Job Hunting Advice Blog
How to write a cover letter - with example May 16 2016, 0 Comments
Your cover letter or covering note is an introductory message that accompanies your CV when applying for a job.
The purpose of the cover letter is simple… Persuade the reader to open your CV.
If you can learn how to write a cover letter properly, you will hugely increase your chances of landing job interviews.
This guide and annotated cover letter example below will show you everything you need to know about creating a winning cover note.
Always send in email format where possible
When applying for jobs online you usually have 2 choices...
1) Send a message via the job website’s messaging system
2) Send the recruiter an email directly
If you can find an email address for the recruiter, then I would always recommend sending an email directly because it gives you more control.
When you send a message through a job website, it will transfer into an email with basic formatting and an auto-generated headline, which will look like this when the recruiter receives it.
If you cannot find an email address for the recruiter on the job advert, then try searching LinkedIn or the company website to find the relevant contact.
You may not always be able to find an email address, but when you can – always send an email.
Make your subject line count
As you can see in the picture above, a bad subject line can kill your chances of actually having your email read in the first place.
Your subject line should stand out and give the recruiter a reason to open your email.
When recruiters look into their inbox, they are looking for one thing; a candidate who can do the job they are advertising – so give that to them in your subject line.
Your subject line should be a short summary of your experience that relates directly to the job you are applying for.
The following are good subject line examples;
KS2 Teacher with 5 years experience
Junior Graphic designer with 1st BA Hons Graphic Design
If your subject line shows that you have one or two of the most important requirements for the job, your email should get opened every time.
Address the recruiter by name
To get the relationship off on the right foot, you should try to address the recruiter by name if you can.
Often the recruiter’s details will appear on the job advert but sometimes you may have to check out the company website or do some digging around on LinkedIn.
If you really can’t find the name, then it’s not the end of the world – just start with a simple friendly opening like “Hi”
(If you applying to a more traditional organisation such as an academic post for a university, you may want to use something a bit more formal like “Dear sir or madam”)
Use a friendly yet professional tone
It’s important to sound professional when writing a cover letter but you also need to demonstrate your ability to communicate with other people and show some personality.
If your email is too casual and written in an over-familiar tone, then you will come across us un-professional.
But on the other hand, if your email is too formal and shows no signs of rapport building, you risk appearing as somebody who lacks social skills.
So when writing your cover letter, try to strike a nice balance of professionalism and friendliness.
Opening with a line such as “hope you’re well” is a nice way to breathe a bit of personality into your cover letter.
Ensure that your spelling and grammar is perfect throughout your cover letter because sloppy mistakes are a huge red flag for recruiters.
Keep it brief
Unless the job advert specifies otherwise; keep your cover letter short and sweet.
Recruiters and employers receive hundreds of job applications per week, so they don’t want to read a 2 page cover letter.
Depending on the role, around 2-4 sentences should be enough for the content of the cover letter.
You just need to write enough to persuade them to open your CV.
Show how your skills match the job
To ensure that recruiters open your CV, you simply need to explain how your skills and experience match the job requirements from the advert.
Scan the job advert to discover what the most important candidate abilities are, and show how your previous experience has prepared you to cover these.
In particular, look out for any requirements that are essential to the job.
Focus on what you have to offer at this stage and not what you want.
At this stage, your covering letter is simply a means of getting the recruiter to open your CV, so it’s too early to talk about salary demands etc. Save that for your initial conversation with the recruiter.
Include a professional signature
Round off your cover letter with a friendly salutation such as “Regards” and a smart signature which includes your name and most direct contact method (usually mobile phone for most people)
A professional signature will show recruiters that you understand business-email etiquette and ensure they have a means of contacting you – even if they can’t open your CV for any reason.
Job Application Tracker Spreadsheet March 21 2016, 0 Comments
If you want to land your next big career move, you need to be organised - so we've got you covered.
Stay on top of your job hunt with our free job application tracker spreadsheet - downloadable in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
Track job adverts, recruiter contacts, interview dates and more to ensure you chase down every last opportunity and secure that job.
Never miss an opportunity
- Record every job you apply for and ensure that you follow up each application through to interview stage or gather constructive feedback.
- Older application dates will turn to red in the spreadsheet, indicating that it might be time to follow up with a call or email.
- Review your applications regularly to ensure that you are prepared when you receive response calls from recruiters.
Using your Job Application Tracker with Excel or Google Sheets
- When you download our job application tracker we will send you both the Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets version.
- If you have Microsoft Excel then simply download the Excel version, save to your desktop and get started straight away.
- If you don't have Microsoft Excel, you can download the Google Sheets version which is accessible from the majority of desktop devices. All you need is a One Google account (free and simple to set up) and then you have to save a copy of the spreadsheet to your account.
How to get a Job at a Startup January 18 2016, 0 Comments
If you’re looking to land a top job with a ground-breaking Startup firm, you’ll probably need to make some big changes to your job hunt strategy.
With their casual dress codes and quirky marketing tactics, you can understand why the traditional approach to job hunting might not cut it when you’re looking to get your foot in the door of a hot Startup like Hello Fresh, Uber, Deliveroo or AirBnb.
Looking beyond the beanbags and foosball tables in their offices, there is also plenty of exciting work on offer and the chance to contribute to innovative ideas that are disrupting entire industries.
So how do you adapt your job hunting game to make sure you meet the new standards being set by these trendsetting organisations?
This guide will explain everything you need to impress a hot new Startup by looking at the following 3 areas:
1) Your Startup CV
The first section will cover the foundation of every successful job hunt; your CV. I will explain in detail how you can adapt your CV to look slick and modern whilst remaining remaining professional and packed with attractive skills and experience that Startups desperately need.
2) Where to find Startup Jobs
Startups aren't always advertising their best opportunities on the mainstream job boards, so this section will show you exactly where to find the latest vacancies. From niche Startup job websites to Startup job fairs and news sites, this section has plenty of sources to track down your ideal role.
3) Interviewing at Startups
Interviewing at any company is a daunting process, but the non-traditional reputation of the modern Startup can make preparation even more challenging. The interview section aims to address some of the most common candidate concerns and questions, such as; what to wear, what to know and how to prepare.
Your Startup CV
Your CV is still your number one marketing tool when it comes to job hunting and above all, you need to make sure that it communicates the skills, experience and knowledge that your target employers are looking. But when it comes to Startups, you need to bend the standard rules of CV writing slightly to stand out and show the creativity and imagination that they need to bring new and innovative concepts to the world.
Show some personality
Most Startup websites ooze personality. Take a look at US service network Startup TaskRabbit’s Careers and About pages for example. They go beyond explaining the services they offer and include a video about their founding story and lots of details on what it’s like to work in their offices. So try to reciprocate this in your CV and prove you would be a good culture fit for their team.
So how do you show your personality in your CV without losing your professionalism?
i) Beef up your interests
Usually I wouldn’t recommend writing too much about your hobbies and interest in your CV but Startups have a greater emphasis on team fit and “building a family” rather than just hiring someone to get a job done. So let them know what you’re about by including some unique and interesting things about yourself. Maybe you’ve travelled, maybe you’ve competed in big sports events, maybe you’ve done some great volunteer work… Let them know. If one or more of your interests could be considered work related, then you could even mention them at the top of your CV, in your profile or core skills section.
ii) Show your community spirit
With a strong focus on team bonding, most Startups put a lot of effort into community learning and social events. If you have experience of organising team nights out for your previous employers or supporting regular training initiatives, then be sure to mention them.
Modernise your CV design
Slick and minimalistic design have become a hallmark of the modern Startup. Just take a look at Spotify’s UK career page below.
So if you want to create an instant first impression on a Startup recruiter, try something a little more eye catching than your basic professional CV design. One easy way to liven up your standard CV is to simply add a bit of colour and use a slightly more contemporary font to create a high impact CV.
The picture below shows a professional CV format that we would use at StandOut CV when a candidate is applying to a more traditional firm (top) and the simple changes we would make to the design if the same candidate wanted to apply to a Startup firm (below).
These changes aren't hard to make but they give the CV a much more Startup-style look and feel.
The focus of your CV should still be the content, so I wouldn’t recommend going overboard with logos and charts as they can distract from the main message… your skills and knowledge. Be sure to keep the CV in Microsoft Word format too as it’s still the most widely used and compatible format in the recruitment world.
Show some entrepreneurial spirit
Startups are born of entrepreneurs so they like to hire people with the same strong work ethic and problem solving attitude. AirBnB’s founder page shows how important entrepreneurship has been to their success by telling you a bit about their founders.
Add some entrepreneurial flair to your CV by showing some pro-active and innovative things you’ve done in the past. Entrepreneurship can be shown in many forms from running a small side-line business, working as a freelancer, or even setting up and running new initiatives for your past employers.
Demonstrate in-demand skills
Obviously skills required will vary depending on the role you’re applying for and the company in question, but some skills are in constant high demand in the Startup world. It’s unlikely that one person will have all of these skills but if you can highlight just one or two, you will look like a credible candidate to a Startup. These skills don’t always have to come directly from employed work experience, you can also demonstrate them through education, training courses taken, freelance work, personal projects or volunteering.
Graphic & Web Design
Startups need to make sure they are making the right impression on customers and investors, so clean and attractive design is paramount. Design skills are crucial when it comes to the production of websites, content and marketing material.
Web & App Development
It goes without saying that every serious Startup needs a good team of developers, especially if they are building new websites and bringing complex customer mobile apps to market. Coding is a valuable skill and there are lots of free courses online to get you started these days.
Good writers are essential when spreading the word about a new product or service so copywriting skills are essential for Startups. Most firms produce regular blog posts as well writing guest articles for magazines and newspapers, so there is lots of writing work on offer.
Social Media Management
Creating a social buzz around products and services is paramount to the success of any Startup. Experience of managing an organisation’s social accounts, engaging fans and driving likes and shares will look great on your CV.
Good old fashioned customer service is still an important part of any business when it comes to retaining customers and building reputation. If you’ve got excellent people skills and have the power to turn customers into fans then make it known.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of ensuring that a website is highly ranked in search engines like Google and Bing. Even the most basic SEO knowledge can be valuable to a Startup as they want to be on the first page of Google as quickly as they can.
With limited funds and huge growth targets, Startups have to watch their figures very carefully. Data analysis of customer behaviour, sales, revenue etc. plays a huge role in decision making and can literally make or break a business.
One thing a Startup cannot live without is revenue, if they fail to generate any income in the early stages then they simply won’t survive. Selling a new product or service from a relatively unknown company can be tough, so strong sales people are always welcome at Startups
Have a social presence
Startups are known for their huge social presence; whether it’s hundreds of thousands of twitter followers or viral content being shared on Facebook. Social proof is the confirmation we seek from others to decide whether we trust a person or organisation. For example if you’re thinking about booking a holiday in a certain hotel, you will usually check out a few of their reviews on Tripadvisor before committing.
Modern firms like Startups now look for social proof of candidate’s abilities to back up claims made on their CV.
A great way to boost your social presence is by having a strong LinkedIn profile with a big network and plenty of recommendations. Take the time to fill your LinkedIn profile with all of your in-demand skills and connect with all of your current and previous colleagues. Contact as many ex-managers as you can and ask them to recommend you publicly on your profile to back up the claims that you make about yourself. The majority of recruiters will search for you on LinkedIn now, and recommendations are exactly the sort of trust signal they are looking for to give them the confidence to bring you on board.
Where to Find Startup Jobs
Startups do advertise on a lot of the big name job boards like Reed and Monster, but if you want to gain access to a wider range of Startup vacancies in the pursuit of the perfect role, there’s a few more places you can check out too.
UK Startup job boards
As Startups have grown in popularity amongst UK job hunters, a number of specialist job boards that solely advertise vacancies at Startups have been created to meet the demand. I've listed a few below to get you started.
In their own words, Workinstartups.com is “where startups meet rockstar employees”
Employers include: Gousto, Bloom & Wild, MyBuilder and Made.com
Vacancies include: Games Developer, Growth Marketer, Events & Talent Intern and Office Superhero
Focusing on UK based opportunities, UKStartupJobs.com provide fresh vacancies to your inbox every Monday when you sign up with them.
Employers include: Football Radar, PlayGen, Ihateironing and Qubit
Vacancies Include: Supreme Growth Hacker, Web Designer and Lead Developer
With a dedicated technology job board, TechStartupJobs.com have mainly technical vacancies from all over the world and even details of upcoming job fairs.
Employers Include: GoEuro, Babbel, TaskRabbit and BillPay
Vacancies Include: Software Engineer, Frontend Developer and Mobile Marketing Manager
Zealify not only offer a wide range of exciting jobs at leading UK Startups, but they also have an excellent blog packed with lots of helpful career advice.
Employers Include: SuperAwesome, MadeSimple, New Bamboo and SwiftKey
Vacancies Include: Test Engineer, Product Intern, Digital Marketing Manager and Project Manager
Although not strictly a Startup job site, Hired are disrupting the employment market and changing the way we approach recruitment. Instead of hunting through lists of job vacancies, Hired allows you to upload your CV to their database, where company recruiters seek you out and send you offers.
Employers include: Uber, GitHub, Evernote and Groupon
You can still find plenty of Startups advertising on the mainstream job websites too, so don’t limit your search to just the sites above.
Startup job fairs
Attending job fairs is a great way to find out about exciting new employers on the scene and get some direct face time with hiring managers and senior industry figures. You will have to scout around to find good fairs in your area but I’ve included a couple of the best ones here.
After holding their first event in a pub in 2011, Silicon Milkroundabout has become London’s biggest tech job fair, attracting scores of exciting and disruptive employers from across the globe. Although a tech event by name, Milkroundabout host a big percentage of Startups as well as a number of more well established brands. They hold 2 events a year which are usually hosted in an uber-cool venue in a trendy part of London. Find out when the next fair is taking place.
Check out TechMeetups for a listing of upcoming tech Startup job fairs from across the world.
Keep an eye on the news
Due to their disruptive and innovative activities, Startups are often being featured in the mainstream media. So keep an eye on the news and also check out the following sites for the low down on the latest and greatest Startups coming onto the scene.
Tech news mega-blog TechCrunch is goldmine of information when it comes to technology, Startups, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Follow TechCrunch on twitter and check their site regularly to learn about new Startups and find out what’s really happening in the Startup world.
Startups.co.uk is an excellent resource for information on UK based Startups. The site is geared towards entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business, which means it is packed with articles on upcoming Startups and gives some great insights in to the workings of a modern Startup firm.
Interviewing at Startups
Interviewing at any firm can be a scary process, but interviewing at a Startup can be even more terrifying as most candidates just aren’t sure what to expect. Will it be formal? Will it be casual? What should you wear? What sort of questions will they ask? I’ll aim to cover all of the most common concerns in this section.
What to wear
One of the biggest questions around interviewing with a Startup is what to wear on the day. You’ve been told all your life that you should wear your best suit and tie to job interviews, but you know that most Startups have a casual dress code and you don’t want them to think that a corporate banker has strayed into their office when you turn up in a bold pinstripe number.
Startup dress code will differ from company to company, so before making your final wardrobe decision, do some simple online research.
Look on the company website
Most Startups love to show off what life is like behind the scenes at their firm, so they often share pictures of their employees at work on their About or Career pages. Take a look at Babbel’s career page, they have lots of pictures of their staff in their offices and you can get an idea of their dress code very quickly.
Look on LinkedIn
Most modern Startups (especially in the tech sector) will have their employees listed on LinkedIn and many will have their profile picture taken at work. Search for the company on LinkedIn and scan through a few of their employee profiles to get a feel for the dress sense.
Try to focus on the people who work in the department you are applying to as you may find that dress code will vary across business areas – for example the developers may wear t-shirts while the client facing sales staff may wear shirts.
Even if you’re 99% sure that all of their employers work in near lounge-wear attire, I still wouldn’t advise going completely gung-ho with the dress code and turning up in a round neck t-shirt and jogging bottoms. It’s still an interview and you want to show that you’re serious about the job. As a minimum I would suggest wearing a casual collared shirt/top with smart jeans for a safe bet.
If you’re still unsure about the company dress code and think that the jacket and tie is still the best option – then go for it, but put a slightly more casual and trendy slant on your outfit like the guy and girl below.
They are slightly cheesy stock photos but hopefully you get the idea :)
Guys; swap the suit trousers for chinos and go for a casual blazer with contrasting waistcoat. Finish the look with a knitted tie and fabric document case (beard optional but possibly preferred)
Girls; ditch the power suit and try donning a boldly coloured blazer with a plain top and smart jeans. You could even opt for a collared shirt if you wanted to smarten it up further.
Know their story
Startup founders and employees are usually very passionate about their business and the work they do to solve their customers’ problems. Recipe delivery firm Hello Fresh even have a whole page dedicated to their story and how they've grown since their launch.
When interviewing with any company it’s important to do your research but Startups tend to put a lot more value in a person who shares their vision and enthusiasm for their cause. Scour their website and search news channels for mentions of the company and their founders to get a complete view of their story and goals.
If possible you could even try out one of their products or services to gain a better understanding of them, and then mention how you did this in your interview for extra brownie points.
Cover the basics
Once you’ve adapted your interview approach, don’t forget the interview preparation basics.
You still need to understand the following
- The role requirements and how your skills match them
- Your weaknesses and how you will minimise their impact
- Common interview questions and how to answer them
- What you want to ask the interviewer
- Why you want to work with the company
- What your career plans are
Much of these topics are covered in our interview blog.
Adapt to Land Your Dream Startup Job
In much the same way that they have disrupted the industries they operate in, Startups are also disrupting the job hunting landscape and throwing up new challenges to hopeful candidates. While traditional job search methods are still effective, you will find that implementing some of the adaptions above will really help if you are specifically trying to target Startup firms.
The key to landing a role with a Startup is to look in the right places and mirror some of their quirky style while remaining professional and competent. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you will open yourself up to a wealth of opportunities and hopefully have a lot of fun along the way.
Good luck and happy job hunting
If you have any comments, tips or resources for Startup job hunting, let us know in the comments below.
5 Ways to Boost your Job Hunt Success on LinkedIn January 11 2016, 0 Comments
So you've signed up to LinkedIn, created your profile and connected with a few work colleagues… But the job offers aren’t exactly flooding in yet.
There’s still a bit more work to be done yet, but if you’re willing to invest a little time and effort; the actionable steps below can transform your profile into a very helpful job hunting tool.
1. Build Your Network
In order to get the most from LinkedIn; you need to make as many valuable connections as possible.
Search for people in your industry and ask to connect with people who you feel building a relationship with could be mutually beneficial.
Typical connections could be senior figures in relevant businesses or recruitment consultants in your niche.
When asking to connect with people; don’t just use the generic automatically generated connection message.
You will find more success if you add a personalised note explaining why you want to connect and how your connection could benefit the other person.
The more connections you make, the more opportunities you will open yourself up to and the more exposure you will gain across your industry.
2. Add a Professional Photo
Having a photo on your profile helps you connect with others as people find it easier to trust you and build a relationship with you when they can see your face.
However, a photo from a drunken night out or an awkward looking selfie on your webcam won’t exactly set the right tone for a professional networking site.
Use a photo that oozes professionalism; make sure you’re wearing suitable clothing (think work, job interview or client meeting attire) and get somebody else to take the photo for you with a clutter free background.
3. Get Recommendations
Having a peer or ex-boss write something good about you is ten times more powerful than something you have written yourself.
When shopping online, you will often look for positive reviews of a company before making a purchase – why? Because you want reassurance of their reputation before investing your money in their product or service.
The same is true of recruiters when searching for candidates; they want to see some proof of the claims that you make in your profile.
So reach out to as many colleagues as possible (the more senior, the better) and ask them to recommend you. Some may need a bit of chasing and some may even need some persuasion, so offer them something in return such as a return recommendation or even a lunch on you :)
4. Get Endorsements
Endorsements allow other people to endorse you for particular skill sets (sales, management etc.) via a scoring system which highlights your most recognised skills and they are much easier to obtain than recommendations.
Make sure you add all of your relevant skills in the Skills & Endorsements section and then select “Yes” to the option “I want to be endorsed” and tick the box for “Include me in endorsement suggestions to my connections”.
Now you will automatically appear in connections’ news feeds, suggesting them to endorse you and should start to see the endorsements roll in pretty quickly.
After a while you should start to build a good list of endorsements from others which is another way of giving recruiters reason to believe in your skills.
5. Search LinkedIn for Jobs
Although LinkedIn is predominantly a networking site; people often forget that it also advertises thousands of jobs every day.
So make sure you regularly search for roles and connect with relevant job posters to stay on their radar for future opportunities.
Do you have any LinkedIn tips or questions? Comment Below
How to get a job before it's advertised | 4 Simple Steps August 03 2015, 0 Comments
If you are feeling frustrated from spending all day trawling the job sites, applying to hundreds of job adverts and not getting any responses ... Then maybe it's time for you to try getting a job before it's advertised...
So how do you get a job before it's advertised?
When faced with the challenge of how to get a job? The majority of us will hit the job websites - and rightly so; it's a tried and tested method of landing jobs.
But one big disadvantage of applying for jobs you find advertised on job websites, is that they are highly visible and therefore there is an awful lot of competition for them.
Take a look at this job advert below that I found on Reed.co.uk as an example - it's only been online for a few days and there has already been 73 applications... if you were to apply now, you would be 1 of 74 potential candidates - not great odds.
So how do you beat the crowds and get a job before it's advertised?
By making speculative applications - simply searching out suitable companies and asking them if they are hiring.
But if you want to be successful landing jobs this way, there are a few things you should know beforehand...
Firstly there are pros and cons of making speculative applications....
Pro - You can side step the competition and find job vacancies before they are advertised
Con - Not every company you approach will be hiring so response and success rates can sometimes be low
Pro - It only takes one positive response to land a job
Secondly there a few steps you should follow to get the best from your applications... The following 4 steps will show you how to get a job through speculative emails.
1. Find LOTS of suitable companies to approach
Sending speculative applications really is a numbers game - you don't know if the companies that you're approaching are hiring or not, so it's best to contact as many as possible to ensure that you get some positive responses.
Run a Google search for the type of companies who employ people in your desired role and make a long list of their websites. You don't have to apply for them all in one sitting - For example you could make a list of 50 and contact 10 per day over the course of 5 days.
2. Find the best people to contact about jobs at the companies
If you're contacting companies to ask about their vacancies then you need to make sure that your emails are reaching decisions makers. It probably won't be good enough to just message the general email@example.com email address or use their contact form because those emails will likely go to customer service reps or receptionists who won't be hugely interested in speculative job applications.
So who are the right people to contact? Big firms will usually have a recruitment or HR department to look after all of their hiring but very small firms will probably just handle it via the owner or Managing Director.
How do you find these people?
Search the firm's site: A lot of companies will have details of their recruitment staff and leadership teams on their website - they will usually be in the About Us or Contact Us pages but sometimes you will need to be delve a bit deeper.
Search on LinkedIn: If you can't find a direct email address for somebody on the company site then search LinkedIn - if a company has full time recruitment staff then they will almost certainly be on LinkedIn.
Search for phrases like "recruitment" and "talent" along with the company's name. You can filter the search to only include current employees of the firm to remove ex-employees from your search results (as shown below).
Once you have found the relevant person (or maybe a few people in a very large firm) you can either message them directly via LinkedIn - or if they have an email address on their profile, you can use that to email them.
3. Send them a really compelling message
This person may not currently be advertising a suitable job for you and they will not be expecting your email so you need to make sure it's very friendly, professional and gives them a good reason to get back to you.
- Use a subject line that will attract persuade them to open the email
- Address the person by name
- Focus on what you have to offer them (not what you want from them)
- Keep it short and sharp
- Make it look professional (with a proper signature etc.)
- Be extremely polite and friendly
- Attach your CV
Doing all of these things will increase your chances of getting a response from the recruiter - see the example below:
Time saving tip: Make yourself an email template with your basic opening, sign off and signature so that you don't have to type everything out for each email - just copy and paste the template then add the specifics for each company you approach.
4. Follow up with non-responders
You may not get a response from every email you send first time - but don't let that discourage you.
Follow up emails usually get a response so they are a great way to boost your success rate.
Keep a track of every email you send and when you sent it (ideally in our job application tracker spreadsheet or something similar) and if you haven't heard from the recruiter within a few days then follow up with a friendly reminder email.
The easiest thing to so is simply forward your original email (this ensures your CV will be attached again) and politely ask if they've had the chance to read your first message.
Most recruiters are genuinely very busy people so sometimes they will just need a little nudge to respond to you.
You could also put a quick telephone call if you have the number but be careful not to pester - if you've attempted to contact somebody a few times and they still haven't got back to you, then you are better off focusing your attention elsewhere.
Conclusion - How to get a job before it's advertised? Be pro-active and persistent
Whilst you won't get results from every speculative email you send - it's a great method of seeking out lesser known vacancies and side stepping the competition. The main benefit to remember is that you only need one positive response to land a job and even if you don't, you will put yourself on the radars of lots of recruiters for future opportunities.
If you have any questions about how to get a job before it's advertised or job hunting in general - please comment below.
How to Settle in to a New Job January 25 2015, 0 Comments
The endless trawling of job boards and miles of travelling to interviews is finally over...
Now the real work begins :)
Your first few weeks in a new job are crucial in building your reputation and internal relationships; so I’ve compiled a few pointers to help you integrate seamlessly into any team and build a solid personal brand.
Shake the nerves
It’s natural to be nervous when starting a new job; you’re entering a well-established and often tight knit community as a complete outsider.
But even the most senior people in the firm will have been in exactly the same position before and you’ll usually find that most people are very welcoming; after all, you must have done something to impress them if they’ve hired you.
Be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far and greet everyone with confidence and a firm handshake.
Socialise with your team outside of work
This is by far the best way of building strong relationships in the office and is particularly important for those in your immediate team and people you work with on a daily basis.
If there’s drinks, dinner, five-a-side football, networking events or in fact anything that your new work buddies attend; get involved straight away and you will really get to know people.
Office small talk can be a little stale in the early stages of a job but if you can join in with some playful banter about your colleagues dancing at last night’s charity event, it makes things a whole lot easier.
Don’t take a packed lunch
This may seem a little trivial, but leave your ham sandwiches at home for a while and take the opportunity to grab lunch with your colleagues.
You’ll find it easier to chat outside of the boxed-in office environment and you can get the low down on people’s personal interests as well as company values.
Nobody likes a scrooge, so make a few generous acts in your first week to ensure people warm to you.
Whether this is getting a round of drinks in at the pub or bringing in a box of chocolates, everyone loves a little treat now and then.
New employees often avoid asking too many questions for fear of irritating the recipient. While you should definitely try to use your initiative to solve problems in the first instance; you shouldn’t suffer in silence for hours or carry out a task without knowing the proper process.
Your new colleagues are there to help and they will certainly understand the necessity for you to ask questions. For non-urgent queries; make a list and ask them all in one batch during your next catch-up or meeting.
Meet as many people as possible
If you learn that you will be interacting with a person regularly in your new role, then you should meet them face-to-face and introduce yourself.
You don’t want to become "that person in Finance who emails me every week"; you should aim to be a known face in the office who people know and respect.
Cultures will be different in every company but whether you just pop over to someone’s desk, grab a coffee with them or book a formal meeting; you need to be asking what extra you can do for them to make yourself a more valued member of the organisation.
Get stuck in
Once you grasp the basics of your role and have become self-sufficient in the day-to-day running of your responsibilities, you should really be reaching out to your direct manager and asking to take on extra duties.
These will differ greatly depending on your industry but it could be anything from alleviating your manager from some of their less important duties, to starting your own initiatives to increase efficiency.
This will not only allow you to learn new skills and gain valuable experience; but will also raise your profile within the business and often increase interactions with more senior figures.
Beware of opportunists who may try to “dump” tasks on you simply because they find them unappealing. If something is not new to you or challenging, then maybe it’s not worth taking on.
Do a good job
Amidst all of the networking and innovating, try not to forget the original function you were employed to carry out. It’s all very well making high profile connections and presenting exciting proposals at team meetings; but if you aren’t covering the basics, you won’t get very far.
First and foremost you need to make sure that you are performing well in your core role duties and that you are keeping all of your key dependants happy.
5 Points to Remember when Changing Career December 23 2014, 1 Comment
Making a shift in career can be a life changing move but it doesn’t come without sacrifice.
You need to ensure that you are doing it for the right reasons and that you are prepared to work hard and make a success of it.
Here are some important points to consider when making the leap.
Move for the Right Reasons
Make sure you are looking to make the move because you are drawn to your new career choice by interest and passion for the sector rather than being pushed away by the negatives aspects of your current job.
When you’re unhappy in your job it’s easy to assume that a career change will solve all of your problems, and maybe it will… but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Look at the aspects of your job which make you unhappy; if they are things like long hours, lack of progression, low pay etc. then perhaps a chat with your boss or even change of company in the same sector are more likely to solve your problems than a career change.
However if you know that even a pay rise or increase in responsibilities still won’t make you happy in your current field– then maybe it is time to make the change.
Do Your Research
It’s very easy to get excited about a career move based on a whim or idyllic perception of an industry.
For example, you might watch the film Wolf of Wall Street and become enticed by Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of the champagne Stock-Broker life style… but upon embarking upon the career you will quickly learn about some of the more important and slightly less-appealing aspects of the job, that the film doesn’t touch upon, such as tough exams, hard work, long hours etc.
So don’t go in blind… Scour the internet for articles, participate in forum discussions, purchase industry publications, talk to people who already work in the area – do everything you can to get a well-rounded view of your new potential work life, taking into account both the positive and negative aspects.
A great way to get a real feel for the work is to reach out to small & medium sized businesses and offer some voluntary part time assistance. It’s a win-win situation; the business gets some free assistance and you get valuable experience and industry contacts.
Understand it will be Tough
Making a career change is not an easy move for two main reasons.
Firstly you probably have little or no professional experience in the field that you are looking to move into.
Secondly you probably have a fair amount of experience in your current field.
Both of these factors are extremely off-putting to recruiters and employers. To put it very simply; if a Doctor with 10 years GP experience applies for a job as a Baker; the Bakery is unlikely to be interested.
The Doctor may be an intelligent and hard-working candidate but the employer will say “he’s a Doctor, not a baker” and then will shortlist candidates with baking experience.
So you must know that you are up against this mentality and be prepared for a long search with lots of rejection to come before reaching your goal.
Due to your experience, you will also be faced with lots of tempting offers from recruiters in your current industry, who will be keen for you to interview in the sector you are trying to escape.
So how do you combat all of this?
Tailor your CV to your new industry – To make up for your lack of experience, ensure that your transferable skills are prominent and you clearly describe your passion for entering your new career path at the top of your CV.
Make follow up calls – Your CV will not be at the top of recruiters/employers lists so make sure you put in follow up calls to get your personality across and build good relationships.
- Get some voluntary experience – This has already been mentioned in the article but it is extremely important, so reach out to some small/medium businesses and offer your services. Nobody likes to work for nothing but the experience you gain will be invaluable and you can highlight it at the top of your CV to catch recruiters’ eyes
Be Prepared to Take a Step Back
If you have a few years of experience in your current role, then you will likely be receiving a salary and level of responsibility that reflects that.
You can't expect to move into a new field, where you have little or no experience, with the aim of retaining your current salary and position.
Realistically you will be moving into a near entry level job so make sure you can afford to take a pay cut while you work your way back up the ladder.
This will may even mean putting some money away beforehand and cutting back on a few luxuries, so be prepared.
Remember the End Goal
Throughout what is likely to be a difficult and lengthy job search, never lose sight of the end goal.
It’s very easy to get disheartened and throw in the towel when faced with multiple rejections and a seemingly impossible challenge.
But remember that your doing this to become happier and more fulfilled in your work and ultimately in your life.
Discuss your move with friends and family frequently and pick up as much support as you can along the way. Put the work in and make it happen for yourself.
5 Ways You Are Killing Your Job Search December 05 2014, 0 Comments
Let's face it - job hunting can sometimes be a bit soul-destroying.
Applying for countless job vacancies and getting no positive responses in return - we've all been there and it's very frustrating.
However, job hunting is a skill that can be learnt like any other - so you can quite easily improve your job hunting skills, get better at it... and achieve better results for yourself (e.g, more interviews and offers)
In order to do this, take a look at the following mistakes that I see a lot of job seekers make and see if there's anything you can fix
If you're making any of the common job hunting mistakes listed here - you can fix them now and you will quickly see a big increase in job interview requests.
1. Don't send the exact same CV for every role you apply for
Although you are likely to be applying for similar jobs throughout your job hunt; no 2 jobs are exactly the same. You may have the required skills and experience for a role but it’s no good if you hide them at the bottom of your CV or omit them completely.
Knowing the requirements of a job before you approach the company puts you at a massive advantage so make sure read the job advert thoroughly and adapt your CV accordingly. Look at what the most important requirements for the job are and make sure you move them to the top of your CV, making them prominent to recruiters when they open it.
Take a look at this example below to see how this works in practice.
Joe is a project manager with some IT project experience - his standard CV profile below describes a lot of his project management skills and mentions his IT project experience (only briefly) which is probably fine for a lot of the generic project management jobs he is applying for.
But when he applies for this job below - it's asking specifically for IT and a few other skills - he's going to need to make a few tweaks to the top of his CV if he really wants to make an instant impression on the recruiter here.
Take a look at some of the important requirements in the job advert that I have underlined in red - can you see them above in the top of Joe's CV? no - certainly not in abundance.
He has the skills but they are only mentioned further down in the body of his CV. The top of your CV is the very fist thing a recruiter will see, so it needs to make an instant impact.
If this job is receiving lots of applications then Joe's standard CV won't be good enough - the recruiter may just take one look at his profile - decide there isn't enough of what's required, and move straight on to the next CV without even reading Joe's in full.
That's bad news for Joe because it will certainly not lead to an interview for this job.
Joe simply needs to edit his CV profile and core skills section to make sure he's including more of the job advert's requirements (provided he has them of course).
So here's how Joe's CV should be tailored before sending it forward for this job (with additions highlighted in yellow). He's simply added more of his experience that relates to the requirements in the job advert.
Now the recruiter will open Joe's CV and instantly think "wow this guy has a lot of the things we are looking for" before he's even started reading it properly
This simple CV tailoring tactic will massively improve your application response rate and therefore land you more interviews. It takes a bit of time and effort to do this for every application but it's better to send 2 or 3 good applications in an evening than 50 bad ones.
2. Don't use the same search term for every job search
Different company’s often use totally different titles for the same job, which means you can massively increase your chances of finding suitable jobs if you mix your search terms up.
If you’re seeing the same old jobs week after week when searching “Sales Manager”, then try “Business Development Lead” or “Head Sales Executive”.
Do some research into your market by browsing through industry peers on LinkedIn – you’d be surprised at the range of terms used to describe one job type.
Try it now on Reed's job search: run 3 different searches for "Sales Lead", "Sales Manager" and "Head of Sales" and see how many different results come back in each one.
3. Don't forget to give them a reason to open your CV
This is really basic tip but a lot of people don’t bother with an introductory note these days, which comes across as lazy and impersonal.
You may well be firing off lot of applications in one sitting but you don’t want to appear that way.
Take 2 minutes to introduce yourself properly with a well crafted message; address the recruiter by name and explain why you are suitable for the role - it will go a long way in encouraging the recruiter to look at your CV.
Remember you're dealing with people too - so treat them the way you would want to be treated.
Every recruiter's inbox is full of scores or even hundreds of emails that look like the one below - dull, insufficient messages that are automatically generated by job websites.
When you apply for a job via a job website and don't take the time to edit the pre-written message; this is the type of message you are sending to recruiters.... Doesn't look great does it.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and start building a rapport with the recruiter in question - edit the pre-populated text, to send a friendly, professional, tailored message like the one below.
Remember to focus on what you have to offer, rather than what you want to gain.
4. Don't stick with the same old job boards
Don’t just rely on the big well-known job boards with the huge TV advertising campaigns. Yes, they will have a lot jobs on them but search around for some niche, industry specific job boards to find some real hidden gems.
You will find companies who don’t advertise on the big job boards and side step the completion to some lesser known vacancies.
5. Don't forget to chase up job applications
In an extremely competitive job market it can be difficult for employers to tell candidates apart on paper, so the strength of your CV alone will not always secure the interview.
Your CV may be sitting in an inbox of 20 other equally qualified candidates; all waiting for a response.
So if you haven’t heard anything for 2 days or more, make a well prepared call to the recruiter to check if they've seen your CV - it may just get you ahead of the competition and will certainly give you more chance than a CV sat in an overflowing inbox.
Conclusion - It's easy to fix your job search once you understand what you are doing wrong
If you want more job interviews and offers then try to fix even just one of the above points and you should start to see some results.
Some of the strategies may take a bit more time and effort but it's worth investing in your career if you really want a job that's going to keep you happy and well paid in the long run.
If you have success using any of the tactics above then please come back and leave a comment below to let us know how you got on.