Against the odds... How to improve your chances of getting an offer before you even start looking.
When you start the process of searching for a new job, it can be both tiring and intimidating. But there are a number of things you can do to make the whole process less painful. By taking these steps, you will be more prepared and will increase your chances of success.
1. CV prep
It is amazing how many people forget to do a comprehensive CV updated before they start the job hunt. If instead, you take the time to work through your CV in advance, you will begin to understand your skillset more comprehensively and you will make better decisions about which roles you should apply to.
Not only this, but if you a fortunate enough to get to the interview stage, your recent experience and accomplishments will be fresh in your mind so you will be more adept at answering the questions they throw at you. Offence is the best defence.
2. Understand the process
In the age of technology, recruiters and HR managers use a number of tools to streamline their recruitment process and narrow down the candidates they're going to consider. The better you can navigate this process, the more likely you will be given a chance to present your skills in person. And face-to-face will always be better than your paper self.
In our agency, we have a phantom person called Doris. Doris is the gatekeeper for all CVs that come into our system for a specific role. Granted, this may have evolved into an AI these days, but the principles still apply. When a role is open, the recruiter/HR team have basic criteria that they will utilise to weed out the CVs that aren't a perfect match. With this in mind, the more you can understand about what those criteria, the more you can tailor your applications, the greater the chance of getting past the checkbox part of the hiring process.
3. Advice is free
There are thousands, tens of thousands of people who understand the hiring patterns of companies and how best to put together a solid application. And the best bit? People love to be able to say they contributed to your success. If you can tap into a network of people who understand this, you can get free careers advice without spending much more than the cost of a coffee.
Linkedin is a great place to start when seeking advice, especially if you can find connections and get a personal intro to someone in either the field or company you are looking to go into. There are also services often provided by recruitment agencies that will offer impartial advice about your CV. If you can't find someone specific, try using one of the those to weed out any significant red flags.
4. Train, learn, grow.
The advantage of the job search is that it begins to give you an idea of skills the might be missing from your arsenal. If you can get feedback from your applications you can utilise this to tailor your personal growth to increase your chances of getting a job. Once you have this information, the challenge is to allocate some of the time you normally fill with sleeping or Netflix to developing new skills.
There are a number of providers that will help you to learn new skills. For example, The Open University is a great place if you have the funds available and can offer a wide range of courses and options. Alternatively, each sector has courses specifically related to the skill set required, and utilising the spare time around your job hunt to participate in a course not only increases your compatibility to roles, but also shows that you are personally motivated. Every employer appreciates an applicant that has gone out to learn something new of their own volition.
5. A picture's worth a thousand words
Some employers really like to check out the lives of their applicants, especially if they're the sort of company that likes to invest in their workforce long term. With that in mind, consider tempering your online presence before you start applying. Some people assume that recruiters/HR won't take the time to research you, but if they're going to invest a lot of money in bringing you on board, they're going to want to have as much visibility as possible. So take some time to look through your profiles and examine them from the mindset of the individual that is considering paying you X amount a month. You will quickly begin to reconsider some of the content you have online and in the long run it will benefit your applications.
6. Linkedin matters
There is something particularly frustrating about researching a candidate and finding that their Linkedin profile isn't up to date. If I've taken the time to look you up, I want to learn something extra from your profile, and the worst case scenario is that I assume you're not that serious about your job hunt.
Power Tip: Use a professional looking photograph. It is amazing how many people use randomly cropped pictures of them on a night out for their Linkedin page. You are trying to impress these people, not become friends with them. Commit to your career appearance.
7. It's not what you know, but who you know
People think networking is something you turn on and off at the switch of a button and that it's only something you should be doing when you are actively searching for work. But this is wrong, and worse, it's completely inefficient. Every person you meet has the potential to be the ticket to your next career step. You should always be open to the opportunities around you. What's more, it takes a small amount of effort to maintain a little black book of contacts that you can utilise in the future. There is some ingrained fear associated with asking for help, even if someone has offered it freely, and there is an assumption that there is a statute of limitations on generosity. This isn't the case. If you met someone at a drinks party in 2008 and they said they might be able to help you, unless they've had a serious brain injury, it is likely that that sentiment will still be there over a decade later. So get past your insecurities, get off your backside and get in touch. What's the worst that could happen. They say no. And you move on. There is literally nothing to lose by reaching out. And if they say yes, suddenly you're half a mile closer to the job you want.
If you take some of these steps before you start the job hunt, you might just find the whole process a little easier than you initially expected.
Check out some of our other articles for CV tips and understanding how to choose a career.