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Job search – some general pointers

This note is for those who are job hunting. Whether you are applying for an external job or an internal promotion there are certain  fundamentals to bear in mind. There are lots of good books on this subject – buy one ( and read it !)

Before you begin the search you should reflect on whether a change in career direction is something you wish to consider, rather than just a new job in the same area. If so, take time out to reflect on your current areas of interest, aptitudes, experience, qualifications and especially what you are passionate about, if necessary with the help of a career coach. You may have a long term objective which is satisfied in steps e.g. through a junior position with a reputable employer or in an area where good training is available as a stepping stone to more senior positions in time.

When you know what you want it is time to begin the search process. Don’t expect immediate results and  stay positive throughout the process – don’t perceive ‘rejection’ as personal.

While you may apply for a lot of jobs before being successful a ‘scatter gun’ approach e.g. sending out hundreds of cv’s, should be avoided. You should have a clear focus and your applications should be customized for every job application.

If you have contacts in your areas of interest talk to them for useful information or possibly introductions to key influencers. You may also expand your network of contacts through involvement in industry bodies etc. Develop good relationships with recruitment agencies – they often complete  initial screening for shortlisting of applicants and can be useful sources of advice on all aspects of the search process, especially those specializing in particular industry segments.

Once you have a clear focus some fundamentals of the application process you need to bear in mind are :

1. Research – the industry segment and the potential employer.

2. CV– tightly worded (short and concise) and customized to the job, more emphasis on recent experience (ideally), hit any unique strengths you may have in the opening paragraph. You have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

3. Cover letter – tightly worded, address how you satisfy key job requirements

4. Interview preparation – be prepared to quote examples of competencies for competency based interviews, which are quite common these days.

Regardless of format make sure you are clear as to how you will articulate and demonstrate your strengths, and satisfy job requirements. If you haven’t interviewed in a long time a dry run is highly recommended. Ask about the interview process in advance – sometimes detailed information is available on how the interview will be conducted, and who will be interviewing.

5. Interview – trust yourself to answer the questions asked, as you know you have done your homework. It is ok to say you don’t know the answer to a particular question – enhances your credibility, in fact. Find a way to bring out your strengths and demonstrate that you have prepared well.  Be clear as to your salary expectations – don’t undersell (or oversell ) yourself. Ask questions to clarify any points on which you would like more information.

6. Post interview – reflect on how the interview went and on areas for improvement the next time. If you are unsuccessful look for feedback – potentially valuable information for your ongoing job search. If successful you still have a decision to make as to whether to accept or not. The job as described at interview may be different to your expectations.

There is a lot of material available on the job search process, but there are no short cuts. Whether you are applying for an internal position or an external job opportunity be prepared to do the groundwork and the preparation, if you are serious about ‘getting a result’


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