You may have noticed, but it’s not the best time to be looking for a job right now. Applying for even the most menial of positions puts you up against an army of fellow applicants. Employers are looking for super-humans who can waltz and play the harpsichord, who have written their third novel and given birth to eight children – all before they’re 22. Oh, and that’s just for unpaid work…
So how does one actually land a job (preferably with pay, and above minimum wage at that)?
These may not apply to everyone, but in the modern job market there are some key pointers that are truly golden:
1. Keep in the know: This means signing up for newsletters from every organisation you are interested in working for and constantly checking job sites (the Guardian is a good one). Your inbox should be crumbling under the weight of a million emails about the latest jobs. Jobs come and go quickly, so be diligent and check regularly.
2. Set targets: Don’t get disheartened if you can’t apply for ten jobs a day, few can. Set realistic targets for the week, keep note of them all and when you’re done, reward yourself with a glass of wine. Or go shopping. Or watch an episode of Tipping the Velvet. You get the general idea.
3. Network: This word is thrown around constantly, but what does it actually mean? You will be amazed at what you don’t know about friends, family members, neighbours, the lady who stalks you around Tesco. Talk to them (perhaps leave your stalker) – find out what they do and what they know. Don’t be afraid to vocalise your job-hunting woes because there will be someone out there, not too far away, with a brilliant contact that could solve them all.
4. Make your CV the best it can be: You can get advice on your CV from many sources. If still a student, universities and colleges have excellent career development services. Job sites such as Monster (monster.co.uk), Reed (reed.co.uk) and the Guardian (a site that really is worth mentioning twice - jobs.guardian.co.uk) are vital sources, and don’t forget to ask the opinions of friends who have found success. In short: keep it short. HR departments don’t want to be trawling through a novel, two pages maximum. It sounds simple, but don’t make mistakes. If you claim to have excellent attention to detail, before spelling ‘not’ wrong in your application, you probably aren’t going to make the interview stage.
5. Write a good covering letter. Don’t think of this as the icing on the cake – it is the cake. If it’s not good enough, there’s no point polishing your CV as nobody will ever get as far as looking at it. Take your time, make sure you focus on what the job description is asking you for, and be succinct in putting across how you can do the role. Look at the person specification and make sure you address ALL the points, using specific examples of what you’ve done and why you’ve done it well.
6. Finally, don’t give up. Many of us have been there, waiting for emails, letters or phone calls that never arrive, facing disappointment when they do. One positive response is all it takes though, guys, and that’s what should keep you going.
Words by Natalie Williams