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Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

5 Replies

Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

Posted by Andy Millar on Aug 1, 2019 10:14 am

Hi,

I've seen a few applications for professional registration recently which have fallen into the trap of being written like a CV or a Role Profile. They might be accurate, but they really don't give an idea of whether the candidate is actually working professionally. And they're - sorry - REALLY boring. 

When I first meet a potential registrant the first thing I (and I know many other PRAs) do is to put their application or CV to one side and say "tell me about what you do". Almost invariably they tell a completely different story to their application, they tell a lively story of how - because of their expertise - their work contributed to the company, the customers, and the world. And we then go through a process of getting THAT story into their application.

So I thought I'd spread the advice (anonymised) I've just emailed to one potential candidate as hopefully it will help others:
 
When thinking about your responsibilities, I suggest you take a step back from your CV and your Role Profile. Instead, look out of the office window at the new facility and think "Which parts of that did I make that happen and how did I keep them safe? Where did the buck stop with me? Where would I like to point to something - however small - and say proudly 'I did that'?" It's a really useful thing to do anyway - we all need to do it occasionally to make our jobs feel worthwhile! - but it should particularly help get the right perspective on your application. With any luck you'll be able to think of 2-3 occasions where you can say "because I intervened in this way, that potential risk was avoided", and there you've got excellent examples to show  what your actual responsibility is and how you handled it, and then show how your knowledge allowed you to do spot that problem and make that intervention. 
 
If you struggle to think of examples, try to find the most upbeat of your colleagues and see if they'll help talk it through with you, we often downplay the impact of our own work whereas someone else can put it in better perspective.

Perhaps key in that last sentence is "upbeat colleague" - as engineers we can be a miserable bunch when we get in a group. Now you absolutely mustn't overclaim in your application, that will get spotted and will cast doubt on the rest of it. But sometimes it's really helpful to have someone else point out to you "yes, someone else finally signed off that work, but it was your work that actually swung that decision, and everyone trusted you to have come to the right conclusions because you're seen as the expert in xxx and you always act professionally".  

Of course, once you have that perspective you still need to make clear how you achieved what you achieved - but once you have good examples to talk about that usually comes much more easily.

Hope that helps someone and makes sense - general comments welcomed! (Of course individual cases can't be discussed on an open forum.)

Cheers,

Andy
 
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

Posted by Alasdair Anderson on Aug 1, 2019 12:23 pm

Andy,
If you have only seen a few written like a CV then considering how long you have been a PRA you are doing pretty well. I would say of the ones I see where I haven't previously spoken to the candidate, at least three-quarters are written like a CV (and about one in four is obviously just CV text transferred to the application form).***
Your approach in your first paragraph of advice is much as I advise candidates and reflects the policy advocated of "talk about the two or three projects you are most proud of". Your suggestion about the most upbeat of the colleagues in the next paragraph, though, is great. I might have to borrow that.
My biggest problem is often that candidates often don't understand the guidance from the IET on preparing the application, normally because they haven't read it (and a good indication normally comes with the question "how much should I write?"). Therefore my opening gambit is generally "Have you read the IET guidance?" Once we have that sorted the next issue is whether they have understood the implications of the competency descriptions in UK Spec (and sometimes they haven't read that either.....). For candidates within my own organisation I can relate the competencies to internal processes and say "If you have done this then you have an example of this competence" but for those candidates that the IET refer my way it is a more difficult task as they need to explain how they work before I can start to do that.
Those candidates who have both read the guidance and understand UK Spec are a delight to work with.
Alasdair
*** (late edit) Of course some of the "CV Applications" are upfront about it and say that they didn't know how to fill in the application form so have used their CV as a start for discussion - to my mind that is perfectly acceptable as they realise they have to do the work, but just don't want to then have to redo the whole thing.

Re: Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

Posted by KQ16 on Aug 1, 2019 12:26 pm

I for one think Andy's advice here is great. On my 1st unsuccessful attempt for IEng I did the exact thing Andy describes here. I basically wrote my IEng application as if I were writing my CV and due to this missed providing some vital evidence for UK SPEC competence C.
Using the advice of a PRI I was able think about my experience in a slightly different way which allowed to me to see I had indeed got experience of the required competence and just needed to present it appropriately.

I am now happy to say in April this year I achieved IEng.

 

Re: Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

Posted by Alasdair Anderson on Aug 1, 2019 12:28 pm

KQ16:
I am now happy to say in April this year I achieved IEng.

Congratulations

Re: Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

Posted by Andy Millar on Aug 1, 2019 12:50 pm

KQ16:
... missed providing some vital evidence for UK SPEC competence C.

Yes, that's very common. It also often works the other way around too - the candidate's role description makes them look like a full time project manager C competence person, whereas actually they're considered a technical expert in their team (for specific issues) with strong A and Bs. 

I am now happy to say in April this year I achieved IEng.

Congratulations!

 
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: Advice to candidates - how have you helped make the world a better place?

Posted by Andy Millar on Aug 1, 2019 1:00 pm

Alasdair Anderson:
If you have only seen a few written like a CV then considering how long you have been a PRA you are doing pretty well.

I was thinking about the draft applications I've reviewed this week 😉 I gave a briefing earlier in the week to prospective candidates which resulted in a minor deluge of draft applications (although the one I specifically mention here was, as it happens, unconnected with that).

Cheers,

Andy

 

Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

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