Sharpen Your Tools, the Search is On

Sharpen Your Tools, the Search is On
  • Written by
  • Dyani Van Basten Batenburg

To be or not to be? That is the question of many Kiwi jobseekers, bracing the challenges of navigating a unique economic environment. Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom on the workspace front, say employment recruitment specialists. In fact, for many hoping to secure a new position, it’s more about playing to your strengths to expand your options as opposed to just finding something.

Sentiments Janet Faulding, general manager of Seek NZ, also attests to. With SEEK job volumes at 57.1% of pre-COVID levels reported end of June, Faulding reports in SEEK’s latest employment snapshot that there are plenty of opportunities to be had by all.

“Roles being advertised are for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour. Many of these jobs have training offered as part of the role, so understanding the sorts of transferrable skills that candidates can bring to the job will help to increase their options,” she states. “The majority of the regions showed growth in job ad volumes in the last two weeks.”

Get it on paper

Regardless of region, opening yourself up to new career possibilities, transferring your skills and taking time to craft a succinct CV and cover letter, might just be the winning mix, says Carolyn Inglis of Taupō Employment Services.

“Prepare to put some time and energy into fine tuning your CV and cover letter in accordance with the specific job expectations.”

Bernadette Ryan-Hopkins of Bay of Plenty’s recruitment agency, Ryan + Alexander Consultancy agrees. “If you’ve found yourself hunting for new employment, focus on turning it into a positive – focus on the skills you do have that you can bring to a whole new industry or business opportunity,” says Bernadette. “It can be daunting – and it is for many – especially if you’ve been in the same job/industry for many years. But once you get through the grief period of losing a job, take time out to truly reflect on where you want to go next and then target those jobs that play to your strengths.”

And, ensuring your CV works for you, for each individual job, is a must-do, explains Carolyn.

“For some newly unemployed, they won’t have a CV – or maybe it hasn’t been touched for 20 years. And CVs have changed radically in that time,” she says. “Edit your CV in accordance with the job you are applying for – don’t send out a universal resume for all 30 jobs. Take the time to really hone the job description and develop the content of your CV in accordance with it.”

For example, for a retail position your CV may highlight your personal strengths at the top of the page as being customer focused, artistic, fashion forward, exceptional communication skills with IT and management expertise. If you were applying for a front-of-house role in a hospitality business, your personal strengths may state first and foremost you are passionate about food and people, communications focused and take pride in being punctual and organised.

Stay off the beaten track

Carolyn’s advice to all writing CVs and cover letters is to be transparent, honest and concise. “Keep your CV to two pages max – if you’ve started out with six pages, keep the longer version but pull out relevant info for the specific role.”

A tailored, up-with-the-play CV, may look something like this:

  • Begin with a six – seven-line personal statement.
  • A list of your personal skills relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Qualifications – don’t date back more than 10 years (unless absolutely necessary).
  • Work history – 10 years is plenty. Aim for two-line descriptions.
  • Interests and hobbies – but not always essential.
  • Two referees – name, company and contact details


In terms of a cover letter, stick to one page and keep it specific to the job you’re applying for. “Keep the job advert beside you when writing your cover letter so you can leverage off it – you should be matching the skills it’s seeking,” says Carolyn. “Don’t use it as an opportunity to talk yourself up, constantly think about how your skills will benefit the employer.”

Don’t sell yourself short

And, when an interview opportunity comes your way, stay true to yourself by being yourself, says Bernadette.

“People ask us how they should ‘act’ in an interview, but our best advice is to be yourself,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to call upon your strengths. This is not a natural thing for many of us to do. Kiwis are generally pretty humble and it can feel strange, but an interview is an opportunity to share your passions, your qualities, your insights and thoughts. I like to think of it as having a high-quality open conversation but the topic is about you.”

Feeling confident and relaxed is key so where there’s doubt, feel free to ask, says Bernadette.

“If you are gearing up for an interview and you are conscious about what to wear, or exactly where to park, ask your recruiter or whoever is organising the interview the dress code and the best parking place. If it gives you peace of mind, then you are going to feel and appear more confident and relaxed. And, at the end of the day, it all helps.”

Learn more at Taupo Employment Services: www.taupō

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