Guide to Job Search

How would you like to cut to the chase of the Job search process?

Our experience shows that there are a lot of misconceptions about job search; not least that it is a very simple activity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Job search in today’s world of technology, degrees and fierce competition has become an art form and almost a job in its own right!

Here are our top 10 myths, in no particular order except the first!

Myth 1 – You only need to look on the internet as it is the best way to find a job

Myth 2 – You only need to register with Recruitment Agencies to get work

Myth 3 – You will always hear back from job applications, especially if they want to know more information

Myth 4 – The majority of jobs are always advertised

Myth 5 – You don’t have many contacts, so networking won’t work

Myth 6 – There are plenty of jobs so it’s easy to find the job you want

Myth 7 – You cannot move between from the Public sector to the Private or Charity sectors (or v.v) without the sector experience

Myth 8 – Speculative applications do not work

Myth 9 – You are too old if you are over 40

Myth 10 – You are worthless without a degree

There are always exceptions to the rule, however research and experience supports these misconceptions time and time again. Have you spent hours, days, weeks, looking and applying for jobs on the internet only for your applications to disappear into the proverbial ‘black hole’?  Would you believe that around only 20% of Management opportunities are ever advertised? Conversely, are you aware that anything between 65-85% (depending on which research you believe) of all job opportunities are never advertised?

SMP Solutions top 5 tips for successful job search:

1) Treat your job search as a project and develop a plan, taking account of the 4 main job search methodologies:
• Applying to newspaper, trade journal or online advertisements
• Utilising Recruitment Agencies, Executive Search agencies and ‘Head Hunters’
• Direct speculative approach (must be personalised, targeted and professional)
• Personal networking (including online / social networking e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook)

2) Awareness of you as a product (who you are and what you have to offer!)

3) Finding out about the hidden job market and how to access it

4) Learning the art of networking, developing contacts and making your existing contacts work for you both online and offline

5) Discipline and persistence. Don’t give up; persistence pays but only if you are on the right track. No point in keep firing blanks. You may need our help to review and help steer you in the right direction

Other key secrets to successful job search:

• Not the ‘scattergun’ approach that many people adopt
• It is an art and like most things in life involves planning and focus
• One of the most effective routes to success is learning how to crack the ‘hidden job market’

What is the hidden Job Market?
It is all those jobs that you never get to see or hear about, unless you are in the know!
Many of us will have got jobs as a result of being known already, through friends, family, ex work colleagues, contacts of contacts and so on. This is so much easier, quicker and more powerful with the massive growth of social media/networking and professional sites such as LinkedIn. Be found and find other like minded people!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Graduate Career Transition Part 2

Looking to move from academia into the workplace but unsure how to move forward?

You have now hopefully addressed the questions in part 1 of this guide. If not it is best that you refer to this first, as it will save you time and get you focussed!
Depending on the type of job and organisation you have decided you would like to work for will to a large extent shape your thinking

SMP top 10 tips to make a successful transition into employment:

1/ Develop a plan as what gets measured gets done!
2/ Clearly define your goals, set realistic timescales to achieve them and review your plan on a regular basis
3/ Consider what help you will need and how you will access this
4/ Research, research, research. Use your skills from university life to establish as much as possible about specific jobs of interest, the organisation, the culture, the opportunities, the recruitment process, their competitors, vision and anything else that can put you ahead of the pack
5/ Match yourself to the job and organisation with your skills, attributes and attitude.
6/ If you know people who work there yourself, or know people who know other people who work there, ask if they can get you an introduction or some initial work experience. Once you have a foot in the door it is so much easier to make an impact, so that the employer is keen to offer you a full time role
7/ Seek help and advice to get you the best possible CV, as this could make the difference between making the yes pile for an interview!
8/ Although it may go against the grain, be prepared to start ‘at the bottom’ and work your way up, especially if the employer only recruits via graduate schemes or internships.
9/ Once inside an organisation, be observant, network with as many people as possible and establish what type of roles that you would like to aspire to and make it obvious that you are ambitious and prepared to learn and graft to get there!
10/ Ensure you have a back up contingency plan in case ‘plan A’ doesn’t work and remember that persistence pays!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Graduate Career Transition part 1

Got the graduation blues?

Looking to move from academia into employment but unsure how to move forward?

If this is your first foray into the world of work, after enjoying university life, for the majority of people it is a scary situation. The dawn of reality!

Regardless of whether you have any previous work experience, you have now reached one of the first milestones in your life and In order to make a successful transition into employment, there are a number of key questions that you must first ask yourself.

Be totally honest, otherwise you are likely to make mistakes before you have even really started on your journey!

1/ How important is your degree to you in a future role or is it something that you can utilise to give you a better chance of employment against the competition?

2/ Do you have any real idea of what job you would ideally like to do?

3/ Are you looking for a job (possibly any job to get you started) or a career?

4/ Have you researched the entry criteria?

5/ Are you aware of your marketability and what you have to offer?

6/ Do you know any contacts who might be able to network you in?

7/ Do you have an up to date CV and does it reflect you as a person, to sell you in the best light?

8/ Have you thought about what is important to you in your job?

9/ What type of organisation do you want to work for?

10/ How far are you prepared to travel?

Before you can start down the road of making this key transition in your life, you must first address these (and many more) key questions.

See how you do then get ready for some hard work to ensure you get what you want.

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Making Redundancy Work for You

For many people redundancy is highly traumatic and rates with bereavement, divorce, marriage and moving house as one of the most stressful situations you may ever have to face in life.

If you have been in a job for a long time, it will inevitably have become an integral part of your life. To have this taken away from you can seem like your own personal loss or bereavement.

In the current competitive global market, which can nowadays be affected by so many previously unthinkable influences, company fortunes can change almost overnight, making for an extremely volatile employment market.

Sometimes radical decisions must be made, which can leave you ‘out in the cold’, through absolutely no fault of your own.

However, as with most things in life, there are two ways at looking at your situation:

1/ You are a ‘victim’ and a failure

2/ You view this as an excellent opportunity to completely re-evaluate your career and what is important to you in your job and life

You may well find it extremely difficult to be of a positive mindset and take an optimistic view, especially when redundancy has suddenly been thrust on you!

However, even when you have months of warning and think you have come to terms with your situation, it is often difficult to see past the negative emotions and feeling ‘bitter and twisted’ and as a result waste all this opportunity to be proactively developing your career.

If you have never experienced redundancy or it is something that you previously didn’t manage particularly well, it is important for you to understand how redundancy may affect you and what you can do to turn this negative situation into a positive outcome for you.

There are five main impacts of redundancy, which can be dramatically exaggerated if the redundancy is very sudden or totally unexpected:

  • Shock, denial and anger – why me?
  • Fear of the unknown – will I get another job, can I survive financially?
  • Loss of Confidence/self esteem – do I have any value?
  • Loss of control – you feel this has been taken away as ‘the rug has been pulled from underneath you’
  • Loss of structure – to your daily life or thoughts about how will you cope without routine?

What can you do to help kick start your career?

SMP Solutions top tips for making redundancy work for you:

  • Learn to be proactive and to take control of your career to be the ‘architect of your own future’
  • The biggest mistake many people make is to procrastinate (especially if they are likely to get a good pay off!) and wait to just before or even after they leave before they start even thinking about their next step
  • Worse still, don’t spring into life when you become desperate
  • Getting a job can become almost a full time activity so a good tip is to treat your job search like a project in itself with a start and end date, review points along the way and contingencies
  • Consider what resources may be required to ensure your success
  • If you have access to a company outplacement programme then use it at the earliest possible opportunity
  • If not, don’t feel too proud to get help from a Career Coach or Career Development specialist, it could put you ahead of the game and repay you handsomely!
  • It may not seem like it at the time but this is your great opportunity to take stock and review your career to establish what is really important to you and plan your next step
  • Review your finances – take a good long hard look at your outgoings and incomings, taking account of your partner’s earnings if you have one plus ‘discretionary’ expenditure and everything that you value e.g.  holidays, meals out, sport and leisure
  • This is an incredibly powerful exercise, as you can clearly establish what you need to earn as against what you were previously earning or desire to earn
  • Understanding your financial situation can totally empower you to thinking about your career in a completely different light, especially if you establish that you do not need to earn as much as you had anticipated!
  • Avoid taking the first job offer that comes along just because you feel flattered, relieved or because you feel you have got one up on your colleagues, as you could be jumping from the ‘frying pan into the fire’
  • If you plan your campaign right, you will get offers of jobs that you really want or you may even decide to set up your own business
  • Actively network and use more than one approach for your job search
  • Enlist any other support you can get, including friends, family and acquaintances who have won through redundancy and share knowledge and experiences
  • Surround yourself with positive people as it is all too easy to get in with the whinging negative crowd who will quickly drag you down even further
  • Above all else you must keep a positive mental attitude
  • There is always something else on the horizon that may prove your redundancy to be a blessing in disguise!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Work Survival Skills

These days it is not enough to just think about the skills that you need to compete and get you ahead in the workplace, if you are really forward thinking, you will also think about the skills to survive the workplace.

This may sound negative but with businesses going through constant change, retsructiring, downsizing, takeovers and mergers, it pays to understand the survival game, as it is ‘a jungle out there’!

It is generally agreed that there are 10 essentials of a survival kit:

A map of the area you will be in, a compass, a flashlight, sunglasses, extra food and water, extra clothing, waterproof matches, fire starters, a pocket knife and a first aid kit. All things being equal, this kit should allow you to survive in many settings.

Consider your workplace survival in the same light. Knowing and understanding your environment and what pitfalls you’re likely to encounter puts you ahead of the game. Learning by experience is a big part of the job, and it is inventibleby the way most people find out.

To help you along the way, here are a few pointers to help you avoid avoid the snakes and losing your way in the jungle, to survive in the workplace!

Commercial awareness – for this read company politics!

Appreciation of workplace culture and being effective in the organisational environment. This knowledge is often gained through ‘water cooler talk’!

Willingness to learn and continue learning – You are on a short fuse if you show no interest in learning new skills in a changing environment

Managing time / Planning & prioritising workload – with flatter structures, most workloads are getting greater so how well you can ‘juggle lots of balls’ is key

Working to deadlines / coping with stress – says it all!

Accepting responsibility – passing the buck and abdicating doesn’t wash

Meeting goals – If you have set goals then it’s important to achieve

Implementing decisions – If you have made decisions or they have been made for you, then put them into action!

Attending to details – Procrastination and sloppy work doesn’t cut

Demonstrating punctuality, reliability & commitment

Computer skills – you don’t need to be a wizard but need to know enough to be effective in your job

Ability to work as part of a team/s or under own initiative and re-adjust your role – being able to work both as part of a team or autonomously definitely helps

Flexibility/adaptability to respond to, pre-empt and lead change

Finally, demonstrating these 6 ‘self’s’

shouting about your successes on your behalf, (unless you are very fortunate) you have to raise your success profile yourself, which is something most people struggle with but could keep you in a job!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Is the time right to rethink your career?

In the current economic uncertainty, many people are still likely to be re-evaluating their future and careers and more managers have been changing jobs than before the recession!

Although it may not seem to be the best time to change career, if your chosen sector is experiencing extreme difficulties and new jobs are hard to come by then there is a strong argument that it could be a good time to consider new opportunities and even self employment and setting up your own business.

If you have had a reasonable redundancy pay off and you can survive for a good few months whilst training to learn new skills or building up your business, then maybe now is the time to take action.

Home based businesses are springing up everywhere and now could be the time to turn a hobby into a business and do something that you love and earn a living from it or using some entrepreneurial spirit and providing new products online or exploiting a gap in the market.

Many people are moving into careers where they feel that they can make a difference e.g. teaching and opportunities in the Not for Profit sector, where they have a real need for private sector commercial skill sets.

Although certain careers may need qualifications and re–training, research conducted by The Independent last year established

The top ten most popular second careers are:

1. Plumber

2. Teacher

3. Florist

4. PR Officer

5. Interior designer

6. Complementary medicine practitioner

7. Chef

8. Web designer

9. Nurse

10. Garden designer

If you want to know more about changing careers visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to developing a good CV

Firstly some key considerations ……………

Q/ What is the purpose of a CV?

This seems like a simple and obvious question but amazing how many people of all levels and at all stages of their careers fail to grasp this!

A/ To get you to an interview. Forget anything else, as this is your primary objective

Q/ How long has your CV got to create the right impact with a recruiter or potential employer to get on the yes pile?

A/ A trained eye will take around 20 seconds to scan your CV. You therefore need to create an immediate impact and show initiative; otherwise they might not read past the first half page!

Key tips for ‘Killer CV’s’

1) Focus with the end in mind to get you on the ‘yes’ pile for the interview i.e. try to see things through the eyes of the reader/’buyer’. Make it easy and interesting for them to read your CV

2) Presentation is key. The aim is 2 pages of quality information. Use the space wisely with plenty of white space for ease of reading and bullet points to keep it short and specific, avoiding cluttered text

3) Start with a profile and bring your CV to life by bringing out your personality, work ethic and career objective, as (apart from your covering letter or email) this is your one chance to really sell yourself and create a positive impression

4) Write the CV in the 3rd person (not I) e.g. self motivated rather than I am self motivated

5) Focus on what you have achieved and contributed rather than what you have done. This is what employers want and shows initiative

6) Think carefully about your specific career achievements. Highlight achievements that you have gained recognition for, also aspects of importance to you that may have gone unnoticed

7) Flesh out your key skills, attributes and experience; relate these to your job roles or as a separate heading to stand out

8) If you have had a long career, concentrate on the last 10-15 years. Most employers aren’t too bothered about what happened before this

9) Highlight relevant work related training, qualifications and memberships of professional bodies

10) Highlight anything else that will put you in good light or shows that you have developed or demonstrated skills outside of the workplace e.g. voluntary work, outside interests and projects

11) It is not essential to highlight interests, however it is always useful to show that you have a life outside of work and it maybe that one of your interest could be a talking point at the interview especially if unusual or beneficial e.g. you like to keep fit

To find out more about CV’s and job search strategies visit our Career & Personal Development website