From time to time I am invited to coach executives who are wanting a breakthrough in their job application writing: to markedly improve the proportion of times their applications result in being offered an interview.
There are specific technical tips, of course, that I share in these meetings but I usually begin by asking some questions that are deigned to focus the meetings we have on what really matters.
Here are some of the more powerful discussion starters that I have used:
– Why have you decided to focus this coaching meeting on application writing?
– What roles or contracts have you been applying for?
– What feedback, if any, have you received from recruiters? (Feedback can be really helpful though I know that there isn’t a great deal freely given these days).
– What feedback has been helpful? (The perceived helpfulness of feedback tells me quite a lot!)
– How have you changed your applications as a result? (There are many reasons why clients may or may not have made changes!)
– Tell me about your process of deciding how to apply for a particular role or contract? (A few people have a really well developed process but, for many, there is quite a lot of happen-chance involved. One or two changes to this process can really help.)
– How do you go about focusing your applications?
– Where do you believe your applications have been strong? (This is a really valuable question to consider as the strength of an application invariably relates to role requirements.)
– Are you aware of weaknesses in your applications? (People I coach don’t always have this awareness and sometimes, frankly, the most powerful contribution I make is to review previous applications against role requirements and provide the feedback that recruiters rarely have time or the inclination to offer).
– How have you gone about seeking to remove these weaknesses?
– How have you responded to the increasing use of automated sifting or the use of AI to narrow the initial field of applicants? (This question can open up, for me, a door of understanding about the client’s awareness of how these techniques are being used and how to “work the systems”).
– Where do you want to live and work today and in future? (It matters!)
– Can you give me some examples of work you have completed where you are able to measure or otherwise quantify your achievements? (This is especially useful where my client has supplied a sample CV that includes no quantification of achievements – and that is not uncommon).
– What is your most memorable achievement at work — connected to what you want to achieve in the future?
– What do you want your work-time legacy to be when you retire?
– Can you describe your social media footprint? In other words, what picture of you does a recruiter or contract application selector get if they simply “Google you”?
– Where and in what forms do you share your most remarked upon learning and achievements?