Moving On…

John Lees, author of the best-selling How To Get A Job You’ll Love, looks at ways of motivating yourself to begin an active job search

What makes an effective Job Search?
Too many people job search the wrong way – a way that leads to negative feedback, disappointment, and compromise. Because job ads seem like a great place to find real vacancies, many job seekers never move beyond them. If your plan is to find a job just using advertised vacancies, think very carefully. They’re a great source of information about employers and vacancies, but if you only ever seek a job by replying to newspaper and magazine ads, you’re playing the market by lottery rules. You could be up against 3-400 other applicants, and the chances of your CV or application form getting to the top of the pile are pretty slim.

A good job search takes a multi-strategy approach, and takes account of the hidden job market – the jobs that are never advertised. Use a number of strategies simultaneously and you increase your chance of getting an interview by a huge factor.

Don’t miss out on job ads, but when you apply make sure that you really understand what the employer is looking for. Analyse an ad carefully. Take a piece of A4 paper and write out everything you believe to be on the employer’s wish list. Then, alongside, write a list of your own matching qualities and experience.

An effective multi-strategy job search will also include the following activities:

1) Recruitment Consultancies
Establish relationships with key recruitment consultants in your sector. This isn’t just about sending in your CV. Talk to recruiters about the kind of jobs they typically fill. Talk to them about your ambitions. Do your best to get a face-to-face interview – you’re much more likely to be put forward to an employer if you’re remembered.
Remember, though, that recruiters are there to fill jobs rather than to give you free careers advice. You need to be very clear about what kind of role you want, and what you have to offer. Recruiters are, however, very good at giving you objective advice about what your CV says.

2) The Internet
Used intelligently, the Internet is a good tool in a multi-strategy job search. It’s most powerful application is as a research tool – spend at least an hour researching any employer where you are applying for a job. Find out something about where the organisation is going, the key decision makers, the organisation’s strength and style.

Get access to the best job sites, because they will often give you a huge amount of information about who is recruiting, and typical role requirements and rates of pay.
Registering with job boards often makes sense, but don’t make the mistake of spending all day looking at a screen when you could be undertaking step 3…{mospagebreak}

3) Let People Know You’re Looking
The secret of a good job search is visibility. People need to know that you’re looking. Tell your friends, family, colleagues and contacts what kind of role you’re looking for. A large percentage of jobs are filled by word of mouth, but your phone will only ring if someone out there knows what you have to offer.

Find out how to network effectively – in your own style. This often means going to job fairs, exhibitions, local and regional events, and then be curious: ask about roles and organisations, and have a short CV or business card to hand for people who want to take the conversation further.

4) Make Direct Approaches
Don’t wait for employers to advertise. Make a direct approach using a short, clear letter which identifies one key need you have spotted in the employer (a skill shortage, perhaps) and matches it to your main qualities. Don’t waste time writing a long and rambling letter – use short sentences and bullet points. The only point of the letter is to get an employer to glance at the first page of your CV, which should be strong enough to encourage an employer to see you – whether they have a vacancy or not.

5) Have a Clear Message
Before you send off a covering letter or go anywhere near a job interview, know exactly what you are offering. Your ‘offer’ should be simple and concise: the sort of message you could convey in a 30 second interview answer. This message should say something positive about your skills, experience, know-how, and attitude, and should explain why your proposed next step is the right one for you.