Advice for Job Seekers – find a job using these tipsNatalie Lewis
Struggling to find a job? Through no fault of your own, you’ve found yourself out of work. You have bills to pay and yourself/family to feed. You’re panicking about the future. Whether or not you’ve been through a traumatic redundancy process, you are most likely in a state of grieving and shock. This is really common and perfectly natural. However, you need to act now and get on top of things.
I wanted to provide some advice to anyone currently struggling. I don’t often write articles aimed at employees but I’ve drawn upon my knowledge from having been both a job seeker and a hiring manager in the past. Now as an HR consultant, I work with small businesses to hire the best people and those best suited to the company culture. I’ve also spoken with my business friends and associates to give you a wide range of advice.
So, if you’re ready to read and apply this guidance to find a job, I know it will put you above the other candidates you’ll be up against.
I’m out of work, where do I start?
I would personally recommend that you take some time to take stock and think hard about what you want the future to look like. Often, we are guilty of jumping on the treadmill of work and getting sucked into the daily grind. What did you want to do when you were younger? Do you have any aspirations to set up your own business? What does your ideal job look and feel like?
It is important to make the distinction between your short term priorities (find a job to pay the bills) and your longer term vision (your ideal job/what your life looks like in 3-5 years time). Remember to sign on for Job Seeker’s Allowance. If you’ve received redundancy pay then you won’t get a huge amount upfront but it’s still worth it.
Andrew Collier, Andrew Collier Photography gives some fantastic advice;
“Don’t panic and don’t beat yourself up. This isn’t your fault.
Take time to rest and to think about what you want to do next. Make a list of all financial commitments and available funds. If necessary, arrange payment holidays on whatever you can; mortgage, car, council tax etc. Identify and apply for whatever financial help you can get in terms of benefits. That will give you time to plan your next move. You may need a short term job fix but this may be an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to. Don’t be frightened to give it a go.”
Jan Cavelle, Writer, Author, and Speaker, (semi-retired entrepreneur) backs up our advice;
“Look at it as an opportunity to follow your dreams. Unless it was totally the most amazing job you have ever dreamed of, make a bucket list of all those things you have wanted to do. See this as an opportunity of re-arranging your life to get to them. It may mean scrabbling around doing some shite job to bring in some money in the meanwhile, but don’t focus on that. Focus on the big opportunity.”
I know what I want to apply for, what’s next?
Elizabeth Bellamy, Experienced Solicitor/Practice Manager is spot on with her advice;
“Make a list of what parts of your last job you enjoyed and what you didn’t. Then use that to start thinking about what you should look for in a new role. It’s not an easy market at the moment so you may need to compromise however at least you have a better perspective.”
Once you know what you’re looking for, stick to that one thing. Don’t be tempted to get pulled off course and apply for everything that you see. If you’ve done as advised above and you’ve bought yourself time with payment holidays and simple cost-cutting exercises, you shouldn’t need to panic at this stage. You will find a job.
Get yourself organised – set up a folder and a spreadsheet of the jobs you apply for, where you found it, the link to the job advert, salary details, job title and close date. You can do this online or you can do it on paper. Whatever works for you.
You’ll need to prepare yourself a CV to find a job and there are plenty of online templates that you can pull off the internet. More on that later.
It’s a good idea to list out all of your skills and attributes – what are you really good at? This will help you focus on the positives that you can bring to a new company and should give you confidence too. If you can add examples of your skills and experience, that will also help you when it comes to interview questions.
This may sound like a load of faff because “you just need a bloody job” but I promise, the prep work that you do will definitely pay off.
Is a CV important and how do I write one?
CVs are old school and have been around since time began (well, not really but they are archaic!!) however, if you’re looking to find a job, you are going to need one.
On top of a traditional CV some businesses are also asking for video CVs or introductions. Don’t be put off by these because guess what!? A hell of a lot of other people will be put off, so make sure you grab the bull by its dangly bits and be first in line.
Back to the CV and the joys of writing one…
You need to stand out!
If you’re changing job roles or applying for multiple types of role then I would recommend that you have a skills based CV. This show cases your skills AND experience. Many employers will look at transferable skills, even if you haven’t got actual on-the-job experience.
With a skills based CV you list your skills such as ‘communication skills’, ‘sales skills’, ‘negotiating skills’, ‘administration skills’ and explain what you can do using those examples that you wrote earlier. Underneath that, you then list your experience/job history.
There’s nothing wrong with a traditional experience/job history based CV but I always find that when I’m sifting through CV applications for clients, the skills based ones really jump out at me.
You may need to have both styles of CV. If you’re using recruitment agencies they tend to have their own format and most of them like the job history version without any fancy formatting.
Ultimately you’re going to need a strong CV with a good personal statement. All the jobs boards and most employers will ask for one.
Don’t just bullet point what you did at a company – bullet point the effect it had. If you can state money saved or made for a company then put that in too. What would a hiring manager want to read? Do not bullshit! You may need to provide evidence to back your claims.
You can make it look pretty with fancy graphics but remember that substance is better than prettiness! Keep it to no longer than 2 pages and if you have a long job history, cut it off at the last 3-5 years. No one needs to know that you did a paper-round in the 80s!
List your qualifications and any relevant training that you’ve done but you don’t need to list every GCSE and the grades. Unless the job calls for it, in which case, be guided by the job advert and job description.
If you’re crap at spelling and grammar, download Grammarly or ask a friend to proofread your CV before you send it anywhere. Many CVs get rejected because of poor spelling or typos. And finally, please please please do not write a CV in shorthand or text message language!
How do I find jobs to apply for?
Your starting point should be the online job sites such as Indeed, Monster, CV library etc. Then register with recruitment agencies. You can also check the local papers and online press. Also, ask around!
First, put your CV on the job boards and use them to search and apply for the jobs you deem suitable. When sending your CV off for a job, make sure you write a cover letter!
A cover letter should be written bespoke to the job so read the job advert carefully and write something that reflects what the recruiting company is looking for (don’t be lazy and copy/paste).
You may get inundated with recruitment agencies calling you to sign you up. Yes it’s frustrating but do keep a list of who you’ve signed up with and ring them on a weekly basis for an update on whether they have work or suitable jobs.
Claire Statham, Recruiter for Joanne Finnerty Recruitment gives you this advice;
“Register with recruitment agencies to assist you in your search. Listen to their advice regarding any CV updates. Also keep a spreadsheet of your applications so you know where your CV is going and for what job. This makes it easier to track if you are offered an interview.”
Anne Cannings, Coach/Consultant
“When you do find something that looks like a good match for you and your future path, read it carefully, do your research, and tailor your response, especially key phrases to get through any automated sifting. Balance the compromises with the opportunity, there’s rarely a perfect fit. Oh, and if you are applying for quite a few, decent filing!”
How do I use social media to help me find a job?
By far the best social media platform for job hunting is LinkedIn. Sign up, fill in your profile and add a really good photo. Not one where you’re on a night out or half-naked. Ask a friend to take a nice headshot of you smiling and try to look normal!! Make sure it’s good quality. First impressions count and considering that many recruiters will search and stalk you on social media before putting you forward for a job, you need to make sure you’re putting out a professional image.
Chris Dear, Technical Director at Absolute Alignment has these tips;
“Let people know you are available for work and from what date. Don’t just post on LinkedIn, call your contacts in the past and to let them know you’re looking for work. They will know what is available and suitable to offer you advice.”
Write a post and let people know that you’re looking for a new job, include the sort of work you want. LinkedIn now has a widget that allows you to put a green banner on your picture that lets others know that you’re looking for work. I’d also recommend that you message your contacts and ask them if they know of anything suitable.
There are plenty of other tips on how to use LinkedIn effectively for job searching – have a Google or you could sign up to Danielle Mills’ ‘Dream Job Project’ which will guide you through the whole process and give you templates to boot!
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are also worth having a look at. They are good platforms to let your friends and family know that you’re available for work but you should be specific when posting. Let people know what sort of work you’re after and a salary bracket if possible.
How to stand out of the crowd when applying for jobs
Treat job hunting like a job. Work at it 9am-5pm. Trawl the job boards, apply for jobs, call companies and ask for work, go to interviews, ring job agencies. Be totally and utterly relentless!
I always recommend that you research local companies that you might like to work for and ring them. Be proactive in asking if they have any vacancies available.
If you see a job advert on the job boards, apply for it, log it in your spreadsheet and then try to ring the company and speak to the hiring manager or HR to put yourself forward. You may have to do some searching on the internet to find a telephone number – perhaps look on LinkedIn for the name of the hiring manager. You need to put your Sherlock Holmes hat on and do some digging but I am always far more impressed when a candidate proactively rings me about a job advert.
Read job adverts carefully and read to the end. If it asks for a cover letter, send one! If it asks you to complete an application form, do it. Sometimes you’ll be asked to complete a skills test or psychometric test – do it!
So many good CVs go rejected because the applicant failed to read the full job advert and missed instructions at the end.
How do I do well at interview?
So, you’ve been asked to attend an interview – congratulations! Don’t take your foot off the gas just yet!
When offered an interview, research the company thoroughly. Email and ask them for the full job description.
Know their vision and values (have a Google!), and how you will fit in with those.
Know what value you can bring to the business and how your skills and experience will fit in. Have examples that you can confidently talk about.
Get comfortable with talking about yourself positively.
Always turn up at least 5 minutes early (whether online or in-person).
Be polite to everyone you meet, especially reception staff!
Be clean and dress neatly. First impressions count!
In the interview itself, be yourself. Don’t worry about nerves, anyone hiring will know that you are nervous – most interviewers are nervous too! (Top secret!) It’s also ok to admit you’re nervous, in fact, that often helps for you to then put them behind you and crack on. Remember that the people asking you questions are human too!
Prepare some good questions to ask about the company such as asking the interviewers about the culture of the business, where the company is heading, what’s important for them to see from a candidate etc. Also, don’t be afraid to ask them things that are important to you; maybe, how they’re encouraging diversity or any environmental initiatives they may have.
What if I’m not successful?
Let’s face it job hunting is a numbers game. You need to put in a lot of effort before it pays off. Also, I am a big believer in fate and if you don’t fit the company or the role, you won’t be happy long term.
Do not get put off by rejection. Keep trying and stay positive. If you can ask for feedback then do it. Use the feedback constructively to make changes to your interview technique in future.
If you get rejected, go back to working on your job search 9am-5pm, apply the ‘stand out from the crowd’ tips and keep going.
What if I am successful?
Well, congratulations! Now is the time you need to really impress!
When you do get a job, it can be tempting to moan about your old place of work or event compare. Don’t! Yes, you can suggest improvements in a constructive manner but get your head down, build relationships, get on with learning the job. Be positive around your new colleagues and never be afraid to ask for help.
Redundancy can take a while to process and sometimes the next role suffers, a bit like going through a bad relationship – never complain to your new partner about the old one. It ain’t sexy!
I’m not a recruiter so I cannot actively help you find work, as much as I’d love to be able to reply to every request and email from job seekers, it would take me away from my primary focus which is helping small businesses to grow and become more profitable with their people at the centre.
I wish you every success in finding new work.
P.s. If you’ve found this article useful, please share it around. If you want to copy elements of it, give me a mention and backlink to this orignal please.