It’s often said that finding a job is a full-time job, writes Matt Craven, Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors but what steps can you take to make the process more effective and efficient. This article will look at how to develop a job hunting strategy with a clear plan for success.
Define your personal brand
In short, it’s all about identifying your key skills and areas of expertise, deciding what kind of role your skills and expertise are best suited to, defining your value proposition i.e. the value you are proposing to offer to a future employer, and working out how you are going to position your value proposition, skills and expertise on your CV/resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter and in interviews.
The quote from Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) sums it up nicely, “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
Everything you say, do and communicate makes up your personal brand and this is key to how a potential employer will view your application for a job.
Create your collateral
Next on your list of tasks is to create your job seeker collateral. What I mean by this is writing your CV/resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter.
Many job seekers spectacularly underestimate the importance of their CV/resume and apply a somewhat blasé approach to creating what in reality is the most important document they will ever own.
A good CV/resume is absolutely critical to success, so make sure you do plenty of research on current best practice, consider using a professional CV/resume writing service and spend plenty of time making your CV/resume the best it can possibly be.
LinkedIn is also crucial; as I write this, LinkedIn has over 650 million members, so it’s no surprise that recruiters use it as one big pond to fish for candidates. For that reason, having a great LinkedIn profile is just as important as having a great CV/resume. Even if the recruiter or hiring manager has viewed your CV/resume first, statistically somewhere near 85% of them will then check you out on LinkedIn if they think you are worthy of shortlisting.
Find your target audience
Job seeking is no different from marketing and requires the identification and sourcing of your target audience. A good place to start is to make a list of organizations you would like to work for. Performing some simple searches on the internet will help you add to the organizations that you are already aware of.
Another task is to make a list of recruitment agencies that specialize in your industry. Conducting some basic online research will be productive, but also searching for jobs on sector-specific job boards is likely to show you which recruitment agencies are active in your sector. Talking to friends and colleagues about the recruitment agencies they have used in the past will also help.
Job boards are also an important channel for applying for jobs. The Association Career Hub is one of the leading job boards for finance and accountancy roles and would be an obvious and great place to start your job search.
Build your network
Once you have made a list of target organizations and recruiters, you can then use LinkedIn to search for decision-makers in these organizations, connect with them and over time, make yourself known to them so when an opportunity within their organization arises, you can leverage the relationship to enhance your chances of getting an interview.
Using LinkedIn, you should also ‘follow’ any target employers so that their activity appears in your daily feed. Not only might new job vacancies pop up here, but you may be able to derive some intel that will serve as an icebreaker when reaching out to newly connected with decision-makers.
Over time, you should aim to connect with several key decision-makers in each target organization. If you are a more senior person who has adopted a thought-leadership strategy, they will see your thought-leadership activity (posts, articles, blogs, white-papers, videos, webinars, podcasts etc) in their feed, which will dictate how they perceive you and your personal brand. If you get this right, you will have a significantly better chance of securing interviews and job offers.
Once you have defined your personal brand, written your CV/resume and LinkedIn profile, found your target audience and built your network, you are ready to start applying for jobs. In many ways, this is the easy bit, however there are some important considerations.
My key advice is to make sure you are an appropriate candidate for the roles you are applying for. This usually means that you perfectly match the job description and you have all the required visas to work in the country where the job will be based.
It is also important to be selective; applying for hundreds of different types of jobs at varying levels of seniority will eventually backfire. Recruiters will see your many applications for different roles and potentially view this negatively.
Keeping track of the jobs you have applied for, and the channel that you submitted your application through, will really help you to keep control of your job hunting activity. You might also apply for jobs directly, but it is likely that several recruitment agencies will contact you about the same role, so you must have a record of what roles you have discussed and with who. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having your CV forwarded to an organization by two different agencies.
A simple spreadsheet is sufficient with a record of the application time and date, the company, the job title, the job reference, the recruitment agency if you didn’t apply directly, and what stage the recruitment process is at with any notes.
Master your pitch
Once you start applying for roles, fingers crossed you will start getting interviews. Assuming this will be the case, it’s important that you are able to perform at your best in interviews. We’ll be providing some additional guidance on interview technique in the coming weeks and months but here are some quick tips to set you on the right path:
- Research the company and the people you are meeting. LinkedIn and the internet are a good place to do this.
- Read the job description and make a list of the skills you are likely to be tested during the interview.
- Pre-prepare your answers by thinking of some real-life examples of things you have done that prove you have these skills.
- Practice talking through your examples so you can deliver the information confidently during the interview.
- Think of some questions that you can ask during and/or at the end of the interview.
Note: Several hours of preparation is advised for accountancy job interviews.