Congratulations, you’ve made the difficult decision to leave your current job. Now comes the even more difficult process of finding a new one. The job search requires resilience, determination and a lot of admin. It may be a candidate-driven market but competition for the best roles remains stiff. Hiring managers are looking for the right fit as much as candidates are, so be prepared to impress.

To help you, here’s some advice on what to do (and what to avoid doing).

Gettyimages/filadendron
Gettyimages/filadendron

This new year, don’t change you change your job

Dos:

Soul search

Before you look for a new job, be sure you’re clear on what it is you want from your next role. Ask yourself why your last job didn’t work out, what elements of work you enjoy the most and what you’re really good at. You also need to think about what you want from your career and what the next steps should be to get you there. Once you have a clear idea you’ll be better equipped to explain it to a hiring manager.

Look into your options

Research job specs in different companies to get an idea of the responsibilities and requirements you can expect. Make a hit list of companies you want to target, track their updates online and be vigilant in watching out for any emerging roles.

Use your network

Reach out to your contacts to let them know you’re on the hunt and to see if they know of any upcoming opportunities. Even if they’re unaware of any specific roles, they may be able to offer advice or refer you to another connection.

Build your personal brand

Ensure that you’re online presence isn’t problematic and that your online portfolio and professional profiles are up-to-date. Be sure that there’s no incriminating photos or embarrassing tweets that could sully your chances. It’s also a good idea to engage in online discussions and connect with other professionals in the industry. Getting involved in the community is a great way to boost your profile and increase your employability.

Do your homework for your interview

Prepare answers to the most common interview questions and run through them a few times out loud. This will give you more confidence when it comes to the interview and help you make sure you’re hitting the most important points early on.

Be honest

It’s important to put your best foot forward during the hiring process but it’s also important to be truthful. Be open about what you’re looking for in an employer and a role and don’t shy away from discussing possible difficulties you may have with a role too. Hiring managers will appreciate your transparency. Every candidate can talk up their strengths but it’s rare that a candidate can speak strongly about their weaknesses.

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Ask questions

Don’t forget that the application process is your opportunity to interview your potential employers. Don’t wait until you start a job to clarify important details about the job or the company. Being curious about a role is an attractive trait so be sure to ask lots of questions. This will give you a good sense of the team, the organisational structure, the expectations attached to the role and an insight into the culture of the company. Some questions for inspiration:

  1. What is the reporting structure?
  2. What’s the culture like?
  3. What type of people are successful here?
  4. Is this a new role or a replacement role?
  5. How would you describe the rest of the team?

Follow up

Give your application the personal touch by following up with the company after you’ve applied and definitely after you’ve been interviewed. This will keep your name top of mind and show you’re excited to work for the company.

Be specific

Employers want to know that you’ve done your research into the company and have decided that you really want to work there. You need to get that across in your application by making specific references to the brand. Your application shouldn’t read like a general email you’ve sent 100s of companies. Refer to a milestone in the company, an intriguing post you found on social media or a mention you read in a news article.

Don’ts:

Talk negatively about your old employer

If and when you get to the interview stage you’ll more than likely be asked why you left your previous position. Regardless of how messy an exit it was, remain diplomatic and don’t give out about your old boss or company, even if they deserve it! You’ll just end up looking petty and bitter.

Be overly critical of the company you hope to join

Despite what your interviewer says, be diplomatic when offering constructive feedback. You may be asked to “tell them straight” about problems with their product or brand but it’s best to err on the side of caution. Lead with a positive observation, then give them the negative feedback and offer a possible solution as you see it. Employers want candidates who can identify problems but also offer ways to overcome them.

Expect instant gratification

Job hunting can be a lengthy process. Don’t be disheartened if you’re unsuccessful in your first few applications. Try to take something from each rejection, ask for feedback on why you weren’t chosen for the role and leave the door open for future positions.

Underestimate yourself

While it’s not advisable to apply for roles you don’t think you’re equipped to do, don’t limit your options either. Just because you don’t fulfill every single requirement on the job spec doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be a fit for the role. Often HR managers are looking for potential and cultural fit as much as previous experience.

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