Job Search SkillsBlogs
This brief guide will provide you with the formula for successful job search. Success is all about adopting a positive, organised and persistent approach.
Starting PointsYou may have already identified some obvious places to look such as the internet, newspaper job ad pages and at careers fairs. Less obvious job search strategies include applying for jobs speculatively, networking and using recruitment agencies. Although the suggestions below are applicable to all job hunting, please note that some may be more appropriate for students with higher academic qualifications - such as A levels, the International Baccalaureate or BTEC National/Advanced diploma. If you are one of these it's worth noting the following: • websites and social media now play a more prominent role than ever before in how employers, particularly the larger companies, communicate with potential recruits • many of the larger employers have an annual recruitment cycle in which vacancies are advertised in the autumn for a start date of the following summer/autumn or maybe in January/February for a September start. Students interested in these therefore need to be geared up to apply at the right time • small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with up to 250 employees have become more important in recent years and there are many opportunities to be found there. They usually only recruit when they need to fill a post - for instance when someone leaves, or for a new position • SMEs and large employers recruit in different ways so you need to be flexible and adapt your job search techniques to access all opportunities of potential interest. For instance, smaller companies may not advertise their jobs due to the cost of doing so and instead will rely on speculative applications to find candidates All the strategies described below have merit as job hunting methods. It's up to you which to use but I recommend considering a wide range of approaches to maximise your chances.
Searching for Vacancies Online
- Online job sites.
- The websites of recruitment agencies
- Trade associations and professional institutions
Social MediaIncreasingly prominent as a job hunting tool, social media is an option to be embraced by the internet savvy - but with a health warning for the un-wary. According to a recent survey of over 700 UK job hunters, 73% of candidates acknowledged the positive impact social media sites have had in their search for a new role. More than three quarters of employers have filled vacancies using social media, with almost 90% of these using LinkedIn. BUT be careful what you share, as recruiters react negatively to certain postings. For instance, 47% of recruiters react most negatively to pictures of alcohol consumption, whilst an even greater percentage (54%) react most negatively to spelling and grammar errors in posts/tweets. How you come across on social media is therefore a critical factor in your success (or otherwise) and you should work on your personal brand to set you apart from other candidates and to get you noticed. If you do nothing else, adjust the privacy settings on your Facebook page if you have content there you don't want an employer to see. 45% of employers check Facebook when considering potential employees! So which social media should you consider in your job hunting? • LinkedIn is designed for making professional, rather than social, connections. It's an excellent platform for searching for jobs by industry and for making links with employees who might be able to help you in your job hunting • Facebook, although more of a social network, still has its place for helping you engage with potential employers by 'liking' them and also for finding out more about them. You can also see where friends work and join Facebook 'groups' which are relevant to your interests • Twitter is more than just the ultimate microblogging site. Use it proactively to build upon your expertise by following and connecting with people who would otherwise be out of your reach. Twitter's informal nature allows you to connect with relevant contacts in a more relaxed setting than on networks such as LinkedIn…and no invites or introductions are required • Google+ is, according to reports, on its way to becoming one of the powerhouses of social media. It combines aspects of Skype, Facebook and Twitter and this, along with its 'Hangout' feature make it well worth considering • blogging is a great way to improve your writing skills, learn about job sectors and widen your network. A number of students have secured employment in, for instance, the journalism and digital marketing sectors, as a result of their blog • Delicious, Showcase and Pinterest are just a handful of the many other platforms available to consider as part of your job hunting strategy
Printed PublicationsNational, regional and local newspapers also list jobs and these can be viewed on the papers' websites. Specialist journals and publications such as Accountancy Age (for the accounting and financial sector) often have job sections, although many of the roles will be for those who already have related work experience.
Careers FairsDon't miss opportunities to meet employers face to face at careers fairs in your region. At these events you can talk to recruiters, find out about forthcoming vacancies and even get feedback on your CV.
Making speculative approaches can be an effective way of getting a job and in some industries it's the norm. Applying speculatively means sending your CV and covering letter to a company you're interested in working for, even though they haven't advertised a role. Tailoring your CV and covering letter to the company is essential as it's important to highlight what you can offer them in terms of skills, experience and motivation.The following are steps to take when applying speculatively: • Identify employers who are likely to have suitable vacancies • Prepare a general CV and covering letter geared towards a particular industry sector and then adapt it to target the organisation • Find out the name of the appropriate person to send your CV and covering letter to • Ensure your covering letter clearly states what you're looking for whether it be a permanent job, vacation work, work experience or work shadowing. Stress what skills and experience you have to offer and why you particularly want to work for them • Follow up your letter with a phone call to show your genuine interest and to see if you can arrange a meeting to discuss job possibilities, review your application or gain further contacts • Remember that for some employers speculative applications are the principal method of recruitment [Visit the CV and covering letter section of my website for further guidance. ]
Only a minority of jobs are advertised and a high proportion of job seekers find their ideal position through initially talking to someone they know. In other words they network.By expanding the number of people you know and who know you, it's possible to get access to a wide range of advice and support in planning your career and finding out about opportunities. As well as getting support from contacts, a good networker finds ways of "giving back" to their network. Why networking is important for job hunting It's easier to have a clear idea of what a job involves if you've talked to someone who does it. There are many job opportunities which you may only hear about through contacts in the field and you'll have a greater chance of success in job applications if you can get advice from people who work in the organisation or industry. Network contacts can help you to:
- understand what a career involves and the various routes into it
- research careers in depth
- identify sources of information and vacancies
- obtain work experience and identify further contacts
- and prepare effectively for job applications and interviews
Using recruitment agencies
The purpose of a recruitment agency is to help employers find staff and to help you find work. The employer is their client and you are a potential candidate. Recruitment agencies are paid by their clients when they place a candidate in one of their vacancies. That's how agencies make their money. Therefore you, the candidate, shouldn't have to part with your money in this process, so beware of any agency that asks for your cash.Employers use agencies for a number of reasons. For instance: they might not have the resources in-house to do the recruitment themselves; or they may be seeking an experienced specialist and know that certain agencies attract such applicants. Some major blue-chip companies may prefer to outsource the recruitment process to an agency as it's more cost-efficient for them and by doing so it leaves them free to focus on their core business activities. Agencies will tend to withhold the name of their client (the employer) from you in the early stages of the process, usually to prevent you applying directly to the company (and thereby taking away their earning opportunity). However, you should be able to find out who you're applying to at a relatively early stage in the recruitment process. If you can't, then you probably have cause for concern. After all, you need to know as much as you can about a company so that you can prepare yourself thoroughly for interview. Points to be aware of when using agencies: • Agents act on behalf of the employer and their main concern is to find that employer the right candidate • Agents are not careers advisers and are usually not qualified to help you with any career decisions • Agents charge their fees to employers on a commission basis and are therefore commercially motivated • They may offer services to you at a fee such as CV writing, whereas help with CVs may be available to you free from a careers adviser or job centre • You could be applying for jobs alongside experienced personnel. In fact, agency advertisements often stress 'experience required' • If you're offered a job, the agency may be keen for you to accept so that they can claim their commission. Resist any pressure from them, and make your own decision to accept or decline the job offer. How to get the most from a recruitment agency: Approach appropriate agencies. Some specialise in narrow areas such as medical sales while others may deal solely with temporary or part-time work. Search the Recruitment and Employment Confederation website to find lists of relevant agencies ( www.rec.uk.com). As a general rule of thumb, bear in mind that smaller agencies specialising in a particular industry, job type or locality will be more useful than the big national outfits. Prepare thoroughly before contacting an agency so that you can tell them specifically what sort of work you're seeking. Telephone or email them in the first instance and this will possibly be followed up with a face-to-face interview at the agency' s premises. Regard an interview with an agency as you would that with a potential employer. You will only get to see the employer if you impress the agency, so dress appropriately and adopt a professional manner. If you don't hear from the agency for a while, contact them to find out where things stand. Although the agency will be seeking opportunities on your behalf, it's a two way process: it's a good idea to keep contacting them to see what's new and to remind them you're still seeking work.
A Last Word
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