The title of this blog article is the best advice I can give any career seeking school leaver or graduate at the moment. Why? Because it works!
I know that the kind of jobs that you may be aspiring to and may have geared your education towards may not be thick on the ground at the moment and that getting a chance to be interviewed can often feel like constantly hitting the same brick wall but that does not mean that settling for second best and going off the radar of all employers is the way to deal with it. There are loads of cracking job and career opportunities out there but the candidates that get them are the ones who are prepared to do the leg work, build the relationships and get noticed...
Go to everything...
Look on-line, in printed media and through social media for every opportunity to get out into the world with a smile on your face, your best interview gear on and your CV in your pocket. The numbers game of on-line applications, posting your CV on one of the big sites or connecting with an agency is of course worth it because they might find you what you want. But I strongly encourage anyone, of any age, to get out there and find opportunity for themselves.
I am not of the Norman Tebbit school of 80's thought when he encouraged people to get on their bike and find work, patronising as it was, instead I am very much of the school of thought that you live, in person, being brilliant and smart and excited and interested is going to have a far greater chance of being spotted.
Why? Well despite many 'big' employers computerising their recruitment filters to the point of programming key words and qualifications into their selection programmes on-line; there are still vast numbers of employers, decision makers, recruiters and event organisers that understand about personal brand, making an impact, the personal touch and impressing someone with actions and words and not just qualifications and experience.
In my experience SME's particularly take great heed of their 'gut feel' for an individual candidate. Because every single one of their staff matters to them, as there are fewer, then meeting people is a way they still find their stars of tomorrow.
So prepared with a CV that does all of things I have spoken about at length in the past as 'the flier for the brand of you' (see previous blogs) and with a brave attitude to talking to anyone because as I have said in the past 'you never know who the person will be that gives you a break' you should get yourself along to everything that might lead somewhere; careers events, networking events, industry events, university and college events and national employment events at the big venues like the NEC.
Prepare your 'pitch', know what your USP's are and be ready to really sell yourself when you get the ear of someone who wants to listen and is interested in what you have to offer. As a recruiter of 20+ years standing from my point of view you being there already puts you in credit with me and then if you have a positive attitude, something to say and some energy and interest then you are really beginning to get my interest...
Speak to everyone...
Be that person who is interested in what every employer does, find out more, understand when you hear an opportunity that you like that you need to act and project the professional image that you want to promote going forwards; set yourself dress, speech and manners standards and let those things as well as your skills, knowledge and competencies be your message to employers...you will be saying 'I mean business!'
Networking is a very inexact science and actually the more you try and apply scientific methods to it a) the more mercenary you appear and b) the more you remove the random factor... but talking to people and asking questions and being open and honest about what you aspire to does work..
My two best job / career conversations? One was with a lovely Australian lady in a bar in Paris at Christmas time and the other was with a chap by the coffee machine during lunch at a careers event...you never know, who or when but you need to be there to benefit and to be on duty for your brand at all times to get the most from any good fortune.
I think it was Gary Player (the very good South African golfer for you Tiger Woods generation people) who said 'the more I practice the luckier I get' that's kind of my point in a nutshell!
Returning to work after any sort of break be it parenthood, studying, illness, sabbatical or unemployment is not easy and sure we all have doubts about how we will make the transistion and whether we will be able to find and keep the kind of job that we want.
These doubts are perfectly natural and understandable but ultimately they are a burden and they need to be understood, managed and controlled for you to move forwards.
So where do you start?
Well I think Step One must be to make sure that you are ready. Being ready is not just about wanting to get back into work or indeed needed to; being ready is about the preparation you need to go through to ensure that you are going to be confident and successful and this bit is about you and no-one else.
Have you reviewed your CV or have you got one from three years ago that ‘will do’? Well for starters it won’t do and by ignoring your CV, which is the most crucial key to opening career doors, then you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage compared to other candidates that do understand its power and are working hard to use it.
So why don’t you want to tackle the CV issue? Are you concerned about the gap, worried that the job you are looking for now does not sit well with the work you did in the past, anxious that your technology skills have not kept pace with the market or are you simply unsure what a CV should look like in 2013?
All are easily answered and managed. Your CV is your flier advertising the brand of you and you can read more detail about this in earlier blogs I have written but let’s focus here on you being comfortable with the gap and not allowing it to be an unexplained black hole in your career development or something that you are somehow not able to explain or indeed celebrate.
Developing more knowledge and skills, becoming a parent, overcoming illness or doing something different for a while are all part of who you are and being comfortable in including that time in your CV and explaining it to potential employers is key to you being ready to get out there and get a job that you want. So get started. Think about the positives; what you have learned about yourself and how you have grown and celebrate them.
Once you are comfortable that you don’t need to excuse yourself about your recent work history and that it can be integrated with your past career history and your personal brand then you can start looking outwards.
Are your skills sufficient for what you want to do? Is the job market healthy in the areas you want to work, are you being realistic? Setting yourself up for more disappointment by not researching carefully and being honest about what you can do and what you want to do can be a big mistake.
All of the confidence that you have built up and the energy that you have to invest might be wasted on making many applications for roles that just don’t suit you or which might not exist. Knowing the market is key and that takes time on line and talking to experts to achieve.
Getting out there! Now that you know that you have a researched and achievable job target and you have a CV that you are proud of you need to sign up to on-line job sites,–post your CV and let people find you as well as finding them through recruitment agencies, job sites and adverts for vacancies.
Dressing the part and feeling the part are both key to you being successful. That personal brand and confidence that I talked about needs to be expressed physically as well as in your mind and employers respond to confident body language and candidates that speak with confidence and purpose and even if you don’t feel it sometimes you need to ‘fake it to make it.’
We can help with all of these stages if you need us but more important than that is your own self-belief and positivity because good things happen to candidates who know themselves and the market and get out there and make things happen.
Returning to work can be a fresh opportunity to reinvent and re energise your career; so good luck with it and let us know if some one to one coaching or a place on our career boot camp days would help !
Who do you listen to when it comes to the really big decisions?
There are always a queue of people waiting to give you what they feel is the best advice you will ever hear. They care, are paid to care or just want to have their say in your career future; but who do you actually take notice of?
So the list of candidates to potentially heed are parents, friends, teachers, lecturers, colleagues, relations, career advisors and the media (newspapers / online and TV) and that is daunting; no question about it. Your decisions are increasingly critical to your career which impacts directly your financial and domestic future and so everyone you know wants to help because they know how important your career decisions are.... wow not an easy one for you, so I ask again, who do you actually listen to?
The simple answer is everyone; the more input you can gather the better it will be in the long term of course but in listening to everyone you first need to put some fundamental filters and considerations in place before buying into their advice:
1. What is their motivation?
2. What is their emotional involvement?
3. What is their level of real expertise?
4. When did they last experience what you are now experiencing? If ever?
5. Will it cost you money? Is it worth it? Have they helped others? Can they prove it?
The world of careers is evolving quickly but equally some of the essentials of employability are constants, you are the variable. For sure in this arena one size does not fit all and you need a bespoke approach - tailored to you and you alone. Having a plan, a vision and the ability to take the best that everyone has to offer without being side-tracked or distracted from your purpose is your responsibility.
The advice and guidance you need is out there and mostly is pretty easily available but today you need to be your own career manager, nobody can do it as well as you can. Gather that support network around you to ensure that you know everything you need to know, can do everything you need to do and so give yourself the best possible chance of being successful.
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