This is the most popular month to make a career change, which means there’s even more competition – if you want to stand out from the crowd, it pays to be prepared.
Job-seeking is not a numbers game – all you need is one great job offer.
So, get yourself ready to be open to the right opportunities. Follow my list of 20 ways to get job-ready.
1. Don’t set goals – you will be setting yourself up to fail or to make a bad choice
If you set yourself a target of finding a new job by March, say, or earning a particular salary, you will be putting pressure on yourself to accept a job offer even if it is not the best career move for you.
2. Think about why you’re leaving – just to be sure
Moving jobs takes time and is risky – you have little job security for the first 2 years.
So work out why you are dissatisfied with your current role.
Need more flexibility? Ask to work a day a week at home.
Want to learn a new skill? Then put in a request.
You’ve nothing to lose if you are planning to leave anyway.
3. Make it a positive choice – desperation is not a good look
Not only will you be in danger of accepting any job rather than the right one, hiring managers want to recruit someone who is positive and passionate about the job, not someone who is disgruntled and oozes negativity.
4. Focus on what you’ll gain – it will energise you
Change your mindset by focusing on what you want to gain, not what you want to leave behind.
Make a list of all the positives you want from your new role.
For example, if you are stuck in a rut with no prospect of promotion, then training and development and opportunities to progress should be a priority in your job search. If you hate your commute, the location will be key.
This list will help narrow your search – and help motivate you to make a change.
5. Be patient – it might take time
Remember, it will probably take until Easter (at the earliest) before you start a new role, so don’t rush into the wrong decision.
6. Remain loyal – it will pay off
Yes, it’s hard to give your best when all you can think about is leaving – however, don’t relax just yet because you will want a good reference and you might be working in your current role for some time.
Never badmouth your employer. It could get back to the boss (awkward) or make future employers wary of hiring someone who is obviously so discontented.
7. Identify your strengths – and weaknesses
You need to be clear about what you can offer future employers.
To discover what your ‘brand’ is, ask trusted friends and colleagues to list the 5 or 10 things they think you do well – perhaps you have good technical skills or are good at being collaborative?
Then ask if there are any aspects of your personality or performance that they think need work – maybe you are not so good at organisation?
8. Search online for keywords that will sell you
Next, match what you have to offer with the jobs you are interested in. A quick scan of job boards to see what recruiters are looking for will identify the keywords you need to include in your job applications – from ‘collaborative’ to ‘commercial’.
Make a list. Then rephrase your skills so they fit these descriptions – for example, ‘ambitious’ could be ‘target-driven’.
9. While you are looking, is there anything you are missing?
If nearly every job spec is asking for a particular skill, then perhaps it’s time to get a qualification.
For example, if the spec says ‘must be proficient in data analytics, including Excel’ and you use Excel but don’t have a certificate, go online and do a quick course. If there are any glaring gaps in your skills, perhaps you need to invest in a professional qualification.
Also, check out the Procurious Training & Learning section.
10. Update your CV – only a generic one at this stage
Pay attention to the style: No more than two sides of A4.
Start with a personal statement. List jobs with the most recent first and avoid giving your entire life history. Focus on what you can do rather than what you have done.
Include some examples of where you have met/exceeded expectations using the STAR (situation, task, activity, result) approach. This will clearly demonstrate you are up to the job without appearing arrogant.
Don’t be tempted to invent hobbies and interests to make yourself appear more interesting or to lie (dates, job titles etc. are easy to check).
And don’t forget to double-check grammar and spelling.
11. Remember to tailor your application/CV to each role
When you get to the stage of applying, carefully read the job specification and include all of the keywords listed – using the exact same wording.
Look through your list of skills and keywords that sell your brand and include those that are required or you think will add value to the job. Remember, at this stage, you need to show that you are an obvious fit for the job.
12. Have a professional photo taken
While many recruiters hate photos on CVs, they do like to see them online – either on your own website (if you have one) or your online profiles.
A really good photo (remember to smile or at least look approachable) is, therefore, a must. At the very least, avoid holiday or party selfies.
13. Get your online presence ready – LinkedIn in particular
Think of this as your shop window – a potential employer or recruitment consultant might come across your profile and at the very least will check it.
Ask a few key contacts if they will provide you with a recommendation and add a bit of personality by posting a few blogs or sharing some newsworthy links. Also, boost your network by requesting others to join it – the more senior the better.
14. Use Procurious as a resource
Make sure your Procurious profile is more than just a bland description of your current job.
Use phrases like ‘passionate about’, ‘driven’ and/or ‘highly experienced’ and really sell yourself – don’t forget a photo.
Also, click on ‘Build your network’ and start to reach out to professionals in key positions – someone might even approach you to offer you a job.
15. Don’t forget to clean up your social media
An inappropriate image or even just liking a less-than-tasteful joke can rule you out of a job.
16. Get signed up to job boards
Get the apps (you can search on your daily commute) and sign up for job alerts (so you don’t miss an opportunity).
17. Identify your ideal employers
Make a list of the firms you would like to work for and start researching them – you will want to talk their language in your job applications and be prepared for interviews.
Also, check out glassdoor.co.uk to see how existing employees rate them – to avoid making a bad move.
18. Engage in strategic networking
Find ways to network with staff who work for your ideal employers to find out what it is like to work there.
You can then ask them if they have a referral scheme (existing employees are often given a bonus for recommending a new employee) or to let you know if there are any opportunities.
19. Encourage approaches – a bit like putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign
Many job movers don’t ever apply for a new role. Instead, they are approached.
Go to LinkedIn and click on ‘Show recruiters you are open to job opportunities’. (Don’t worry – you can control who sees this, so the boss won’t necessarily find out.)
Also, get on the books of recruitment consultants specialising in your area so they can put your name forward for any relevant jobs.
20. Practise your pitch – it will keep you positive
Some people find it awkward to self-promote while others just come across as arrogant.
So practise telling stories that showcase how you have met a challenge, achieved a target or developed a skill – you can use these on application letters, when networking and in interviews.
It’s also a very self-affirming – and will help you deal with the disappointment when employers don’t even bother to acknowledge your application or reject you.
So keep these 20 tips in mind to boost your spirits while job-hunting – and increase your chances of success. Good luck!
And if you want to move up in your career, change industries, or even need some extra motivation for the new year (and new decade!), start 2020 off with a bang in our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Register here for free.