If you’re one of the 2.5 million people currently out of work in the UK then you’re probably all too aware of how frustrating it is to be job hunting during the tail end of a recession. There’s no denying that this is a challenging time to be looking for work and you may feel that you’ve already tried everything to change your circumstances for the better.
There are a number of obvious things you can do to improve your chances of getting a job, such as creating a winning CV,practicing your interview skills or registering with recruitment agencies plus online job sites. If you’ve tried all of those without success then it may be time to consider a new approach says Dave Snow, Academic Director at Home Learning College. Here are his top five tips:
1) Take the initiative
Don’t wait for jobs to be advertised! Estimates suggest that around 80% of vacancies are never publicised, and those that are can attract hundreds of applications, so you need to find ways of leapfrogging the competition. Create a list of companies that might have relevant positions and send your CV and a covering letter directly to the HR manager or other senior contact outlining your skills and experience.
This is only the first step, so don’t be disheartened if there’s no response or you get a message saying your details will be kept on file. Check if the company has a blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page or media centre on the website where you can keep an eye out for good news – such as financial results or new clients and partnerships – that may indicate the business could be recruiting. Use these announcements as opportunities to get back in touch and show that you are genuinely interested in the organisation.
2) Be different
Think about ways to stand out from the crowd when contacting companies. Use topical events to your advantage: for example, at Easter you could send your CV and covering letter along with a chocolate egg. They might not have any jobs at that time but it will certainly get their attention and put you front of mind when a vacancy does arise. The aim is to get a foot in the door and be invited for an interview, which is often the hardest part. At that stage you’ll have a chance to draw on the experience of all those practice interviews!
3) Network, network, network
It’s a word that can send shivers down the spine of even the most confident jobseeker, but there’s no doubting the value of networking if you’re hunting for that elusive role. This doesn’t mean that you have to attend every business event in town or launch yourself dementedly at prospective bosses!
What you should be doing though is making sure that all relevant contacts know that you’re available and where your particular strengths lie – these may include former colleagues or clients, fellow members of clubs and societies, your extended family, friends and former teachers and many others.
4) Polish your online profile
Depending on the kind of work you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that a potential employer will use the internet to assess whether you are a suitable candidate. For that reason, it’s worth doing your own search to see what comes up. It might feel a bit strange to Google yourself, but in this digital age it’s an oversight to ignore the impact your online reputation – or lack of – may have on your employment prospects.
The results of a personal Google search can sometimes be surprising and may include activity from the likes of Twitter that could be highly revealing about your personality and habits. Alternatively, you might not be visible enough, in which case you could be overlooked in favour of more active candidates.
“Try to be the first and best source of information about yourself,” says Antony Mayfield, author of ‘Me and My Web Shadow: how to manage your reputation online’. “Make sure you have complete profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, establish a personal website or blog and make the most of previous work you’ve done.” This kind of activity will ensure you show up in Google rankings for all the right reasons.
This is also an opportunity to extend your web of contacts. “Being useful and active online in your professional networks will show what you are capable of to a potential employer, “adds Antony.
5) Prove your worth with a vocational qualification
Sometimes all the experience and contacts in the world aren’t quite enough to tip the balance in your favour. If your CV is a bit thin on the ground when it comes to qualifications then consider adding another string to your bow with a professional, vocational course.
In fact, in a recent survey by Jobsite’s training partner, Home Learning College, 35% of British adults said they needed a vocational qualification to get their current job.
Vocational study is ideal because it focuses on practical skills that are of genuine interest to employers. Doing any kind of study as an adult shows commitment to your personal development, which is always an attractive quality. Make sure the course you choose is professionally accredited and delivered by a recognised training provider so that it adds genuine value to your CV.