Finding a new job can feel like a full-time job. So, in this article, I’ll give you key guidance to help you get going and focus your efforts. It is worth making a plan upfront of what needs to happen to get a new role.
To help you prioritize what you spend your time on, I’ve set out four key elements you need to work on to increase your chances of success. Focus on these aspects and you’re more likely to get the role you want in a faster time frame.
How to Get Yourself Organized for Finding a New Job?
Please note: this advice is not for those seeking a complete career change but for people who want to move on and up in their current profession. Here are the four elements to focus on:
1) Your CV
The key job of your CV is to help you to stand out in the pile/inbox and make it a no brainer that a potential employer should see you. Your aim should be to mention experience and expertise that you are then able to talk about fully and with enthusiasm. Therefore, your CV needs to:
- Make it super clear what your skills and experience are.
- Include ‘hooks’, so that potential employers want to know more.
- Be concise.
- Have a clear story demonstrated by your role transitions.
- Be professionally set out with white space and no spelling or grammar errors (sounds basic but you’d be surprised).
When I work with my clients on their CV, we go through a process of CV Reinvention. I make sure we really bring out the most important elements of their career, highlighting the aspects they will talk about most engagingly in an interview – your CV is often a springboard for the conversation, which is why it’s vital it’s right.
One element technical people, particularly in Financial & Professional Services, forget is to include evidence of their ‘softer’ skills – how they have led teams, developed people and engaged effectively with clients/customers and prospects – don’t forget these elements.
2) Your LinkedIn Profile
There are 2 objectives to using LinkedIn for finding a new job:
- So that when people who have heard about you elsewhere check out your profile, it reinforces what they have heard or seen already e.g. they have received your CV and want to know more
- For people to find your profile on LinkedIn and proactively contact you for relevant opportunities.
Creating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ on LinkedIn is the most effective way to get it to support your job search.
Whilst updating your profile doesn’t have to take a long time, you can’t build the connections and activity you need quite so quickly, to increase your visibility so that people can find you.
Therefore, I strongly recommend updating your profile regularly (this has other professional benefits too) and frequently spending some time on the platform interacting with others.
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to bring in some more personality, so join some groups and follow pages to show what you are interested in and if you do voluntary work, add that in to bring some more interest to your profile. The photo should still be professional.
Make sure everything you put is 100% truthful; recruiters know what to look for in terms of warning signs, read more here.
Note: your LinkedIn profile is not the entirety of your CV copied across!
3) Your Job Search Strategy
Looking for a new role is like a job and needs a planned and methodical approach. Without a job search strategy, you’ll be less purposeful in your job hunt and it’s likely to take longer, especially if you’re still in a full-time role. You need to consider two key elements here:
a) Consideration One — Key Requirements.
What are your key requirements for your new role?
This includes the tasks and responsibilities of the role e.g. managing people, as well as practicalities, such as the amount of travel desired (or not) and flexibility to work at home so many days a week.
If you don’t think about this, you have no way to decide which are opportunities you want to go for and, importantly later on, whether you should accept something you have been offered.
When looking for a new role, people can frequently feel and act desperate and then the temptation is to go for anything that looks vaguely suitable.
Remember, it’s not just about the employer selecting you; as an experienced professional, you are selecting them too.
b) Consideration Two — How You Approach the Market
How will you approach the market?
Some people just want to use recruiters or search online; others have a great network and want to explore that. LinkedIn is also another great source of quality roles and you can filter on lots of criteria. It means you can do different searches based on a variety of terms. You can save roles too and come back later to apply.
Whichever route(s) you choose, you need a plan against it including relevant names, dates and your next actions. Diary reminders can help to make sure you are gently pushing all your opportunities along.
When it comes to working with recruiters, people all too easily expect that if they contact a recruiter and send them their CV then the opportunities will come. This is very rarely the case; a relationship needs to be built and that involves purposeful action. You also need to be really clear about what you are good at and what you are looking for, so you are memorable. I would recommend starting with a call and following that up with an email summarising what was said and including your CV. If you send an email first that is less engaging than a call.
There are many online job boards that can be a good route in some situations. However, I would caution against applying for roles where there is no way of following up with an individual. This can be very demoralizing, as it feels like you have put in a lot of effort but can get little or no feedback.
Top Tip — One of the things that my clients find very valuable is how I help them build their plan, keep on top of it and alter it, if appropriate. It’s the ‘keeping on top of it’ that is key. So, how will you be accountable for carrying out your plan?
4) A Positive Impact at the Job Interview
After all the hard upfront work, you need to make sure you’re aware of how you come across at interview and whether that’s what you want the reality to be. It isn’t about making you someone you are not, but ‘polishing’, where appropriate.
- Do you answer questions effectively and engagingly? Can you articulate your experience and expertise in a clear and meaningful way? If you have had a comprehensive approach to creating your CV and LinkedIn profile, then this should help you have clarity.
- How do you come across through your appearance, body language, and voice? What is the initial impact you have on someone? How do you build rapport throughout the interview? What will the interviewer(s) remember about you? To read more about the importance of personal brand and impact, click here.
- Are you prepared for different types of interview – phone, one-to-one in person, a panel, a presentation?
- Have you thought of some intelligent and relevant questions to ask the interviewer? This is part of your fact-finding but also to show interest.
- Remember to ask what the next steps are in the process and when you might receive some feedback. If you don’t hear back in that time, it is perfectly acceptable to leave it a couple of extra days and then get in touch – it will show you are interested in the role.
Two of the most common errors I see at the interview are first, not explaining examples of experience and expertise adequately. It is important to remember the interviewer doesn’t have the context that you do. Whilst you don’t want to spend ages explaining the context, they do need a clear summary of this to understand the challenge you faced.
The next important element is to explain exactly what you contributed to resolving the situation or challenge – very often people make this too general.
Finally, a clear outcome will make a positive impact on the interviewer that should help them to remember you.
The second common error is that individuals don’t give enough thought to how they come across; they make it all about their answers. Interviewers need to imagine how you will fit into the organization and the team, so make sure you consider the impact you have and how you can build rapport with the interviewer, so it is easy for them to invite you to the next interview round or offer you the role. Think about what helps you warm to others and want to engage with them. You are bound to think of some of the obvious ones such as smile, eye contact, and posture, which smaller factors may play a key role?
Interviewers form a perception of you the moment they engage with you, whether that be via an email, on the phone, looking at your LinkedIn profile or meeting you. It is therefore important to consider how you come across at all of those ‘touchpoints’. It’s not great if they see you running down the road to their office in a sweat because you are late, so make sure you plan each interaction with them carefully.
Getting a new role often feels like an uphill struggle and a lot of work so my advice would be to break it into steps, so you feel like you are making progress.
Even better is if you can be updating your CV and LinkedIn profile every few months so it is relatively up-to-date. After all, it is difficult to update a role meaningfully 5 years later! Think about what someone really needs to know, what is the right level of detail that works, without a lot of contexts.
To help you prioritize even further, my last comment is a question: which of these areas do you need to focus most on in finding a new job? Whichever one of the four it is, start there. You’ll feel better for addressing it, be more prepared, and be ready to go out there and get that job.