Whether you’re straight out of university or a seasoned professional, job hunting is no walk in the park. Sometimes, you just don’t know where to begin looking, let alone how to persuade an employer that you’re the perfect candidate for the position when hundreds of other jobseekers are applying for the same role through the same job boards as you.
Finding a job can, indeed, be a highly complicated, daunting and often soul-crushing process, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just need to work on your game, and this comprehensive guide will equip you with all the tips and tricks you need to land your dream job.
The first step you need to take when looking for a job should be determining your target industry. This includes defining your interests and examining the employers’ requirements.
Define Your Interests
First things first, identify the target industry that interests you and the type of job position you would like to pursue. In other words, conduct a thorough self-assessment.
Brainstorm all of the things you would like in your job:
- Do you want to work as part of a team or do you prefer working alone?
- Would you like to work for a large corporation like Google or a small start-up?
- Do you want to work full or part-time?
- Do you want a flexible work schedule or a traditional 9-to-5 job?
- Do you have a geographical preference? Are you willing to travel or perhaps move abroad for work?
Knowing what you want to do will make things easier for you as you’ll be able to focus on the opportunities that best fit your needs.
Examine the Job Requirements
Now that you’ve decided what you want to do – and significantly narrowed down your job search – you should begin reviewing job descriptions for the particular career path you have chosen as well as research the organisations in the industry to develop an understanding of the professional skills, qualifications and type of experience that are required to succeed in the role.
You need to match those skills and requirements, meaning you may need to pursue further education, attend workshops or obtain special certifications. Therefore, by thoroughly researching your industry, you will be able to determine what is required of you and take steps to grow and developing your skill set.
Essentially, you’re the product of your job search, and you need to use the marketing tools at your disposal to sell yourself as a viable candidate to prospective employers effectively. These tools are your CV, cover letter, online profiles, portfolio and references.
Recruiters and hiring managers often spend just 6 seconds looking at a CV, and with a minimum of 54 applications received for each job opening (and only 3 actually making it to the next stage of the hiring process), it’s essential that you make every single second count to stand out from the crowd as a viable candidate. Here’s how:
Tailor Your CV to Each Job
‘This is the first impression you make on your prospective employer, so make it count,’ says Catherine Maskell, head of marketing at specialist recruiter Reed. ‘Tailor your CV to the role, as employers will be able to tell when you have sent them a “multi-purpose” CV.’
Read the job ad carefully to determine just what exactly the position entails and identify any points that seem important or which you can match with your own skill set and experience. Make sure that the first thing the hiring manager reads is directly relevant to the position you’re applying for and that you use the same keywords and phrases as the ad. Essentially, the more tailored it is to the job, the better your chances of landing an interview.
Focus on Accomplishments, Not Duties
When writing a CV, it’s important to avoid using dated phrases like ‘Duties included’ or ‘Responsible for’; they do nothing to show what you’re truly capable of. A much more effective way of impressing hiring managers is to focus on your professional accomplishments, as they measure your success in previous roles and demonstrate the results you will be able to deliver in the role you’re applying for.
A successful candidate is one who can show that they made their company better in some way and that they didn’t simply show up to work, performed the tasks outlined in their job description and got paid for it. They want to read about how you increased sales, decreased expenses, improved the turnaround time for certain tasks and increased the efficiency of a process or product.
Use Action Verbs
Action verbs – feel-good words used to show your in-depth knowledge and understanding of your particular field – can be impactful and make a strong impression on potential employers. These words fall into four main categories, as shown in the table below with appropriate examples:
It’s important to avoid using cliché buzzwords like ‘detail-oriented’, ‘go-getter’, ‘motivated’, ‘problem solver’, ‘results-driven’ and ‘team player’ as they add no real value to describing your skills and experience, and only harm your chances to job search success. Equally important is avoiding overcomplicated technical jargon; use language that is easily understood by the ‘average Joe’, more often than not, your CV will be reviewed by someone in HR before it reaches the relevant department head’s desk.
Sections to Include
- Personal Details: Your name should take centre stage and – along with your address (or your general location if you live far from the company and feel this may work against you) as well as your telephone number and email address – should be easy to find (either in the header or footer of your CV, or in a dedicated section clearly marked as such). Avoid including things like your age, nationality and marital status as doing so opens you up to all kinds of discrimination, and make sure you use your personal contact information (that is to say not your work number or email).
- Headline: Your headline is, essentially, a short phrase that highlights your value as a candidate. It should be concise, straightforward and use keywords, like ‘Award-Winning Editor Skilled in Web Design’.
- Profile: Together with your headline, your profile will ‘convey your professional identity and what you can offer to your target employer,’ says Lis McGuire, a CV expert and the author of Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career. This section should be used to demonstrate why you’re a perfect fit for the job you’re applying for in a maximum of five lines, and this will ‘be evidenced by the career stories you select and present, inferring the results you can deliver if hired’.
- Skills: It’s important that you pay special attention here so that you do not just offer a generic list of competencies. The strengths and abilities that you mention in this section should be relevant to the job you’re applying for, and make sure you provide examples for each item. Meanwhile, don’t worry if you’re fresh out of school: the skills you develop at school and in other areas of life are transferable to the workplace and can be just as valuable as technical and personal skills.
- Achievements: List 5 to 10 key professional achievements that you’re particularly proud of, which are relevant to the job, and make sure you quantify those accomplishments. For example, instead of saying ‘increased sales’, say ‘increased sales by 17 per cent’.
- Education: This section should highlight your most relevant educational qualifications (including university degrees, certificates, accreditations, licenses, workshops and other professional training) in reverse chronological order. Remember that you only need to list the highest level of education you achieved – you don’t need to mention that you attended the Blue Coat School in Liverpool when you hold a PhD from Oxford.
- Employment History: As with your educational qualifications, you should list your employment achievements with your most recent first. Each position should include the job title you held, the company’s name and location, your dates of employment and the duties you performed. If you have lots of experience, anything more than 10 years old should be left off your CV completely.
- Professional Memberships: : If you’re a member of a professional body, society or organisation, this is the section to put it. Include the full name of the organisation you’re affiliated with, the level of your membership, the dates of your membership and any titles you’re allowed to use.
- Interests and Activities: The inclusion of your interests on your CV is entirely optional. However, hobbies that can be a little controversial – like pole dancing, for example – should be avoided if you’re applying for a bank manager position if you want to be taken seriously. Likewise, mentioning that you volunteered on a number of Labour election campaigns or helped raise money for a specific church might go against a hiring manager’s own beliefs and that, in turn, may sabotage your chances of getting an interview. Generally speaking, only include interests and activities that directly relate to the job, and do not exaggerate your hobbies as you might get caught out if they try to make small talk with you.
Essential Tips for Writing a CV
- Choose a Format: There are two basic types of CV: the chronological and the functional. The chronological, which is the more popular of the two, highlights a jobseeker’s career progression with their most recent positions being listed first. The functional CV, on the other hand, emphasises on transferable skills and experience rather than individual roles and companies and is perfect for career changers and people who have had a lot of jobs or who have lots of gaps in their employment histories.
- Use a Modern Font: Refrain from using unusual fonts like Comic Sans and dated ones like Times New Roman, and instead opt for a modern sans serif font such as Arial, Avenir, Gill Sans, Helvetica, Lato or Open Sans. In terms of font size, meanwhile, stay between 10pt and 12pt, but do feel free to use a larger size for headers and, especially, your name.
- Size Matters: Recent graduates or people who are just entering the workforce should aim for a one-page CV, while jobseekers with normal employment histories should use two pages to effectively highlight their most recent and relevant experience. Three or more pages should only be used by people in an academic or scientific field with an extensive list of publications and patents, or by executives and senior-level professionals with a long track record of accomplishments.
- Don’t Overdo It: While it’s perfectly alright to be a little creative with your CV’s overall design and style, things like scented paper and colourful fonts will only distract the reader from what is truly important: your professional skills and experience.
- Stay Consistent: However you choose to format and style your CV, make sure you’re consistent throughout. For example, if you’ve bolded one job title, ensure that all titles have been bolded, too.
- Save it as a PDF: Emailing your CV in doc. format runs the risk of having the formatting completely ruined when a hiring manager opens it on their computer. As a precaution, save your document as a PDF to ensure everything remains intact, but do keep a doc. version as some recruiters may prefer one format over the other. It’s a good idea to send a test email to yourself to ensure that the attachment opens correctly, whatever the format before you start sending your CV to potential employers. Meanwhile, make sure you’ve given your document a good file name like ‘John Smith CV 2016 CareerAddict.pdf’ and avoid generic names like ‘CV.pdf’.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread! According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 47 per cent of UK hiring managers and human resource professionals said they would immediately dismiss an application with just a few typos. Double and triple checking your CV for spelling and grammatical errors is, therefore, essential. Proofread the entire document, word by word, and employ the help of a trusted friend who might be able to spot something you missed and save you from potential embarrassment.
- Keep It Updated: You just never know when an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity may present itself to you, and rather than scrambling to update your CV at the last minute – often to disastrous results – it will already be ready to go.
A well-written cover letter ensures your CV gets read and it strengthens your position as a viable candidate. Even if the job description doesn’t require you to, it’s a good idea to include a cover letter in your application as it gives you a head-start over the others who haven’t bothered to.
Don’t Start with Your Name
You’ll have, hopefully, included your contact information (along with your name) in your letter’s header, so there’s really no need to state the obvious and waste valuable space by starting your letter by introducing yourself.
Tailor Your Letter to Each Job
As with your CV, your cover letter should be tailored to each position you apply for. A well-crafted letter will match the target company’s culture, personality and tone which you will be able to determine from the advert and the organisation’s website. For example, the ad for a web designer position in a start-up might use a more casual tone, and it’s important to match this tone in your letter as you might seem out of place if you send an overly formal letter instead.
Don’t Regurgitate Your CV
Your cover letter provides you with the opportunity to talk about what you couldn’t on your CV and to explain achievements that you’re particularly proud of in greater detail. Ultimately, you should use your letter to interpret your CV, not repeat it.
Make sure you carefully read the job ad. Often, employers require candidates to address a particular question in their letter and will ignore any applications that do not follow the instructions specified here.
Know Email Etiquette
When emailing your application, you can either attach your cover letter (along with your CV) to the email or include it directly in the email’s body. If, however, you decide to include it as an attachment, it is good practice to include your mailing address, the date and the recipient’s mailing address as you normally would in a hard copy letter.
The 5 Essential Elements of a Cover Letter
- The Salutation: Unlike your CV, a cover letter provides you with the unique opportunity to speak directly to an individual reader, so take advantage of it. The job description will most likely include a point of contact and it is essential that you address your letter to this specific person. If the ad, however, doesn’t include a name, check their website and try to find who is responsible for hiring. If you’re still unable to locate a name, simply call the company and ask for one. As a last resort, use ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ as your salutation but never ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’.
- Why You Are Writing: Your opening paragraph should focus on why you’re pursuing this particular opportunity and should offer a few core competencies that confirm your suitability for the position. Meanwhile, if you were referred the job by someone in your professional network, make sure to name-drop them here, especially if they work for the company.
- What You Bring to the Table: The second paragraph of your cover letter is, essentially, your elevator pitch, and it should highlight your skills, qualities and experiences that are relevant to the position. Provide examples of the work you performed and the results you achieved, and basically demonstrate how you will be an asset to the organisation’s success.
- What You Know About the Company: This section provides you with the opportunity to show employers that you’ve done your research into their company and to demonstrate how you can contribute to their mission.
- The Closing: The final paragraph should summarise what you offer and should close by either requesting a meeting or suggesting a call. If you choose to indicate that you will follow your application up in a certain number of days, make sure that you do so within the specified timeframe.
Jobvite’s 2016 Recruiter Nation Survey found that a staggering 87 per cent of UK recruiters use LinkedIn to evaluate candidates, followed by Facebook with 43 per cent and Twitter with 22 per cent. This shows that recruiters are increasingly relying on social media to find talent, reaffirming the importance of a carefully put-together online profile.
Tips for Using LinkedIn
- Highlight Your Experience: As LinkedIn is one of the most effective social media tools to showcase your credentials, it’s important to establish a well-rounded professional image for yourself. Highlight all your relevant experience and round out your image by including relevant keywords, skills, accomplishments and links – but remember to only include the experience you’re most proud of and you actually want employers to see.
- Update Your Profile as You Go: Equally important is continually building and updating your profile throughout your career with new skills you’ve learned and new projects you’ve led. A stale profile that has long been forgotten doesn’t look professional, trustworthy or appealing, and it will cause you to lose out on potentially life-changing opportunities.
- Create Connections: LinkedIn is one of the best places online to establish professional connections, and a vast network of contacts can be extremely valuable when job hunting. Therefore, be sure to build and maintain strong relationships with industry experts as well as past or present employers, colleagues, clients, partners and acquaintances, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them for recommendations and endorsements.
- Join Relevant Groups: This will allow you to stay updated with industry news, establish connections with like-minded and influential people, as well as follow relevant and interesting discussions. It shows that you care about what you do and that you want to constantly grow and learn as a professional in your field.
Tips for Using Facebook
- Keep Your Private Life Private: Although Facebook is viewed as a purely social network, it can still be used as a professional networking tool. The issue that you might face here is that, unless you take certain steps, everyone can see everything you post, including prospective employers who will scrutinise your online behaviour to evaluate your candidacy. Jobvite found that photos of alcohol consumption are viewed negatively by 47 per cent of recruiters, as are typos (72 per cent) and marijuana use (71 per cent). You are, therefore, advised to delete every last compromising image, inappropriate comment and anything else that can potentially jeopardise your chances of securing a job. For extra measure, you can restrict your Facebook profile to ‘Friends only’, and you might also want to consider maintaining two separate profiles: one personal and one professional.
- Use a Professional Profile Picture: While selfies are becoming less controversial (only 18 per cent of recruiters view them negatively in 2016 compared to last year’s 25 per cent), it’s important to upload a professional-looking profile picture to all of your social media profiles. Opt for a recent photo in which you’re easily recognisable: in other words, avoid making a duck-face and don’t make recruiters have to guess which person you are in the photo!
- Be Selective of Your ‘Likes’: More specifically, be selective of the company pages that you ‘like’. The idea is to show that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to and not that you’re willing to work for anyone.
- Join Groups: Just like on LinkedIn, joining groups on Facebook that are relevant to your field shows that you’re passionate about what you do. Even more so when you actively participate in conversations and post links and other resources to the group’s wall. The objective here is to make connections and get noticed by people and organisations in your industry – this, in turn, could lead to exciting opportunities or referrals.
- Learn about Potential Employers: Just as a potential employer will stalk your social profiles, you should stalk theirs too. Their company page on Facebook will be able to tell you all about their latest business developments as well as what others are saying about them – and this information can be extremely valuable when you’re preparing for an interview.
Tips for Using Twitter
- Follow Companies: Assuming you haven’t already, start following the companies you’re interested working for on Twitter as well as key people in those organisations. Many companies tweet about new opportunities before they are widely advertised, and following their accounts gives you a head-start over other applicants. You should also follow industry insiders who regularly tweet about new developments in your particular field, hiring trends and more.
- Take Advantage of Hashtags: Hashtags are a lot more than trending words, phrases or acronyms; they can be a jobseeker’s best friend when it comes to finding a job in today’s digital world. Searching for and following relevant hashtags like #JobSearch, #JobOpening and #Hiring can help you discover exciting opportunities in your area –remember to use industry-specific hashtags, too, like #ITjobs and #techjobs!
- Brand Your Bio: You only have 140 characters to tell the world – and, more importantly, potential employers – who you are and what skills you have, so make every character count. Think about SEO when crafting your bio and use certain words and phrases that people would search for to find you – you have a better chance of gaining (and retaining) followers if they find you based on relevant keywords.
- Be Someone Worth Following: Provide value and establish yourself as an industry expert by tweeting tips, news and resource links about your profession and by answering as many questions as you can.
Online portfolios are a great way to showcase your work and demonstrate your passion for what you do, especially if it’s content or image-related, as you won’t normally be able to effectively do so with your CV.
Determine Your Target Audience
First things first, you need to figure out who your target audience is. What are they most interested in learning about you, and what skills and accomplishments are more relevant to your audience? If you want to work for a company like Google, for example, visit their company pages to find out more about their brand’s strategy – these kinds of resources will then help you build your online portfolio and better target your audience.
Choose a Platform
The next step you need to take when putting your portfolio together is to select the platform where you’d like to host it. Wix is a free website builder which allows you to edit every little detail of your online portfolio and customise it to look exactly how you want it to look. Another great choice is WordPress which offers hundreds of free, customisable mobile-ready designs and themes.
Build Your Portfolio
- Add a Welcome Page: Your landing page should serve as an introduction of yourself to prospective employers. A good welcome page entices visitors to browse your online profile, and including your elevator pitch here can ensure this.
- Show Only Your Best Work: Take a look at all of your work and curate the best pieces that will effectively demonstrate your skills and accomplishments. Ultimately, you should only showcase the work you’re most proud of – it’s better to have a portfolio of only a few awesome projects than one with dozens of OK projects.
- Provide a Backstory: Providing a backstory for each of your projects helps employers learn about your process. Present everything from the initial concept and early sketches to the finished product, but do remember to display the finished product first!
- Talk about Your Journey: Your ‘About’ page shouldn’t just list your past jobs but should also tell your story. Explain how you got to where you are today, tell employers how can add value to their company and demonstrate how you’ve provided solutions for others. Make sure to keep it short and interesting, and consider rounding your story with personal trivia to appear approachable.
- Include a Blog: A blog allows you to share your knowledge and experience in your field and to establish yourself as an industry expert. Meanwhile, make sure to keep your blog regularly updated: this will show prospective employers that you’re a committed and engaged professional who actively follows the goings-on of his industry.
- Your Contact Information: While it’s not advised to publicly share your personal phone number or home address on the internet, you should provide visitors with the means to contact you if they so wish. You can do this by including a contact form on your portfolio, and you can even add links to your social media pages for those who may want to connect with you socially.
Add a Link to Your CV
Once you’ve finished creating your portfolio, be sure to include a link to it on your CV and all your other marketing tools. You might also consider including a downloadable version of your CV on your portfolio.
The final marketing tool you have at your disposal are your references. Most employers will ask for them, either during the application process or after your interview, so it’s imperative that you prepare them well in advance.
Choose Your References
There are two basic types of references: professional and personal references.
Professional references are those provided by previous employers, managers, colleagues, clients, business associates and others who can vouch for your workplace skills.
Personal references, on the other hand, which are ideal for recent graduates and people with no relevant employment experience, are those provided by teachers, professors, academic advisors, friends and coaches who can provide insight into your personality and overall character. But, it’s important to note that you should avoid asking family members or spouses for references, especially if Granny Smith is just going to gush about what a ‘lovely young lad’ you are.
Ask for Permission
Whoever you decide to use as a reference, always make sure they’re comfortable and willing. Don’t ever just assume they’ll be okay with you sharing their information with prospective employers without first asking them because they probably won’t. They should know ahead of time that they may be contacted to provide a reference for you and should never be caught off-guard by an unexpected phone call as this can work against you.
When choosing your references, provide them with as much information as possible regarding the position you’re applying for as well as what skills and attributes you’d like to showcase. It’s also a good idea to send them a copy of your CV so that they can familiarise themselves with the rest of your experiences and successes, and use this information to provide a gleaming recommendation for you.
Create a Reference List
Your references form a part of your complete package of marketing tools, so the design of this document should match that of your CV, cover letter and any other follow-up letters. Each reference should include their name, job title, company, location, phone number, email address and your relationship with them, and look something like this:
020 7946 0496
Relationship: Former supervisor (2010-2015)
You should aim to list between three and five people as your references. Make sure that all information provided here is correct and up-to-date.
Provide Your References Only When Asked To
Whatever you do, do not list your references on your CV or include the line ‘References available upon request’. Both practices are dated. You should also avoid sending your references with your application unless the job description specifically requires you to. The general rule of thumb here is to share your references only when an employer asks for them – never before.
Share Your Successes
Remember to send each of your references a handwritten note thanking them for agreeing to help you. If you’re successful in your job search, make sure to share your success with them – they’ll most likely want to be updated about a process they were involved in, and doing so will help you strengthen your relationship with them.
The next steps you need to take include using a variety of techniques to identify opportunities, developing professional contacts with people in your field who can assist you in your search as well as cracking the hidden job market.
Build a Professional Network
Building a strong network of professional contacts is a crucial part of the job hunting process, especially if you’re in the middle of changing careers. In fact, well-networked individuals are highly employable, and they might just soon become the most valuable people in the job market, says Julia Hobsbawm, the networking professor at Cass Business School in London.
Start with the People You Know
The great thing about building a network is that you already have one. Your family, friends, work supervisors, colleagues and even your neighbours are usually the best network to explore when seeking a job. Even if they don’t know about any openings, they might be able to put you in touch with acquaintances, and you’ll then be able to start expanding your network. So, make sure you let your family and friends know that you’re currently looking, and try to be as specific as possible - this will avoid wasting everyone’s time involved with irrelevant job leads.
Make New Contacts
While networking can be an extremely terrifying prospect, it can also be a highly beneficial way to expand your knowledge of your industry as well as learn from the people who have been there and done what you are currently doing. Most importantly, it can expose you to exciting opportunities.
You can make new networking contacts through a variety of methods, including:
- Volunteer opportunities
- LinkedIn groups
- Networking events
- Job fairs and conferences
- Trade organisations
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who you think could help you find a job (preferably in person), but don’t ask them for help so blatantly and so early on in the relationship.
5 Essential Tips to Networking
- Start networking before you need it. You never know when you might find yourself out of a job, and since networking can be a time-consuming process, you’d have already built your network of contacts and will be able to skip this part altogether. Moreover, by building relationships when you have no ulterior motive, you’re able to avoid building a reputation of being self-serving.
- Never dismiss anyone as unimportant. A receptionist or a bike messenger, for example, may have valuable connections or knowledge that you’d never learn about if you immediately discounted them due to their titles.
- Ask questions. Building, and maintaining, strong relationships means showing an interest in your connections’ background, positions and organisations. You need to be interested in what other people are doing and willing to learn from them, so make sure you ask plenty of questions (see below for a selection of questions you should ask when networking). The trick to networking effectively is listening rather than speaking.
- Figure out how you can be useful. You shouldn’t be the only one who benefits from a professional relationship, so make sure you can help your contacts in some way, too. If need be, ask them directly what you can do for them, and make sure you follow through.
- Follow up. If you told someone you’d get in touch with them, make sure you do. Nurture your relationships, and perhaps even propose a future date to get together.
Questions to Ask
The following are some questions you might want to consider asking when networking with new acquaintances or prospective employers.
- How did you enter this field?
- What are your primary job responsibilities?
- What is the most rewarding part of your job?
- Is there demand for new talent in this profession?
- Which professional journals and organisations that cover this field would you recommend?
- What type of on-the-job training does your organisation provide?
- What personal qualities and abilities are important to succeed in this job?
From searching online to networking, there are many places to look for suitable opportunities, but you’re encouraged to explore all of them simultaneously to optimise your chances of job search success.
- Company Sites: Identify which companies you’d like to work for and visit the careers section of their websites where you will be able to search and apply for suitable vacancies directly.
- Job Boards: Job boards remain the No 1 external source of new hires, and there are plenty to choose from to conduct your online search: Indeed, Reed, Totaljobs and Monster are considered to be some of the best in the UK. You can also try our own recently launched board over at CareerAddict Jobs which matches jobseekers with full and part-time employment in the country and abroad. Meanwhile, the government’s official job centre website, Universal Jobmatch, is another excellent choice, while the EURES (European Employment Services) website can be helpful if you’re from the EU, EAA or Switzerland and looking for work in the UK.
- Networking: Networking can be done both in person and online, and it is an essential part of the job search process as well as your career development. Connecting with professionals who work in your field can result in job leads – and even if your contacts don’t personally know about any current openings, they’ll very likely know someone who does.
- Social Media: Most employers today advertise current vacancies on their social media pages, so it’s important to follow the companies you’re interested in working for on Facebook as well as relevant hashtags on Twitter. LinkedIn, meanwhile, has its own job board where you can search for opportunities in your field anywhere in the world.
- Job Fairs: Job fairs are typically targeted toward specific industries but can also be more generalised, too. The great thing about job fairs is that they are filled with employers looking for people to hire. This means that, unlike online applications, you’re able to actually meet the person you’re giving your CV to.
- Recruitment Agencies: ReRegistering with recruitment agencies can also be useful when job hunting. Most agencies specialise in a single industry like accounting, construction, education, engineering, healthcare and IT, but you’ll also find temping agencies which can help you find temporary work in offices, for example. But, it’s important to note that, in some cases, this may come at a price.
- Head Hunters: Head hunters are typically employed by large organisations to locate individuals to fill a specific vacancy within the company. They can also help find a suitable position for a jobseeker who has hired their services.
- Graduate Schemes: Graduate schemes are typically offered by larger employers and can last anywhere between three months to three years. They are described as structured programmes that allow recent graduates to gain an understanding of the particular industry they’re interested in while building a range of skills. It’s important to note that you should aim to apply early for such programmes as vacancies fill quickly.
- Local Newspapers: Although perhaps a little old-fashioned, looking for opportunities in the ‘Help Wanted’ section of your local newspaper can still yield valuable job leads, especially if you’re looking for employment in a smaller market or if you’re open to relocation. You should also consider looking in professional or trade journals specific to your industry.
- Word of Mouth: Word of mouth is still viewed by many as the best way to score a job. Let your family and friends know that you’re looking for work and ask them if they, or their contacts, know about any suitable opportunities.
Other Ways to Find Work
- Volunteering: Volunteering can be a great pathway to paid employment. It helps people develop the skills and gain the kind of work experiences employers look for in candidates, and it also provides you with the opportunity to build networks that can help you find jobs.
- Self-Employment: Starting your own business, and even freelancing, is also an option. You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, enjoy greater flexibility, earn more money and pursue your passion. You can work as a consultant in your particular field; run a home-based, online or brick-and-mortar business; or even run a family-owned farm – the possibilities are endless. But, venturing into self-employment is no walk in the park, it requires careful consideration.
- Work Experience: Getting some temporary work experience under your belt before you leave university and enter the job market is also something worth considering Work experience placements can help you develop highly sought-after transferable skills, and they can also give you the opportunity to take on some interesting and challenging responsibilities, which will make you more attractive to employers. This route can be incredibly useful if you’re still undecided on your career path as you’ll be able to try out a few different industry options before figuring out what you want to do.
- Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships are an alternative to university study, and are a great way for school leavers and adults alike to earn while they learn in a real job. These programmes aren’t just restricted to working in construction or hairdressing, however; they also extend to accounting, civil engineering, graphic design, hospitality, physiotherapy, telecommunications, veterinary nursing and many other industries. Apprentices, meanwhile, have a higher rate of landing a first job: only 5 per cent of apprentices are left without employment within a year of completing their training, compared with the 16 per cent of university graduates.
- Internships: Internships offer university students the opportunity to gain real-life experience in their desired field and can be an excellent way to try out a certain career. While unpaid internships are common, you can also find paid opportunities, too, though this largely depends on the role and your chosen industry.
- Creative Tactics: The job market is a highly competitive place, which is why more and more jobseekers are employing creative, and often outlandish, tactics in their search. Take Adam Pacitti, for example, who in January 2013 spent his last £500 on a billboard asking employers to hire him. A month later, he spent his first wage packet on another billboard thanking the public for helping him find a job. It should be noted that while these creative methods can work, they can also send the wrong message to prospective employers, so you should be extremely cautious if you decide to take this route and how you go about it.
Crack the Hidden Job Market
Some career experts believe that about 80 per cent of jobs are never formally advertised (others believe that this percentage, which varies between 75 and 90 per cent). Whatever the figure, we can’t deny that a hidden job market does exist – and this may be because companies would rather hire and promote from within or through staff referrals as it is usually faster and cheaper than recruiting externally.
It is here where some of the best opportunities are found, but just how do you penetrate this hidden job market and access these hidden opportunities?
- Company review site Glassdoor found that staff referrals were between 2.6 per cent and 6.6 per cent more likely to result in successful hires. This means it’s all about who you know. Let your family, friends, neighbours, former coworkers and business associates know that you’re currently looking for a new job – if there’s anything going in their company, and you match the job description’s requirements, then they’ll be more than happy to refer you to their boss, especially if there’s a referral bonus involved.
- Contact Employers Directly. Speculative applications are another great way to discover unadvertised jobs. But, sending your application to a hiring manager will unlikely elicit a response, which is why it’s advised to contact the employer, or department manager, directly instead. Take the time to research the company’s website and LinkedIn page to identify the person who might be able to help you, and make sure you address your application to them by name.
- Attend Fairs, Conferences and Conventions. The connections you make at these events may inform you about job openings in their company before they’re publicly advertised, aid you in getting an interview and provide you with access to the people who make all the hiring decisions. When attending career fairs and other networking events, meanwhile, make sure you take copies of your CV and some business cards with you.
- Use Social Media. Mentioning that you’re currently looking for work on your social media profiles is another great way to mine the hidden job market: it encourages visitors and connections to get in touch with you if they have a suitable opportunity.
- Get News Alerts. Use Google Alerts to stay updated with potential employers by setting up your own personalised news feeds with your target industry or specific companies to identify any job opportunities.
First impressions count, so make sure yours a good one. And you can achieve this with how you present yourself in your application, elevator pitch and interview, as well as while following up and during any salary negotiations.
Filling out job applications can be tedious business, and they can be quite stressful, which is why we put the following tips together to help you out, depending on your particular situation.
Applying for an Existing Job
- Call Employers for Further Details before Applying: This is a great way to help you avoid wasting valuable time as you can determine whether the skills and experience you bring to the table is exactly what the employer is looking for and that you actually stand a chance. Moreover, any specific information that you obtain from this phone call that hasn’t been mentioned in the job ad can be included in your application, and this gives you an edge over the other candidates who never bothered to find out more details about the position before applying.
- Address the Selection Criteria: Most positions require you to address certain selection criteria in your application. For example, if the job ad requires successful candidates to be knowledgeable in Microsoft Office, possess strong problem-solving skills and have the ability to work as part of a team, it is important that you address all of the criteria – otherwise, your application might not be considered at all.
- Check the Closing Date: Make sure you apply within the specific timeframe! Employers will not accept applications after the deadline, so make sure you have plenty of time to apply and that you don’t miss out on a great opportunity.
Applying in Person
- Be Quick: Jobs that are advertised in a shop window are often filled very quickly, so make sure that you’re quick, too. More often than not, the first person to apply who seems suitable gets the job.
- Take a CV with You: Make sure you’re able to provide a relevant version of your CV. You should also be able to provide a list of references if asked to, and any additional information you might need to complete your application, like a photo ID or copies of your certifications.
- Look the Part: While you’re not formally interviewing for the job, you will still be judged on your appearance and it is, therefore, important that you dress appropriately. Business casual attire is the general consensus: for example, a pair of khakis and a buttoned-down shirt for men or a pencil skirt and blouse for women.
Sending a Speculative Application
- Tailor Your Application to the Company: Make sure you write your application around the company and their needs, but remember to show what you can do for them rather than simply telling them. Provide examples and measure the results of your efforts where possible.
- Don’t Get in Touch If You’ve Applied for Another Role in the Company: If you’ve applied for another role with them, they’ll already have your details on file and will probably have you in mind when a suitable vacancy becomes available. Moreover, sending a speculative application could end up annoying them, especially if you weren’t successful the first time round.
- Don’t Be Pushy: When signing off your cover letter or email, make sure to avoid things like ‘I can’t wait to meet you and discuss my new role at your company’. It makes you sound pushy, arrogant and desperate. Instead, opt for something like ‘I’d be excited to discuss any potential future opportunities at your company’.
Submitting an Online Application
- Maintain One Candidate Profile Per Company: If you’re going to apply for several positions with one organisation, you should maintain one candidate profile. Multiple profiles may confuse the company’s system.
- Fill Out all the Fields: Hiring managers often skip incomplete applications as they show a lack of interest in the job. This is why it is essential that you fill out all the fields, even the optional ones, in an online application form as some companies will filter candidates by their responses in certain fields.
- Be Careful When Uploading Documents: Make sure you upload all the required documents to your online application, and that you check document size and accepted formats before uploading.
Your elevator pitch, or your personal brand statement, is a quick yet powerful and engaging synopsis of your background and experience. Think of it as a commercial, and you’re the product: you’ve got 15-30 seconds to market yourself and convince whoever is listening to you to buy what you’re selling.
Essentially, it should answer three important questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- What are you looking for?
Hi, my name is John Smith. I have more than 10 years’ experience in accounting, working primarily in small to mid-sized firms. If your company is ever in need of an extra set of hands, I’d be more than thrilled to consult.
You should be able to pitch yourself to anyone at any given time – whether at a career/job fair, in an interview (usually when answering questions like ‘Can you tell me a little about yourself?’), at a networking event or even on your personal website – so practice is essential. Also, remember:
- Don’t speak too fast. In other words, don’t try to cram 30 minutes’ worth of information into 30 seconds.
- Avoid technical jargon. Your pitch should be appropriate for all audiences, including hiring managers who might be unfamiliar with specific terms and concepts relevant in your field.
- Don’t be robotic. Be careful you don’t simply recite an overly rehearsed speech – it should be more conversational than anything.
- Have a business card to hand out. After all, delivering a winning elevator pitch would be pointless if you couldn’t offer something to make people remember you and, most importantly, get in touch with you.
Now that you’ve got an interview, congratulations are in order. But, there are some things you need to remember before you walk into the interview room. These practical tips will help you ace that job interview and optimise your chances to landing your dream job.
Types of Interviews
There are several different types of interviews, each serving its own unique purpose.
- Screening Interviews: Before you actually get asked in for a typical interview, you might get a call from the employer – usually from their HR department, and usually without an appointment. You’ll be asked a series of questions that will help them decide whether they want to meet with you.
- One-to-One Interviews: You’re more likely to get a one-to-one meeting with a smaller company. Here, you only have to impress one person, and you can do this by aiming to build up a friendly rapport with him/her. Make sure you find out who your interviewer will be beforehand and do some research on them to find some common ground.
- Committee/Panel Interviews: They are typically conducted by larger companies and will include two or more interviewers. Usually, a HR person, a senior manager and the immediate line manager will all be present.
- Group Interviews: These meetings will also include other candidates applying for the same job as you, and are designed to introduce the company and describe the role to the assembled candidates. Your aim is to stand apart from the other candidates as an excellent fit for the role.
- Telephone Interviews: While they don’t require you to pay much attention to your presentation (your body language and what you wear), they do test your social and telephone skills.
- Video Interviews: Skype and video conferencing interviews are growing in popularity, and they allow people from different locations to scrutinise your suitability without the need of travel. You might be invited to an office, especially if it’s being organised by an agency.
- Lunch Interviews: These usually come after an initial office-based interview and will rarely come before. They help employers evaluate a candidate’s social skills as well as how they respond to multitasking and how they handle themselves when under pressure. While they’re typically held in a more casual environment, be sure to not let your guard down too much!
- Peer Group Interviews: They’re conducted to introduce you to your potential co-workers and to determine whether you’re a good fit for the team.
- Competence-Based Interviews: Commonly used by larger companies and institutions, these involve asking all applicants the same questions. The answers you provide here, which should reveal examples of how you have demonstrated your competencies and skills in previous roles, will later be assessed against those of the other candidates.
- Strengths-Based Interviews: They are generally used to find out an applicant’s interests. This allows employers to identify candidates who are not only capable of doing the job but who will also enjoy the role and, ultimately, perform better and stay with the company longer.
- Selection Interviews: The objective here is to basically make a hiring decision, and they will usually follow another, typically traditional, interview.
- Behavioural Interviews: These help employers ascertain how candidates handled themselves in past situations and help predict their future performance. Candidates are expected to use the STAR method to shape their responses: name a Situation you faced or a Task you completed, describe the Action you took and tell the Results of your actions.
- Work Sample Interviews: These offer you the opportunity to present samples of your work to employers. This could be a display of your portfolio or a presentation of your skills.
- Stress Interviews: Hiring managers will purposely create an emotionally charged and chaotic setting to determine whether a candidate will crack, remain calm or thrive under pressure. This type of interview is rather controversial, and many successful candidates will turn down an offer due to the stressful nature of the meeting.
Preparing for Your Interview
Job interviews can be extremely drawn-out and intimidating, even for the best and most experienced of us, but carefully preparing for them doesn’t have to be. In fact, good preparation is essential to a successful interview, and these practical tips will help you land a job.
- Research the Company: Never walk into an interview without knowing what the company does, what its products are, what problems it is currently facing and who its competitors are. You’ll only appear unprepared and uninterested in the job, so make sure you check their website as well as read newspaper/magazine articles about the organisation beforehand. Your aim is to gather as much information as possible, and this also includes your interviewer’s name (you might need to directly contact the company for this) – a quick search on Google or LinkedIn will help you learn about their background, their position and any common interests you both share. Knowing all this information allows you to talk about the industry, organisation and position you’re applying for in greater depth, and help you make a better impression.
- Plan What to Bring: While the hiring manager will typically print copies of your CV for everyone in the room, it’s a good idea to have a few extra copies on standby yourself. This will not only show that you’ve come prepared but that you’re also able to think ahead. You should also be able to provide a list of references when and if asked, a notepad and pen to take any notes, any information you might need to complete an application (a photo ID, for example) as well as a portfolio with samples of your work (if relevant).
- Prepare Your Responses: While it’s impossible to anticipate which questions exactly will come up in an interview, it’s imperative that you’ve prepared answers to the most frequently asked questions that hiring managers like to ask. This will help you address key points that you’d like to talk about (certain skills, accomplishments and experiences); even if those specific questions don’t come up, you can tailor your carefully prepared responses to a different one. (Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out ‘Sample Questions’ below for possible questions that might come up in your interview.)
- Practice: They say practice makes perfect, and we couldn’t agree more. Setting up a mock interview with a career coach, counsellor or your university’s career centre will help you learn how to answer difficult questions, develop strategies, improve your communication skills and reduce nerves. You could even get a friend or family member to practice with you.
The following interview questions are some of the most common that hiring managers ask candidates. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will help you anticipate certain questions and, therefore, craft the most effective answers.
- Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your greatest professional strengths?
- What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
- Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work. How did you deal with it?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
Employers may also sometimes ask more creative questions, which help gauge a candidate’s cultural fit. They’re designed to reveal how candidates work, their thought process and problem-solving skills that would otherwise be difficult to determine with more traditional questions. Here is a selection of such questions:
- If you were an animal, what would you be?
- Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?
- How many basketballs would fit in this room?
- If you were Prime Minister for a day, what one law would you change and why?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate me as in interviewer?
While it’s impossible to predict what kind of questions might come up in an interview, a little research into the company and its culture might be able to give you an idea of what to expect. Google, for example, is known for asking candidates oddball questions, while more serious companies generally prefer more traditional questions.
Interview Presentation and Etiquette
Your work experience and professional qualifications alone aren’t the only factors that employers take into consideration when making a hiring decision; their first impression of you can be just as important. In fact, hiring managers will make up their mind about you within the first 6 minutes and 25 seconds of meeting you and will base their decision on everything from the strength of your handshake to your mindfulness of time.
Here are some valuable tips to help you make the best possible impression and boost your chances of landing the job.
- Dress for Success: Sixty-two per cent of employers say a candidate’s sense of dress impacts their employability. But, this is largely dependent on the environment you’ll be interviewing in: appearances are extremely important in a conservative business climate, for example, but not so much if you’re applying for a job in a start-up where attire is generally more informal. ‘If you’re invited for [an] interview, gain an understanding of the company culture in advance,’ says Catherine Maskell, the head of marketing at Reed. ‘Through extra research, you will be able to get a feel for the dress code and dress accordingly.’ Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out Reed’s top tips on what to wear for an interview.
- Don’t Be Late: Arriving even just a few minutes late for a job interview is enough to have a negative impact on an employer’s impression of you. In fact, they’ll just assume you’re going to be late for work every day if they were to hire you. You should, therefore, aim to arrive 30 to 60 minutes earlier: find a coffee shop nearby to wait it out, go over your notes and calm your pre-interview nerves. Show up 10 to 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, but remember not to show up any earlier as this can actually hurt your chances at landing the job just as much as arriving late. Your early arrival could throw a curveball into the hiring manager’s schedule, and chances are they won’t be happy about it. Meanwhile, if you know you’re going to be late for whatever reason (and it better be a good one!), make sure to call ahead and notify your interviewer – don’t keep them waiting!
- Shake Hands: A good, firm handshake can help you make a great first impression on an employer as it shows that you are genuinely pleased to meet them and that you are a confident and trustworthy person. A limp handshake, on the other hand, shows a lack of confidence, whereas the ‘bone crusher’ may suggest you’re overcompensating for something. Meanwhile, remember to smile, make eye contact and maintain an open posture as you shake hands with everyone in the room.
- Make Eye Contact: Maintaining the appropriate amount of eye contact conveys confidence and shows that you are prepared to answer questions regarding your skills and previous employment. Looking down at your shoes, on the other hand, could make you seem uninterested in the job.
- Smile (But Don’t Overdo It): Smiling makes you appear confident, friendly and approachable. But, smiling too much can lose you points in the few critical moments you have to shine. A 2014 study found that it could negatively impact an interviewer’s perception of a candidate’s suitability, especially when interviewing for jobs associated with a more serious demeanour.
- Watch Your Body Language: Your posture and stance in an interview can have a significant impact on how you’re perceived and, ultimately, make or break your chances of landing the job. So, sit up straight, unfold your arms, uncross your legs, stop fidgeting and watch your hands (gesticulating with your hands is perfectly fine as long as you don’t go overboard with it. It can be incredibly distracting, just as biting your nails or tapping your feet).
- Mind Your Manners: ‘Good manners are essential,’ Maskell says. ‘From the moment you walk in to the company, act as if you are in your interview. If you’re rude to the secretary, chances are that could get reported back to your interviewer.’
- Stay Calm: Interviews can indeed be extremely nerve-wracking, and although it’s virtually impossible to conceal your anxiety, you shouldn’t let your nerves get the better of you. The more nervous (and less confident) you appear, your chances of impressing an employer are minimised significantly. Take a deep breath, think positively and don’t forget to quickly duck into the bathroom before your interview to strike a power pose.
- Ask Questions: Even if the hiring manager has covered everything you wanted to know about the position and the organisation, it’s always a good idea to have a few backup questions prepared for the end of your interview. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the culture and determine whether the company’s a good fit for you, and it also confirms your interest in the job, so make sure you take advantage of it as best as you can.
Thank You Letters
Sending a thank you letter is the first thing that should be on your mind after a job interview. It demonstrates an appreciation for the time the employer took out of their busy schedule to meet with you and it provides you with the unique opportunity confirm your interest in the job. It also gives you an edge over the other candidates who didn’t bother sending a letter themselves.
According to a Reed survey of over 300 UK employers, 82 per cent of respondents said that it reflects well on candidates when they follow up on an application. In other words, you simply can’t afford to not follow up. Here, we’ve outlined a few tips you should consider when sending your own thank you letter.
Send a Thank You Letter ASAP
Ideally, you should send your letter within 24-48 hours of your interview; any later than that, and you’ll appear to be uninterested. If you choose to send a handwritten letter, make sure you send an email, too. That way, it will add a certain gravitas to your thoughtfulness and your email message can work as a backup in the event your handwritten note gets lost in the mail. Meanwhile, make sure you do not send a letter from your phone right after you exit the interview room – this simply shows that you’re overeager as well as tactless.
Respect the Process
Make sure that you understand and respect the hiring process – no matter how lengthy and exhaustive it may be. This means that you’re not to relentlessly badger the hiring manager for any updates of your application, and definitely do not show up at their office unannounced.
Generally speaking, you should always find out what happens next before your interview comes to an end: when can you expect a response? Will unsuccessful candidates be notified as well as successful ones? Knowing this information will keep you from losing your mind, especially if you know that the hiring manager will be away on holiday for the next week.
If you don’t hear back from them after two weeks of your interview, send them a quick email to follow up. But if there’s no news after a month, it might be time to completely focus your efforts on other opportunities.
A generic thank you letter will not cut it here. It should, instead, be tailored to the job and company you’ve interviewed for, and it should say three things: you’re thankful they took the time to meet you, you really want this job and you’ve got what it takes to succeed in this position. You should also address it to the person you interviewed with.
Keep It Professional
Simply put: no colourful paper, unusual fonts, emoticons or excessive exclamation marks. Even if you interviewed for a position at a more casual start-up company, the language you use in your letter shouldn’t be too casual.
Reaffirm Your Interest
As explained previously, one of the most important points you should cover in your thank you letter is confirming your interest in the job. A good way to do this is by mentioning specific duties or topics that were discussed in the meeting as well as rearticulating your strengths and experiences, and how they will help you contribute to the company’s goals.
Salaries and Offers
Will you be paid what you’re worth? When is it appropriate to negotiate a salary, and how do you effectively do it? Here, you’ll find the answers to those questions and many other tips in regards to salaries and job offers.
Know When to Talk about Money
Whatever you do, do not bring up the topic of salary in your first interview with a company. It’s incredibly rude and it makes you seem like you only care about money when you should actually be passionate about the job.
If any money-related questions do come up in the interview, be extremely careful with your responses. For example, if the hiring manager asks you about your salary expectations, it’s better to give a range rather than a specific number. After all, you don’t want to give a salary that is below what the employer is willing to pay and you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market, either.
Ideally, you should let the employer bring up the subject of money. Ryan Kahn, a career coach and the founder of The Hired Group, agrees: ‘A good negotiation strategy is to let the employer offer the first number. That puts you in a position to see the number they are offering and gives you the opportunity to negotiate it up from there’.
Research the Market
To determine what a particular job is worth, research the range of salaries people with similar skills and experience are being paid to do similar work in the area the job is located. And thanks to the internet, this has never been easier. Visiting sites like Glassdoor and PayScale can help you with your salary research and uncover what the company – and its competitors – pays for similar positions.
Determine Your Worth
First, consider what you’ve made in previous jobs and determine what you’re aiming for a salary in this position. Next, examine your years of experience, the relevant skill sets you bring to the table and your accomplishments in previous positions, and how these prove your worth. Things like special certifications and increasing revenues by 20 per cent, for example, demonstrate your effectiveness and, therefore, increase your value as a candidate, so make sure that these are mentioned on your CV and in the interview.
But, it’s important to remember that you should emphasise you’re primarily interested in finding the right that’s job for you, not the highest salary.
Don’t Accept the First Offer You Receive
Don’t jump at the first offer an employer makes because, with a little negotiation, you could end up with a better salary. In fact, many employers expect you to negotiate your salary while accepting the first offer you receive can make you seem a little desperate.
If the company is unwilling or unable – this is particularly true for smaller-sized businesses – to offer you a better salary, consider asking for a better benefits package or company contributions to your retirement plan.
It is important to develop an action plan as it allows you to establish (and meet) weekly goals, stay organised with your applications and follow-up emails, as well as stay positive when the going gets rough.
Establish Weekly Goals
A successful jobseeker has goals and a schedule.
You should set weekly (and monthly) goals during your job search. For example, you should aim to make 5 new LinkedIn connections and research 10 prospective employers by the end of the week. Meanwhile, make sure to review your progress on a regular basis. If you didn’t meet a particular goal, transfer it to the next week, and remember to reward yourself for those you have achieved.
Each week, you should identify at least 10 new goals for your job search in each of the following areas:
- Researching target companies
- Finding job leads
- Personal branding
- Professional and personal development
When looking for a job, you might find yourself applying for dozens of positions and not keeping track of things. This can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming when you finally hear back about a job but have to scour the web to find the original advert or dig through a pile of applications.
Maintaining a spreadsheet, for example, keeps all the information you need in one place (we recommend Google Sheets as you’re able to update your sheet with new information while on the go).
As soon as you find a job you’re interested in, add it to the spreadsheet with a link to the advert. Once you’ve applied for the job, make sure to update it, along with any responses or interview dates you receive. Meanwhile, you should review your list of applications regularly as this will allow you to follow up on any positions you didn’t hear back about, and it ensures you don’t apply for the same job twice. Added bonus: you get to keep your Excel skills fresh!
Job hunting can be frustrating for anyone, especially when you’re dealing with constant rejections, and this can quickly turn into anxiety and depression. But just how can you stay positive in a job search that only seems to drag on and on?
- Get Support: When the going gets tough, make sure to reach out to those closest to you – family and friends – for support. If you need to, contact a professional career coach or even a therapist. Remember: you don’t have to go through this alone.
- Celebrate Small Victories: It’s easy to focus on the negative – an interview you didn’t get or a job you weren’t offered – but it’s important to focus on and celebrate even the smallest of victories: a new LinkedIn connection, for example.
- Consider a Part-Time Job or Freelancing: You might want to consider getting a part-time job or doing some freelance work, at least until you find the perfect job. This will help you pay the bills in the meantime, and it will also look good on your CV. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in freelancing, you can offer your design or writing skills, for example, up for hire on sites like Upwork and Freelancer – and who knows? It could turn into a full-time gig or fully fledged business!
- Join or Start a Work Club: These are community-based programmes which provide unemployed people with a place to meet, exchange skills, share experiences, find opportunities, make contacts and get support to help them return to work. If you’re interested in setting up a work club, visit the GOV.UK website for further information.
- Don’t Stop Looking: The most important thing is to not give up, even when it seems to be the only option left. If you stop looking and start relying on an outside force to somehow improve your job search success, you’ll only make things worse for yourself, both on a personal and on a professional level. Instead, schedule some time each day to research new opportunities, follow up on applications and network with your connections.
Continue your Professional Development
Employers want to hire people who are serious about their professional development and who will take the initiative to grow and develop their skills. They will often ask candidates about their goals in a job interview to measure their potential in the position, so continuing to focus on your professional development might just bring you one step closer to landing a job.
‘Often when job searching, it is easy to focus solely on the short-term goal of finding a job whilst forgetting to invest in your long-term professional development,’ says Sophie Finlay, the recruitment and development manager at Bridgewater Resources UK. ‘Creating a PDP can be a great way for you to shift your focus from immediate gains to a prosperous and fulfilling career.
‘And it’s not just for those currently in employment,’ Finlay continues. ‘Even if you are out of work, a PDP has numerous benefits. It can help you to build self-confidence, track your progression, increase your salary and cope positively with changes by regularly updating your skill set.’
- Assess your personal situation. Think about where you are now (are you employed? Unemployed? Self-employed?), whether or not you’re happy and where you want to be. If, for example, you want to be your own boss someday, you’ll need to think about all the steps you’ll need to take to accomplish that.
- Start planning. Think about your end goal. If it’s starting your own business, your end goal might be the grand opening day. Once you’ve figured out what your main goal is, start working backwards, plotting every smaller goal you will need to accomplish on your way to starting your own business. Don’t forget to set deadlines for each goal!
- Make a list of courses/events. Think about the courses and events you will need to attend and certifications you will need to obtain. Find out where they’re offered, how much they cost and how long each will take to complete, and then work each activity into a schedule, taking into account the deadlines and milestones you’ve allocated to each of your goals.
- Monitor your progress. This will help you stay on schedule and updated on how far away or close you are to reaching your goals. It also enables you to re-evaluate yourself from time to time, making changes where necessary. Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that hardly anything ever goes according to plan, so be prepared to meet a couple of bumps along the way.
Job hunting can often be a challenging and lengthy process. It can be overwhelming even for those of us who have been there and done it all before. But, the secret to a successful job search is having the right attitude and following a carefully laid-out plan.
Make sure you determine your target market from the start as this will help you develop your marketing tools appropriately, identify relevant opportunities and refine your presentation skills.
Do you have anything you’d like to add? Join the conversation below!