Birmingham: 0121 6475 339
Manchester: 0161 8713 963
London: 0203 6751 438
Bristol: 0117 3291 100
Cardiff: 02920 220 078

100 tips for job seekers

29/05/12

 100 tips for job seekers

Motivational tips

  1. Be positive. Keep your spirits up.  As with anything worthwhile, persistence is key.
  2. You will get rejected, your personal finances may be squeezed and your confidence may suffer. But remember it’s how you react to these situations that will make the difference.
  3. Look in the mirror, show yourself your war-face, dust yourself down and get back out there and show the world you mean business.@duncpowell25
  4. Be adaptable, if life always conformed to a set path wouldn’t it be easy? As you know it doesn’t. Don’t be afraid of looking at your career from a different angle and have an open mind to opportunities.
  5. Be open to new industries, short-term contracts or a pay cut. Maybe it could be a start-up business opportunity or a complete break from what you’ve done previously. Things often happen for a reason and this could be the moment you’ve been waiting for.
  6. Reward yourself as you go. You may be feeling the pinch, but this is a temporary situation and if you’re working hard, getting applications out and winning interviews then you deserve that night out.  You’ve definitely earned it.
  7. Be realistic the jobs market is tough. There are jobs out there, but there are also other job seekers.
  8. Set out how you plan to attack the job market and stick to it.
  9. Stay focussed? Yes looking for a job is time consuming and it’s important to stay on track, but half the battle to job hunting is staying focused so try and enjoy your days.
  10. Start each morning with a walk, spend some quality time with your kids, and maybe partake in a part-time voluntary role. You’ll feel good about yourself and will channel your energy in a positive fashion. This will come across to future interviewers too and they’ll love your positive outlook and approach to life.
  11. Talk to experts like a recruitment company, the job centre and other organisations to get good advice and build your contacts.
  12. Utilise other’s strengths; you don’t see Lionel Messi defending high balls in his own goalmouth (he leaves that to the sixteen stone brutal defender). He knows where his strengths lie and what his capabilities are. Utilise people around you with other skills, if your partner has better IT or letter writing skills then involve them in these tasks.
  13. Sign on if you are unemployed whether you need the money or not  You will be credited with National Insurance contributions (as if you were still employed) and this will ensure large gaps don’t arise in your NI record. Claiming job seekers also means that benefit or pension allowances are not affected further down the line.
  14. Get involved in unemployment forums. Have an open mind and take ideas on board – now is not the time for stubbornness.

Getting organised

  1. Set yourself a timescale, set yourself a plan and stick to them. This alone will provide enough motivation to keep you on the right tracks.
  2. Build a spreadsheet (or get someone to do this for you) and add all the jobs you uncover, all your applications, all your interviews and update it as you go. 
  3. Use your system to stop yourself from doubling up and wasting time on duplicate vacancies
  4. Chase applications up, log your networks, your contacts, your angles. 
  5. Always follow up regardless of how you apply for a job, make sure you follow-up. It looks professional, emphasises how keen you are and can often result in more interviews. Track your follow ups.
  6. Set goals. If you want to lose weight, you’ll join a gym and set a target weight. Take this approach to your job hunt.
  7. Create a structured working day. Create regular tasks for each day,  allocate lunch and snacks breaks and book appointments in your diary to make the most of your time.
  8. Don’t let you job search consume your whole day. Instead treat it as a job and manage your work/life balance.
  9. Sign up to job board bulletins and recruitment agency newsletters – let the jobs come to you so you can concentrate on your CV and application forms.
  10. Apply a great covering letter regardless of what job you’re applying for. It won’t harm your chances. Show your knowledge of the company and how you came across the vacancies.
  11. Read job advertisements in detail you may find they ask you to use a certain reference code when applying. This demonstrates good attention to detail and you won’t end up in the junk folder.
  12. Setup a new email account just for applying for jobs this will make it a lot easier to keep track of things. Also make sure you email address sounds professional – hotguy1994 will not impress prospective employees.@duncpowell25

Finding vacancies

  1. Try to get potential leads from whoever you speak to.
  2. Create a list of your target companies. Find their career pages and either bookmark them or subscribe to their RSS feeds. Check back every few days to find potential vacancies.
  3. Write a courteous email or (even better) make telephone call to the hiring manager to check they’ve received your application and reiterate your interest in the role. This could be the clincher for that precious interview.
  4. Use your connections old and new. Speak to past colleagues, friends, classmates to generate potential leads. They’ll be happy to help and could even earn them brownie points or even an internal referral bonus. Remember to track them on your spreadsheet.
  5. Everyone thinks of the traditional routes – jump on the job-boards, register with a recruitment agency and check the job pages.  Remember though that this is what everyone else does.
  6. Scattergun or sniper rifle? There are two schools of thoughts as to how you should send CVs to prospective employers in a speculative fashion. Send your CV to every single relevant employer (scattergun) or pick out the most relevant employers to your background/experience (sniper rifle). This often depends on your experience but also your personality and personal circumstances.
  7. Look for hidden vacancies. Instead of advertising their available jobs, employers often look to fill vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or simply by recruiting internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost when it comes to finding your next role. @dalewills9

Job boards

  1. Get employers to come to you. Getting headhunted is no longer the preserve of employees in senior management. When you post your CV online you are immediately putting your details within reach of thousands of employees, this may save you the trouble of searching through job adverts.
  2. Search the internet for the most common job boards and signup. Use an auto fill form plugin to store common details to speed up the process.
  3. Spend a significant amount of time getting the first signup correct – you can then replicate this information across different job boards.
  4. Quality over quantity. Signup to more niche job boards relevant to your expertise rather than the generic ones for a better chance of getting headhunted.
  5. Here’s a list of niche job boards by industry to make your life easier. Link

LinkedIn

  1. Build a LinkedIn profile if you class yourself as a business professional, you need a LinkedIn profile. Recruiters and employers use it regularly to target, attract and headhunt potential employees. @dalewills9
  2. Consider it as your online CV: it shows off your experience, key skills, industry knowledge, and breadth of contacts and knowledge of your industry. You’ll be staggered by the size of the LinkedIn community.  Take your profile page seriously, add a snazzy photo (business orientated not you in a bar!)
  3. Join relevant groups and regularly complete status updates to demonstrate to the world that you know your onions. And then sit back and wait for those headhunting emails to drop into your inbox.
  4. Connect with past colleagues and friends to build your profile. Ask for recommendations. Most people will oblige and it will really help with your job search.
  5. You can also follow companies on LinkedIn letting you know about any vacancies straight away.
  6. Include your LinkedIn public profile link on your CV and covering letters.
  7. Get more LinkedIn tips here.

Recruitment agencies

  1. Register with recruitment agencies. If you’re a great candidate they will find the work for you.
  2. However never let yourself get talked into only registering with one recruiter no matter how good they may seem. They will not recruit for every organisation so why limit your opportunities.
  3. Choose the right agency for you. Research the recruiter, check out their website, and talk to people. Does the recruiter value their candidate? Do they advise? Do you like their approach?  Do they recruit for roles in your industry and at your level? Putting some research in at this stage will save you time, hassle and potentially disappointment further down the line.
  4. How to approach a recruitment consultancy? Face to face, via email or over the telephone?  Every agency works differently so there is no concrete answer for this. Face to face is the most direct method so put on your sharpest suit, print off a pile of CVs and hit the streets.
  5. Plan where recruiters are and pop in to there offices in an ad-hoc fashion one after another. You’ll know after this which recruiters are right for you, simply by the interest level they show in you as a prospective candidate.
  6. Be blunt; ask the recruiter “Am I the type of candidate you look for?” You’ll get an honest answer to an honest question and will most likely know where you stand.
  7. If you’ve been unemployed for a while, or made redundant with mouths to feed then the wisest choice would be to register with quite a few recruiters and give yourself options.
  8. If you have seen a vacancy, check if one of the recruitment agencies you registered with are recruiting for it too. Going through a recruitment agency is usually an easier path to gaining an interview as they will have strong connections with your prospective employer.
  9. When applying for jobs through agencies a sniper rifle approach is the best option. Applying for two completely different jobs through the same agency and claiming you have vast experience and expertise in both roles will only work against you.

Perfecting your CV

  1. Make sure your CV is free of spelling and grammatical mistakes by getting someone else to proof read it for you.
  2. Don’t rely on auto-correct. Your CV might be free of spelling mistakes but often you’ll find auto-correct has chosen a completely irrelevant word that makes no sense at all. @dalewills9
  3. Keep you text size between 10 to 11pt in an appropriate font like Arial so that it is easy to scan. Don’t choose ‘display’ fonts like comic sans you may think it makes your CV stand out but it doesn’t.
  4. It may be boring but go classical and use black as your font colour. Now is not the time to demonstrate your artistic flair.
  5. Emphasise your key skills and experience so they stand out initially and entice the reader into wanting to know more.
  6. Organise your work experience in reverse chronological order. Prospective employers are more interested in the three years you spent at a rival company than your time as a bartender during college.
  7. State what you’ve achieved and what you did in your past roles. This will distinguish you from others with a similar background.
  8. For sales professionals get your figures straight and outline how you hit those targets.
  9. For marketing and IT where possible include links to projects you’ve worked on to really sell your abilities to potential employers.
  10. If you are going to include hobbies and interests make them relevant. I like going to the gym, reading, socialising with friends does not add anything to your profile. Make sure you’re outside interests don’t put off prospective employers either.
  11. Keep personal statements short and avoid waffle and buzzwords.
  12. A common mistake to avoid is not including your contact details. You’ll be surprised how many people do this when applying through job boards.
  13. Don’t lie on your CV as you will be found out. There have been a number of high profile cases in the press recently including the boss of Yahoo who have lied/stretched the truth on their CV.
  14. Don’t include a photo on your CV. However good your suntan is, it really doesn’t improve your chances of receiving an interview.

Interview tips - prep

  1. Researching your prospective employer is the key to a successful interview. Know their business inside out. If you know who’s interviewing you then find them on LinkedIn and know their background.
  2. When you do your research try and do something more than just jump on their website. A website scan is deemed the bare minimum so think of an alternative research method too.
  3. Read the job description again and again until you know it off by heart. If there are any aspects of the job description you don’t understand speak to your recruitment consultants (if you’ve used one). They can discreetly discuss you’re query with you prospective employer.
  4. Make sure you’ve sorted your travels plans in advance so you’re on time. If travelling by public transport check for any planned engineering work that will cause delays.
  5. Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer in advance that are relevant to the company and the position you are applying for.
  6. If you smoke, maybe hold off between changing into your interview suit. It will just help your cause if your interviewer is a fervent non-smoker. We know it’s hard but that next cigarette is just around the corner…
  7. Sorry to preach, but if you have a boozy night the day before the interview a few extra-strong mints just won’t cut it. Sacrifice the night out or stick to soft-drinks…just this one time? @niciyolk
  8. Choose what you are going to wear on the day. You don’t want to be worrying about this the morning of the interview.
  9. If you have been asked to present to them on the day do two things. Get someone else to view it for a second opinion. Ring your prospective employee or recruitment consultant to check the setup on the day. Do you have to bring your own laptop or email in advance?
  10. Practice common interview questions. What are your strengths? What are weaknesses? Refer to the job description supplied and come up with appropriate answers.
  11. Some interviews involve shadowing the existing team. Often this is quite informal and allows you to see the role first-hand, however don’t switch off and completely let your guard down, show personality but treat as you would an interview. @dalewills9

Interview tips – on the day

  1. Remember that group assessments are mainly to see how you work as of a part team. If you’re assigned a task getting it right or wrong is not essential it’s the way how you conduct yourself during that task.@moyolkrec
  2. Practical maths and spelling tests are also very common. Remember to stay calm and read the questions thoroughly. It may help to ask for a second piece of paper to do your working outs on.
  3. Don’t let nerves get the better of you. Most people are nervous in an interview situation and your interviewer will be aware of this.
  4. Accept a drink if offered. This may seem unimportant but refusing a drink can create tension before the interview starts.
  5. Your interview starts as soon as you walk through the door. Be polite and friendly to office receptionist – leave a good impression with everyone you meet.
  6. You’ve probably read it’s a good thing to mirror your interviewer’s mannerism. This is true if you don’t make it too obvious and unnatural. It can also become very distracting and you won’t answer the questions to the best of your ability.
  7. You’ve made it to a 2nd interview what now? Try to recollect what you said in your last interview. You will probably be asked similar questions. Were there any answers you weren’t 100% happy with? Then improve on them.
  8. Take in as much information as possible when are with your prospective employer. Does this seem like a business you want to work for?
  9. If you followed tip 71 then ask them a question or try asking them to expand on something they told you earlier in the interview as this shows you were listening intently.
  10. If you want the role, ensure you tell your interviewer that it’s the role for you & re-emphasise why you’re the right person. We’d recommend going even further and asking the interviewer if they feel you have any weaknesses. This will allow you to counter concerns there and then.
  11. Remember to send a quick thank you letter to your prospective employer or pass your compliments on through your recruitment consultant.

Receiving a job offer

  1. You’re not obliged to accept a job just because you’ve been offered one. Weigh up if it’s really right for you. Could you see yourself working there? Did the company culture and value align with yours?
  2. Don’t accept the wrong offer, be realistic and look at the overall picture. Sometimes a short-term backwards step can develop into a big stride forward long-term. @moyolkrec
  3. What if you’ve received a counter offer from your current employer? This can be very tempting but there must have been a reason you wanted to leave in the first place.
  4. Should you go back to your prospective employer and use the counter offer as leverage? Sometimes this can work to your advantage but you might find them taking their offer off the table. This is a dangerous game to play and depends on your industry.

You didn’t get the job

  1. First things first don’t burn your bridges. It’s okay to show your disappointment in not getting the job but don’t get angry or take it personally. You never know what opportunities will present themselves in the future.
  2. Try to get as much feedback as you can from the employer or recruitment consultant. Take on their advice and learn from it.
  3. If you get the chance to speak directly to your interviewer try to get some prospective leads out of them. Let them know you’re open to opportunities and see if they would recommend you to anyone else.

Final few words of wisdom

  1. Losing your job can be a personal trauma, but you’re not alone. The very people closest to you will feel the pain also and unlike you are unable to really affect your job hunt. So confide in them, communicate   regularly and ask for their advice.
  2. Work out your personal budget, but be prepared to take a pay cut. Look at the overall picture. Would you be happy being unemployed for 9 months, for the sake of declining a job offer which would require a 15% pay cut?
  3. It can seem at times that luck plays a big part in finding your next job. When the great golfer Arnold Palmer was presented with the fact that luck played a big part in his success he responded “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.” It may seem like luck at times but it’s the hard work you put in behind the scene that presented you with the opportunity in the first place.

That’s our 100 jobtips. If you think we’ve missed any out then add in the comments below. Thanks Yolk Recruitment.

Send Yolk your CV

Written by Jonathan Bennett+

Back to Recruitment Blog list