Spring clean your career

With Spring just around the corner, now’s the time to focus on where you’re headed with your career, and get motivated to find the job you want this year.

Working out what you really want to do is half the battle when it comes to looking for a job. Start by deciding if it’s a new job doing what you already do but somewhere else, or a total career change that you want. Then be honest about what is making you feel that way. Perhaps you feel stuck in a rut, or you don’t like the people you work with. Maybe you fell into what you do now, but have never really loved it.

Dealing with change

Money is not the only thing that motivates people and not everyone jumps out of bed in the morning full of excitement at the prospect of going to work, but if you don’t at least like what you do – or where you do it –then it could be time for a change.

Change is scary for most of us but the thing to remember is that if you really want to do it, it can be done – and it’s easier if you get yourself organised from the start.

Hurry slowly

There’s nothing to be gained by rushing into change, so if you spend some time planning your next move it will pay off.

Having said that, don’t procrastinate. Lots of people put off going after the job of their dreams until their student loan is paid off, they’re a bit older or other such excuses. None of these are proper reasons for delaying what you want to do. In fact, the real reason is probably quite simply that they are afraid.

Start where you are

The first thing to do is get your CV in order, as this is often the first thing an employer sees.

Keep it to a maximum of two pages, printed on white or cream paper, with no fancy fonts, and double check that your contact details, company names, and dates of employment, education and experience are correct, and also that they are true.

Tailor your CV for each job you apply for, making sure it clearly shows how you have the experience required, as well as matching any key words mentioned in the job specification, and don’t forget to check that your referees are happy to be contacted.

Decide where you want to be

Once you know what you want to do, you need to decide the kind of company you’d like to work for – a government agency, a big international business, or a smaller company; there are plenty of options to choose from.

Reasons you might want to work for a particular organisation include:

• They are the best in their field
• They win awards for their work
• They are an ethical organisation
• Staff advance quickly
• There are opportunities for travel

Plan your job hunt

The prospect of job hunting can seem pretty daunting but the best way to go about it is to treat it like you would any other project. If you are not working then you will have plenty of time for job hunting. If you currently have a job then you will have to fit your search in around work, which can take a bit more planning. Make lists, have a strategy, set goals and deadlines for yourself, and do a bit at a time, but do something every day.

Where to look

Once you start looking you’ll see jobs advertised all over the place – from local and national papers, to recruitment agencies, company websites, e-newsletters, job centres and social media sites. Keep your eye on as many of these as possible, and don’t forget to tell your friends and family that you are on the lookout for a new job. You never know who your contacts might know, and how they could help.

Go direct

If you can’t find a job you want through any of the channels mentioned above, it’s always worth contacting the companies you want to work for directly. Even if they don’t have any vacancies right now, you can get to know the person who looks after the hiring side of things, which might even mean that you get to hear about positions that are coming up before they are advertised.

Work for free

If you have some time on your hands, or if you don’t seem to be making progress finding a job you want, then consider volunteering or interning for a while. By offering to work for free for companies operating in the field you want to work in, you can make valuable contacts, gain experience and see if it really is the kind of job you want to do.

In the end, a combination of being organised, tenacious, patient and positive will get you where you want to be. Think of all the people whose careers you admire and spot the link between them – they never gave up.

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