Archive for the ‘Job Seeking Tips’ Category

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Well, we are certainly attracting a bit of web traffic now, which is great to see, and throwing open the chance for you to add your guest blogs to this site.

Maybe you are a recruiter, an image consultant, a careers advisor, life coach, HR consultant or job hunter? If so then let us know if you would like to write us a guest blog article, sharing your news, hints, tips and advice with links through to your site!

Simply email with your article (around 400-700 words) and  share your expertise. Don’t forget to include a short bio on yourself and your web address if you have one.


Job Hunting and Networking


Great post from Workthing. Job hunting is often about who you know, rather than what you know!

Networking meetings are as important as formal interviews. They let you tap into the hidden job market and access the 80% of jobs that are never advertised, so this initial meeting is your foot in the door.

Networking meetings aren’t about being handed a job on a platter; they’re about trading information and collecting advice. Be confident in your approach – you say you’re not a ‘natural networker’, but you’ve secured a meeting. Your contact has taken time to meet you and they want to know more about you. If they can’t help, there’s always a good chance that they can introduce you to someone who can.

Here’s how to manage your meeting:

Usual interview rules apply – dress smartly, research the company and the industry, and understand who you are going to see.
Prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ – explain who you are and what you can offer, but keep it relevant to your contact’s industry.
Communicate your career focus – explain who you are targeting and why.
Be upfront – explain that you are looking for new opportunities…
…But not pushy – don’t directly ask for a job, but instead tap into the other person’s industry knowledge and contacts.
Reciprocate – trade information and show that you are keen to help out your contact if you can.
Spread your net – ask for specific information, referrals or recruiting contacts.
Follow up – with a brief email that thanks them for their time and help.

Manage these meetings well, and you’re one step closer to that unadvertised job opportunity.


How to deal with recruitment agencies


With over a million people this year expected to find jobs through recruitment agencies then, love ’em or hate ’em, they will invariably form part of your job hunting strategy.

Recruitment agencies work by acting as a filter for employers by shortlisting candidates they recommend for interview to save their clients time and money. Often their fees to their clients (the employers) work on a sliding scale and if you decide the job is not for you then they will have to refund their client a percentage of the placement fee. Therefore it is in their interests to place the right candidate. However, be wary of those unscrupulous agencies that try and fit a square peg into a round hole to hit their sales targets. If you don’t feel the role they are putting to you is suitable, then don’t be pushed into it.

Put keywords in your CV: Agencies receive many CVs from prospective candidates which are entered onto their huge database of candidates and coded up using keywords. When a recruitment consultant receives a vacancy from an employer they then search the database using  keywords e.g. engineer+manager+cambridge specific to the job requirements. This produces a list of potential CVs. If you want yours to be one of these, then you need to ensure that it contains all the relevant keywords you might expect a consultant to use in his or her search.

Meet the agency: As this CV logging process is so impersonal it’s vital to become a human being and not just a reference number lurking on a database. So, make sure that you phone the agency to check they have received your CV (or walk in to deliver it personally and ask to speak to someone) and get the name of the relevant consultant. They are sometimes difficult to get through to (unless you are a client with a vacancy then suddenly they are rushing to the phone!) so having their name really helps get past the administration staff screening calls.

If you can arrange to meet the consultant then you are more readily borne in mind for vacancies that come in. At the agency I used to work for, for every candidate we met we had to canvass call three prospective employers to “sell them in” while the candidate was still there. That may be three more employers than you otherwise would have been able to approach, so meet your consultant!

Be persistent: It may not be in your nature to be pushy, but in order to get noticed and keep your CV on the consultant’s desk you need to phone them regularly to see if there are any suitable vacancies. That way they immediately think of you before trawling the database.

Dress to impress: You should treat an interview with a recruitment agency as you would an interview with a prospective employer. Don’t forget they are the first line of interviews – if they don’t think you are right for the role they will not put you forward. So, dig out your smartest suit, clean your shoes, and sort out your nails! You need to sell yourself to the agency so they put YOU forward. (See the Personal Marketing article on what to wear for interviews)


Networking for introverts


Hmm, now this is  interesting. According to the job hunters’ bible, ‘What Color is your parachute?’ by Richard Bolles:

  • Using the internet as a way to look for a job is, at the very most, 10% effective
  • Mailing out your CV to employers at random is usually 7% effective
  • Answering job ads in the press, noticeboards etc are around 7% to 24% effective.
  • Using recruitment agencies is 5-28% effective

The method he deems as around 90% effective is congruent with the old expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know”; otherwise known as “networking”.

Now networking might come naturally to you, but according to the Shyness Research Institute (yes, really!) at Indiana University, approximately 40% of people describe themselves as shy. This can mean that the prospect of “networking” is one that brings many job hunters out in a cold sweat.

So how do you master the art of the “schmooz” and maximise your chances of seizing an opportunity through networking?

1. Start close to home. If you are shy, a bit of a hermit even, there are probably friends and family that you have not caught up with for a while. Dust off your address book, go through the numbers in your phone and make contact to see how they are. Drop a friend an email, arrange to go out for a drink or invite them round for a cup of coffee and practise your small talk. Practising socialising with people with whom you have lost contact to warm up your skills for when you have to meet strangers.

2. Get a gregarious friend. I used to have a friend called Lara who was a brilliant networker. At parties, whether they were hers or not, she would manage to get everyone in the room talking with each other. She would ask lots of questions then, at a relevant point in the conversation, introduce another person in the room-  then discreetly slip away when the new connection was firmly established and moved onto the next wall flower.  A Lara is a great person to know. She takes away your nerves and does the introducing for you. Obviously you can’t drag your Lara everywhere, but watch how they do it and learn their skills.

3. Ask questions and listen. Talk to your new contact by asking them questions about what they do. Most people love talking about themselves and this keeps the heat off you! Ask lots of “open questions” that begin with a who, how, when, where or why. A question that results in a yes/no answer will be as painful as pulling teeth. If you are at an event ask others what they thought of the speaker/programme/show.

4. Watch your body language. Smile, don’t slouch, make eye contact with people, don’t fold your arms or talk too fast. If you don’t know what to do with your hands carry a pen!

5. Don’t scoff all the buffet. It may be tempting at an event to simply avoid people and make a beeline for the buffet. While everyone else is networking you have troughed your way through four platefuls of sausage rolls instead. Not a good start.

6. Be realistic. Talking with two or three people in a room is better than not talking with anyone at all.

7. Watch out for self effacing comments. Don’t put yourself down/belittle your job or achievements/apologise all the time.

8. Be a greeter. If your company is holding an event and you have been drafted in to help, offer to be the person on the front desk. Hand out the name badges, say hello to people, tell them where the bar is. You will get to know who everyone is and soon people will approach you for a chat.

9. Go online. Networking doesn’t always mean face-to-face (although this is the most effective way). Get networking via Facebook and LinkedIn. Join online groups and discussions to get your name about.

10. Get over your fear of rejection. You won’t be interesting to all people, nor will your skills or experience be of use to all you meet, so don’t worry if the conversation doesn’t go anywhere or you never hear from your new contact again. Don’t take it personally!


Creating your own CV website

If  you are job hunting and have a portfolio of work you need prospective employers to see, then you should consider creating your own website.

You can use a website to demonstrate your talents much better than a plain CV. You can include examples of your work and testimonials from clients or previous employers.

This approach is ideal for the following creative professions and in many cases a website is expected from you:

  • Graphic designers
  • Website developers
  • Designers (Interior, Fashion etc)
  • Actors
  • Artists and photographers
  • Models
  • Anyone planning to go freelance in any field

One of the advantages of this approach is that you can circulate the link to your site on the internet – through jobs noticeboards, social networking and emails.

Other advantages include:

  • You can include all aspects of your work using photos, sound and video to demonstrate your creativity
  • You don’t have to carry a portfolio of your work around with you
  • You can include the website link on your business cards at networking events
  • You can drive traffic to your website to save you some footwork in approaching prospective employers
  • Other people may see your website and recommend you to a friend/colleague

There are some things you need to consider though:

  • To do a good job, and unless you are a web designer yourself, you will need to pay a professional to create the website for you. Prices can range enormously so make sure you have the budget!
  • Creating a website is not a five minute job and takes planning, testing and maintenance.  It can take many weeks to establish depending on the complexity of the site
  • You will need to ensure the content is up to date and fresh
  • You will need to include a link to your traditional format CV so will need to ensure that  too looks professional
  • Make sure that the website is clear and easy to read and has no errors, dud links or spelling mistakes
  • You will need to choose domain name that is available and will have to pay a fee to register it. You can find domain name checkers on the internet

Your site should include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your credentials (qualifications and skills)
  • What it is you do – sell yourself! Don’t just expect your work to speak for itself.
  • Examples of your work and projects you have worked on
  • Testimonials from satisfield employers/clients
  • How to contact you (very important!)

As with your traditional CV, do NOT include any information that could potentially be used by criminals for fraudulent purposes!

Click here to see the Personal Marketing blog entry on what personal information NOT to include on your CV website.


New Year’s Job Hunter’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!!

If you are job hunting it is time to start afresh!

Here are some resolutions to stick to:

1. I will read through my CV and my list of strengths and achievements every day.

2. I will forget about any rejections from last year – they are all in the past. 2010 is a brand new start.

3. I will ensure that I am actively seeking work every day, but not to the point of obsession.

4. I will ensure that I get plenty of exercise, eat healthily and get out the house to see family and friends so I don’t get down in the dumps.

5. I will check my voicemail message to make sure I sound positive and cheerful and not miserable. I don’t want to put any prospective employers off!

6. I will look into training courses/part time voluntary work if I have been out of work for six months or more,  to brush up/expand my skills.

7. I will stay positive!

If you have any more useful tips of your own feel free to comment!


Setting up your own business

Have you ever thought about becoming your own boss and running your own business? Maybe you have recently been laid off and have some redundancy money that could set you up in a new career? Or maybe unemployment  has awoken your inner entrepreneur?

There are many advantages to working for yourself:

  • You can work the hours you choose
  • You can fit in around family commitments (if your business allows it)
  • You are your own boss
  • You can set up a business in an industry/service you have a passion for

Where to start?

Firstly, you need to think about the type of business you are planning to set up. Experience will always be a bonus but start locally with your research. Is there a gap in the market for a particular product/business or service? Do as much research as you can into competitors, cost of premises, overheads etc.

Perhaps you can set up an online business? Again, check out the competition and don’t order more stock in than you think you can realistically sell!

Write a business plan. This will help you think through your idea and can be presented to a bank if you need to ask for a loan.

Things to be aware of:

  • Setting up your own business can require a lot of initial financial investment and it may take a year or two of long hours and hard work to build your business up profitably.
  • With any business that you set up there are invariably risks you have to take.
  • You will need to take matters such as tax and national insurance into your own hands and ensure that all your paperwork is accurate and up to date.  Of course there are always tax advisers/book keepers and accountants that you can employ to help you out with that.

Useful websites:

Business Link is an excellent Government run website that gives advice on all aspects of setting up and marketing your own business. They also run free local training courses that will teach you all you need to know about setting up by yourself.

For tax matters then see HM Revenue and Customs website which explains what you need to do to get started. It’s not as complicated as you may think!


EXTREME job hunting techniques!

Extreme Job HuntingDesperate times often call for desperate measures. With the recession, there has been an increase in what is known as “extreme job hunting”; people who will go to great lengths to stand out from the crowd, get noticed and land a job.

So, what works and what doesn’t?

In the US, possibly the birthplace of extreme job hunting, there have been news articles on the banker who donned a sandwich board and walked about the financial district of New York; the private nurse who printed up a T-shirt advertising her services and cycled about a wealthy surburb; and the marketing guy who sellotaped his CV to the inside of a taxi cab.

All 3 generated a lot of publicity but sadly, no firm job leads.

In the UK recently, a 35 year old unemployed man from Devon stood for two days in a layby holding a home made sign that read, “Work needed. Will do anything”. He was in luck. A local security firm offered him a job.

Other tactics that desperate job hunters have employed include offering a “bounty” – whereby they have offered a fee to anyone who can fix them up with an interview, or a lead that results in an interview. If you have the means to be able to do this, then it’s great idea! Job hunting is often about who you know. But make sure people don’t scam you!

Also, and again mainly from the US as far as I can see, is the You Tube CV. This is always a bit of a gamble because, unless you are a natural presenter and don’t feel awkward in front of the camera, many of them come across as staid and amateurish.  Plus, this approach is not very targetted. You are not speaking directly to potential employers but instead hoping that someone will stumble across it. Of course, you could always send the link to potential employers but think VERY carefully about using this approach!

Some industries definitely require a creative and proactive approach. Designers and marketing types often send examples of their creativity to potential employers in order to stand out from the crowd. Examples include: personalised coffee cups, CV mousemats or even a business card cake! Obviously this requires a bit of budget to be able to do this, but can work well in this field.

However,  while such “guerilla” tactics are becoming increasingly more common, it is best to ensure that you don’t get too carried away. Extreme job hunting is often not very targetted (e.g. handing flyers of your CV out on a street corner), can be expensive, may waste a lot of energy and may get you a reputation for being a bit of a stalker. The latter is true especially if you constantly turn up at a company, or continually ring or email prospective employers.

One woman in Japan was recently arrested for threatening to blow up the office building of the Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Agency if she was not hired for the role she was interviewed for. Funnily enough they didn’t give her the job. I doubt she will ever be employed by anyone ever again!

Be creative definitely, but don’t lose complete sight of  the traditional methods of expanding your network, improving your CV and using online jobs boards and agencies in your job search!

Let me know of course what has worked for you and what hasn’t!



Using social media for job hunting


With an estimated 80% of jobs unadvertised what is the best way of finding work amongst today’s stiff competition?

The answer is often who you know. Networking has long been a way of putting out feelers for employment opportunities. And now, with social networking, this is easier to do that you may think.

Here are some top tips for job hunting using social media:

1. If you have a Facebook or Twitter profile make sure you clean it up! Remove anything you would not want a potential employer (or indeed your mother!) to see. Check photo albums, wall posts and status updates. Ensure that you have not said negative things about your current/last employer as this does not promote a very professional image!

2. Ensure on your personal information that you have included information about your current/last role – indicating the job title and industry and any key achievements. You do not have to post your entire CV but ensure the brief information that is on your profile is to the point and outlines your key attributes.

3. Many recruitment agencies are now “tweeting” on Twitter. If you do not already use Twitter then sign up! You can subscribe directly to agency job updates via the RSS feeds on Twitter, meaning that you do not have wait for them to appear on third party websites such as Monster or Totaljobs.

4. Once you have started “tweeting” on Twitter than ensure that you communicate regularly with people and do not leave any conversation posts unanswered. You never know – you may have just ignored the one person who has a job for you.

5. Sign up to LinkedIn. This works like a business version of Facebook. You can quickly create a profile, link to colleagues you work/ed with, then continue linking to other professionals to increase your network. Many recruitment agencies are also on LinkedIn and contact their network with vacancies. You can maximise your exposure on LinkedIn by collecting “Recommendations” that work as online references attached to your profile. With 45 million members it is worth getting yourself on here!

6. Use forums on job seeking websites such as Monster and Other job seekers may have leads/advice for you

7. Create your own website showcasing your skills and examples of your work. Link to it from the other social media sites that you are using and don’t forget to include your contact details!

8. Start a blog relating to your career to show that you have a genuine interest and passion for your area of work. For example, if you work in construction write a blog that talks about industry trends and developments. Put the web address of your blog on your CV. Allow people to comment on your posts and be sure to update it regularly! Try for an easy way to create your own blog.



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