Written by Kathryn Hall
Are you at a career crossroads and don’t know what to do?
Are you new to the world of work and don’t know where to look?
The driving force guiding your career must come from you and requires you to clearly think about what you truly want by treating yourself as a business with a product to sell and show why an employer should attract, hire and retain you.
The following steps will ensure that you will be set up for a successful job search before you even start applying.
#1 Know what you are looking for
The key in any career review that will enable you to move forward is to analyse your past, being honest about what was good and what wasn’t so good so that you can plan your future career pathway. This applies even for new entrants into the world of work as you should analyse what you are ideally looking for from a job.
Analyse the why to bring clarity to what the right job will look like for you. Don’t just assume that the grass is always greener…..!
- Where have you been?
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
Ask yourself ….
- What have you achieved in your career so far?
- What are you proud of?
- What have you enjoyed and why?
- What have you not enjoyed and why?
- When are you at your best?
- What are your strengths?
- What do others say about you/what feedback have you had?
- What is important to you about a job?
- Where do you want to work? Home-based, office-based, hybrid based, compressed hours? Is it a must-have or nice to have?
- What hours do you want to work?
- What type of company do you want to work for e.g. do you prefer smaller organisations where you do a little bit of everything or larger organisation where the work is more predictable?
- What sector do you want to work in?
- What type of work do you want to do? What activities, challenges and responsibilities do you want to do?
- Would you consider short term, interim or self-employed work?
- What salary and benefits do you need? What is the minimum salary you are willing to accept? Does it match the industry norm?
- What type of culture do you want to work in?
- What are you prepared to compromise on?
- What are my career goals for the next 12 months, 2 years or 5 years?
Sometimes roles are not advertised with salaries. The following sites will let you research the average salary for jobs and give you an idea of where the role might be positioned.
Establish a clear vision for what you want your ideal role to be. This will help align your professional interests, aspirations and skills to the jobs that ensure that you perform at your best. What is your wish list for your next role? Try to be specific as this helps narrow down search parameters and means that you are more likely to find your dream role. Would you be content and confident in this role?
#2 Spruce up your documents and social media
Do your CV, LinkedIn Profile and other social media showcase your brand appropriately?
Is there anything that could affect your application?
There is a good chance that a future employer will check out your online profiles, both personal and professional, before making a job offer and sometimes even before interviewing. Employers are also using LinkedIn to find candidates.
Do your CV and LinkedIn profile show how you can fix the problem that an employer has? Weave your narrative into what they are looking for. Try to work on your personal brand. Write down what you want to be known for and what you want people to think of when they look at your profiles.
#3 Fill in the gaps
Having completed initial research into your dream role are there any gaps in your knowledge?
- Knowledge based – are there any online courses or classes that could be completed?
- Experience based – could you volunteer within cross functional teams at your existing employer or undertake new projects to get exposure to areas that you need to grow in?
#4 Perfect your elevator pitch
Before you start approaching businesses and/or network connections you need to be able to clearly articulate the question “tell me about yourself”. This can be achieved through creating a great elevator pitch which is engaging, short and tells a story clearly and concisely.
#5 Network/schedule informational interviews
70% of jobs are filled by employers using their connections and networks, the so called “hidden jobs market”. Below are some examples of different sources of networking opportunities.
•Colleagues – past and present
•Parents and teachers at children’s schools
•Fellow worshippers at a place of worship
•Volunteers in a community project
•Referrals from people you know
•People from social clubs or sports clubs
•Neighbours – past and present
•Book club members
•Fellow dog walkers
•Online friends in social media groups
•People from other social gatherings
•People you meet in your job search through referrals/cold calling
•People you meet through volunteering, hobbies, community events etc.
#6 Handling job rejections
The journey to finding your dream career may not be a smooth affair. You may be faced with receiving rejections which can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you have prepared a lot as it was your dream role. With the right mindset you can turn this is into a career development opportunity which will help you in the future.
- Ask for detailed feedback – a great way to learn is to request feedback from the recruiter.
- Review and reflect – if you can get feedback from the recruiters use this and your thoughts to truly reflect on why you weren’t successful.
- Identify learnings and build a personal development plan – what do you need to do differently?
- Be philosophical – sometimes things are out of our control, other candidates might have better suited the needs of the organisation.
- Be prepared to refine or change the direction of your career search – you might look at other similar roles in different industries or a change of career if the roles available don’t meet your personal needs and circumstances.
In conclusion, the journey to a job could take you between 3-9 months so the overall key is to build resilience – you need to try to develop a thick skin and recognise that things happen for a reason and that it might take time to find and secure your dream job.