New year, New job? Get You and Your CV Prepped!
How and where to look for your new job, how to prepare a CV that stands out from the crowd, how to prepare for an interview and everything else you need to know!
In the midst of the Covid pandemic it can be really difficult to look ahead and think of the future. We are scared to start making any kind of plans in case they all need to be changed again. But life can’t be put on hold forever.
For example, what do you do if you were hoping to change jobs in 2020 but had to abandon it because of Covid? Is it a good idea to start thinking about that again now? Or if you are lucky enough still to have a job would it be best to stick where you are until everything calms down?
If you do want to change jobs, you are not alone. Research by Aviva, released in September 2020, found that over half of UK workers were planning to make career changes over the next 12 months as a direct result of the pandemic. And there are still some job opportunities out there if you want them.
But with more people chasing these jobs, you will need to put more effort into finding the job of your dreams.
So in this article we will look at the following four areas related to finding a new job:
- How and where to look for your new job
- How to prepare a CV that stands out from the crowd
- How to prepare for an interview
- How to keep your skills up to date
For each of the above areas we will give four tips for the most important things to do, to help you succeed.
How and where to look for your new job
1. Choose your company
If you have a particular company in mind that you would love to work for, then look on their website for potential job opportunities. Even if there is nothing at the moment, you can start learning more about them. It is also good to follow the company on social media and find opportunities to interact with them there.
2. Search online
There are many different job agencies that advertise online. These sites are popular, so if you see a job that interests you the best thing is to apply really quickly. Also try looking directly on the website of the company advertising the job, to see if you might be able to apply to them direct.
Some of the most popular online job agencies are:
3. Be realistic
Job applications can be time consuming so you can’t apply for every possible job that you see. It is better to choose a smaller number of jobs and spend time making sure that your application is in the format that they want and includes the information they need. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single skill and quality that they are asking for: most people won’t. But on the other hand, don’t bother applying for a job if you don’t have anything that they are looking for. Be realistic.
4. Use the power of networking
When looking for a new job, it is always worth putting word around with people that you know. You are not asking for favours, but someone may know of a job coming up and be able to put you in touch with the right person to make an early application.
Also make sure that you are actively trying to make new contacts that could help you to get your ideal job. It’s a good idea to set up a profile on the business networking site LinkedIn, which provides networking opportunities, job adverts and training resources. Also keep your eyes open for any relevant online conference and networking events. Many are free, and could give you the opportunity to discover new people and companies that may be able to help you.
How to prepare a CV that stands out from the crowd
1. Make sure it is relevant to the job
A potential employer will have too many CVs to look through to be able to read them all properly. Some employers even use Artificial Intelligence to help sift CVs. So keep your CV brief, neatly presented, and ensure it includes relevant information that reflects the wording of the job advert. Avoid any unnecessary graphics or images.
2. Include all standard information
There are some standard items of information that an employer will expect to see in a CV. You need to ensure that you include this information and that it is easy to find. You need to include:
- Name and contact details. Ensure that your contact details (eg phone number and email address) are correct and up to date. You do not have to include your full address but should at least state your town and country.
- A personal statement. A brief summary about you, for example an overview of your work experience, other skills, hobbies and interests, and anything else that you want them to know. It is worth spending time wording this personal statement specifically for each job you apply for, so that it is really relevant.
- Employment history. A list of all the jobs that you have had, with the most recent first. Include the name and location of the employer, the dates you worked there, your job title and a brief summary of what you did.
- Education and qualifications. A list of where and when you have studied, with the most recent first, the qualifications and grades you achieved.
- Additional skills. Include any other skills, hobbies or interests that are relevant to the job. For example, if you have specialist IT skills, can speak another language, are a qualified first aider or have run any groups or courses outside work.
You do not need to include references at this stage, but do mention that they are available on request.
3. Sell yourself
Many of us undersell ourselves on our CV. It is a really good idea to get someone else to read through it to see if it does highlight your skills and achievements. Whilst you don’t want to exaggerate or mislead the employer, you have got to make sure that they have enough information about you to be interested in taking things further.
Many CVs can fall at the final hurdle by being full of mistakes. Don’t let this happen! Use spelling and grammar checks when preparing your CV, and read it through carefully afterwards. Ask someone else to have a look as well, as it can be very easy to miss small errors that a fresh pair of eyes would be able to spot immediately.
How to prepare for an interview
1. Get up to date information
Between now and your interview date, make sure you check regularly for any news about the company. Look at their website every day, and also their social media feeds to find out what is happening. Also listen out for any relevant news that may have an impact on the industry or the company. Try to gain a general understanding of the company as well, for example where is its Head Office, who are the main people at the top, how many employees it has etc.
2. Present yourself well
If you are going for a face to face interview, make sure you are punctual and also that you dress in a way that you think will fit in with the company. Be pleasant and polite, and do your best to smile and act confidently even if you don’t feel it inside.
The same applies if it is a remote interview, for example over Zoom. If so, it is a good idea to test out all your technology in advance so that you are confident about using it on the day. If you can, see if a friend will do a test interview with you to give you feedback on how you come across on screen. There may be little things that you can improve, for example speaking more slowly , or not waving your hands round as much or fiddling with your hair. Every little helps.
3. Rehearse your answers
It’s a good idea to think of questions that you think they may ask you and practise your answers in advance. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember all of your prepared answers on the day, just the fact that you have already heard your own voice speaking them will give you confidence.
Also try to think of personal examples that you can use in your answers. For example, you will often be asked about things like how you handle conflict or how you manage your time. If you can include specific examples in your answers that will definitely be a bonus.
4. Ask questions
You will almost always be asked if you have any questions. This is the point where your mind will probably go blank! But it is an important part of the interview. It will show them that you are genuinely interested, and could also help you to make your mind up about whether you really do want the job.
So do go into the interview with some questions that you have prepared in advance. Also try to base some questions on information they have given you during the interview, as this shows them that you have been listening to what has been said.
How to keep your skills up to date
1. Personal skills
According to a recent survey by recruiting experts Hays, the top five skills which organisations are looking for in all their employees are:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to adapt to change
- People management skills.
If you want to improve any of these skills, there are various online training courses available, for example The Open University’s The Importance of Interpersonal Skills.
2. Job-specific skills
If you notice that a lot of the job adverts you are interested in demand a particular skill, it might be time to start acquiring or improving that skill to give yourself a better chance. So look for development opportunities in your current company, or online training courses in the topic that you need to learn more about.
3. Technical skills
The 2021 job market is increasingly digital, so companies will usually be looking for technical skills as well as specific job-related experience. Any time you spend improving your technical skills will be time well spent. There are a variety of online courses available. As a start, take a look at the government website The Skills Toolkit, and also Google Digital Garage. Sites such as these offer a range of technical and business courses, and most of them are free.
4. General skills
There are also so many other learning opportunities out there. Even if you want to learn something that is not directly relevant to your job search, you will be building up your general skills and have something else to put on your CV. For example if you have always wanted to learn another language, then providers such as Duolingo or Babbel provide free fun courses. And if you are interested in a more vocational course then check out Reed UK for a wide range of topics.
We hope that the above tips help you to point you in the right direction, and that you land the job of your dreams in 2021.
If you need financial help at any stage of the process then Loans 2 Go is here to help. For example, in our article Can you afford to go back to work we discussed various things you can do if there is going to be a gap in your income because of a job change. So if you do need some additional finance to help, then do get in touch with us at Loans 2 Go to see if one of our online personal loans might work for you.
Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Loans 2 Go.