Facing unemployment? Don't panic! Here are eight tips to help you back into a job.
Following last week’s emergency budget, the UK employment situation is looking stickier than ever. Good jobs are extremely thin on the ground, with many suitable candidates chasing every single one.
Here, I’m going to highlight eight things you can do to help make sure you get ahead of the fierce competition, and pin down the job you want.
We’ll assume you’ve already knocked your CV into shape, and got some volunteering or work experience under your belt. This is all about thinking outside the box, and making sure you really stand out.
1. Clean up your web profile
We’ve all heard about people being sacked for criticising their bosses on Facebook. As a potential employee, you need to make sure your web profile is squeaky clean - because employers will almost certainly ‘Google’ you.
Make sure every one of your social networking pages, blogs and online photos reflects well on you. It may also be a good idea to build a clear, positive employment profile, using a professional networking site such as LinkedIn.
Several potential employers have established contact with me using the site, so I can confirm that it really does work!
2. Build yourself a website
It obviously depends on your profession, but many people benefit from having a simple website showcasing their skills and experience.
A professional website is a good place to direct potential employers initially. And (unlike a CV) you can use it to showcase portfolio material such as photos, videos and charts, as well as text.
3. Bond with Twitter
Twitter is undoubtedly the conduit for a lot of meaningless drivel… but it can also be a really effective tool in your search for employment.
Many companies now run Twitter accounts - so identify those in the industry you’re aiming at, and start following them. It could be well worth the hassle because vacancies are sometimes ‘tweeted’ that don’t appear on the mainstream recruitment websites.
If you’re already a signed-up member of the Twitterati, spread the word that you’re looking for a new job. Just don’t bombard your followers with requests, or you’ll be labelled a spammer.
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4. Be prepared
Get some smart, distinctive business cards printed, and make sure you have a few on you at all times. You never know where or when you may meet a potential employer.
Have a look at online printers MOO. Their cards aren’t cheap, but they give you the option to make every single one different, so they really stand out.
5. Call in favours
Now is not the time to feel embarrassed about being unemployed. Many firms rely largely on personal referrals from existing employees; so see if anyone you already know could be the answer to your prayers.
Contact friends, family and acquaintances and see if there are any vacancies they could recommend you for. The individual approach works best (most people will ignore a ‘round robin’ email) and be honest about your skills and what you’re looking for.
6. Go above and beyond
If you’re asked to submit extra material with a job application, think about how you can go above and beyond the competition. For example, if you’re asked to come up with three project ideas, come up with four or five. Or if you’re asked to produce one sample article, write two.
You’ll be demonstrating your versatility, creativity and initiative; and you’ll also be showing them that you really want the job.
7. Do your research
Make sure you have a thorough understanding of how a company works, particularly if you get as far the interview stage. This means you need to do more than Google the firm and memorise the ‘about’ page.
If it’s a customer-facing business (such as a retailer, restaurant or gym) visit a couple of branches and - if possible - chat to some employees. Find out about the history of the business, and how it’s changed over the years.
All this will put you in a stronger position in the interview because you’ll be better able to explain how your strengths and experience could fit in.
8. Have a Plan B
What will your next step in the employment ‘campaign’ be if you don’t get this job? Is there a particular skill you’d like to work on? Or would you like to spend more time with your family?
Perversely, having a ‘Plan B’ or alternative scenario as a back-up may take the pressure off a little, and actually help you to perform better in the interview.
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