As some of you may remember a couple of years ago at Gordon & Eden we ran a Blue Monday initiative to help as many people as we could who were looking for a new role due to the impact of Covid.
Whilst the pandemic is behind us there is still some economic uncertainty and it’s the first time that many people are searching for a role in a virtual world which can be very challenging.
We therefore thought it would be useful on this Blue Monday to publish some advice and guidance on how to look for and land a new job role regardless of level, function or industry.
We spoke to close to 1000 people a couple of years ago but hopefully by creating this document we can reach even more people that are in need of some guidance and help.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy year ahead.
Gordon & Eden – Job Hunting Tips & Techniques
At any time, career changes can come unexpectedly and not always within our control. With rapid changes in the global economy, uncertainty caused by geo-political events and major layoffs by c
ompanies that might have been inconceivable only months ago, it can be a daunting time to search for a new role. With this in mind, we have created a guide to help in the maze of job hunting that will hopefully be useful to people at any level, and across industries. Networks are most powerful when they come together to help others and provide support to communities. We hope that this is a useful set of tips to provide you with some advice on how to approach your job search in the midst of so much change. Even in the toughest of economic times, there is always light – other companies will be growing, hiring and looking for great talent.
Even though social media channels change frequently, LinkedIn is still the dominant site to showcase your professional experience. In many ways it is now more important than a CV/Resume. Therefore, it is important to set the right impression with this profile as every employer, recruiter or potential helpful contact will check you out on LinkedIn. Some of these points may sound like obvious advice, but it is still surprising how many people miss the opportunity to present their online professional profile in the most effective and impactful way. Here are a few tips:
Your profile picture is one of the first things people viewing your profile will see. It is important to ensure that it is a high-quality, professional-looking photograph. This is likely to be different to the one you use on other social media sites and can be taken yourself with a smartphone and a neutral / plain backdrop to get a suitable professional headshot.
Your ‘headline’ should be a brief summary of your professional identity, including your current/most recent job title and core expertise. Think about the kind of roles you are targeting and ensure your description will sound relevant to somebody hiring for this kind of position – make sure the title reflects the industry norms and avoid using any internal acronyms that won’t translate. Bear in mind that LinkedIn is now a search tool so you want to make sure the job title you are seeking is on your profile so that you are appearing in internal recruiters and headhunters searches.
If you haven’t connected with people regularly throughout your career, then make sure you send a connection request to anyone that you have worked with or met in business, at network events / conferences and including friends in other business fields. You never know who people may be connected to and could help endorse you in future. About 85% of successful job searches are found through mutual networks. That can be a really helpful bridge when connecting with new people.
Engage with your connections activity; commenting on and liking posts is a soft way of keeping your name in people’s minds and will make them more likely to remember you and advocate for you in the future.
LinkedIn is also a place where many companies post their open vacancies so having a high quality profile is also the way to create impact when applying for roles.
If you are using multiple social media channels in a professional context (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Viadeo etc) make sure that the key words and the profile picture are all consistent.
Top formatting tips:
Your CV should be easy to read and navigate, so use clear headings and bullet points to format the information in a way that can be understood quickly and easily by the reader. Separate roles in different companies clearly by tenure and ensure clear accomplishments are laid out. Using data in your CV can be helpful so that it is not just a narrative document. Of course, only use data that you feel comfortable using.
Ensure that your CV is concise (no longer than two pages) so that it provides a summary of your experience to the recipient who can go into further questions during a conversation or interview.
Focus on the content of your CV rather than creative formatting and graphics. Additions like headshots are not necessary. Extra curricular interests or additional external responsibilities / volunteering or charity work can be added at the end of the CV to reflect your whole self and other passions. Remember to keep it short and clear.
Remember to focus on your accomplishments. It is beneficial to emphasise your achievements and accomplishments rather than listing your responsibilities. These can be qualitative or quantitative, and it may be useful to use metrics to illustrate such achievements such as budgets, revenue, and team sizes.
Always proofread for spelling or grammar to make sure there are no mistakes. Keep to one tense throughout the document and avoid mixing tenses.
A brief statement or ‘pitch’ at the top of your CV may be beneficial to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences. This can help grab the reader’s attention and give them a quick overview of your qualifications. This section can be easily tailored to a specific role or industry that you are applying for if you want to highlight experience for a specific role. You can also add what role you are searching for or aspiring to get. Key words like this are used by recruiters / headhunters / employers to find potential candidate profiles.
Ensure your full name and key contact details are included at the top of your CV for easy access.
Avoid subjective descriptions of your personality and leadership style. Stick to key achievements and skills – if your profile is right, then this will be enough to get you the interview and it is better to leave this conversation for that moment.
Maximising your network:
Identify key connections in your network who are most likely to be able to help you find a role, such as former colleagues, industry colleagues, mentors, and recruiters. People are generally happy to help and give advice. Even if they may not link you directly to a new role, often connections can provide useful insight about a company culture, job openings etc. Your connections may also have connections of their own who they could put you in contact with. For example, they may have a contact at a company you are interested in and be able to help set up an introduction. Remember, for every one person you connect to, they could connect you to one, two or more people. As your network grows so does your knowledge about what’s going on in the market.
After identifying key contacts within your network, reach out to them and let them know your current situation. They may have useful leads or recommendations. Remember to personalise your messages and explain why you are contacting each person specifically. If you are interested in a particular company, explain why and show you have done some research beforehand.
Don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t receive a response; people are busy and sometimes a gentle nudge will be needed. It’s usually best to give them a week to respond to your initial note.
Of course, use websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor to search for job listings and relevant recruitment firms. It is always good to put equal effort into working your network as many roles will be filled through personal connections before they are advertised, especially in more competitive markets.
Research companies and industries that you are interested in. Company websites will be a good place to read up about the company’s business, culture and footprint. Taking an interest in the company’s latest press and activity will show a curious mind and an engaged candidate!
Preparation is key to ensure you approach the interview confidently and are ready to build a relationship with the interviewer. Key preparation includes: researching the company (to demonstrate genuine interest), being familiar with some of the company’s competitors, and reviewing the job description to hone which skills and experiences illustrate your experience and makes you the right candidate for the role.
It is often useful to practice your answers to common interview questions, and to be prepared to talk about your key achievements and experience in greater detail to the interviewer. Jot down a few notes before the interview to help focus your thoughts.
Even if the interview is virtual, set the right impression by dressing suitably. For a tech start up this might mean a hoodie is OK but generally better to err on the side of caution and dress smartly. If the company wears suits/more formal attire in the office then you should for an interview.
Have a few questions (2 – 4) ready at the end of the interview. If there is time, it’s good to ask the interviewer your questions which will demonstrate your interest in the role/company. Make sure it isn’t information that is covered on the job spec and try to engage the interview with the topic – questions about company culture, their plans for the next year or anything business related can be good topics if you don’t have anything pressing about the specific opportunity.
Virtual Interview Advice:
Virtual interviews have now become the norm in the recruiting process. Whilst face-to-face may still feature, many companies will continue to use virtual interviews. It is therefore crucial to ensure your ‘virtual’ environment is adequately set up and that you are comfortable interviewing. Ensure you have a quiet environment and a good internet connection to undertake the interview. Your background should be neutral and uncluttered so as not to distract either you or the interviewer. A background screensaver can help if you want to blur out your background.
Remember to check your internet connection, microphone and camera are all working prior to the interview to ensure there are no technical issues. Download the platform for the interview if you are using it for the first time (e.g. Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams etc) and get familiar with logging on.
Look directly into the camera during your interview and smile to demonstrate your engagement and interest. Some interviewers will have a more formal tone but it is always important to bring energy and enthusiasm to every interview, even if this is not directly mirrored by the interviewer.
Stay positive and resilient. Finding a new job can take time and effort, so it is important to remain positive and not get too discouraged. Every path will lead somewhere, have faith and hope.
Continue to apply and network with your contacts.
All interview experiences are valuable. Ask for feedback after an interview as this will be information to help you prepare for the next one. You can do this via email if you are not successful.
Setting specific goals can help to keep you motivated by allowing you to track your achievements and maintain a sense of direction. Even tracking your network’s introductions on a spreadsheet can help show your progress.
Concentrate on the things you can control, such as the effort you put into your job search and the ways you can improve your skills.
Branch out by seeking guidance from a career coach or mentor or developing new skills that can help make you more competitive in the job market.
Seek support from your friends, family and professional network to help maintain positivity through challenging times.
Engage in activities you enjoy to help maintain a positive attitude and prevent burnout. Job hunting is often a full time exercise and there may be setbacks along the way. Don’t be hard on yourself; if you apply yourself and put every effort into the process then you will be successful and learn valuable skills and build an enhanced network for the future.