10 top tips to secure a job

16 December 2013

1. Get your CV sorted. Your master CV could be 3 or 4 sides and include every bit of information about you, your experience, qualifications and training. You need to tailor your CV for each job you apply for and keep it to no more than 2 sides. Make the opening profile and your skills match the job description. See our CV template under resources.

2. Test your CV by applying for jobs.If you get offered an interview you don’t have to accept it, but think how confident and proud you will feel knowing your CV works. If you get no success, then it is better to find out whilst you have a job, so ask for feedback on your CV and/or get some help in tweaking it.

3. It is always easier to get a job when you have a job. You will be far more relaxed in interviews, more assertive in negotiating salaries and conditions and more able to make balanced decisions when you know you are already employed. So be prepared for what might happen in the future. It also makes sense if you are unemployed, not to be too fussy when looking for a job. Get employed, get trained, learn new skills, update your CV and start job searching.

4. Get up-skilled. I often interview people who tell me with relish that they can’t do certain jobs because they are unqualified or unskilled. They look aghast when I suggest they get trained. Training need not be expensive but it does sometimes take effort. In the UK you can do evening and daytime classes on just about anything for free or a small contribution. Distance learning, learning from podcasts, youtube or free downloads are all possible. I once worked for a company that offered free work-based development training in numerous subjects. The only stipulation was you had to write 500 words on how the training would benefit you. Amazingly only about 12% of the staff took up the offer, most couldn’t be bothered to put the effort in to write the 500 words!! – Be bothered and get up-skilled

5. Offer yourself for free. I am not suggesting that you work for extended periods of time for no pay but work experience, internships and placements are not only for young people and graduates. You may have to be persistent and knock on a few doors or write a few letters but many employers would be more than willing to take up your offer. At the very least you can experience a career change and I know of several people who have been offered permanent jobs as a result of their placement. Remember it is a great way for both you and the organisation to see if you like each other without commitment.

6. Most employers will tell you that they recruit on attitude. “Give me a good attitude and average skills over good skills and an average attitude any day”. Even better if you have a good attitude and good skills. So develop a good attitude. People do not want to be around moaners, whingers and grumps! Adopt a positive attitude when you meet people, not everyone you meet is going to offer you a job but people like working with and employing positive people.

7. Get good at networking. Most employers like to hire people that come with a personal recommendation from a friend or business associate. Hiring this way is cost effective (cheap!) and a more positive experience than sifting numerous CVs and spending days interviewing people. Let people know you are looking for new challenges and opportunities (not desperate for a job), carry business cards with your contact details on and have your CV available.

8. Send speculative letters. An example of a speculative letter is on our resources page. I am not suggesting you send out hundreds but if there is a particular organisation or sector you wish to work in then a speculative letter with your CV attached will often reap rewards. When recruiting, many HR and personnel staff will contact people who sent in a speculative letter before going through the expense of placing an advert or using an agency. Be smart, try and find out the decision maker who you can address your letter to. When tweaking your CV highlight your skills and attributes you think the prospective organisation may be looking for.

9. Transferrable skills. Often when we search for jobs we look for similar roles or job titles to the one we have or have had in the past. This is natural – if we have been working as a budget manager then we will look for jobs as a budget manager or a senior budget manager. However, in today’s job market place we need to be smart by building a portfolio of skills as well as an employment history. Break down your current job or role into the skills or competencies you use. These now become your transferable skills. When you do a job search place your hand over the job title and look at the skills and job description. Some jobs require particular qualifications or training but using a mixture of the above tips, how much wider does your job search now become based on skills rather than just role.

10. Self employment. Working for yourself is not easy and does not suit everyone but it is a career choice that gives you some control over your own destiny. Do you have a hobby that could make you money? Are there local opportunities that you could easily and cheaply exploit? What skills or attributes do you have that other people would be willing to pay for?

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