Monday, 6 January 2014

New Years Resolutions: Get a New Job

Today is the most popular day of the year to look for a new job and it is also the half way point for my series of ten posts that I am doing to cover the most common New Year Resolutions, this post will give you some handy hints for getting a new job. I'm going to cover the basics from where to look to what to wear in an interview. 

Look everywhere!
The first basic step is looking for available jobs, you aren't going to get a job if you don't look! The local paper, shop windows, university job shop, national newspapers, online resources, friends, family and other social networks might lead to to your next potential job. Keep a list of vacancies you want to apply for and then go through the list when you have a spare moment, I often do this when I get emails through.
Here are some websites to get you started on your job hunt:

"I see a new job on the horizon"
(I really need to stop using these stock image and making shitty jokes)

Use professional business sites like LinkedIn to build an online network and CV. This can be helpful for finding jobs and getting your name noticed. It also shows initiative if you decide to contact a company through these kinds of sites.

ICT skills are so important to have these days. If you are feeling out of touch there are course that you can take online or at your local library.
Most academic courses do cost money to take, but the Open University do degree courses which are much cheaper than other university courses.
If you still want to earn while you retain why not take and apprenticeship?

Ah shit, I just can't help myself with these pictures

Volunteer work
Volunteer work is amazing because everyone involved can feel the benefits. There are loads of volunteer jobs out there that can give your CV a much needed boost. If you are currently unemployed, becoming involved in a volunteer position will pay off later as it will help to fill the gap in your employment history. To find volunteer jobs in your area click here.

Be your own boss
If you are sick to death of being under someone else all the time (that's what she said) then consider starting your own business. We've all dabbled in a bit of eBay selling now and again and for some people this has been the start of their self employment story. I'm sure you've had dreams about turning a hobby into a job or come up with a genius invention to solve an everyday problem, so why not turn that into a money spinner. Here are 10 job ideas to get you thinking, I'd also add baker and fashion reseller to this list.

So after you've found a job that you want to apply for you need to actually apply for the damn thing. Most companies ask for a CV as this is the quickest way to tell if you have the right qualifications for the job. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure it is up to date - everything from your address and phone number to the actual content needs to be recent
  • List your job history from present to past as this is the most relevant 
  • Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for - if you are applying for a bar job there is no point in telling them how awesome you are at writing poetry
  • Make the most of the skills you do have - be creative and play up transferable skills. So you've never actually used a till before, but you are up to date with technology and a quick learner
  • Spell check - no really, check out these terrible CVs
  • Make sure it is no longer than one double sided sheet - aint no body got time for a novel
  • Use a readable font - only use black text
  • Rehearse it - make sure know it off by heart because if you get to the interview stage they will ask you about it, so don't lie either. It's morally wrong. 
  • Show case the three most important subjects: maths, english and ICT
  • Emphasise what you achieved in your previous roles - did you lower spending by 25%? Did you teach a kid to read? Small victories are victories non the less

Pro Tip: print some general CVs out and carry them around with you so if you see a vacancy you can pop a CV straight in rather than waiting because the job might already be gone by the time you go back.
Along with the CV, cover letters are the bread and butter of job applications. Whilst helping my friend sift through some job applications he was sent, we came across some extremely poor attempts at covering letters. As time goes on you will get better at writing cover letters, but that doesn't mean you should be terrible to begin with.

A cover letter is like a readers manual for your CV. It is supposed to give some extra detail to the things you have mentioned but you need to avoid repeating yourself in both documents. Use the cover letter to explain why you are the best person for the job, why you weren't employed for a while, why you left your last job (go careful with this one though), why you want to work for this company in particular, show you know something about who you are working for and what the role entails. If you still aren't sure what to write use this cover letter makeover guide to give you some ideas.
Pro tip: if you are going to use a template for your cover letter, please for the love of god delete any evidence that you used one!

Practice interviews
Interviews can be really scary but if you are prepared and confident then it makes it easier. Just remember to stay relaxed and rehearse some things they might ask you this guide has the 20 most common interview questions and answers to help put your mind at ease. Again, this is another opportunity to show the interviewer you know something about the job and the company.

So, it has finally come, your CV managed to wow the judges and now you are along for interview but you aren't sure what to wear. Long gone are the days of wearing a full black suit to a job interview, it is seen as unoriginal and boring by interviewers. Your best bet is to dress smartly but with some personality. You need to make yourself memorable to interviewers, whether that be wearing an interesting necklace or a unique patterned shirt. If you look the part then people will assume you are the best person for the job.

Let me know your suggestions for getting a new job in the comments below or on twitter or facebook. To see all posts in this series click here

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