing to showcase. For my experience in traditional media, well we had an interview published in The Guardian, maybe that’s the best thing I’ve got out of everything in my backlog that I could be talking about. Ok, so we’ve made those yellow to help them stand out. Those are the things you really want to showcase super clearly in your cover letter and also in your CV, ok. And they’re things you’re probably gonna talk about at interview also. Let’s pick one as an example how you might then weave that in and prepare that for your CV. We’ve not even got to the CV yet, ok. There’s work to be done before. So let’s pick highly collaborative team player and let’s talk about how this person works for BirdWorld as the Pacific Programme Development Manager and they coordinated 47 proposals over three years, ok. And that’s something to do with being a highly collaborative team player. Let’s work that example through together now, ok. So highly collaborative team player. What evidence do we have? Well I’m a highly collaborative team player, I’ve worked in a number of teams for my recent roles like the Programme Development Manager for the Pacific and BirdLife and built strong collaborations with others. Now that’s an example of poor evidence. That’s someone just saying I can do it, the empty word, ok. There’s real no meat in there for me to gauge what were you doing, what were you trying to achieve, what did you achieve and how were you building collaborative teams, ok. It superficially looks good but it’s not going anywhere. Let’s show you how to break that down a little bit better. I would start, when you have something like this, highly collaborative team player, or whatever it might be, translate it into a question or a series of questions and then answer that question. It really helps. So what sort of question could we say here? Well tell me about a time when you’ve worked in a team in a collaborative way. It would probably be quite a good question to ask with that one. Break that question then down a little bit more, ok. So what was the task at hand? So tell us about what you were trying to do? What specific role did you play? Obviously anything you do, but particularly within teams, you all get different roles, so tell me about what you did. Specific to this question, ok what collaborations did you build? That’s what it’s all about. And then what was the outcome of that work? Some people talk about, there’s a STAR there on the screen, STAR which is something you use at interviews and also in applications which is Situation Task Action Response. You know, just lay the scene, tell me about what you were trying to achieve, tell me about what you did, and then tell me what was the outcome of that work. It’s really those sorts of building blocks. It’s that simple. So highly collaborative team player, let’s keep that in our focus. So what was the task at hand? So as the Programme Development Manage for BirdLife Pacific, my task was to raise funds for conservation projects across eight Pacific countries. That was the task. And I’ve started to try and weave in a feeling of scale. Eight Pacific countries. What specific role did I play? Well in order to achieve this I led the development of priority projects in need of funding in line with our regional conservation strategy. So basically my job was to develop projects and find the funding for them in line with what we were seeking to achieve. That was the role, that was my job. What collaborations did I build? Because we’re looking for a highly collaborative team player here, so did I build collaborations? Well this meant building collaborations and I’m using the words back now to make it really clear, this is the collaboration-building bit, between disparate conservation staff from partner organisations, local communities and governments, so I’m talking about the different types of people now within the collaboration, within the team, within the partnership, to create attractive and effective proposals for donor support. This is what I did. I built a collaboration of these types of people in order to do that. And then what was the outcome? Almost the most important end of a story is the outcome, the finish point. Without this the story doesn’t really go anywhere. So over three years, again feeling of scale, this is the period of time that I was doing this job, I developed and submitted 47 funding proposals (measurable) of which 32% were successful and funded to a value of 2 and a bit million. So you can see I’ve now really tried hard to put some facts and figures and evidence in there to showcase to an employer how good this person is. Pulling all that together it looks like that, it’s now 88 words, it’s a long old sentence, right. But it covers everything we need. The challenge now is to edit that right down, ok to really be brutal, remove every word that’s not needed, combine words where you can if you can simplify and clarify, without losing really the core of who you are, what you did, what you achieved. This is the edit that I got to from 88 words. So the poor example was, I’m a highly collaborative team player, worked with a number of teams through my recent roles such as this one and I built strong collaborations with others, that was 32 words. Now the 88 word down to 32, same number of words edited as brutally as I possibly could, is this. As BirdLife Pacific Programme Development Manager I built and led a collaborative team, partner government and community members across eight countries developing donor proposals. We secured over £2.5 million from 47 submissions. So hopefully you can see it’s a big night and day, black and white. One is much better than the other and it’s the same number of words. That’s the process to go through, so build your evidence matrix, find your best examples, work on them by breaking them down into questions.
KRISTI: Just thought I’d jump in and add Nick, that it seems a little bit intimidating the first time when you think about writing things in terms of accomplishments, or in terms of these success stories. Some of you are probably at the stage in your career where you’ve got a lot of experience, and some of you might be just starting out. I remember for me when someone first told me about this idea, focusing on accomplishments, my first thought, well I don’t have any because I’m not at that stage yet. But that’s highly unlikely, you know. Maybe you don’t have an accomplishment or a success story that talks about raising £2 million but you’re going to have small success stories in your experience, without a doubt. So if you kind of go through that process and follow the steps for turning something you did into an accomplishment, you’ll actually probably be surprised by what you can come up with and what evidence you can show. And I think maybe the other reason that people are a bit put off with it at first is because it’s kind of like self-promotion right? Sometimes we just, depending where we’re from, sometimes we really don’t like talking about that kind of stuff. But it’s really important that you evidence what you can do, and that you’re proud of what you can do when you’re going for a role. Being honest, of course. So I guess what I’m saying is, just don’t be intimidated when you first start trying to write these success stories. Just keep an open mind about it because when you get used to it, it actually becomes a lot easier and a lot more fun.
NICK: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks Kristi. And I would also say, I mean we’ve worked with people who feel like they have no experience whatsoever, I’ve only worked in a bar, or whatever it might be, and you’d be surprised what we can draw out of you, you know, when you think about problem-solving or hitting a deadline. These things that occur in every role that you’re involved with actually, it’s just about finding the best ones. Because they’re all in there. Yeah, I mean that kind of example is like a mid-career one so we’re gonna have an entry-level example later, and hopefully that’ll make it a bit more accessible, if that feels a bit daunting.
KRISTI: Great, ok. So I’ll jump in and take over the next couple of sections that we wanted to talk about. Basically what Nick’s talked through about identifying your best evidence and then turning that into career success stories, that lays the foundation for applying for a conservation job. And it doesn’t just lay the foundation for your CV or your resume but actually for your cover letter, and, if you get to it, your interview too. So it’s really worth putting in the time at the beginning to do that part really well, because that makes the whole application easier from then on. So I want to talk a little bit about how you take that evidence and those career stories and put that into your CV. But before doing that, let’s just get on the same page about CVs and resumes, because we’ve got these two words floating around. And when it comes to the difference between them, it’s really location that matters. So in most of the world – in the UK, in Australia, in New Zealand, in a lot of Asia, in the Middle East, Africa – most countries actually use the term CV or curriculum vitae to describe what you use to apply for a job. Whereas in North America we traditionally call that a resume, what you use to apply for a job. Whereas CV was a sort of a more comprehensive document, like a full history of your career. That North American CV is usually something more academic, so it might have, you know, all of your experience but also all of your education, your conferences, your presentations, your publications, your memberships, there could be up to, you know, four or five pages. The good news is that now, if you’re applying for a job, usually you can use CV and resume interchangeably. So if you’re asked for one of those, usually you’re being asked for you know, a two to maybe three-page document that’s quite concise, that summarises your education, your experiences, your competencies. And that’s what you’d use when applying for a conservation job, to apply for volunteering, interning, work experience, or even for networking. The only exception to that rule is if you hear the term academic CV or academic resume. And then you’re being asked for that longer document that’s a full history. So hopefully that simplifies it a little bit. We’ll go over to the fun stuff now. So you’ve identified your evidence, you’ve written your career success stories or you’ve thought through them, and now we get to have fun and play with the Lego. So we’re gonna explain a little bit more about that, which Nick touched on earlier. So your CV or your resume is what should showcase all of your relevant evidence. Everything you identified goes in your CV. But because you’ve only got about 20 seconds to impress people, you really have to prioritise and make the most of the space you’ve got on your CV. It helps sometimes to think of it as real estate, you know. Different areas on your CV are worth… they have different values. So that first part of your first page is the most valuable part of your CV and you really want to prioritise what information you keep there. So when you think about the different elements that go into a CV, you know, there are some that you always include like contact info, your education, your work experience. And then there’s extras, things like presentations, your interests, your community service, certifications, that kind of stuff. When you think about putting those into your CV together with your career success stories, you can really think of it as a more creative process. That’s why we use the Lego analogy. So you’re building your CV rather than just following a set format. And you’re building it based on what kind of a story you want to tell for the job that you’re going after. If you do that really well, you should really never end up with two CVs that are the same. Because you’re gonna put those pieces together a little bit differently each time. Alright. Sort of a starting point, think about that, look at three different main types of CVs or resumes, which I think is the next slide coming up. And what we’ve done is we’ve taken one CV, which happens to be mine and put it into these three different types. So one’s called chronological, one’s called functional and the other’s usually called hybrid or combination. So you can see that CV, it’s the exact same information for the exact same job, but it’s put into the three different main types. That chronological CV tends to be the most common. It presents your work history in reverse chronological order. So you start with the most recent position you’ve held and you work back in time. And that tends to work really well for people who have had a pretty consistent work history and one that’s quite relevant for the role that you’re going after. The next one, that example in the middle is what’s called a functional CV. And that’s kind of the other end of the spectrum. So rather than starting with your work experience, you actually focus on your skills and your achievements first, and you might move them into categories, you know, you might have a category about communication, or project management, or leadership, depending on the role you’re applying for. And then after that you give your work history super briefly with hardly any information. And then the third type, the hybrid is kind of a marriage between those two. So you present first your skills in different themes and then after that you present your work history but with enough detail to give a bit of context. So it’s kind of taking the best from… the best of both worlds. And those last two, the functional and the hybrid, tend to be quite good for people who are either earlier in their careers, just starting out, for people who are switching careers from something unrelated into conservation, if you’ve got gaps in your work history, maybe if you’re re-entering the workforce, that kind of stuff. Those can be really good because they highlight your skills rather than just listing your experience. Yeah and as Nick mentioned, you can see these examples in a bit more detail in the guide. We also have a table that breaks down each of those types of CV or resume, who they suit, what components go into them, and what are the pros and cons of each. And once you’ve picked one of those formats that’s kind of best for you based on where you’re at in your career, that’s when you can start prioritising and putting the Lego bits together to build your CV up. Ok.
NICK: And we love Lego, eh?
KRISTI: (laughter) Thanks. So next up is what we call the hook. The hook is something that does exactly what it says, its goal is to hook the person who’s reading your CV and make them keep reading. Simple as that. So when we talked about the top part of page 1 of your CV or resume as being the most important space, the hook really just takes all of the most important information that you’ve got and it puts it up front with your contact information. The goal is just to demonstrate really quickly at a glance that you are the right fit for the role and make the person who’s hiring you keep reading. So this example with Natalie, you got her contact information, you can see what she specialises in, it’s got a job title basically, you can get a sense of what her passion is, and then it’s pulled out the three top accomplishments from her career that are relevant. So you know, in a few seconds someone reading that can figure out that she’s a great match for the role and they’re likely gonna keep reading.
NICK: And that’s where this evidence matrix comes into its own really, because, you know, if you’ve gone through the different roles and you’ve gone through the different criteria of what the employer is looking for, then you can find your top three relatively easily and this is the place to put them. So thinking of relevance and impact, or impressiveness, if you like, for employers.
KRISTI: You want to make it as easy for people as possible so don’t let whoever is reading your CV have to go in and dig for information, because you’re running the risk that they just won’t bother if they don’t have a lot of time to do it. You may have hardly any time. So just pull it all out, put it there as clearly as you can and make their job super easy when they are reviewing your CV.
NICK: Yeah and on that point as I click forwards I guess, we talk about, you know, 20 seconds, you know, you’ve got 20 seconds to impress. It’s not that people take 20 seconds to read your application, it takes obviously a lot longer than that but within the first 20 seconds you’re trying to catch them to want to read on and want to find out more, ok to spend as much time as possible on your application so it’s just… and that’s what that hook and that entrance does.
KRISTI: Yeah. I just wanted to mention too that mysterious term that’s sometimes called ‘personal branding’. That’s kind of a fancy term just to say who you are. And that’s something that’s really useful when you’re writing a hook, because it makes you unique. So if you’ve heard the term ‘personal branding’ before and you’re familiar with it, great. If you haven’t, at first glance it sounds a little bit intimidating, again like a sales pitch but it’s actually just a way of capturing what are your passions, what are your interests, your values, what skills can you bring and what are you really good at. So it’s worth going through and identifying those things for you because when you bring that into your CV and use it at the top of your CV it’s really effective. And in the guide we’ve got an exercise that shows how to do that super quickly, it probably takes no more than ten or fifteen minutes with some resources and some adjectives too that you can us to describe yourself and kind of start making yourself stand out as a really unique, really valuable candidate. Ok. So next are accomplishment statements and it’s just another way of saying kind of a bite-sized career success story for your CV or resume. So by this stage you’ve kind of played around with the Lego bits, all the different components and stories that you want to put into your CV. You’ve prioritised them into an order that makes sense for the employer. You’ve written your hook to capture their attention and get them to keep reading. And now you really wanna focus on what’s the meat, or the bread and butter of your CV, which is your experience. And that experience, it can be jobs that you’ve held, but it can also be things like internships, volunteering it might even be community service. And especially in conservation I think all of those things are really, really relevant. What a lot of people do when they talk about their experience is as Nick mentioned earlier, they talk about responsibilities. Just stuff they did. So if you look at this example, managed email and social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter. Ok, that could be really relevant for a role you’re applying for. But it doesn’t give any specific information. It doesn’t really say what you did in terms of managing them, it doesn’t say anything that you achieved. So there’s no evidence there to say what you might be able to do in a future role. The goal is to take those kind of responsibilities and then turn them into success stories in your CV but they just need to be quite concise cause you’re short on space, right. So this example, we turned it into ‘built online communities from scratch on Facebook (17,000), Twitter (18,000) and email (10,000) increasing sales by 50% in just two years. So still quite short and concise but way, way more powerful. It’s specific about what you did and what that achieved. So we have again an exercise in the location guide that talks through how to do that, because especially if you’ve never done it before, it seems a bit daunting. We’ve got more examples of what good accomplishment statements, or mini success stories, look like. And we’ve also got a list of action verbs which is really handy for saying what you did to achieve an outcome.
NICK: Yeah and what’s nice about that example too Kristi, is that it would be quite easy to stop at, you know, we built these communities from scratch, Facebook, Twitter and email. Stop. But actually went that step further and said, well so what? You know, what was the impact of developing those social media platforms? You know, can you say anything a bit more than that and show an even bigger context of impact, if you like, and for this well, you can sort of say well, and it’s just an example, you know, we increased sales by 50% in two years. Like ah, right. Now we’re starting to understand it. It might be that you had, you know, I don’t know, increased your campaign income for a charity or you know, something like that, or petition sign-ups, or… so what? I mean it’s one thing about growing an audience but what did you with that audience? How did you mobilise it for some greater good? And if you can go that step further and ask so what? You can say so what with this, we increased sales by 50%. So what? Well that meant that maybe in this example we managed to hire you Kristi. You know, it’s that sort of thing, it kind of goes further. So ask yourself ‘so what’ a few times and just see where that leads you, because you often get to an even more impressive thing that you hadn’t quite realised in the first instance.
KRISTI: So those are kind of the key bits that we wanted to get across today in the time that we’ve got. Obviously we could go into a lot more detail and there’s a lot more detail in the guide about how to craft a really good CV and resume and how to write really good success stories. But if you find a job that’s a really good fit for you, and you follow through those steps of writing success stories and then working those success stories strategically into your CV or your resume, you’re going to have a really, really high chance of getting an interview if you do that well. A lot of people who haven’t approached it in that way would be really surprised how much more success you can have.
NICK: Absolutely, I totally agree.
NICK: Ok well I hope you enjoyed that everyone, if you did then please do hit that ‘subscribe’ button to get notified when new episodes are live and also give us a rating as it really helps us to get in front of more people. If you enjoy the interviews we’ve collated the best advice from over 400 professional conservationists into a free e-book, which you can download from the bottom of our website. And finally, if you’ve got any questions or suggestions for the podcast, please tweet them to @ConserveCareers, we’d love to hear from you. Ok, till next time guys, this is Nick signing out.