Getting a new job quickly is easier than you might think (yes, even in the current climate). By approaching the job search process with the right goals in mind and by knowing how to market your skills to the fullest, you can find your next remote job in no time at all.
Over the course of the summer, we’ve explored how jobseekers can define their career goals, build a personal brand, and approach the job search process, as part of our ongoing Your Future webinar series.
In our sixth instalment, Victoria Sprott (Robert Half Talent Acquisition Director) and an expert panel of guests discussed how jobseekers can secure a new role quickly. She was joined by Emma Howard (HR Professional), Dr Martin Spencer (Occupational Psychologist and ex-HR Director), Sam Elly (Managing Director of Spark People Development Ltd), and Steve Sully (Director at Robert Half).
Together, they explore how to conduct a structured job search, how to master your CV and cover letter, and what you should consider in the post-COVID hiring market.
Webinar: YOUR NEXT ROLE – Securing your new job
1. Develop resilience to combat uncertainty
Everyone's experiencing a degree of uncertainty at present — but this is particularly true for those in the process of finding a job. To help combat this uncertainty, consider two key points: what you can do in terms of behaviours, and what can be done in terms of mindset.
Keep connected and surround yourself with people who are going to nourish you and give you confidence, ideas and a sense of agency. You can also improve your resilience by adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours and by continuing to build on your professional knowledge base.
“I think when you're going through change and uncertainty there's a temptation to think about loss,” says Sam, “but actually, there's a potential to gain here.”
“Focus on what you can do — don't worry about the stuff you can't do anything about, because that's just going to beat you up and make you feel worse, really seek out stuff you can do to have an effect. It's going to shift you forward.”
2. Approach with a positive mindset
The job search process will be filled with failures and successes, so the trick to landing a first-choice role quickly is learning to build on these experiences and reshape them into something more positive.
“I'm a passionate believer in something called PIG thinking’, says Martin.
“When something's gone well, focus on the positive elements of it. P for ‘positive’ and I is for ‘internal’ — that went well, and it went well because of me. The G is ‘global’, it will happen all the time because of me.”
3. Show a balanced attitude to remote working
For many employers, the most appealing candidates are those who can demonstrate the ability to work remotely in an efficient, autonomous way, while still being confident enough to speak up if they’re struggling.
Sam says: “[Employers] don't want people who are going to take on too much and burnout. And at the same time, they want people who can be efficient and effective, but know how to balance their workload.”
4. Understand how to tailor your CV and executive summary
Although there is no standard formula for the perfect CV, experts agree that you should keep it short (2 pages maximum), with a tailored executive summary at the very top of the page.
“Think about the skills that are relevant to employers at the moment, think about flexibility, think about being able to work remotely and emphasise that,” Martin says.
“Show that you've thought about particular challenges that may be unique to the sector you're applying in. Above all else, emphasise your flexibility and resilience.”
Emma says: “work out whether you're going into an ATS (applicant tracking system). You have to use the buzzwords that are used in the job description because they are set up to select you to go through.”
5. Be descriptive when showcasing soft skills
Listing out the relevant soft skills can certainly help your job application but using more descriptive language can get you even further, especially if you can give tangible examples of those skills in action.
“Rather than saying, for example, ‘managed client relationships’, you've got something like ‘building trusted relationships, through responding quickly and collaboratively with colleagues’. You're trying to really build a flavour of how you did it, not just what you did, and bring it to life a bit,” says Sam.
“The CVs I enjoy reading the most are ones where you mix soft skills into how you solve the problem, what your role was within the team that solved that problem, and delivered it,” Steve says.
“That should help you get some real, tangible examples of how you prove that you are a problem solver, that you are good in the team, without simply having a section of skills and listing them the same as everyone else.”
6. Writing a ‘post-Covid’ cover letter
A great cover letter will be specific to the job description and will demonstrate how professional experiences fit with it. It should be addressed to the hiring manager and be very succinct. With competition so fierce in the post-COVID hiring market, a generic/stock cover letter simply won’t get you noticed.
“To make yourself stand out from an ever-increasing crowd and an ever-decreasing pool of opportunities, that covering letter is really going to help you get a shot at an opportunity that you really want,” says Steve.
“See the covering letter as the opportunity to really accentuate why this job is good for you and why you're a fantastic candidate,” says Martin. “Don't see it as a chore — put effort and energy into it because that could be the thing that differentiates you in a marketplace where there are going to be lots and lots of people sadly looking for fewer roles.”
7. Conduct a structured job search
Emma advises looking at four key areas when approaching a structured job search.
Make sure your description matches what’s coming to you at the moment. Ensure you’ve optimised your profile and that it works in tandem with your CV to pull the right opportunities towards you.
Emma says: “I'd also really warn everyone about putting the phrase ‘immediately available’ in your job title, because the question is: immediately available for what?”
Rather than simply using LinkedIn to approach new employers, try leveraging your network of contacts to get your foot in the door with employers via referral.
“A huge amount of people find work through referrals from friends,” Emma says, “start thinking about who you can reach out to, who you already know — people who you've worked with before. People who might want to give you recommendations and might want to get you in where there technically isn’t a job vacancy.”
3. Targeted searches
Make a list of locations you’d like to work in, then search the companies in those areas. Narrow the search down to a particular type of organisation or a particular sector you’d like to work in. You can then go direct to their website and see if there are any vacancies for you.
4. Agency support
Working with recruiters is an excellent way to find a new role quickly but scattering yourself across too many at once is detrimental to your search.
“It isn't helpful to have your details with 10 agencies,” says Emma. “I normally would cover a maximum of two to three agencies and make sure you've got that good connection with the recruiter.”
As part of a structured job search, Steve recommends making a list of all the roles you’ve applied for, so you can track your progress and keep a record.
“It'll alleviate those embarrassing moments where a recruitment consultant or a senior person in HR calls you back because they're interested in you, but you can't remember applying for the job or can't remember what the job is,” he says.