Get a job with our great job-searching tips. Even in this tough market, there are still employment opportunities out there. Use our tips for getting the perfect job and find yourself employed in no time!
- Make the most of the internet
- Top application tips
- The interview
- What to do while you wait
- Think outside the box
- Increase your chances
- Your wellbeing when job hunting
Your e-mail needs to be something like ‘Joe.firstname.lastname@example.org’, rather than something jokey like ‘email@example.com’. After all you need potential employers to take you seriously.
2. Get help with your CV.
There are loads of websites that offer help with writing a killer CV. We cover everything you need to know in our article How to write a CV. But the BBC website’s CV help also has some good tips, as does the Directgov website. There are even sites with CV templates, CV samples and examples of bad CV formats.
Remember to check UK sites rather than American ones – as British employers can find the US CV style a bit irritating. Also remember to refresh your online CV regularly to make sure you’re at the top of the list!
3. Put yourself on a good job site.
There are a lot of sites to choose from including the official jobcentre website DirectGov. Guardianjobs lists vacancies for jobseekers with an impressive CV and you can also try CV-Library. Reed.co.uk claims to be the number 1 job site in the U.K. with 3,000 jobs added every day. And you often find jobsites dedicated to certain professions – so whether you’re a secretary or a salesperson, check whether there’s a specialist job listings site out there.
We can’t stress enough just how important it is to network. Far, far more jobs are picked up through personal contacts and recommendations than through job ads. Social and business networking sites are increasingly the way to get yourself out there now, so make sure you sign up to them.
Join LinkedIn, link up with lots of people and check out the jobs section every day. Go on to Twitter (follow me at @Jasmine and follow MoneyMagpie at @MoneyMagpie) and follow useful people in your sphere. Let it be known that you’re available and post tweets that are fun and useful so that you get followed and retweeted a lot.
Do the same on Facebook – build up your network and ask about opportunities (become a fan of ours too).
Remember though – employers are increasingly checking profiles on social networking sites, so make sure yours is clean and professional (or at the very least, make sure you know how to control your Facebook privacy settings). Reams of drunken photos or inappropriate comments about a current or potential employer are the quickest way to ruin your chances.
Of course networking in person is still valuable – get out to business networking evenings (try your local business associations and chambers of commerce if you don’t know where to start) and look on all social occasions as possible networking opportunities.
5. Get extra skills for free.
There are lots of free courses you can take online, from learning languages to tech skills. The BBC website has plenty of free online language courses including French, Spanish, Greek and even Japanese.
Our article on how to boost your job prospects for free has links to all sorts of free courses in everything from healthcare to technology. Apart from the new skill itself, learning extra little bits shows that you’re adaptable and up-to-date – just what your new employer is looking for.
6. Research pay rates for the job you want.
Go to Payscale.com and you can find out what you should be being paid for the job you have now and for the job you want. You should have an idea of what to expect, so you will know if an offer is a good one or not.
7. Set up your own blog and write about your area of work.
It might seem like a big project, but it’s free to blog (go to Blogger.com to set up your blog in minutes for nothing), it gets your creative juices flowing and people searching for information in your field could come across it through the blogosphere. It’s all part of getting yourself out there!
It can also be a great thing to show off to potential employers, as it demonstrates your enthusiasm for working in that particular industry. It will stand head and shoulders above a normal CV, that’s for sure.
If you’re not sure where to begin, have a look at our article Make Money Blogging – it’s got some good tips for any aspiring blogger. (You’ll also notice that we have a number of bloggers on Moneymagpie, and it’s a popular section of the site.)
Modesty is an attractive trait, sure, but a job application isn’t the time for it. You’re selling yourself to someone else, so make sure they know about all the things you’ve done and achieved or they’ll never realise just how perfect you are for the job! You don’t need to brag or boast, but there’s nothing wrong with painting yourself in the best possible light you can.
You would think this goes without saying but you’d be amazed by the number of people who don’t spellcheck their job applications. Always, always check! Don’t just trust technology either – get a friend to read over your application too.
10. Get the name of the individual you should write to directly.
It really helps to go direct to the person hiring. It’s more personal and generally more successful. Make sure you spell their name correctly. If you don’t, you’re toast.
11. Talk to your prospective referees.
Tell them you are applying for jobs and ask their permission to use them as a referee, even if you know they will be fine with it. You want them to think even more favourably of you, and to respond to companies quickly. (Also, if your referees know you are job-hunting, they can let you know if they hear of any opportunities).
Now is the time to check that the qualifications you say you have in your CV are still up-to-date. Do you need a new CRB check? Is your First Aid current? Are you sure of your knowledge of the mortgage market or the latest legal rulings in your field of corporate law? If you can afford it, now is a very good time to take the latest courses and exams to keep up.
13. Go for quality, not quantity.
Once you’ve got the basics right (a good CV, proper spelling and covering letter etc) it’s a numbers game. But 10 carefully chosen job applications are better than 100 random ones (See step 14 below). You will need to apply for lots of jobs (everyone has to suffer job rejections!) but don’t go for a scattergun approach. Target your applications. That said, the more targeted applications you do, the better!
14. Customise your CV and covering letter.
The bad news? Any application that doesn’t refer to the individual job spec will probably be chucked straight in the bin. The good news? This doesn’t mean you need to start each job application from scratch. Just make sure you customise your CV for the job you’re applying for – and make sure that your covering letter is fully rewritten slightly to fit the job advert – and you will hugely increase your chances of getting a great job. (You might want to save different versions of your CV for different job types: e.g. have both a Secretarial CV and a Proofreader CV).
Check job vacancies that might be beneath you. For a start, you could get the job which would be a way in to other jobs later on. It may also turn out that the person receiving your CV needs to fill another slot that is not advertised yet. This could be the one with your name on it!
16. Apply for jobs above your current level.
Don’t feel limited by the most recent job you’ve had. If you see job vacancies that would be a bit of a promotion for you, apply for them. There’s no harm in it. And you may just be more qualified than you think.
17. Follow up on job applications by phone.
If you possibly can, try to speak to the person you are applying to. Don’t be a nuisance but just ask politely if they’ve received your application (they might not have – it could be caught in their spam filter). If they haven’t, you could offer to send it again by snail mail. This is great way to show that you’re keen, and have a professional telephone manner.
18. Remember they could call you.
If you’ve put your mobile number on your CV (and we suggest you do) then you could get a call from a potential employer at any time. Any calls you’re unsure of, assume it’s important and answer brightly and positively. The same applies for your answer phone message: make sure it’s sensible and mature – the voice of an ideal employee!
You can lose touch with who you’ve applied to, who you’ve spoken to and what stage you’re at with various applications. Keep a record if you can – perhaps a computer spreadsheet or just a list on the back of an envelope to remind you which jobs you’ve already applied for, so that you don’t double up.
20. Get help with your interview skills.
Get a friend, ideally one who hires people, to give you a mock interview or two. Get them to be very honest about how you come across and what you could do better. Also, see the great interview tips on Directgov. If you improve your interview technique you can definitely increase your chances of getting a job.
21. Film it!
Got someone to give you a mock interview? Great. To get even more out of the experience, if you have a camcorder (or even a video phone), film it. You’ll see for yourself exactly how you come across when you watch it back. You’ll become aware of your physical and verbal tics and so learn to counter them. (We all have them – but being aware of them will make you stop saying “Ummm” so much, or automatically looking down when you’re nervous.) You’ll be surprised at how much and how quickly this improves your self-presentation in pressurised situations.
22. Dress to impress.
You don’t have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe (in fact we recommend that you spend no more than you absolutely have to while you’re out of work) but do make sure you look smart and clean when you go to an interview. There are lots of ways of getting cool clothes for next to nothing, as we show in this article on cheap designer clothes. Don’t look like you’re trying too hard but do look like you care about your appearance and about the company.
23. Ask good questions.
Asking occasional questions at a job interview is a good idea. This takes the pressure off you for a bit because people will often take up on the opportunity to talk about themselves and their work. Ask insightful questions that show you’ve thought carefully about the job you’re applying for and the company. Don’t be judgmental, but if you show you’re assessing them and their suitability as much as they are you, you will seem a more desirable candidate.
Send a thank you letter immediately after an interview. Don’t grovel but it will do no harm to thank your interviewer for his or her time, to reiterate your interest in the job and to say that you will be available for a follow-up interview if they want to know any more. This shows courtesy and professionalism and it will keep you in their minds!
If you’re stuck at home and the only thing in your life is your CV and covering letter, give yourself a break. Get a daily routine and treat getting a job as your job – for the time being at least, it is your job. Have your working hours but then give yourself your non-working hours to do other things. This will keep life varied, keep you sane, enhance your CV and give you the chance to network with others.
26. Get a part time job.
Still can’t get that Head of Marketing job? Keep yourself going and stave off debt by babysitting, waitressing or helping neighbours with DIY. Look through the print ads and ones online for the latest part-time work opportunities. It will keep your CV fresh, make you more employable and still give you time to continue to hunt for the job of your dreams.
Also check out Gumtree to see if there are some little earners you could get involved in while you’re waiting. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our Make Money section for loads of ways to make cash on the side. This is really important for your finances, your range of skills and your self esteem.
27. Register with a temp agency.
There are lots of temporary job agencies around and, again, it’s a numbers game – sign up with several temp jobs agencies and you have a greater chance of landing some work. Make sure you phone them regularly to see if they have work. Don’t wait for them to call you.
28. Set up your own ‘side’ business at home while you’re waiting.
Make the most of the downtime – set up your own business on the side. It shows employers impressive initiative, it’ll earn you some extra cash and it will keep you busy. You could even keep it going when you get a job.
29. Spend free time sorting other aspects of your life.
Get that bathroom painted; sort out your cupboards and drawers and sell your junk on eBay or a car boot sale; get your filing properly sorted and switch all your bills to cheaper providers. This is time that can be used really well and you will be SO pleased once you get a job that you’ve already got all those niggly tasks out of the way.
31. Consider your skills.
If changing career, it’s easy to ignore prospective jobs because we only think in terms of the specific job description of what we’ve been doing.
However, if you list all the things you do at work and possibly elsewhere, such as your activities as a parent or a fund-raiser for your favourite charity, you will realise just how many skills you use on a daily basis. This will help you fill your CV with all your relevant skills, and increase your range of job choices.
Who says you need to work for one company anyway? Maybe you could be a consultant or freelance worker for various outlets. Why not create your own job: work out what companies need in your area of expertise and then tout yourself about. You will have more freedom and variety and it might be something you can do from home too. Get some ideas from our Make Money section on how to set yourself up in business.
If you have time on your hands, why not use it for good by becoming a local volunteer? You could work for a charity or visit elderly people or help at a local school. Whatever you do you will be getting out there, keeping busy, and learning new skills. It will do wonders for your CV. You also never know who you might meet and who could point you in the direction of a job.
34. Do internships.
Doing an internship can be a great way of learning new skills and changing career fields. Don’t allow yourself to become slave labour, of course, but do get the most training out of it that you can. Also, spend your time networking with people in the office.
Have a look at the Government’s Graduate Talent Pool website for opportunities, or think about contacting companies directly to see if they have opportunities. It might seem unproductive, or even a step backwards if you’ve been in employment for some time, but it could be the crucial step to getting paid employment – it’s a foot in the door!
35. Be willing to move country.
OK, it’s a big move (literally), but given our current economy there are going to be lots of people looking to do the same thing over the next few years – especially new graduates who can’t find positions in the UK.
Teaching English is always a popular option (have a look at TEFL) but if you’ve got skills and ambition there are so many other options. Check out the plethora of ‘jobs abroad’ sites on Google. It’s amazing what’s out there. If you’d just like to get away for a short time, check out Gap Year for Adults which has ideas for jobs, travel and general fun on a year off abroad.
As with dieting and getting out of debt, it can really help to have someone with whom to search for work. You can look over each other’s CVs, help each other with interview skills and generally encourage each other. Make sure you’re choose someone positive and who isn’t afraid to be honest with you.
What goes around comes around. By sharing your contacts with friends who are looking you will be helping yourself as they are more likely to do the same to you. It’s also good for the soul to give rather than concentrate on your own life all the time!
38. Join your trade union or trade association.
It’s possible that some jobs will only be advertised through union contacts. Going to union meetings can also be a really focused way of networking.
39. Get extra skills.
It could be that you’re not getting jobs because your qualifications aren’t strong enough. If you have the money, this could be a good time to get new qualifications: you could consider going back to college or university, or taking out a Career Development Loan to help finance an evening class or training course.
Networking isn’t just about business contacts or the people you meet at official events. If you think of all your friends and family – and all the people that they, in turn, know – the chances are that you have already gained a decent pool of contacts. All you need to do is let them know that you’re looking and they might prove to be very useful indeed. Your cousin’s neighbour might have just the opportunity you’ve been looking for…
41. Don’t forget to check local free sheets.
You just never know. They may seem small and look insignificant but it’s worth a quick scan here and there for a juicy job that’s just down the road.
42. Be willing to travel to work.
Don’t limit your searches because of geography! Yes it’s a nuisance to spend half an hour or more in the train or in the car but the more flexible you are, the more jobs you can access.
It’s easy to feel down when you’ve sent out hundreds of applications and got nowhere. Remember, persistence wins the prize and we tend to get in life what we expect. Expect the best and you’re likely to get it. However, keep an open mind too. If you’re getting rejected all the time it could be that your CV, your application letter or your interview approach need work. Go through these with friends and/or professionals and get their feedback.
There’s no harm in asking for feedback as to why you were rejected either. Don’t be pushy – many employers might be too busy or have too many applications to reply – but some will probably give you feedback, which is always useful.
Hey, it’s business. Not everyone can get that job. Pretty much everyone’s been rejected for a job at some time. The more you can brush off rejection (of any kind), the quicker you will get on in life and the happier you will be generally.
45. Don’t give up.
It’s far too easy to give up, particularly if you live in an area where there’s lots of unemployment or you are friends with other people who have given up hope. You must refuse to accept defeat. Keep going – it’s the ones who persist, persist and persist who win in the end.