A new year brings a new chapter, and for some, this means re-assessing career goals. You may feel ready to move on from your current job, or you may be making plans to return to work after a career break.
Engaging in a successful job search takes time, commitment and planning. It often feels like a project, and that’s how you should treat it. To help you navigate your job search, I am sharing my hot tips on what to consider in your job search campaign to set yourself up for success.
Every person is unique, and it’s important to understand your skill set, strengths and personal characteristics, to help guide career decisions and aid your job search campaign. Your interests, skills, values and motivations play a big role in making informed career decisions, and you need to take the time to undertake some self-awareness activities to ‘check in’ and identify what’s important to you.
You should also focus on identifying your preferences for your next role. For example, you may be looking for part-time work to allow for better work-life balance, or you may have a salary requirement in mind that’s has to be achieved. You could have an organisation in mind that you would like to work for, or you want exposure to a particular industry. Being clear on your preferences is also an important early step of your job search, so you have better clarity about the type of roles you want to apply for.
Create a plan for your job search and set yourself some goals.
A job search is like a project, so it can really help you to make a plan and set some realistic goals with achievable timelines. I’m a big fan of using the SMART goals methodology (Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Relevant / Time-bound) to make goals better structured, meaningful and more easily tracked and implemented.
You may have goals in your plan about updating your job application documents, networking with past colleagues, setting up job alerts on specific job boards or creating a LinkedIn profile. Whatever the goals, using the SMART goals methodology when writing these goals will enhance your motivation, focus and prioritisation in achieving these goals.
An example may be:
‘Set up job alert notifications on Seek and Indeed for advertised part-time Personal Assistant roles on the Gold Coast. Have these notifications set up by 15 February so I am alerted to all new opportunities on these job boards which may be of interest to apply for’.
Know what job search methods you should utilise.
The ‘go-to’ method for most people when looking for job opportunities is visiting an online job board such as Seek. There are also specific job boards available for different sectors such as Ethical Jobs and Environmental Jobs. Do your research to find out what’s available for your industry. Online job boards are definitely a great tool to use when job searching, but I recommend you also utilise other strategies to find further opportunities instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket.
Further strategies you may like to use in your job search include:
· Directly approach employers of interest or look for opportunities on company websites
· If you have an interest in public sector roles, utilise a dedicated government job search site such as Smart Jobs QLD
· Use social media and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to look for job opportunities
· Sign up with recruitment agencies to gain valuable assistance in finding suitable opportunities
· Visit career fairs
Utilise your network.
A high percentage of opportunities in the hidden job market (roles not advertised) are sourced through engaging your network during your job search. Your network can be a great source of information about prospective jobs, employers, industries, as well as useful advice. Your network is made up of personal and work-related connections, whether they be friends or family, past colleagues or clients, it’s important to make the time to identify them.
Once you have a clear idea of the types of roles and industries you have an interest in, I highly recommend you have a good think about who you could contact in your network, and how you want to communicate about yourself to them. When approaching your network, you want to be able to clearly articulate your background and key skills / strengths, and what you are looking for now and why.
Make sure your job application documentation is high level.
Your cover letter and resume are often the first impression a potential employer has of you. It is essential that it markets you convincingly, because it plays an important part in determining whether or not you are shortlisted for a job interview. The key thing to remember when developing these documents is to provide evidence of how you will bring value to the role and organisation.
It's important that you can align your skills, strengths and knowledge with the requirements of the role, and make sure you tailor your job application documentation for the specific role you are applying for. There are numerous examples of effective cover letter and resume formats online, just ensure you are using reputable sites to access these. Many leading recruitment agencies and large job board sites provide you with effective examples and templates. If it’s an area you need help with, you may want to consider engaging a professional resume writer.
Google yourself and work on your online brand.
Believe me, many potential employers will google you and visit your social media sites. It’s very important you are comfortable with the content they will have access to, and that you are reflected in a positive light. If you don’t want your social media accounts to be accessible, then please make sure you are using the right privacy settings!
Having an online presence is also a great opportunity to promote your professional brand. If you haven’t set up a profile on LinkedIn, I recommend you think about doing so. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and a brilliant tool for your online presence that you can control. Not only is LinkedIn an effective way to network, but it can also get you noticed for job opportunities. Your profile tells your professional story and can be very important for job seeking.
Staying organised and on top of things during your job search is critical to relieve some pressure and stress, to project a professional image, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. A useful tool is to use a spreadsheet to keep yourself organised and on track. You then have all of the information you need in one place, with all of your job search activities documented. You may like to include information such as:
· Date application is submitted
· Job title
· Contact person
· How application was submitted
· Status of application
I also recommend saving job advertisements and position descriptions in one handy location for jobs you have applied for. This way, you can easily access them when required.
Job searching can be an overwhelming process with lots of highs and lows to navigate. It’s really important that you try to stay positive and be kind to yourself! Please remember your self-worth and what you can bring to the table. If you experience setbacks, try to treat them as a learning experience, and never forget that sometimes not getting the opportunity you hoped for could be a blessing in disguise. Most importantly, put the time into job searching that it requires.