The 7 questions you need to ask yourself before you start your job search

It’s the start of a new year so, before you leap into your job search, why not take a fresh look at yourself and what you want from your next job.

Transitioning to a new position or going for your first professional role can be an exciting (or pressing) time and you could be forgiven for wanting to throw caution to the wind and jump right in. However, it’s important you take some time to really reflect on the type of person you are and what you want from your next role.

Here are the key questions you should be asking yourself:

1. Why am I looking?
First on the list is why you’re looking for a job in the first place. If you’re switching employers you should determine whether it’s the opportunity to progress that excites you or rather the desire to escape your current setup.

2. What kind of work do I enjoy?
This is an obvious question, but it can often be overshadowed by the lure of a particular profession or employer. For example, are you a problem-solver who enjoys putting their mind to work or do you thrive in a client-focused environment? Consider what really turns you off as well.

3. What motivates me?
You also need to think clearly about what you want to get out of your next role. It could be money, career advancement or perhaps the opportunity to work with major clients. Regardless, you need to stay faithful to your core objectives and not let yourself be distracted by other perks on offer.

4. What kind of culture would I thrive in?
Work is where you’re going to be spending the majority of your waking hours, so you need to feel comfortable and that you’re surrounded by like-minded people. Do you thrive in a large corporate environment, or perhaps prefer the more flexible setting of a start-up?

5. Where can I be flexible?
Would you move location? Can you compromise on pay for the right opportunity? What hours are you prepared to do? Think about the things that you need versus the things that you’d like to have. Get your list together and prioritise it.

6. What do I ultimately want to be?
Although this job might not be ‘the dream job’, does it provide a stepping stone towards it? Look for roles within your desired industry, choose a reputable employer and think about the big picture. Some stepping-stones may be better than others, for example, offering graduate or return-to-work schemes that could boost your skill levels while you earn.

7. What can I offer?
Having established what you want it’s up to you to figure out how to get it. Understanding exactly what you bring to an organisation will give you a better sense of how to position yourself during the application process and at interview. Make a list of your core strengths as well as any weakness you could be working on.

Your choice of employer may come down to a myriad of different factors and no small amount of luck. However, having a clear idea of your motivations and your professional attributes will leave you much better placed to make those important career decisions and convince your dream employer that you’re the person for the job.

Reference: Enterprise Alive; Careers in Food; Career Builder

07 Jan 2016

Job hunting: the basics in 9 steps

Job seeking is tough. Everyone knows that. It’s time consuming and it can be gut-wrenchingly disappointing. Armed with that knowledge we do our very best to avoid it even whilst telling our nearest and dearest that we are “currently looking for a job”. So the first thing to be aware of, if you’re serious about finding a job, is your tendency to procrastinate – just because you’re sitting at a computer doesn’t mean you’re any closer to your dream role. You need to be doing the right things.

Find somewhere to conduct your job search that is free from distractions and then do the following, roughly in this order:

1. Make yourself a realistic job hunting schedule and stick to it: a routine will stop you wasting your day and make your job search as efficient as possible.

2. Sort your CV out: rework the format so that pertinent skills leap out at you ; create different versions for different roles; use key words often that are in the job descriptions.

3. Create a cover letter template: convey your fit for the role and how much you want the job; make different versions with wording relevant to each role/employer.

4. Search both large and niche job boards: it’ll give you the biggest variety of job listings. Take advantage of alerts to find out about jobs as soon as they are posted.

5. Organise and professionalise: ensure your voicemail message and email address are professional; get a list ready of references with relevant details and contact information; create folders for all your files and emails.

6. Use Social Media: follow specific companies to find out about job openings and the culture of the company; try to track down your interviewers.

7. Check your online presence: google yourself and check for any inappropriate or inaccurate information; remove or correct anything that would be difficult to explain in an interview.

8. Make good use of LinkedIn: check for inconsistencies between your CV and your profile; join professional groups; ask for recommendations from your managers; check to see if you’re connected to someone in the industry or the organisations you’re applying to.

9. Prepare for your interview: research the industry and company; find out about the type of interview you’ll be facing; be able to talk about your skills and back them up with evidence; practise answers to all types of interview questions.

There will be challenges so don’t give up, think positively and manage your own expectations.

Reference: Glassdoor; abintegro
13 Jan 2016

Will a computer be taking your future job?

At the start of each brand new year it’s always a good idea to do a bit of personal SWOT analysis. But have you really considered the threat of technology? Are your strengths going to future-proof your career? Will you need to work on your weaknesses to find a role within a world of automation?

It’s more than 30 years since Time magazine famously named the computer as its ‘Man of the Year’. Our square-faced companions have been encroaching further into our working lives ever since.

Technological unemployment, as it’s known, has long been key issue in the word’s industrialised nations. Between 1900 and 2000 the percentage of Americans employed in agriculture decreased from 41% to just 2%, while the number of US manufacturing workers has fallen by two thirds since World War II.

American employees are by no means alone in their predicament: according to a joint study by Oxford University and Deloitte, about 35% of UK jobs are at high risk of being taken over by computers during the next 20 years. The study ranked around 400 professions against a series of key skills, including social perceptiveness, negotiation and persuasion, to see which were most under threat.

The roles of financial officer, bookkeeper and legal secretary came top, with a 97-99% risk of being automated over the next two decades. Meanwhile, social workers, teachers and therapists can rest easy, with the chance of these roles being ceded to a machine calculated at around 1% or less.

Most roles fall between these two extremes, but the good news here is that there are plenty of ways you can future-proof your career against the inexorable march of the machines.

To start with, you can position yourself in an industry where there is expansion and therefore less need for cost-cutting and automation. Areas such as health and nutrition, sustainability and clean energy are likely to be important sources of job creation going forward.

You should also think about the kind of soft skills you need to be developing alongside your core professional competencies. Think problem-solving, adaptability, and communication, in particular, listening and negotiation skills.

Then of course there is the ‘can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ argument: as long as there’s technology, there will be a need for people who can harness and interpret that technology. It’s never too late to start picking up basic skills in areas such as coding and website design. Codeacademy.com is just one of a number of free, online platforms that can help get you started.

As history has shown us, professions and entire industries will come and go over time. However, by embracing this technological shift and maintaining a broad skill set, you can stay one step ahead of the curve.

Reference: Bcdwire; NPR; BBC; Huffington Post

07 Jan 2016

Unless you’re an elf work probably isn’t the only thing on your mind as we move into holiday season. For most of us, late-November hits and professional ambitions quickly find themselves usurped by the demands of online present shopping and researching turkey recipes.

To put your job hunt on freeze until January, however, is to overlook one of the most potentially fruitful periods of the year from a recruitment perspective. November and December tend to be among the busiest months of the year for employee turnover as workers look to start the year afresh and hiring managers squeeze the last drops out of their annual recruitment budgets.

And while getting a new job may seem like a fitting new year’s resolution, the reality is that you are likely to face increased competition from the scores of like-minded professionals thinking exactly the same thing.

Here are our three Rs for conducting your search during this most wonderful time of the year:

R. Review
With business activity starting to taper off, the extra time available can be used to evaluate what has gone well in your recent job search and what hasn’t. It’s also a good opportunity to touch up your CV and devote serious time to covering letters and other application material.

R. Re-connect
Silent days and nights also provide a window to get back in touch with the recruiters and prospective employers you were in touch with earlier in the year. Use this time to drop them a quick follow-up email, and maybe even a holiday greetings card.

R. Rub shoulders
The holiday party season is a great time to get out there and mingle with a conveyor belt of parties and other get-togethers providing the perfect platform for networking and developing new job prospects. If nothing else, the common ground of December weather and last-ditch Christmas shopping should provide ample ice breaking material.

Remember: things may be winding down, but resist the temptation to take the holidays ‘off’ from thinking about your career ambitions. Stay focused and your dream job may be the best gift you end up receiving this winter.

Reference: Forbes; Huffington Post

10 Dec 2015

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Christmas comes round really rather regularly at the same time every year, but somehow, for many of us it takes us by surprise. Carols start being played in the shops, these days, around the second week in November, which tends to jar a little. “It’s too early”, we moan to the checkout person. “I know”, they groan back at us. But is it? Ok, hearing “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” every time you go into a shop for the six weeks in the run up to the big day can get a little wearing, but is it a good reminder that we should really get a move on?

There are some people that seem to deal effortlessly with Christmas. And they can’t help smugly mentioning that that they finished wrapping all their presents weeks ago when so far you’ve only bought a pair of novelty socks. So what’s going on?

The truth is many of these people are just more organised and more disciplined than the rest of us and if you look closely there’s a good chance they are like that at work too. Are you?

Here are some tips for dealing with this crazy time and your work in general.

Set the deadline early
Is your deadline for Christmas the 25th? How about making it the 17th, for example? Plan to get everything bought and wrapped and ordered by that day, then you’ll be less stressed and have some contingency.

Think about your work deadlines. How often do you honestly set the deadline a week earlier? P.S. It doesn’t count if you then say “but it’s ok, I’ve really still got a week!”

Make lists
Use an app to note down everything you need to do as you think of it. ‘Any.do’ is a good one. Then make a list of all the presents you have bought as you buy them, adding in present ideas as you think of them. A spreadsheet is a good idea for this so you can filter and sort it. It’ll help you keep track and you won’t forget about all those presents you bought the second week in November in a panic as the carols started playing.

At work, try making a list of your tasks and tick them off. Use a planning application if you know how. Note what you need to do and what you’ve done.

Trust your judgement and get on with it
When you see a present that would be perfect for Uncle Bill – JUST BUY IT! Don’t think “I’ll get it next week because it’s too early now/I’m not sure/ it’s too crowded”. It’s only going to get worse; it will remain like a splinter in your brain until you decide you are going to buy it and then there won’t be any more left!

At work, stop procrastinating about the tasks ahead; believe you have the capability to achieve them now and stop making excuses. Just do it.

Set enough time aside and ask for help
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to sort and wrap presents, for example. Set aside a day or a couple of evenings to do it and get your partner to do it with you. If they are going to enjoy the day too they should be part of the preparation.

At work, overestimate how long everything will take because it will always take longer than you think. And ask for help when you need it.

If you’re the partner who does absolutely nothing at Christmas, consider how you behave at work: would you ignore colleagues or staff if they were working towards something you were invested in? Probably not. So pull your finger out and offer your services to your partner who, in all likelihood, at this moment, feels like they are about to completely lose it!

(Oh and start writing the cards, like now!)

Reference: Abintegro

19 Nov 2015

time management

Source: How just writing a 30-60-90 day plan can get you the job (without even handing it in)

Source: How just writing a 30-60-90 day plan can get you the job (without even handing it in)

Source: How just writing a 30-60-90 day plan can get you the job (without even handing it in)

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