How to find a job in the credit crunch
Stay in your current job
Browse job adverts while your boss isn't looking or wait until you're at home, but what ever you do - stay in your current job. You may be miserable and want to throttle everybody you work with, but life will be much worse when you're sat at home watching daytime TV with no money coming in. Being out of work can ruin relationships, health and confidence - so sit tight with your current job while you look for something better.
Perfect your CV / Resume
Add the latest details to your CV and spruce up your personal profile. If you haven't looked at your CV for a few years it could be an idea to have it professionally reviewed. FullerCV do a free brief review for people who register with Reed- but it is very brief. They charge around £100 for the full review. Most sites charge similar rates. If you don't fancy paying that much then borrow a book from the library or buy on from amazon. It will be well worth it. If you're unemployed then many government funded employment schemes will review your CV for free. Basic headings for a CV are:
- Profile - Written in the third person and summarising your experience and skills
- Professional experience - list all your recent employers with six bullet points explaining duties and responsibilities at the most recent two
- Education - list your colleges, schools and the grades that were achieved
- Voluntary experience - Have you volunteered at your local kennels or hospice?
- Interests - Keep this simple and plain. Sometimes employers may discriminate against a heavy metal fan or passionate stamp collector
- References - available on request
Learn new skills
Two-day fisrt aid courses are readily available - and the qualification will be an excellent addition to your CV. Taking evening classes in Microsft Excel or other popular I.T. programs will also make applicants more valuable to a potential employers. Many of these are available online and can be completed from home. But sometimes, people who are changing career may need to do full-time or part-time courses before they have the essential skills. If that's the case, make sure that you have enrolled on the course and have another job before you leave the current employer.
Scour job search websites
Local newspaper websites will usually have a jobs section where people can register and draw up a shortlist. The Guardian does this for higher-paid jobs. Monster, Jobsite and Careerbuilder are also useful - as a specialist sites such as yardandgroom for equestrian jobs or thirsectorjobs for charity work. Register with a few of these and keep RSS feeds or email updates of the jobs in your sector. Highlight those jobs that you fancy - but don't waste time applying for jobs that ask for somebody who is experienced in the aerospace industry when you're a store assistant - and keep tabs on your shortlist and their closing dates.
Write a covering letter
Keep a template covering letter that you can whiz out to all the jobs you fancy. The letter - which should follow the standard letter layout - should be no more than three or four paragraphs long.
The fisrt sentence needs to explain what you're applying for and where you saw the job. Point out that your CV is attached and highlight a key point that is relevant to the role that is on offer.
The second paragraph should tell the employer why you're sutied to the role and what you can offer. Cite any relevant experience here.
Finish the third paragraph with an assumptive sentence that tells the reader when you're available for interview and that you're looking forward to hearing from them.
Practise is key to writing covering letters - the more you send the better they become. Buying a decent book on job on letter writing will also help.
Send a speculative letter
A speculative letter is similar to a covering letter but they're sent cold to prospective employers. If a new pizza restaurant has opened in town that you really fancy working at, then sending a speculative letter is the best way to land a job there. The letter should tell the employer:
- Why you are writing
- Your skills and experience
- Your interests
- That you are prepared to do work unpaid for a week to gain the experience - this will really impress them.
Master application forms
These can be time-consuming - and tedious - because employers ask specific questions. This means that employers can find somebody they feel is best suited to the role - and weed out those who rely on copying and pasting their template letter.
Application forms will usually come with lengthy descriptions of the role and a detailed person specification. Try filling the boxes by combining what they want with examples of your own experience that show you can do that. Play around with a couple of draft answers if the form has to be handwritten, as messy ink will not impress the employer. Pop the form in the post or email it back as soon as it's finished.
There are certain things that everybody can do well when they have an interview: washing; wearing a suit; and arriving on time. Then there are things like deep-breathing exercises, smiling when you enter the room, sitting up straight in the chair, making eye contact and speaking slowly and clearly that will also help. But the most important thing is having something to say during the interview. So....
- Re-read the CV, covering letter or application form that you sent before the interview
- Re-read the job details and person specification
- Research the company: read their website and look at their press releases
- Prepare answers to questions that you may be asked: why do you want this job? What qualities do you think this job requires? What can you contribute?
Relax, all interviews are a learning curve and the more that you do the better you will become.
Accept or reject the job
This is the best part of winning a job after all the hard work that has been put in with CVs, job searches, covering letters and interviews. They have offered you the job - and you are in control now. Are you going to accept - or reject ? Some people may use this opportunity to negotiate a higher wage or change the terms and conditions - but what ever happens you can take away the confidence that you have succesfully won a new job.
Impress your new employees by offering to make coffee. Work hard, make friends and you'll be in line for promotions!