Changing industries and the frustrating yet continued need for a CV

A little update on my somewhat relaxed search for a new role. February, March and April seem to have passed by very quickly. I had a second interview at a brilliant digital agency but alas they went with someone ‘more junior’ and a few other things are progressing. Apart from that I have been a bit busy with life. I got married, had a minimoon, turned 40, went away to celebrate, my youngest son turned 3, ‘ran’ my first half marathon and then it was the Easter Holidays and all of a sudden May was here. My slightly relaxed job hunt attitude seems a bit foolish/extravagant/nice as it has now been almost 5 months since I left HSBC.

The first week of April I was back on it. Chasing up contacts, asking people for help/contacts/ideas, sending my CV off for some professional polish (nice to see how people phrase things but the formatting they chose did not suit my artistic sensibilities) and went to London to meet some nice people, and have a sort of interview. I also had a couple of responses from things that I thought had not panned out e.g. a recruiter contacted me a while ago about a role so I sent off a CV, initially the company came back rejecting all applicants from that recruiter, then the Monday after that the company had a change of heart and now wanted to interview me. I also got a call from another company I speculatively sent a CV to at the beginning of the year. Maybe after Easter/the tax year is when hiring ramps up again. Either way I have a few interviews / meetings over the next few weeks that will hopefully lead to gainful employment.

I am also in the process of setting up a little site to offer my services, so to speak (I have done the paperwork, bought a domain, set up a site, got a Twitter account etc.) Just in case I fancy trying a little bit of the gig economy. I am trying to work out what those services I would offer are and if anyone has any suggestions please do let me know (opening up myself to abuse there)

As an aside during my search for roles here are a couple of things that I have found strange and a little challenging

Switching industries

One key thing that has struck me has the challenge of switching industries. My desired paths were either traditional consultancies or digital agencies. I have spoken with many people at companies in those industries and I have had a few interviews at digital agencies too. The challenge for me has been aligning what I did at the bank with how these industries operate and that has not been that straight forward. I got one question in an interview about UX which something along the lines of ‘What assets have you produced?’ coming from banking the word asset has many different connotations. I have a basic understanding of UX and the things which make up the discipline but the question kind of threw me in that I had never personally produced traditional UX assets, journey/experience maps, wireframes etc. but I know what they are and how they are made and what their purpose is and their weaknesses but we did not really use them in previous role. Being able to talk more fluently and coherently about the world you are trying to enter is clearly a must. Having said that the creative industries are also aware that their use of jargon maybe prevents a more diverse range of people entering the industry, in fact it shares that in common with finance and a lot of industries I am guessing.

I have spoken with a few people inside consultancies too and they ask things like do you want an internal role or a client facing role, and then they have explained the vast differences between and how people inside those companies find switching between impossible. Switching jobs/industries is hard.

Another language element is that of the job role.  ‘What kind of roles were you thinking of in our agency?’ ‘I have no idea can you explain what they actually are?’. I very nearly got a role as an Associate Planning Director. I went for a role as a strategist. These types of roles seem to mean different things at different firms. I have been speaking with other people who say not sure we have any jobs that you could fit into but we could make a role for you. I hope I gt to choose my own job title again.

I like this little video on Brand Republic recently which features marketing folk explaining there roles to other marketing folk and then as if they would to their families. Jargon often hides our misunderstandings. I mean what are above the line and below the line agencies? Is there an on the line agency? Agency of record? Agency of cassette? Agency of minidisc? Client side? in-House? Outhouse?

That language seeps into job advertisements as well. Needing to understand the language to a level that you can decipher what the job adverts are actually asking for. Then trying to relate your own experiences to that of the role inside a completely different world. I really like Phil Gyford’s post about job adverts which kind of covers this as well as some other things that I am searching for.

I think this all comes down to the ability to persuade people that your skills are transferable, your experiences and knowledge can add value to the industry as it looks to transform and help other companies with their digital transformations and finally that you are not a complete idiot. Which leads me onto my next observation.

The continued use and importance of the Curriculum Vitae / Resume

I was lead to believe that a social profile is very important, that it can open doors. Well it can but when you get through those first doors the second ones are locked and the only key seems to be a good, well formatted, correctly laid out, keyword rich, easily digestible and of course impressive sounding CV. My CV is in Google Docs and I just send the URL to people so they always have the latest version as I tinker with it often. I inevitably get an email back saying they can’t access the link due to the firewall or can I just send them it in Microsoft Word Doc or PDF. Applying to firms looking to help those in need of digital transformation yet they still recruit using the closest thing to virtual paper that we have had for decades.

They seem to need specific formats for their awful automated processes that scan these things and mean you have to have CV in a specific font and size to allow the machines to do the job of looking for keywords. The recruiters I have spoken with have lamented this nonsense and just told me to make sure my CV contains the relevant words and phrases. Who exactly is benefiting from this?

I am not sure what the solution is but the Linked In profile should have the potential to replace the CV? Or could Google make something of a more detailed machine readable profile? or even better some sort of open format alternative that I could host myself? I guess the challenge is getting a read on someone quickly and easily by either a human or a machine. Also the skill of creating one is a task in itself to test someone’s capability at doing a seemingly basic task. I hate writing about myself in such a way (as opposed to 1500 word rambling posts like this). It makes me want to cringe my own skin off but needs must apparently.

I have a CV I have created and I now have something a professional turned into a form they deemed more suitable. I am currently merging the two to make some sort of Frankenstein CV that I am happier with. I also have to write one in a different style for a different industry. Hopefully I will just get a job without the need to really use them. I wish.

And there we have it. I am glad I have gone down the road of being social and open with my job hunt but I am sure we can all agree that hopefully there will not be too many more of these posts. I hope the next post on this subject will be my last and will be entitled ‘The search for an Aden shaped role is complete’. Fingers crossed.

As always I am looking for contacts/advice/opportunities. I am also really wanting some speaking gigs so if any of you organise conferences and want someone to do some reckons then please do get in touch. Please take a look at my slideshare profile, I am updating with a few old presentations to show I can at least put a decent slidedeck together (If only CVs were more like PowerPoint?).