Help with your job application

Help with your job application

Creating a CV

Standard CV’s versus Customised CV’s

Standard CV’s

  1. You may wish to create a ‘standard CV’, one which will not change much over time. The aim of a standard CV is to be a true and accurate record of your employment and work experience. You need only update it when you change jobs or you are promoted. You can use a cover letter to draw the reader's attention to the skills you have that match those wanted by your prospective employer.
  2. If you have a really attractive looking CV and the jobs you apply for are generally of the same type, then this approach makes sense.
  3. However, this approach is now somewhat out of date and your rivals for a vacancy may be helping their prospective employers by closely matching their CV’s to every vacancy. Employers do not like to search through long documents when they have 80 or more of them to read.
  4. A ‘customised CV’ with all the information about your suitability in the first two paragraphs will dramatically increase your chances of being interviewed.
  5. That said, you will still have to write a covering letter, so you may consider reproducing parts of the suitability or ‘Profile’ paragraph in the letter itself (see the customised CV layout below).
  6. However, you cannot write a meaningful CV if you do not know what employers are really looking for in their ideal candidate. If the job advertisement doesn’t tell you much, then call the employer and ask politely for a copy of the job description and the employee specification. The job description will tell you what the job involves and the employee specification will tell you what the employer sees as the ideal candidate. Armed with that information, you can write a cover letter and CV that should fit the vacancy perfectly.

Customised CV’s

You may wish to create a ‘customised CV’, i.e. one which changes with every job application you make. The sole aim of a customised CV is to get you an interview. It achieves this by helping your prospective employer to see, within seconds of picking up your CV, that you have the personality, skills and experience that make you worthy of an interview for the vacant position.

The first third of the first page of your customised CV
  1. There is research that says that busy employers make quick decisions about who they will interview. This decision is usually based on getting a good early impression from a CV. This, by definition, makes the first third of the first page of your CV a key area as far as appeal is concerned. I recommend you put your energy into getting a really positive career profile (suitability statement) at the top of your CV, so that employers do not have to search for very long for the information they need.
  2. Just one short paragraph that summarises your key skills, experience and disposition in positive (not modest) language will draw the eye of the employer, who can always look further down the CV for more detail.
The Customised CV Layout
  1. Just beneath the heading ‘Curriculum Vitae’ write your name, address, contact numbers and perhaps a flattering photo of you, then the following sequence:
  2. Career Profile (a suitability statement/pen picture of you)
  3. Achievements (specific work achievements linked to the requirements of the job vacancy)
  4. Career History with duties, responsibilities and dates - going back a maximum of 10 years. If you have something great to say about yourself from over 10 years ago - put it under ‘Achievements’ (see 3 above)
  5. Educational Qualifications including N.V.Q.’s
  6. Relevant vocational and technical training
  7. Licences, certificates and accreditations etc.
  8. Hobbies, pastimes and family details.

The author is Frank Newberry, who offers further information on the following link: .This link enables members to request CV Samples, Interview Advice and Negotiating Tips.

Doing well at your interview

Doing Well at Your Interview

  • How to prepare for difficult questions
  • How to make a good first impression
  • How to get a rapport with the interviewers
  • How to present yourself as the ideal candidate.

Ability, Visibility and Image

Recent research has uncovered three main factors that affect your career progression. First, is your ability; second is your ‘visibility’ or your ‘word of mouth’ reputation i.e. the extent to which your ability is already known to your prospective employers. You can influence your visibility by visiting your prospective employer for ‘a chat and a look round the place’ before you even apply for a job. Third, and the most significant factor, is your ‘image’, i.e. whether you look the part when you turn up at the interview. It is perhaps regarding your personal presentation that the ‘plus one’ rule might apply. You should dress as if you are currently employed or as if you are applying for a job that is one higher than the one you have now. The statistics are sobering. In a world where you only get one chance to make a first impression:

  • Your ability is important to 10% of prospective employers
  • Your visibility is important to 25% of prospective employers
  • Your image is important to 65% of prospective employers.

Preparing for interview questions

First, you should prepare yourself thoroughly to answer any interview questions that arise from statements you have made or gaps you have left in your CV. Next, even though you may not be asked them all you should rehearse concise answers - until you sound confident and natural - to the following ten questions:

  1. How was your journey?
  2. Tell me about yourself …
  3. Why did you apply for this job?
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  5. Why do you want to leave your current job?
  6. What did you learn on your college course that could be used in this job?
  7. Give me some examples that show that you are resilient/resourceful/punctual etc.
  8. What sort of problems have you faced at work?
  9. What do you know about our club?
  10. Do you have any questions?

Whilst some of these questions may seem a bit intimidating, you will find, as you start to ponder and rehearse some answers they will begin to seem less fearsome. An experienced interviewer will want to probe you to answer some of the questions in more depth, or in greater detail, e.g. ‘How did you handle that particular problem?’ or ‘What happened then?’

Aggressive interview questions

Some inexperienced and unprofessional interviewers may ask you questions that are designed to unsettle you. You should try and prepare answers to questions (if asked) like:

  1. Tell me why I should employ a person like you …
  2. What is the worst mistake you have ever made at work?
  3. What makes you think you are better qualified than others for this job?
  4. What do you see yourself doing in 10 years time?
  5. What sort of money were you thinking of?

This ‘money’ question is a tricky one because it implies that the selection may be being made largely on the grounds of cost. It may be best to say that you would ‘be happy to talk about your salary after an offer, subject to agreement, has been made’.

Please note that these are types of general questions that either open an interview or open up a new topic for discussion.

Nerves, body language and rapport

Upon entering the premises and the interview room you should stride purposely forward, make direct eye contact and give your name clearly e.g. ‘Good morning (smiling), I’m John Smith, how do you do?’

Listen carefully to the names people give you and try to use them occasionally when you answer questions, this will help build a rapport, as will nodding at the interviewers as they speak or explain things to you.

Sit in an upright position and lean forward slightly to show that you are keen to answer their questions. Be prepared to use paper and a pen to draw diagrams etc. to help you give more meaningful answers. Good interviewers will understand that you may be nervous at the beginning of the interview and will make allowances. They will take you from topics that you should find it easy to talk about through to topics that are of real interest to them. For example before getting into your reasons for applying, they may ‘warm you up’ with an easy (rapport) question like ‘How was your journey?’ They might then ask a (transition) question like ‘Tell me about your current job’ and after that they may start on their areas of specific interest with questions like: ‘What experience do you have of preparing for tournament play?’

The ideal candidate

The ideal candidate for the job will have specific skills and personality traits that are listed on a document called the ‘employee specification’. You should ask for a copy of it before you apply for the job because you ‘don’t want to waste their time’. If the employer does not have the document then ask the employer in advance, preferably on a visit, ‘What sort of person are you looking for?’ Their specific answers can then inform all of your answers at the interview and you will be able to present yourself as the ideal candidate.

A positive attitude and a cheerful disposition

In general, most employers offer jobs to people with a positive attitude and a cheerful disposition. You should try and reflect these qualities in all your dealings with your prospective employers.

In summary then you will need to:

  • do some research, preferably by visiting your prospective employer
  • prepare for a wide range of good questions, and some bad ones, and expect to be probed
  • rehearse concise answers until you start to sound confident and natural
  • ‘look the part’ and present yourself as cheerful and positive.

The author is Frank Newberry, who offers further information on the following link: .This link enables members to request CV Samples, Interview Advice and Negotiating Tips.

Negotiating Your Pay Package

  • When to negotiate with employers
  • What to negotiate with employers
  • How to negotiate with employers
  • How to get a ‘win-win’ outcome
  • Getting the reluctant employer to negotiate

When to negotiate

Some employers seem to begin negotiating the pay package at or near the beginning of the recruitment interview. Some will ask you: ‘What sort of money were you thinking of?’ You should be aware that this question, at this time, is a selection test not a negotiating ploy. If you don’t answer it correctly you do not go onto the next phase of the selection process.

At this point you too have a selection decision to make. Do you want to work for an employer that seems to make decisions about your suitability mainly on the grounds of cost? Do they want the cheapest person or the best person for the job? It may be best to rescue the recruiter from this inept question by saying that you would be happy to talk about your salary expectations after your suitability has been established and a job offer made. If they persist with an immediate response then you might say firmly that you are ‘confident we can make a deal’. In reality if you are unhappy with your pay in year one or they are unhappy with your performance it will be sorted out in the first year anyway.

At the job offer stage you may be feeling very good and you do not want to spoil a good thing by haggling over terms and conditions. At this point you may just want to refer to the research you have done on the package your predecessor received and the rates established by the independent Committee on Golf Course Salaries (click on CGCS Recommended Salaries link above).

What to negotiate

What package you get at this stage is less important than you negotiating the mechanism that will improve your deal every year – assuming you deserve it. The first priority to negotiate is not the package but the pay review periods and the performance criteria your pay is based on so that you can go back for more if you are not happy.

One course manager at a prestige club did not do this and called me when his pay review was six months overdue with a challenging request ‘I finally have a pay review with my boss tomorrow and I think I’m worth another 40%, what do I say to him?’

I told him to not be like Oliver Twist. Don’t just say ‘more please’. Negotiating is different. It is not about asking, it is about trading. You have something your (new) employer wants; and you just need to agree the value of what is wanted.

Always go into a pay negotiation with two ‘shopping lists’. One list of items that will cost your employer money (to keep you from looking elsewhere for a job); and one list of ‘no cost’ or ‘low cost’ items.

10 Items that cost money

  1. Pay rates – how much you earn
  2. Pay increases – how much your increase will be
  3. Cost savings incentives – where you get a share of any savings you make
  4. Company car
  5. More pay for extra qualifications/responsibility
  6. Overtime/extra hours rate
  7. Annual holidays
  8. Training and development budget, including attending Harrogate Week
  9. Travel expenses to get to Harrogate Week and regional courses etc.
  10. Private Health Plan/Dental Plan

10 Items that are ‘No cost’ or ‘Low cost’ to your Employer (but are of value to you)

  1. You attend all club management meetings
  2. You take charge of all greens staff ‘hiring and firing’ decisions
  3. You become a member of the group that devises the business plan
  4. You take charge of all greens budgets
  5. Contribution to and ‘sign-off’ of club policy documents
  6. You visit other clubs to monitor ‘best practice’
  7. You take over and run meetings with members’ representatives.
  8. You take all purchasing decisions for greens purchases
  9. You take charge of the greens staff pay budget
  10. You take over the club completely for a week at a time (as career development)

Now that you have your shopping lists you will need to find a way to pay for them so be clear on what are you trading in order to get what you want. For example are you offering:

  1. Cost savings?
  2. Greater productivity?
  3. More leave, in lieu of a pay rise?
  4. Set pay budget that you control?
  5. Greater flexibility e.g. hours worked?
  6. To take on additional responsibilities?
  7. Long term pay deals in return for loyalty?
  8. To give up some ‘perks’ in return for cash?
  9. To reduce your overtime rate for a higher basic salary?
  10. Additional vocational qualifications and the better work that comes from them?

How to negotiate

In your preparation you will need to anticipate what the employer wants from you and his/her likely reactions. You might consider having what are known as ‘positions’ i.e.

  1. An optimistic position – the most you think you can get
  2. A pessimistic position – the least you will accept
  3. A realistic position – what you think you will actually get.

It is important to ask for more than you want. This is so that your employers can ‘knock you down’ and feel that they have ‘won’ the negotiation.

You should move politely from discussing ‘concerns’ to making tentative proposals at the same meeting, or at another time, to suit both parties. Make as many tentative proposals as you can so that you can ‘trade’ them later on.

Listen carefully and note reactions and counter-proposals. Give understanding nods when you hear your employer’s concerns and summarise their views saying that ‘you want to get this right’. Once you are clear on both sides’ tentative proposals, suggest that you are, or will soon be, ready to offer concrete proposals and make a fair deal.

From this point onwards it is vital to preface every firm proposal with the words ‘if you …. then I’ as in ‘if you (agree to an increased training budget), then I (will report clear benefits to the club of every training course attended’).

Tackle ‘easy to agree’ low cost items first and save the important stuff until later on to give you a chance to trade up at the end. If you can get more ‘little ones’ you will feel better if you did not get the entire ‘big one’ (your pay) this time around. Always consider phasing the ‘big one’ over time, it worked well for the guy who called me wanting a 40% increase.

How to get a win-win outcome

At the end of the negotiation congratulate the other side on a job well done and immediately write up your understanding of the deal. Finally, remember there is no win or lose in negotiation, just more negotiation next year and the year after. A good employer wants a win-win outcome – for both sides to be happy. If they think you took them to the cleaners one year they will want ‘payback’ the following year e.g. ‘You did very well last year now this year it is our turn’. The same could apply to you – you will want payback after a poor year and if you do not have confidence in your employer’s desire to achieve ‘win-wins’ on pay then you may start looking for a better paid job elsewhere.

Getting the reluctant employer to negotiate

Some greenkeepers tell me their employers do not want to negotiate; they just want to ‘announce’ the new pay rates every year. This may be because the thought of a proper negotiation makes some employers defensive. If this is the case then call it by another name. Maybe you could call it a ‘review meeting’. I know that if one of my people said to me ‘I’d like to discuss my future, when would be a good time to meet?’ it would really get my attention, especially if I had to wait a day or two before meeting them

At ‘the meeting’ begin by sincerely asking ‘how are things’ for them before saying that you have ‘some concerns’ you would like to discuss. Indicate that you ‘want to stay in the job’ but you ‘need some clarity on your future prospects’. You can then get a discussion going about your future which could include your future pay and how it is negotiated.

The author is Frank Newberry, who offers further information on the following link: This link enables members to request CV Samples, Interview Advice and Negotiating Tips.

Working in America

Everyone needs a visa if they want to work in America. The safest and most affordable way to gain great experience and an opportunity to work on some of the top courses in America is to go through a reputable, well established exchange programme such as The Ohio State University Turf programme, otherwise known as The Ohio Program, or a UK-based internship facilitator such as IEPUK. Placements allow trainees to gain new skills, experience a new culture, and enhance their knowledge within the turf management industry.

The organisations bring young, single 19-28 year old men and women from around the world to the States every year on J-1 Trainee visas. To meet programme requirements, the eligible age range for applicants is 19-28 years old for The Ohio Program and 18-30 years old for IEPUK. You need to have been working in the profession for at least one year or have at least one year of education in the field, i.e. S/NVQ level 2 or level 3. You must possess a clean driver's licence and have a clean criminal record. Both organisations have set programme and visa requirements.

Housing: The word “single” is used above because The Ohio Program only work with courses that arrange housing for their participants, which is generally shared with other trainees. Therefore, the programme is not suitable for married couples.

Housing costs are often subsidised by the golf courses and in some cases the charge is only minimal, but each golf course has different accommodation facilities and costs may vary. This will be discussed during the application process.

Wages: Due to the weak dollar, the wages currently paid, which range from $7.00 per hour to $12.00 per hour with time and a half for over time, may seem low. Just remember the cost of living is lower in the US and their taxes are minimal compared to the UK and Europe. You should not go to the States for the wages; your experience will far outweigh the difference in wages.

Length of Programme: The best time to apply is between November and February and the best time to go out is in April. Their cool season starts in April and finishes in late October. If you go through a programme such as The Ohio Program or IEPUK, they can then find you a course further south, for instance in Georgia, Florida or South Carolina for the winter months, on warm season grasses. This experience has turned out to be very valuable to UK residents, as many go on to work in Australia, Spain, or Dubai.

For further information contact:

The Ohio State University – The Ohio Program
Mike O'Keeffe
Program Manager
Global Turf/Golf Training Programs
The Ohio State University
Email: [email protected] or call 001 614 292 7720

IEPUK – Horticultural Internships
Emily Baines, Program Manager
Email: [email protected] or call 01572 823934



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