Searching for a job
Looking for a new job can become a job in itself, however if you plan your search correctly, you could be on your way to a great new career sooner than you think. If you feel you need help with your job search, check:
The National Career Service can also provide you with further information on how to look for a job.
Remember once you apply for a job, the employer can call you at any time.
Make sure you have your phone charged and close to you at all times and that your voicemail greetings reflect your professionalism.
If you don't answer the phone yourself, the first impression that your potential new employer will have of you is your voicemail greeting. It's up to you what you want that impression to be. Keep it simple, short (no more than 30 seconds) and professional.
Filling in application forms
Employers are increasingly asking individuals to complete application forms rather than accepting CVs. This is for many reasons, one being they are all in the same format and so easier to compare. Usually an application form will be accompanied by a job description and person specification; these are to help you understand what the employer wants.
The key to a good application is making sure your SAKE (skills, abilities, knowledge and experience) fit the job and/or person specification.
Many job specifications distinguish between attributes sought in candidates that are 'essential' and 'desired'. In these highly competitive times, you're unlikely to get far if you can't align your skills to all or most of the essential requirements.
It is important your application takes into consideration all the points addressed in the Job Description and convince the employer that you can do the job. The National Careers Service has more advice on completing application forms.
Brent Start, Universal Skills and other services in Brent offer employability courses where you can learn how to write a strong application form.
Writing a CV
When looking for a job a CV is an important marketing tool you can use in order to spark an employer's interest.
A CV should include:
- personal contact details
- an introduction to who you are and a sense of your personality - It is important this is tailored to the job you are applying for; i.e. if you are applying for a job as a sales assistant in a sportswear store, make sure you write about your interest in sport and perhaps any sport activity you are currently doing.
- the skills and experience you have that are relevant to a specific job. Again, this should be tailored to the job you are applying for. If the job requires customer service make sure your CV highlights the customer service you have provided in your previous job. Likewise, if you are applying for a Business and Admin job, make sure your CV reflects your IT knowledge and experience. It is better you send less CVs but tailored to the job rather than sending 100 general CVs. Consider your CV an evolving document that never stays the same.
- transferable skills you have when applying for a job in a different industry
- information on your past work experience
- information on any education or qualifications you have gained
- any relevant training courses you have been on.
The National Careers Service provide a builder tool to help you create your CV.
Brent Start and other services in Brent offer employability courses where you can learn how to write a successful CV.
Writing cover letters
When you send your CV to an employer it would normally be accompanied by a cover letter, think of this as the trailer to your CV which is the film.
You need to make the employer want to read your CV. It is important that this is tailored to the job you are applying for and the job advert can be used to guide your cover letter.
The National Careers Service has a step by step guide to creating a cover letter that you may find useful.
Brent Start and other services in Brent offer employability courses where you can learn how to write a successful cover letter.
Good preparation is essential for successful one-to-one and group interviews. Here you can find a checklist to signpost you to areas you may want to address.
- Research the company. What is the company proud of? What do they do? Since when? What attracts you to that particular company? Not showing enthusiasm for the company will affect your application. Do your homework and make sure you look informed and passionate about it. Prepare a few questions you can ask at the end of the interview.
- Prepare your answers by looking at the job description and thinking for each responsibility and requirement, of an example when you have demonstrated the ability to do it. You should know the job description and person specification inside out and you should make sure you can convince the interviewer you are the best candidate for that particular job!
- Make sure you have all the details of where you need to go, what time you need to be there and what you need to bring. Check your travel journey. Plan your journey aiming to get there 15 minutes early, and then add another half hour to reduce the risk of delays due to transport issues or other factors.
- Wear something smart but comfortable. If you don't own a suit, a shirt or a smart top and trousers are fine. It is best not to wear over-the-top jewellery, fake nails, or other accessories. If you are registered with Jobcentre Plus or Work Programme providers, ask your employment adviser if they can help you with your outfit.
- Smart Works provide high quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to out-of-work women on low incomes.
In addition to one-to-one interviews, many employers now use assessment days for their recruitment. This can be a better way to see how someone is likely to interact with customers and colleagues than a more formal one-to-one interview.
Remember this is a form of interview and everything you do will be assessed.
- Be prepared to participate in activities (including singing, acting or drawing).
- Be prepared to talk about why you are interested in the job, what you know about the employer and your skills and experience that are relevant to the role.
- If you would like help in improving your interview technique, there are many services in Brent that can help you.
- The National Career Service and Prospect provide further tips including downloadable career podcasts with useful interview tips.
Do you know what the internet is saying about you? The internet and social media can be powerful tools when looking for a job but they could also be working against you. It is important that you check your online presence.
This is much simpler than it sounds, just put your name into a search engine and see the results.
There are lots of websites you can use to promote your self to employers and find a job online. Linkedin is one of the best social media tools to find a job as it is the world's largest professional network with millions of members. If you want help to create an award winning Linkedin profile, GoThinkBig has a guide available for you.
Your email address
Make sure your email address reflects your professionalism. It is important you take a closer look at the actual email address you are using - it might be sabotaging your job search.
What would you think of someone who has an email like firstname.lastname@example.org? Employers do look at these things and the wrong email address might spoil a great opportunity of an interview.
Key email address naming tips:
- remove age references
- avoid political, gender or religious references
- avoid adjectives describing your look or your personality
- go for your safest bet; your name and surname or your initials.