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Plan and Prepare
Many people rush at a job search and apply for roles they have little interest in or are unlikely to be shortlisted for as their experience does not match. Not only will this pretty much guarantee rejection, it will knock your confidence and make recruiters take you less seriously. Similarly, if you approach agencies with an unclear target job, you are not likely to find success. Slow down, take time to look at yourself and your confidence levels; consider how equipped you feel to summarise your strengths.
Make a short list
Before you become a one-person marketing machine, think about your skills and strengths. Do you know what you’re looking for? What job titles are relevant to you? Can you list your main skills? Do you have evidence of achievements? Which employers appeal to you and why?
Don’t be afraid of rejection
Rejection is not necessarily a bad thing it is part of finding the right job for you; you also have to make sure you find the right opportunity and company to suit you – it is a two-way deal! But do make sure you apply for relevant vacancies that actually suit your experience.
Before you begin drafting a CV or attend any interviews, list all your previous work experience. Draw up a long, unfiltered list of what you’ve done. Go over every part of your experience which looks like work, including part-time, temporary, unpaid posts and work placements. List every skill you learned and practised, sectors where you have work experience and anything that looks like an achievement. Then look at volunteering, your studies and activities outside work. Try to gather several pages of material before deciding on the primary message for the lead part of your CV.
Decide on your main strengths
Anyone who recommends you is likely to pass on only three or four items of information about you – your experience, ability and personality. You have more control over this process than you think.
Think about the first few sentences of your CV make it a strong introduction. Make sure the words are positive, memorable and clearly outline what you want to achieve. How likely is it that someone will repeat this information? Do you make clear what you have to offer and the kind of role you’d like to find?
Research before you go on interview
Do some homework thoroughly before you get there and review it before you go, look at the Company website and career page as quite often companies list their values and staff information on their websites. Also have a good understanding about what the business actually does, and also why you want to work there. Don’t just repeat information from the organisation’s website – try to speak to people who know what the organisation is trying to achieve and the kind of people they’re currently looking for. A good agency should support you with a lot of this information.
Take care with your CV
Don’t be under the illusion that you should send out your CV widely in the early stages of your job search. It’s far better to talk to people about your career ideas and gather information than to send out a poorly drafted document, which will close more doors than it opens. You may be secretly pleased with your CV but it’s vital to show it to someone with hiring experience. Ask for a summary rather than an opinion. For example, don’t ask “what do you think of my CV?”, ask “what does my CV tell you about what I can do next?” If the answer is brief and makes sense, your CV is probably working.
Get interview practice if you can
Many jobseekers waste real job interviews as practice sessions. Interviews are hard enough to get; don’t waste them by making basic errors. Find someone who has interviewed staff and ask them to help you do a dummy run and get feedback. Practice short, but clear answers to tricky questions about gaps in your employment or why you’re job seeking right now. Don’t ignore vital job-related topics or the dull but obvious questions, such as ‘tell us about your strengths and weaknesses’. Be careful not to talk too much or too little stick to the subjects and maybe ask the interviewer – does that answer the question for you? Is there anything else you would like to know?
Be open minded
There is no reason why you cannot approach companies you are interested in working for even if they are not advertising a job, build relationships with the right recruitment agencies who can do this for you and with you, talk to people in interesting roles and sectors, and research. But be prepared to put in some effort and act on advice that you are given too. You might need to change the emphasis on you CV to suit certain jobs – it is worth the effort.
Write a good cover letter
When you apply for a position make sure you bring out all the relevant experience you have for THAT specific role. Your agency again can help you do this and when they represent you, they should be doing this on your behalf. But please remember to spend some time helping them understand your requirements and also the companies that you are interested in working for as well as the ones that you are not interested in – this will help them get a true picture of your motivators and needs for the new role.
Registered Office: 8 St Loyes Street Bedford MK40 1EP
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Bedford (Head Office) - Tel: 01234 210025 Milton Keynes - Tel: 01908 695599 Biggleswade - Tel: 01767 316767 Huntingdon - Tel: 01480 459141 Northampton - Tel: 01604 212169