The encyclopedia of job hunting
Starting looking for a job or trying to reenergize an existing search can be really daunting particularly at the moment. But having a comprehensive job-search checklist can make the whole process a lot easier. Here I have prepared a list of everything you need to do from start to finish in order to give yourself the best chance of getting a job.
Work out what you want
Before you update your CV and start applying for jobs you need to understand what you are looking for. What is the minimum salary you are prepared to accept? What is the furthest you are prepared to travel? Are there restrictions on the hours you can work? Do you want to work in the commercial or public sector, or are you not fussed? Its no good applying for jobs that are not the right fit for you, so you must sort out the basics first otherwise you will be wasting a lot of valuable time.
Make your CV work for you
When a prospective employer looks at your CV they should instantly understand what you have done in the past and how your experience lives up to their job requirements. Your CV should be simple, clear and not contain any jargon. Firstly it must contain up to date contact information and where you live. You should then list your key skills, no more than five lines outlining your best abilities. Next you need to go back five years in your work history, employers are not interested in what you did twenty years ago believe me! Each job you list should contain roughly eight to ten bullet points outlining your day to day duties and responsibilities. Next comes your education and any training courses you have completed or professional qualifications you have, employers do not want to know about your swimming certificates or scouting badges so keep everything work related. Finally you need to tell the employer something about yourself in terms of your hobbies and what you do in your spare time, socializing with friends and family does not count as an interest because unless you are a hermit everyone does this.
Write a winning cover letter
There is some debate around whether or not cover letters are necessary, but I say in this day and age anything that will help you to get a job is a worth doing. There are some rules though. Firstly they should be bespoke, you need to write one for each application you make, one fit won’t work. Secondly they should be short and sweet. Lastly they should state the job you are applying for, why you believe you are suitable for the position and what you can bring to the company ie: state the number of years experience you have in that field and knowledge you can offer.
Sell yourself on LinkedIn
Lots of employers these days believe if you are not on LinkedIn you don’t exist. You need to look at your CV and ensure that it promotes your professional credibility and helps you get noticed. Once you get your LinkedIn page up to date you’ll likely be surprised at how much more attention your profile will get. Some tips I would give you include getting a professional profile photo, preferably a headshot. Have an engaging headline, not just your current job title, for example “Super Capable PA”, state your work experience, highlight your career achievements and include your education and professional qualifications. Make sure you proofread your profile carefully, it is essential that it is completely accurate.
Sort out your references
You don’t need to include a list of references on your CV but you should have a list of professional options ready to go. Keep in mind that most employers have a fairly strict policy around references and typically will only confirm your job title, dates of employment and reason for leaving information to a prospective employer, so secure personal references from people who would be comfortable speaking about you from a personal level.
Sort out your social media
Most potential employers will check out a potential employees social media and will probably start by googling you. So it is important that your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other platforms you have are set to private. If they aren’t you need to scrub your accounts clean of any controversial or inappropriate content. If a drunken photo of you or a rant about your current/ previous employer are the first things that pop up when a potential employer checks you out you probably won’t get the job. Social media can also have a positive impact on your job search if you use it wisely.
Know where to look for a job
Identifying your job-search resources is a crucial step in finding a job. There are tons of ways to find job opportunities but the most common ones are online job boards, Recruitment Agencies, Job Centers, Company career pages and networking. Once you have identified your resources try them all. Times are hard and you need to keep all your options open. Monitor your responses. For example if you apply for a bunch of jobs through an industry specific job board and never hear anything back but get good responses whenever you apply through an Agency you’ll want to focus more of your time in this area.
Work your mates
It is highly likely that you could get your next job through someone you know so its essential that you network. Make sure people know you are looking for a new job. Don’t be shy about reaching out to your friends. You never know their employer may be looking for a new staff member and you could fit the bill. Just make sure your message is not too vague. Lastly don’t miss people out even if you think its highly unlikely they will know of anything, at the moment you can’t afford to be selective.
Plan a “I’ll Get A Job” schedule
Looking for a job can be time consuming, so the more organized you are, the easier the process will be. Try setting up alerts on your favorite job boards and scheduling time to browse postings on a daily basis. Job applications can be a bit of a numbers game, the more often you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to get an interview. Timing is everything and apparently the best day of the week to apply for a new job is Monday (finally Mondays are good for something) whilst the worst day of the week to apply is Friday (this is because people are winding down for the weekend) but my advise is as soon as you see a job that is right for you apply immediately, never delay, get your CV in front of the employer first, they’ll probably only look at the first dozen, so if you delay chances are your CV will go straight in the bin.
Chase, chase and chase again
Currently employers are receiving tons of applications for any jobs they are advertising, so being right for the job may not be enough to get you noticed. You need to get on the employers radar as this will greatly improve your chance of scoring an interview. Hop onto Linkedin and search for details of the HR Manager or line Manager in the company you are targeting. Once you’ve identified this, its time to craft a message. An example of this could be “I recently applied for your customer service position and wanted to follow up with you directly to ask if there is any additional information you may need from me in order to move forward my application as I am very interested in this role would love to work for your Company” all messages should demonstrate your genuine interest in the job and be warm and friendly.
Improve your communication
Assuming your CV lands you an interview you’ll want to brush up on your phone and email etiquette. Ditch silly answerphone messages and email addresses. Sexybabe or Upthehammers is hardly professional. Make sure your voicemail box is not full and proof read/spell check each and every message you prepare before hitting the “send” button.
Work on your interview skills
Feeling well -prepared and confident about your interview skills will have a tremendous impact on your success. Make sure you have carefully studied the job description so you know what the job entails. Develop a solid understanding of what the Company does. Practice explaining your experience in a nutshell. Have a list of relevant questions about the job or company prepared. Above all practice answering some commonly asked interview questions. Above all be punctual, dress smartly and smile! Being friendly and being liked will take you a long way towards getting a job offer.
Compose a wonderful thank you note
A great thank you note can seal the deal, so be sure you send one after any interview you have. Notes sent on the same day as the interview seem to have the biggest impact. Here’s a simple example to get you started “Hi Name, Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I enjoyed learning more about your position and would love the opportunity of joining your team. I look forward to hearing from you soon but please keep free to contact me if you any extra information”
It’s not a market to try and negotiate in
In the past salaries, benefits, hours etc. have generally been negotiable. At the very least employers have had a flexible attitude and you probable have been able to wrangle a little bit more money or more flexible hours. Unfortunately at the moment those days are in the past. There are generally 100s of candidates available for any role advertised. Employers are king. If you are not happy with a job offer you have received someone else will be. I’m not saying undervalue yourself, or take a huge pay cut, but be reasonable. It may mean you have to take a 10% pay cut to get your foot in the door, but if you think that in the long run it will be worth it then do it. Be very wary about trying to negotiate at the moment as it will probably result in the job offer being retracted. Equally don’t sell yourself short.
It is a horrendous time at the moment and the forecast is it will get worse before it gets better, but where there is a will there is a way. We are placing people into both temporary and permanent jobs at the moment, but the people we are placing are those who are seriously making an effort and doing the right things to obtain employment. It is also those with the right attitude, the flexibility, the work ethic and the determination. You will definitely get a job if you go about it the right way.