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Top Job Search Tips

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.

Here's our advice on the key things to need to do to make your job hunt a resounding success:

Where can I find hidden vacancies?

A common misconception about looking for a new job is that all vacancies will be either advertised or easily visible. Unfortunately, that couldn't be more wrong.

Many vacancies are regarded as hidden, never to be seen by the majority of people - instead of advertising, employers will fill these vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or simply recruit internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost when it comes to finding your next role.

Getting the word out
Using your network is the other main way to source hidden positions. Past employers, colleagues, friends, family and just about anyone you meet can form your network, and for serious jobseekers, even the most casual of meetings should be treated as a potential job lead. Conferences in particular provide an invaluable chance to meet a large number of useful contacts

If you're looking for your first job, your teachers or professors can be an invaluable source of information about the job market. As experts in their field they're bound to have contacts in the relevant industry and will know your strengths better than anyone. Make the best use of your university careers facility while you're there, no matter how distant the idea of getting a job appears.

Making a move
Even if an employer doesn't have any vacancies at the present time, they will always be willing to create a position if an exceptional applicant comes along. This is done by contacting companies on a prospective basis to ask if they have any opportunities for somebody with your skills.

The courteous way to carry this out initially involves giving them a call, preferably not during a stressful period, and then following up with an email thanking them for their time and attaching a copy of your CV. It's generally a good idea to get hold of the manager of the department you're looking to work in, who will then pass you onto the relevant person in the HR team to follow up.

As well as searching for hidden vacancies, you still need to continue applying for the vacancies that are visible through regular search methods. They will let you know the kinds of job descriptions that are on the market and the kinds of people that are being sought to fill them.

If you're hell-bent on working for a certain company and simply can't find a way in, consider applying for a lower level job and working your way up. Then you can use your contacts on the inside and be the first to hear about vacancies, leaving a pile of regular jobseekers trailing in your wake.

 How do I get headhunted?

Talent pools and headhunting are techniques used by companies to cherry pick the best employees in the market who will drive the growth of their company. Generally they're considered more expensive ways for companies to hire employees, but this extra cost is offset by the higher chance that the new recruit will be a success.

Being a big fish in a small pond
Big corporations track the progress of top graduates and other high flyers they have identified as potentially valuable in the future. They make a move to acquire the services of individuals from this talent pool when they've got positions they need to fill. It's generally a long term process and your career progress may be being tracked without you even knowing it.

The higher your profile in the market, the more they will want you and the greater the rewards you can expect, so here are some tips on how to go about getting noticed:
  • Have a strategy - knowing what you aim to achieve in your career is the key.
  • Post your CV on job websites - companies regularly scour these looking for top talent.
  • Network - get your face around; there's nothing like it for building a profile.
  • Join a business association - the local chamber of commerce is a good place to find out more.
  • Make yourself an expert - writing a blog or getting an article published in a trade journal are good ways to boost your credibility.
  • Be the best - do your job well, and make sure people know about it. It's what they're ultimately going to be hiring you for.
If there's a specific company you'd like to work for you should try making a prospective application explaining why you think you would be a perfect fit for their organisation. They may not have a specific position open for you now, but they will appreciate the pro-active approach and will be likely to keep you in mind for upcoming vacancies.

Going hunting
Companies enlist head-hunters to go out and find individuals when they have a specific role that needs filling. Unlike the 10-20% of an employee's salary that most regular recruitment agencies charge, head-hunters can earn substantially more for the extra effort they put in.

Once given a description of the individual they need to find, head-hunters will use every trick in the book and every avenue possible to uncover the best of the best, so if you want to be in their sights, follow the rules above.

It's now becoming increasingly common for individuals, especially those in high-paying roles, to approach head-hunters to find roles for them. This involves the head-hunter delving deep into companies to find out what vacancies are currently available, and what might be coming up in the near future.

How to recognise when you're in demand
“Someone called for you earlier but wouldn't leave a message. He said he'd call back.” This is a classic sign that someone wants to talk. If you want to keep your job search a secret you should be as subtle as you can when answering questions and always request they call you back at a more convenient time. They'll understand your situation and to your colleagues you'll sound like you're fending off a telemarketing call.
We all love the idea that someone out there has spotted us and is after our services; it's a feel-good thing, but that's not enough in itself. You may find yourself being flattered into a deal that – without the inner glow you've got right now – you wouldn't normally touch with a bargepole.

Don't allow yourself to be seduced by the natural sense of satisfaction and self-worth you'll feel by being approached. Never make snap decisions on whether to accept an offer, or verbally commit yourself to something you might later regret.

Take your time, and treat it like any other job offer. Sleep on it. Discuss it with friends and colleagues. Only take it if it's absolutely the right thing for you at this moment in time. Remember: if this person has noticed you, you can be sure that he or she is not the only one. Be patient, and see what the next phone call brings.

What do I need to know about job adverts? 

In today's cut-throat job marketplace, employers are constantly competing with one another to attract the best most suitably qualified candidates for their vacancies. The unimaginative identikit recruitment adverts that once dominated the job pages for years, are being replaced by skilfully created and well crafted adverts designed to lure you.

Writing job adverts is now a job in itself.

However, with advertising costs at a premium and ad space restricted, recruiters have to rely on certain characteristics and features that are common to most, if not all, recruitment adverts.

The reliance on stock phrases such as ‘enthusiastic, dynamic, forward-thinking, team player, pro-active' does little to tell candidates what the recruiter is actually looking for. But despite the fact that numerous studies have revealed that the majority of job seekers want straightforward, straight talking job adverts, the clichés are here to stay.

So, what do they actually mean?

Here is your jargon buster for some the most common terms used in recruitment adverts:

Team player
As it's unlikely that anyone would claim the opposite, statements like this become meaningless. When was the last time you ever saw an advert asking for a ‘Recluse'? They essentially want someone with a bit of personality who won't break their team dynamics and is willing to help with tasks outside their job role when required.

Results focused
Employers want a return on their investment in you. They are looking for someone who wants to work, is prepared to do what it takes to fulfil their job function, and has awareness of how their actions affect the company as a whole.

In other words, are you innovative, creative, are you the type of person who thinks intelligently and can generate ideas to improve things? This is one of the words that replaced ‘young' when age legislation came into force, but anyone who takes an interest in what they do and future possibilities can show dynamism.

Be prepared to be deployed to meet the demands of the business. This could involve relocating to another office or working extra hours - even weekends.

Competitive salary
Personally I prefer the word ‘attractive'. You wouldn't ask for a test-drive of a new car if you didn't know how much it costs to buy first. So why do recruiters hide the salary that is being offered? Perhaps they haven't decided what it is yet? Perhaps they want to hide it from their current employees?

Don't be put off by this, but do try and find out as early in the process as possible what the possible range is to save you wasting your time with roles way under the value you're looking for.

‘On Target Earnings'. This means that your take-home pay will be part basic salary and part performance-related pay. Se sure to ask about the targets at the interview and then decide if they are realistically achievable or not.

Recruitment is a selling game. Employers are selling their businesses to you and will try to entice the best applicants to work for them. And you are selling yourself to the employers when you send off your application.

So, cut through the jargon and identify what the job really entails. Don't be deterred by the flamboyant use of language in some adverts.

What is networking and how do I do it?

Essentially, networking is getting to know people who can help you develop your career prospects. You don't need to be a big shot or the most outgoing person in the world to network effectively.

Take it a step at a time. Begin with people you know, at work and in your social life. Keep your ears open and listen for information that could work to your advantage.

What are the benefits of networking?
A lot of good jobs never make it to the pages of a recruitment website or newspaper. They get filled by word of mouth and the more senior the position, the more often it happens this way.

Even if the job is advertised, it helps to know someone inside the new organisation who can give you the inside line. They may even end up interviewing you which will always make it a less stressful experience.
Like any other form of social behaviour, networking follows certain rules to follow:
  • First impressions count - both face-to-face and via the phone or email. Always stay sharp.
  • Don't ask directly for a job - networking is not a job fair; it's an opportunity to gather potentially useful information.
  • Give and take - networking is a two-way exchange, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Do the groundwork - research your contacts before meeting them and always follow up good leads or they pass on.
  • Think laterally – try to expand your network outwards, beyond your comfort zone or usual sphere of operation.
  • Patience is a virtue – getting involved in networking is being in there for the long haul; don't expect to land a plum job at your first meeting.
Building your network
Even if you're new to the game, you may have lots of worthwhile contacts you hadn't seen in that way before:
  • Old school, college or university classmates
  • Distant family members
  • Your friends' family
  • Your doctor, lawyer or accountant
  • Former colleagues or bosses
  • Club members or anyone else you meet socially
Keep good records of who you meet and the conversations you've had - there's no point building a network of contacts that you then forget. Also aim to stay in regular touch even when you're not after anything specific. You don't want to be known as the person who only ever gets in touch when they're after a favour.
Networking events and conferences are good ways to build a network if you're not sure where to start. Make sure you know why you are there and what you want out of it and make sure you have a few copies of your CV or some business cards to hand out to the important contacts you meet.

Don't wait until you've lost your job before picking up the phone to speak to people in your industry – even if you're happy in your role and the company is in a stable position, there's never any certainty as to what could be around the corner.

Networking 2.0
If you're not used to the idea yet, networking can be scary; like it's something for super-confident types who get all the best jobs anyway. But that's not the whole story. People are well-used to networking as a valuable business tool.

The Internet has made networking a viable option for everyone and there are many forums and business networking sites which enable business people to share and discuss their views and knowledge.
As long as you can keep a good barrier between your personal and professional online presence , this is a great way to pick up on the latest goings on in your industry, but can never completely replace actually getting out and showing your face.

How can I stay motivated during my job search?

When you set out on your job search, it's rarely possible to guess how long it will go on for. As time passes, the rejections mount up and the budgets get tighter, it's easy to become disheartened.

However, this is exactly the time when you need to dust yourself off and put in more hard work than ever. One of the main attributes of a successful job seeker is persistence. Here's a few tips to help you stay positive:
  • Start as you mean to go on - The first 30 minutes of your day are golden. The thoughts you think and the actions you take during this critical time affect your performance levels for the rest of the day. Instead getting up late, set your alarm as if you were going to work, have a shower and take a walk to get some fresh air in your lungs.
  • Set daily goals - If you don't have anything concrete to work towards, you have nothing to focus on and will find yourself achieving very little. Goals will keep your mind focused on the things that are important and keep you feeling positive about your future. make your goals SMART ( specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and remember to celebrate when you achieve a landmark.
  • Set up the right environment - There's a lot to be said for being neat, tidy and organized. Make an area in your home where you can run your job search with a phone, computer and everything else you might find in an office. It will help you stay focused on the target. You might also want to change your environment occasionally by working from a coffee shop or renting space in a local office.
  • Eat right - Your environment also includes what you put into your body. make sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables, stay away from fatty foods and try to limit your alcohol intake. A healthy body generally leads to a healthy mind.
  • Create a support network - Forming an alliance with other job seekers will help you share experiences, get advice and give you an outlet for you inner feelings. Try to meet at lease once a week with your team and share strategies.
  • Remember the law of averages. The more calls you make, the more networking events you go to and the more applications you make, the greater your chances are of finding the job of your dreams. However resist the urge to blanket bomb every recruiter out there. You need to tailor your CV for each job. Sooner or later, you'll hit the right mark.
  • Enjoy the process - Job hunting is a time of transition and change and it can also be a very important time for self-development. Use this period to reassess your goals, find out what you really want to do and engross yourself in making yourself the best you can be.
At every stage of your job search, you should look to get feedback. If you're not getting asked for interviews then get someone to have a look through your CV. If you're getting to the interview, but being rejected there you should find out what you're doing wrong. Fix these, and you'll find yourself in a job in no time.

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