1. Set yourself a deadline.
It’s very important to set goals for yourself. Having a deadline will motivate you to take action. So when do you want to start your new role? Make sure your deadline is realistic, but challenging. Consider all the different stages of the job search process. Approximately how long will each stage take? What stage are you at now? Remember this deadline isn’t cast in stone. Stuff happens! Things might move slower than you anticipate. On the other hand they may move quicker. So be prepared!
2. Take a long hard look at yourself and what makes you tick.
Become self-aware. Getting to know yourself is probably the most important part of this process. Some individuals are very self-aware. Others , however, have never really taken the time or seen the importance of getting to know themselves and what makes them tick. Self-awareness however is vital if we want to discover the career we are most suited to.
It is also critical in the preparation of a really powerful CV and for effective Interview preparation. Take the time identify your Strengths, both personal and professional, your Skills, your Values, what motivates you, your passions and interests. If you need help, ask people who know you well what they think. Try doing a personality assessment. There are plenty of basic ones online which could prove useful.
3. Make a list of your accomplishments.
Think of both personal and professional accomplishments.
Start from as far back as you can remember, as a child. Perhaps divide it into different phases of your life e.g. , age 0-5, primary school, secondary school, third level, and then the different professional roles to date(where relevant).
Many people fail to recognise their accomplishments and just see them as part of life or their job, but It’s a good idea to set up a database of your accomplishments. Think big and small. Think of the effort it involved for you. Think of those moments when you felt proud of yourself or got a buzz from that sense of achieving something. Keep adding to that database. Eventually there may be hundreds there (hopefully).
This list will really help in both your CV and Interview preparation as well as anytime you need to boost your self-esteem!
4. Identify your ideal working environment.
This is a really useful exercise. Think of the type of environment you would like to work in. Big/small company, global multinational/start-up business,
consultancy/contractor/self-employed, indoors/outdoors, remote or onsite. At home or abroad? What are you doing every day. What type of people do you want to work with.
Go into as much detail as you can in describing to yourself your ideal working environment.
Then make a list of organisations and/or business/product areas you are particularly interested in
5. Prepare an impactful CV
All the information you have gleaned to far will really stand to you here. Your CV should very much focus on what you have achieved to date. It should not be a list of duties and responsibilities , but a document highlighting your main accomplishments in each role (or stage of your life). Include as much quantitative data as possible to illustrate your accomplishment e.g. budget of €?, reduced error by ? %, a team of ? people.
A strong personal profile at the start of your CV is vital. This is basically a summary of what is contained in the body of your CV i.e. who you are, your qualifications and experience, skills, personal strengths, style etc. Most importantly it should emphasise what differentiates you from anyone else. What is your unique selling point (USP)? Your Profile can influence the reader to either read on or cast you CV into the bin!
6. Prepare your ’Elevator pitch’.
Basically your elevator pitch will answer that all important question; “Tell me about yourself”
Many people expect this question, but then end to ramble on in a non-structured way and don’t know when to stop! You can prepare a basic response to this question and just tweak it for the particular situation you are in. Ideally your response should be about 90 seconds. Be natural!
Within this you should have summarised who you are, your career and educational background, your key strengths and skills along with your career highlights, and finally what you are looking for.
Your ’Elevator pitch‘ can be used in both the interview and networking setting.
7. Network, Network, Network!
You cannot underestimate the power of networking in your job search. Networking is not asking everyone you know for a job. Networking is simply information gathering. When there is a job opportunity however, make sure to ask for it!
Have a networking plan.
Be sure about your objectives – is it information you are looking for, advice, knowledge, industry trends, names of contacts in certain organisations, to uncover hidden jobs, potential opportunities, specific recruiter names, growth areas, a reference etc?
Make a list of contacts, starting with your primary contacts, family, friends etc and go from there. With each networking meeting try and get further contact names.
Have your ‘elevator pitch’ prepared and tailored to each networking contact.
Remember, networking also raises you profile.
8. Consider further education/professional development.
What more can you do to get the edge on another job applicant. Further education and qualifications will always stand to you. Research the area you are in and find out what courses are available that will give you a competitive advantage. It might be a short course of a few days , or a longer one over a few years.
Make sure it is something you will enjoy and are likely to stick at.
Employers are always impressed with individuals who show initiative and take control of their personal/professional development.
Further education is also great for self-confidence, especially for someone who has been out of the workplace for a while.
It is also another way of building your network and raising your profile.
Your networking can help in identifying the most relevant courses.
9. Prepare your cover letter template.
Always include a cover letter/email when applying for a role, whether requested or not. It is another opportunity to market yourself!
The role of your cover letter is to generate enough interest in the reader to encourage them to look at your CV.
Similar to you ‘elevator pitch’, the letter should summarise your suitability to the role by highlighting your educational background, key strengths and skills, work history and your career highlights relevant to the position.
Always finish with a call to action i.e. ask for an interview, a meeting, a telephone conversation – whatever is relevant.
Keep in clear and concise with bullet points to highlight you ‘unique selling points’.
10. Interview Preparation- Practice, practice, practice
The more interview practice you can get the better. If you’re not in a position to get career coaching, research as much as you can on types of interview and effective
Look up sample questions, and practice the answers.
Rehearse as much as possible, preferably in front of someone else, video yourself, or even just stand in front of the mirror!.
Establish as much information as you can about the interview process as you can beforehand, types of interview, how many stages, who will be present, what is their background, who is the final decision maker etc.
Look at it from the perspective of the interviewer. What do they want to know?
First of all, can you do the work i.e. qualifications, experience, skills. Have plenty of examples ready.
Then, will you do the work? Are you motivated, conscientious, a team player…. What drives you? What are you aspirations?
Finally, the fit. Will you fit in the company? Does your personality and style suit he company and its culture?
It is also important to remember that the interview is an exploratory process for you too, to see if you feel the company and role are a good fit . It works both ways!
11. Send a thank you email
Whether it’s networking meeting or an interview, always follow up afterwards. You can never go wrong with a thank you email!
12. Follow-up- always be proactive
As part of your job search plan, you should always schedule in follow-up phone calls or emails, whether it be with a networking contact, a recruiter, or post-interview. Set reminders in your calendar to do this. It demonstrates that you are proactive, enthusiastic and organised. And you never know, that phone call or email might just land at an opportune time!
Again it is all about raising your profile and getting your name out there and recognised.
My final point is this – PERSEVERE!. It takes work! Be patient, nothing happens overnight. Have a plan and keep acting on it. Be proactive and take control. It will happen eventually!!