Gone are the days when you’d flick through the local paper to find a job – now it’s all about social media, networking and knowing what it is you want!
What do you want to be?
The first step to finding your ideal job is to know what it is you’re looking for. It may sound obvious, but often we think we might like a certain job on paper, only to find that in reality it involves irregular hours, long periods at a desk or lots of time in the car, for instance. Around 35% of our waking hours over a 50 year working life is spent at work – so it’s vital to do a job you enjoy if you can.
Make a list of all the things you would do if you didn’t have to work – and then see if any of those ideas translate into a job. Love to travel? Plenty of jobs offer trips as part of the role, such as lecturing, project management and journalism. Or perhaps you’d enjoy arranging travel for other companies or holidaymakers?
Have a think about what your real skills are – especially the less obvious ones, such as how you’re a great organiser, your never-fading optimism or your ability to come up with good ideas. This will spark your imagination and help you pinpoint areas you’d never considered.
Use social media to your advantage
Of course you are on social media – it promotes you and is a good job-hunting tool as you can deal direct with recruiters. Chances are you have a social media account on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram. Long gone are the days when these platforms were used just to see where your mate went on holiday or to show off your latest buy.
Use each one as an individual tool and make them independent of each other – don’t link the accounts otherwise potential employers might see things you’d rather keep private. Facebook is your personal account to share tips and news with friends; Instagram is a good tool to highlight your social media skills, while also gleaning insights from particular companies that you have your eye on. LinkedIn is your professional vehicle to showcase your work skills and experience (see right), while Twitter is fast, accessible and can be used to quickly see what people are up to, and to communicate with recruiters or hiring managers. Add to discussions to show people what you’re interested in, but be aware that anything you say on social media will be there for anyone to find, so keep it sober and be careful what you tweet – it will show up in a Google search.
Things have changed over the past 20 years. Whereas once you might have developed a good relationship with your recruitment consultant, following the rise of internet-based recruiting, most agencies have thousands of candidates on their books and lack that personal touch.
Find three or four agencies that specialise in your area, rather than registering with a general agency, and build a relationship with them.
Remember: agencies are geared towards finding candidates for their clients – they are not working for you. This means you need to be on the ball and call them to remind them of your situation and see whether anything suitable has come in, without being annoying. Ask them how often you should call for updates.
Timing is crucial, too, so return any phone calls from the agency that you might have missed – if you don’t, you could find you miss out on a potential interview.
Make use of your transferable skills
If you have been working for a number of years, you’ll no doubt have built up a range of great skills that could be put to use in another industry – but you may not even realise it.
These are skills your potential new employer can see you’ve learned from previous jobs and experience, such as time management, IT and leadership.
When you’re applying for a job, highlight transferable skills that match with the job description, together with a practical example.
For instance, your research and analytical skills would work well if you were applying for a management role in the car industry.
Give examples of how and when you have used these skills effectively. Employers like nothing more than evidence you can actually do what you say you can do.
Develop your LinkedIn profile
The world and its mother uses LinkedIn to keep track of who’s recruiting and who’s moving. If you’re just starting out, you might think you don’t have much to put on LinkedIn, but start by creating a profile using any experience you have. It’s the top online tool for people looking for work – in the third quarter of 2016, LinkedIn had 467 million members in 200 countries, up from 450 million members in the previous quarter.
Start by adding your skills and anything that could be relevant. Once you’ve got a job, you can connect with colleagues, clients or friends – you never know who might be of help in your next career move. Build up a network on LinkedIn, join groups and take part in discussions – be proactive. Pay attention to connections who may be able to link you to that perfect job, and use endorsements when you can – it’s the kind of site that encourages others to do the same for you.