Have you been searching for a job for while? Are you a university graduate? Have you been to plenty of job interviews but not made it all the way? Fed up with your situation?
There are millions of people out there just like you! I was one of them until last month, when I finally landed a job after a 12 month search. The current employment market is a tough nut to crack, with youth unemployment at an alarmingly high level. OECD figures suggest that 26 million 15-24 year olds in developed countries are not in employment, education or training.
After finally landing a job in May I thought I’d write up a list of 10 tips which I have learned from my search. Hopefully it can provide you with some helpful hints which you may not have fully considered before.
1- Concise, customised resume
Keep your resume to two A4 pages, making sure you are concise with your skills and employment history. Spend some time formatting it to look pretty- if it looks well-presented then it is more likely to be read. Good presentation is also a reflection of your own workmanship and word processing skills. Make sure you customise your resume to the job you are applying for and have a range of skills which you can insert for the respective job.
2- Cover letter
Make sure you rewrite your cover letter for each job application- this is a time consuming process but easily worth it in the long term. Eventually writing a cover letter will become second nature! Generic cover letters are easy to spot and show a lack of care or interest in the job. To keep employers interested make sure the letter is concise and less than 400 words.
3- First impressions count
This might seem like a logical point but it can’t be stressed enough! Making a good initial impression will drastically increase your chances of landing that elusive job. Small things such as poor dress standards/hygiene and spelling mistakes on your resume/cover letter will make it much harder for you to gain employment. At a job interview it is a good idea to take notes- this shows that you are interested in the job.
4- Use your networks
Networking is paramount! Make sure you take advantage of all your contacts who are currently employed in the industry you are looking to become involved with. Keep in touch with them and see if they can possibly introduce you to others in the industry. Meeting people for coffee is a great way to network and gain new ideas and employment strategies. See internships for more!
5- Strengths and weaknesses
During a job interview your strengths and weaknesses will definitely be discussed. Knowing your strengths is easy but understanding your weaknesses is difficult. Ideally you want to tell the employer a weakness and then describe how you have been addressing it. If you cannot think of any weaknesses create some- it is better fabricating them than saying nothing at all. An example could be you have problems with arriving to appointments on time. To address this weakness you now make an effort to arrive early.
Join LinkedIn! LinkedIn is a fantastic social media tool which will help your job search significantly. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is regularly updated- it should be identical to the latest version of your resume. Being active on LinkedIn and posting demonstrates your ability to be a thought leader amongst your peers. Make sure you connect with everyone that you know, even if you haven’t spoken to them for years- the bigger your network the better!
Internships are a great way to familiarise yourself with the industry you are looking to work in. Most are unpaid so they require personal dedication and resilience. Internships allow you to show a potential employer your skills and what you can bring to the company. If you are very lucky once your internship is completed you will be offered a job. If you are not offered a job then your CV will be kept on file for future job vacancies. Internships also allow you to make important contacts in the industry who you should keep in regular contact with.
8- Phone manner
Virtually all initial job interviews are conducted over the phone, so make sure your phone manner is impeccable. Make sure you pronounce your words clearly and speak slightly louder than usual. Try and relax and talk at a pleasant conversational pace. Often employers will call you haphazardly so it is important to be prepared at all times.
9- Current affairs and general knowledge
Sometimes when being interviewed for a position you may be asked random questions which are designed to put you out of your comfort zone. Examples could include questions on current affairs or general knowledge/trivia. Some employers may ask more open ended things such as what fiction/non- fiction you have read lately or what your favourite film is. Remember that your response will be dully noted so it is worth picking things which are lacking controversy.
Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Due to the high demand for jobs employers receive thousands of resumes and often don’t have time to reply to each one. As a job seeker you cannot afford to be upset if you hear nothing- eventually after a few months you will develop a thick skin. If there are long periods between your job interviews, keep your mind frame positive and remember that there are millions of other people just like you.