The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market in the 21st Century

Archive for February 2011

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 1 : Get a plan

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Setting your objectives when starting out on a job search

1.         Know what you want

When setting out on a journey, it is only natural to plan a route, get a map, and program the satnav so that we know the best, most direct route to take. And of course, our map indicates where our destination is so that we know when we’ve arrived.

It is surprising how many candidates, when setting out on a job search, have no idea of where they’re heading or what they expect to achieve.

The reality is that, without a very clear plan, your job search will be frustrating and extended.

2.         It’s a competitive numbers game

During 2009 the economic recession caused large numbers of redundancies, flooding the market with senior and experienced people who have possibly not been in the job market for many years. At the other end of the spectrum, graduate opportunities decreased and it is more difficult for fresh graduates to get jobs within their academic areas. Of course, the job market doesn’t only consist of new entries and experienced starters but the diversity adds strain at opposite ends of the job spectrum. Added to the normal churn of people looking for work for totally individual reasons, the volumes of job applications have increased exponentially.

If you don’t know what you want, you won’t recognise it when it turns up. And the likelihood of it turning up, realistically, is a lot smaller now than it was a few years ago due to the sheer numbers of applicants in the market. It’s a lot more competitive.

So my very first piece of advice would be: GET A PLAN!

3.         Make sure you know what you do (And don’t) want

Take some time out and write down what you really want. Not only the financial expectations, but the type of job, kind of organisation, location, level of seniority, etc. Are you planning a career change? Do you want to do exactly the same as before? Where are your flex points? On which points can’t you be flexible?

And as you go through this, keep doing a reality check. The past is gone, what you had in yesterday’s job is unlikely to return. But if you knew what you enjoyed about the last job, and which bits you disliked, you can get a picture of what would suit you best. And then do a reality check again.

You might have to take a drop in pay to get back into employment. If you can be flexible to location, you widen your catchment area and so, increase your opportunities.

4.         RESEARCH! And prepare for a long haul

If you haven’t been in the jobs market for a long time, do some research. What applied even just a year ago, is no longer applicable so it’s really important that you know how to calibrate your expectations.

Making lists and writing down all the information you have about yourself, your expectations and your flex points will give you sound information on which to base your CV. Or CV’s: You might need to do more than one if you have a broad skill set, or want a career change.

The ideas and plans you put down now will inform your actions during your job search. You might become frustrated and despondent later on, so returning to this information will help you get back on track and maintain focus. It might take some time to get re-employed; having something to keep you on course will be useful in keeping you motivated.

Prepare for a long journey. The reality might turn out to be a lot shorter, but realistically the perfect job is not going to turn up quickly. If it does, count yourself lucky. If it doesn’t, don’t beat yourself up because many other people are in exactly the same situation.

Having a plan will keep you focussed and objective. It will also maintain your realistic expectations if things don’t go the way you want them to.

Introducing “The definitive guide to job seeking”

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With high unemployment statistics and a shift from traditional sources to an increasingly sophisticated online jobs market, it is no surprise that there is growing frustration amongst job seekers about how to engage with the challenge of finding a new job.

Organisations that use the Internet to advertise their available jobs provide continual training and information for their staff about how to engage with this medium. Unfortunately, the job seeker, who only dips in and out of this resource periodically (And usually with urgency) has been left behind. Other than the help functions on each website, there are very few sources of information designed to guide them through the quagmire of the modern job search.

Other than divorce or losing a loved one, being without a job is one of the most stressful periods in an individual’s life. Redundancy has been prevalent in the past years. This invariably leaves job seekers with feelings of rejection, inadequacy and hopelessness. Unfortunately, the job market has become commoditised and people often feel that they are being treated as numbers, protracting the feelings of uselessness. This drains confidence. And getting to an interview with confidence, after all, is the prime goal if you want to find a new job!

I often speak to candidates who have been out of work and continually job seeking, even for months, with no success. They are despondent and emotionally exhausted by the current jobs market that operates negatively, and doesn’t support people. Human beings need and deserve positive input about their abilities and skills; however the system is selective and competitive. It is also impersonal with no sensitivity to the human impact of its actions. And that is exactly the issue: It is a depersonalised commercial system, populated by personalised human beings with hopes, feelings and emotions. This is why severe frustrations invariably develop.

In this series, I hope to discuss the key areas prevalent in today’s jobs market to offer at least a positive starting base for the job seeker. I believe that, by informing and imparting information, some of the frustration will hopefully be removed from the process of finding a new job, leading to a deeper understanding and preserving self-confidence for when that all-important job interview does eventually occur.

I will look at the following areas:

1.  Setting your objectives: Making sure you set out on an appropriate course from the start

2. Commoditise yourself: Taking the emotion out of the process and finding your USP’s

3.  The recruitment process: Understanding where you fit into the scheme of things

4.  Writing a CV to fit the purpose: How to turn your CV into a sales document aimed at an online audience.

5. Managing the online monster: How to get your CV in the most important places, and to get it found

6. Engaging with recruitment agencies: What to expect, how to get the best results and how to build relationships

I will be very happy to include any other areas of interest, so please respond to the blog or send me an e-mail with your questions and I will do my best to comply.

I will publish the series in weekly editions starting on the 23rd February, building up to a final document that will be available via my website .

Recruitment and the Data Protection Act – Did you know this?

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Today, I received my renewal notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Because I last paid this a year ago, it has been out of mind for a while. Best practice with candidate details mean that I naturally store everything on a secure database, and that I don’t send candidate details anywhere without their express permission. The same goes for client information: All data is stored on my database, safe from prying eyes. And I use it with great care and consideration.

I don’t really think about it – It’s an internal process that has simply become part of my daily working practices. But this renewal notification has drawn my mind to it again, and I wonder how many candidates and clients are aware of it?

To quote from the ICO’s leaflet: “The Data Protection Act 1998 places obligations on organisations that use personal information and gives individuals certain rights … every organisation (data controller) the process personal information (data) must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office …. Failure to notify is a criminal offence.”

There are 8 data protection principles embodied in the Act. Summarised, they require that data shall be:

1. fairly and lawfully processed;

2. processed for limited purposes;

3. adequate, relevant and not excessive;

4. accurate;

5. not kept longer than necessary

6. processed in accordance with the data subjects’ rights;

7. secure; and

8. not transferred to countries outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection.

Is your recruitment agency registered, or are they contravening the Data Protection Act? Do you know what they are doing with your personal data, how it is stored and how secure it is? Do you give permission every time your Cv is sent out somewhere? If they are not registered, you are vulnerable.

Food for thought, methinks!

Business Development Manager (C.£45k + package) North West

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Our client is a very well-known and highly successful distributor of parts for the independent automotive aftermarket. Their business has seen strong growth in the past 2 years and there are new strategies in place to maximize the exciting opportunities that exist in the market.

As part of this growth plan, they now require a Business Manager / Senior Sales Manager to join their business with a regional brief to drive business plans and sales strategies that will ensure attainment of company sales goals and profitability.

Working across the branch network, you will be responsible for the development and performance of all sales activities, providing leadership towards the achievement of maximum profitability and growth in line with company vision and values. This will include establishing plans and strategies to continually expand the customer base.

The ideal candidate will be a seasoned sales professional with a track record of successful management in a distribution based commodity sales environment. You will have well-developed commercial acumen and an entrepreneurial approach to the sales environment. You will also be an experienced people manager and mentor, with the energy and gravitas to inspire and motivate teams to achieve their goals. You will be a strategic thinker, able to deliver on short term goals whilst putting longer term structures and metrics and place to ensure sustained achievement.

Although past experience of working the automotive aftermarket (motor factor, manufacturer or buying group) will be a benefit, your character, drive and enthusiasm will be the final decision making factor.

There are outstanding career prospects in this organisation, and the Business Manager of today will be a likely Board Member of tomorrow.

For more information, please send your CV to recruitment@cathyrich.co.uk or call 0845 269 9085 for a discussion.

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