Whether you’re in a job already and wanting a change, or still looking for that first position, the new year is the perfect time to polish your job-hunting strategy.
Start by being honest
Deciding what kind of role you want is half the battle when it comes to looking for a job. However, while it’s important to have goals, you’ve got to be realistic. Begin by imagining what your dream role would be. If you have the chance to do a job that you are passionate about then you are more likely to enjoy it, so be honest about what you want to do.
Then be realistic
You can’t expect to walk straight into the job of your dreams without putting in the legwork. If you ask any successful business person how they made it they’d probably tell you they started at the bottom and worked their way up, and that takes time and application. If you don’t have the patience you won’t get the reward.
Skills and experience
Once you have an idea of what you want to do, list your skills and experience to see what matches the requirements of the job you want, and what gaps there are. Talk to others who do what you want to do and ask their advice about the skills you need to boost your chances of getting a job in that field. You can also get more information from The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils, which represents all 25 licensed UK Sector Skills Councils.
Who do you want to work for?
Deciding which company you want to work for, and why, is an important part of the job-hunting process. This is because when you send in your application – and go for interview, if selected – you need to be able to explain why you want to work for this company above any other. Your reasons might be because they are the best in their field, they offer plenty of training, they win awards for their work, or you particularly admire the work of one of their employees or departments.
Plan your job search
Looking for a new job can be daunting, but if you plan it in stages you can avoid getting bogged down in the process. If you are not working then make the most of your free time. If you have a job then you’ll have to fit your search in around work. Set aside a few hours a week to focus on finding vacancies and sending in applications, and stick to it. It might help to put a note in your diary to do this, as if you are making an appointment that you cannot skip.
Where to look
Companies advertise jobs all over the place – from newspapers, to recruitment agencies, their own websites and more – and some don’t advertise at all. Keep an eye on as many of these places as possible. Find out when your local paper comes out so you can apply for jobs you like the look of as soon as possible.
National papers such as The Guardian advertise certain types of jobs on certain days of the week, so work out which jobs appear when so you don’t miss out. Many companies still use recruitment agencies to advertise their vacancies and select candidates for interview, so signing up with these can be a good idea because they do the searching for you.
The power of the Internet
There are hundreds of online job sites advertising thousands of new positions every day – Google ‘job sites’ and you will find them. If you register your details and upload your CV to these they will email you when jobs are posted that match your skills and requirements.
Companies also advertise vacancies on their own sites, and many offer email alerts so you can receive a message whenever they post a new job. Social and professional networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are also good places to look for jobs and make contact with people in the industry you want to work in.
If you find a job you like the look of then don’t hang about. Get your application in as soon as possible because hundreds of other people could be applying for the same position, and some companies get so many applications that they stop reading after the fiftieth one because they simply have too many to deal with.
If you still can’t find the job you want, try contacting companies directly. Call the main switchboard or contact number (find it in the Phonebook or by Googling the company name) and ask for the name and contact details of the person who deals with recruitment. Next, write them a letter or an email explaining why you would like to work for the company, and what kind of role you are looking for.
If you haven’t heard back after a couple of weeks, give them a call to see if they have read your letter, and ask if there are any jobs coming up. Lots of businesses are impressed by people who take the initiative.