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January is the busiest time of year to start looking for a new role, but before you join the throngs of people on the hunt for a new start, here's some expert advice on taking the next step...
Research by the National Careers Service has revealed that January is the busiest time of year for job hunters (surprise, surprise), as lots of us make New Year’s resolutions to have a fresh start. Here are careers adviser Tracey Bell’s top tips if you’re thinking about making a change…
1. Think about your interests and strengths
‘Whether you know exactly what you want to do next or not, now is a good time to think about what you enjoy and what you’re good at, to ensure that your next role is compatible with your strengths. Don’t limit this to your work life – by considering your hobbies and personal interests, you might uncover a hidden talent that you never knew you had, but that you can use to gain new employment. Write a list of things that you aren’t happy with or don’t like about your job, to make sure that you can avoid falling into another role that heavily relies on elements you won’t enjoy.’
2. Think long-term
‘It’s really important to consider your personal long-term goals. Some jobs may look interesting now, but think hard about investing time and effort into something that may not be compatible with your long-term objectives. It may seem daunting to try and plan your life out, and of course things do change, but being prepared is a good investment for the future.’
3. Make a plan
‘Once you’re clear on what you want to do, put together an action plan of how to achieve your goals. Have a think about how you can get from where you are now to that coveted dream job. Perhaps you need to re-train or re-locate? It’s likely that you will need to update your CV and prepare yourself for interviews. Set yourself realistic targets and timescales for each task, so that your job search doesn’t become stagnant.’
‘Once you’ve worked out the area you would like to work in, research some specific companies to get a feel for the places you might like to join. This is also a great opportunity to look at your chosen industry as a whole; you should take note of any big news, announcements or innovations happening in that field.’
5. Build a network
‘During your research, you may come across inspirational people who have done well in their careers. These people could be connected to you through friends, family or old colleagues, who could introduce you. Meeting people who work in your chosen field can be invaluable for both identifying future opportunities within a company, and getting practical and honest advice and insights into the job you’re interested in.’
6. Look at your qualifications
‘This is a good time to check that you have the relevant skills in place to gain a job in your chosen field. You may want to consider gaining a new qualification. This can seem daunting, but there is plenty of support available for every age group. You can visit the National Careers Service website for more information on different training and education options, and for advice on funding and finance.’
7. Start applying
‘When you’ve finished your research and you’re confident you fit the criteria for the jobs you’re interested in, get ready to start applying for positions. There are different ways to apply for jobs: you can search online for opportunities (on job and company websites), but it’s also worth sending out speculative applications. Companies don’t always advertise jobs and may even create a position if they feel the candidate is strong enough.’
8. Prepare your CV
‘Once you’ve decided what you want to do, and how you are going to get there, make sure you don’t fall at the final hurdle. It’s really important to have an up-to-date CV. A good CV should never exceed two pages, and be sure to check your spelling and grammar. You could even ask someone else to check it too. To ensure your CV is concise, only include relevant and recent experience. When talking about your previous jobs, highlight your achievements rather than your duties – a prospective employer is going to be more interested in what you can do for them than knowing about what your jobs entailed. Make sure you tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for, by highlighting your most relevant experience and interests.’
9. Now prepare yourself…
‘Once you’ve completed and sent off your CV, you will hopefully have some interviews to attend. It sounds like common sense, but you wouldn’t believe how many people go into an interview woefully underprepared. Research the company and some of their competitors, and have an answer ready for general interview questions, such as what your strengths and weaknesses are and why you want the job. It’s OK to be nervous and need a moment to gather your thoughts before answering a question, but some things should come out easily. It’s also a good idea to do a trial run from your house to your interview destination – be sure to arrive in plenty of time and be well presented.’
Now happy hunting!