Finding a new job can be a stressful process, particularly if you’ve been in the same role for many years or out of work for some time. Part 1 of this guide will help you get off to a good start, prepare a CV and cover letter, and channel your job search.
Following these five steps will give your job search some much-needed direction:
- Consider your perfect career. If you could do any job, what would it be? Don’t limit your list to roles similar to those you’ve done before. If you’ve always dreamed of being an air steward or setting up a bakery, add it to the list.
- Identify your strengths. Often we choose a role based on a qualification we’ve gained or a job we’ve done in the past. Forget about your experience for a while and think about what you’re good at. Are you a brilliant public speaker? Do you love coming up with new ideas? Are you excellent at design? Doing so will broaden your job search and help you find a role you will really enjoy.
- Factor in your experience. How does your experience equip you for the potential roles you’ve identified? What motivates you? Think about your work experience and educational background, but also factor in voluntary roles and skills you have gained in your personal life. By now, a pattern should be emerging.
- Carefully research each possibility. Consider each prospective role to see how you might go about applying or preparing for the role. Do you have the skills and attributes needed? Is there a long training process? Is the day-to-day role as interesting as the job title suggests? Would you have to relocate or take a pay cut?
- Try it out. It may be possible to have a go at your dream job before packing in your current role. You could volunteer in your spare time or take it on in a part-time capacity to see whether you enjoy it. Perhaps you know someone in a similar role who could share their experience or let you shadow them for a week.
Prepare your CV and cover letter
It’s likely that your CV and cover letter will play a pivotal role in your job search, so it’s important that you get it right. Here’s how:
- Include the key details. Make sure your current contact details are included, and add an introductory period that encapsulates your skills and experience, who you are as a person and why you want the job. List your qualifications, including any relevant training, and your previous roles, giving more details about those that are most pertinent.
- Make it clean and tidy. It’s important that your CV is well laid out and easy to read. Get rid of any flashy colours or fonts, photos or tables. Use a clear black font and condense long paragraphs into bullet points. Avoid jargon and cliches.
- Customise it. Once you have a CV template, you’ll need to adapt it for each role. Imagine yourself as the hiring manager and imagine what you would be looking for in a prospective candidate. Make sure it covers the key requirements listed in the job and person specifications.
- Get feedback. You could spend hours working on your CV and still overlook a major typo, so ask a trusted friend to look it over before you send it off. Friends may also have objective comments about sentence construction and the way you come across. If they happen to work in your chosen field, even better!
- Write a winning cover letter. Some people spend all their time on the CV and rush the cover letter, but if you do this you will be selling yourself short. Use each cover letter as a bridge between your CV and the job advert, demostrating that you are a strong candidate based on your skills and experience. Be enthusiastic about the role and let your personality shine through.
Where and how to look
We would obviously recommend checking out the job adverts on our site, but it’s good to consider all the options:
- Try online. Use job search websites on a daily basis to find relevant roles so you have plenty of time to put applications together. You may wish to set up Google Alerts to inform you of new postings. You might also like to visit sites like LinkedIn, which advertises a broad range of roles.
- Target key organisations. If you’ve always wanted to work for Tearfund or NASA, make sure you are reguarly checking their vacancies page. Research similar or related organisations and add those to the list. Even if there isn’t currently a position listed, you could send in your CV to register your interest.
- Buy the local paper. Most large companies will advertise online, but smaller businesses may rely on the local newspaper, so find out which day is ‘job day’ and make a habit of buying it on that day. At an even more basic level, some businesses will advertise in their windows, so keep your eyes open as you walk down the high street.
- Widen the net. It might be that you live in a small village and there are no relevant opportunities nearby. In that case, it may be worth looking further afield. You may need to consider relocating to a big city or even overseas.
- Keep an open mind. You may have a fixed idea of what level you would like to work at and the salary you want to earn, but it may be worth applying for roles slightly above and below this level. If you have limited experience, you might need to take a step down to get ahead in a new career path. Alternatively, you may be aiming to low and ruling yourself out of a potential promotion.