How to Get a Job – Secret Tips That No One Tells You

Handy hints for landing that new job!
September 2, 2020 by Stuart Smale

Job hunting is a challenge and it can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially in a rapidly changing market. You’ll be familiar with time-worn advice about keeping your CV up to date and being pro-active in your search, but in today’s climate, it’s more important than ever to have a clear strategy of how you’re going to structure your job hunt, how you’re going to handle the inevitable knock-backs and how you’re going to keep your applications fresh.

How to Develop Your Job-hunting Strategy

Before you even think about applying for a job, you need to be sure you are a good fit, and that you know how to capture the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager. You need to be able to put together a killer CV, nail the trickiest interview questions, and let your personality shine through. It is not easy, but being well prepared will allay those nerves a little so that you can truly stand out. Let’s take a look at how to do this:

See Your Job Search As a Career in Itself

Adapt your mindset so you regard your job-search as your current career. Structure your week so that you spend a number of days looking for available posts, a number of hours polishing and adapting your CV and a number of hours networking and forging new contacts. If you notice gaps in your knowledge, then set aside time for self-development or volunteer work to improve and maintain your employability. Maintaining regular hours and routine will help you keep focused too.

Set Clear Goals

Goal setting is an invaluable skill in any job, and there is no better way to make sure you are ready for your new career than by creating clear, measurable goals for your job search.

• Think about what type of career you want – talk to a career coach, family, friends, and educators.
• Be clear – knowing you want to work in a particular area is great but dig down to discover what strands are available. A bit of research will show you where your skills and personality will be most needed.
• Be realistic – aiming for the CEO desk is admirable but look at the steps you need to take to get there. Career planning is a long haul skill.

This groundwork will give you the foundation for a successful search, even if you hit a patch where things seem impossible.

Get Your House in Order

Before you start your search in earnest you may need to do a little housekeeping

• Make sure your CV and cover letter are up to date and develop a customisable template
• Gather a list of two or three references and their contact details
• Create a profile on professional networking sites
• Create a way of tracking your applications and responses
• Consider setting up a separate email account for your job search, to be sure you do not accidentally delete or overlook any crucial correspondence.

Create a Bespoke CV for Each Application

1. Approach your friends, family, colleagues and career advisor, or even a professional CV service, for help to make your CV shine. Getting the basics like education and qualifications right is simple, but a fresh pair of eyes may see skills and experience that you have missed or could be highlighted.

2. Adapt your CV and cover letter for every job. You are likely to be one of many candidates for a position, so it is vital that you stand out. Mirror the language used in the job description and include genuine reasons why you want to work for this particular company. Make it absolutely clear that you understand the skills required and that you are the absolute best person to deliver them. For example, if you’re hiding a crucial skill at the bottom of your CV, move it further up to a place of real prominence. Creating a bespoke CV may take a little more effort, but it is more likely to reap a positive reward than sending out a dozen generic applications.

3. Keep it simple. Adapting your CV does not mean a complete rewrite each time. A good template will mean you have got all the factual details like education, qualifications and contacts in place, and you simply need to highlight specific personal attributes or experience to show you are the best fit for this particular job.

Expand Your Resources

Online searching is instant and easy, but there is a host of other ways to get yourself into the job market. Explore career counselling services and social media to find out about ad-hoc opportunities in your chosen field (this is especially useful if you are looking outside the conventional jobs market) and expand your contacts by attending careers fairs. Online searches will show up various job boards so you can sign up for daily or weekly email alerts, to make sure you never miss an opportunity and keep a close eye on what is available in your chosen sector.

Another often overlooked approach is to seek out potential employers and send a speculative application. Take the same steps with your CV as if you were making a regular application by including things that show you have researched the company and thought about your place in it. This method is a great way to get ahead of the crowd, and while it takes some perseverance, it only takes one well-aimed CV to secure an interview.

Recruitment agencies can also be invaluable – they often get the first inkling of available jobs and building up a good personal relationship will mean you are first in mind when a dream vacancy comes up.

Go Old School

Who uses the phone to make a call these days? It might seem like a really old fashioned idea but making personal contact by phone may be just what your application needs. A cheerful follow-up call can bring that personal touch that catapults your CV from languishing in an overflowing inbox to being read by the person who matters. Time your call carefully though – Monday morning or Friday afternoon are likely to have a less positive result than a quiet Wednesday. To track down contact details, head to LinkedIn or the company website.

Research, Research, Research

When you have found an opportunity that seems just right, delve into the nitty-gritty of the hiring company. Find out about their company ethos and how they structure their work environment, as well as things like the salary range and benefits. Knowing you share the same values with your employers goes a long way to ensuring job satisfaction.

Research will help with the practical things too, like understanding who’s who and the company structure. It is essential that you have a sound understanding of the products and services on offer – being the expert shows you are serious about working for this company in particular.

Use your research to tailor your CV and cover letter, as well as helping you decide details like what to wear for your interview. You want to show that you are a perfect fit for your chosen company and matching their look and style will go a long way.

Confidence Is King

Do not be put off if you are missing some of the specified requirements. A recruiter will be attracted to a candidate with buckets of motivation and a solid understanding of the role over someone with everything on paper but little that shows a genuine spark of interest.

Be open about the areas that you are lacking and highlight why you feel you will be a great addition to their team. Focus on your ability to learn new skills (this is where that origami course may come in handy) and show how your own ethics and values match with those of your chosen company.

Talk to Those in the Know

Informal chats or “informational interviews” are a way of discovering if you are a good fit for a particular role. They give you chance to speak with a professional in your chosen field about the day-to-day of the role, gain an understanding of what experience, qualifications and attributes are essential, and may be a way to pick up some tips for your job search.

After doing some research, write a letter to those you identify as having similar roles. Introduce yourself and explain your career aspirations and why you think an informational interview with them would be helpful. It is a good idea to draw up a list of questions too, just in case nerves get the better of you.

Be the Best You Can in Your Current Role

If you are looking to move on, it is easy to fall out of love with your current role. The working world is surprisingly small though and maintaining positive relations will benefit you throughout your career. You will need references and may rely on current colleagues for opportunities further down the line. A professional attitude is essential for every career and even if you are in a job you dislike, you can see it as an opportunity to develop your ability to perform at your very best despite personal circumstance.

Expand Your Network

People hire people and cultivating your network is a fantastic way to uncover potential career opportunities. Get chatting at seminars and social events and let people know what kind of thing you are looking for. You may well discover unlisted job openings or new connections. You want to make a fabulous impression so be sure to ask a lot about the person you are talking to as well – everyone loves to talk about themselves and you will be remembered fondly for showing genuine interest.

Be a Star

Captivating stories and concrete examples have more impact than a list of facts. Part of your planning is about identifying which of your skills and experiences make you a perfect match for your role. Build a STAR – situation, task, action, result – story or two into your repertoire to use in your cover letter, interviews, or networking opportunities.

Get Interview Ready

Practice is key to a successful interview. Research common questions, as well as ones specific to your chosen industry, create responses and practise them with someone willing to stand in as a potential employer. Practice will mean you feel prepared and help you feel more confident when you go into your interview. Do not be afraid of your nerves though – they are completely natural and show you are doing something you care about. Remember every person interviewing you will have been in your shoes at some point, and never underestimate the value of a big broad smile.

Stay in Touch

After your interview, get in touch with the person responsible for recruitment, or the person who interviewed you. Send a note thanking them for their time, and the valuable experience you have gained from the interview. You may not hear back, so follow up again in a week or so with a phone call or email to show your enthusiasm for the role. Remember to keep looking for other opening and opportunities while you wait to hear.

Coping With Rejections

You may strike lucky and be accepted at your very first application. The likelihood is you will receive many letters saying “you’re not what we’re looking for at this stage” or even worse just not get a reply. It takes an average of 24 applications to land a job, and if your chosen field is particularly popular, or going through lean times, you can expect to experience many “no’s” before you land a yes.

When you get a rejection, allow yourself a day to wallow, to bemoan how unfair it is, and to wail about how you will never get a job. Then get straight back on the search. Spend some time looking at why you may not have been successful. is there a gap in your experience? Could you improve your skills or qualifications? If there is, then get a plan together to plug the gap.

Remember hiring someone rests on many things and often it is the tiny details that make the difference. Sometimes it is as simple as your not being quite right for the company – and it is better to know now than end up in a job that is not for you. Even though it feels horrible at the time, an unsuccessful application is a chance to start over and make sure you have everything in place to make the best of your next opportunity.

Is the managing director of Cobra Payday Loans and Ready Money Capital Limited. He is responsible for all the day to day functions and performance of both companies and regularly contributes information on the short term finance sector. Stuart is an approved person with the Financial Conduct Authority, holding SMF3 (Executive Director) status.

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