Ten steps to your next job
At the beginning of your job search you need to get into a positive frame of mind. Yes, the market is tough but there are jobs out there. With determination and a good understanding of how to manage a professional job search you will succeed.
Follow these ten steps to job search success…
1.) Consider setting up a dedicated email address for your job search. This way you know that every email coming into that address is related to your job search and there will be no chance of mixing up personal and “business” emails. You could also get a dedicated phone and phone number. A cheap mobile and a “pay as you go” SIM card is all you need. Now you will know that any calls coming through on that phone will be related to your job search. Recruiters often call for an impromptu telephone interview and this way when you answer your “job search” phone you know it’s going to be an important call that needs to be answered professionally.
2.) You really need to develop an excellent CV that will ensure that you stand out from the crowd. Don’t be like 90% of job hunters and send off the same old CV for every job. Take the time to customise your CV for every job application. It’s quality not quantity that counts. You should carefully read the job advertisement or job specification, pick out the “essential skills and experience” required and then make absolutely sure that your CV and covering letter clearly demonstrate that you really do have the required experience. Do that for every job application and you will see a dramatic improvement in the number of times you get short-listed for interview.
3.) Check your CV and application letter for typos or grammatical errors. With so many CVs to review many recruiters say that ALL CVs or application letters with mistakes just go straight in the bin! Proofread your CV, use your spell checker and then get a friend or family member to check it for you. Most recruiters and employers will assume that if your CV is written carelessly then that attitude will also carry over into your attitude to work. It’s so simple and yet plenty of CVs (even from very senior managers) have typos and grammatical errors.
4.) Provide examples of your recent achievements that closely match the requirements of the job. A lot of CVs simply list duties and responsibilities but don’t spell out the value provided to the employer. Use the Action AND Result model to add impact to some of the achievements in your CV. Compare “Led a team of 20 staff” with “Led a team of 20 staff that hit their sales targets every quarter” or compare “Introduced a new incentive scheme” with “Introduced a new incentive scheme that reduced staff turnover by 20%.
5.) Make good use of the Internet as part of your job search. That doesn’t mean just browsing the Internet job boards. Register on the main job boards and set up searches so that you can be notified by email or text about jobs that match your skills. Upload your CV to selected job sites and make it public so that recruiters can search and find your details and call you for jobs that match your experience. Optimise your profile on professional networking sites like LinkedIn to create a recruiter friendly profile using all the right key words for your particular skills and experience. You can search for jobs on all the different job boards plus LinkedIn but you can make even better use of your time by using some of the aggregate jobs boards (e.g. www.indeed.co.uk) that collate jobs advertisements from dozens of different job boards and company web sites and list them all in one search.
6.) Look for unadvertised jobs. You may be surprised to learn that the jobs advertised in the press and on the Internet represent a small proportion of the number of actual jobs available. When there are plenty of candidates available (like now) many employers and recruiters cut back on expensive advertising and turn to other ways of recruiting staff. Try using Google Alerts to get a free press service and hear about possible opportunities and then make speculative job applications to potential employers. Read more about finding and applying for unadvertised vacancies here. (Link to my other post here!)
7.) Once you actually get short-listed and invited to an interview make sure that you perform at your best on the day. So many interviewers complain that interviewees frequently let themselves down by turning up late and inappropriately dressed. Even worse are the interviewees who don’t listen to the questions and clearly haven’t done any kind of preparation before the interview. Set yourself apart from the other candidates by demonstrating that you have done your homework; plan to spend at least two hours researching the organization and the interviewers (Use the company web site but also try using LinkedIn) to find out more about the company and the interviewer. Demonstrate your motivation and commitment by speaking with real passion about your experience. Prepare your answers to some of the most commonly asked interview questions:
Tell us about yourself
What do you know about us?
Why do you want to work for us?
What are your key strengths?
Why should we hire you?
Practice your answers using your video camera or ask a trusted friend or family member to give you feedback on your performance. Practice make perfect!
8.) Don’t forget to prepare your own questions for interviews. Many interviewers say that it is often the interviewee’s questions that reveal their true motivation and commitment to the job. The first interview is not the time to be asking about holidays or working hours! Instead ask smart questions that demonstrate the time you have spent preparing for the interview and your level of knowledge about the employer’s business. Compare “How many days’ vacation do I get?” with “I understand that you are opening an office in New York, how will that effect your sales figures next year?” Or “I see from your accounts that profits increased by 20% last year, do you think you’ll be able to maintain that in the current market conditions?”
9.) Be aware that interview techniques may have changed quite a bit since you last attended an interview. Yes, employers still conduct traditional or biographical interviews but increasingly they are also using behavioural or competency interviews to probe your past experience and test your fit for a particular job. Questions that begin with: “Can you tell us about a time..” or “Can you give us an example…” are almost certainly competency questions. Use the STAR technique: Situation/Task and the Action and Result model to answer these questions effectively. Using this powerful technique will keep you on track when you answer competency interview questions. Most interviewers will assume that your very structured answers will also be reflected in your approach to your work.
10.) Very often employers use Assessment Centres as part of their selection process. These may be half day or full day events run for a number of candidates. They are typically used for graduate jobs but increasingly they are also used in the selection of more experienced staff particularly where there are multiple vacancies. Assessment Centres may include traditional biographical interviews and competency interviews but will also include a number of other activities including ability tests and occupational personality tests. These psychometric tests are designed to test your innate abilities and your unique personality. You cannot change these factors, but there are a number of websites where you can practice and become familiar with the format of the tests. Visit the SHL site to practice a variety of tests for free. At least with practice you will be familiar with the format of the tests and will then be able to perform to the best of your ability at the Assessment Centre.
Following these ten simple steps should get you started on the on the right track. Good luck with your job search!