Help – I’m looking for a job and I don’t know where to start!

looking for a job but dont know where to start

Looking for a new job is stressful!

We generally don’t move jobs that often and for many, the need to search is thrust upon us rather than us necessarily making the conscious decision to move on.

With that, one of the questions are often asked is “How should I go about my job search”. A Google search comes up with loads of articles and blogs but it’s more about the places you should look rather than helping with a process that will set you up for success.

I’m hoping that by writing this that you can form a checklist of things to do and that the checklist will help with that uncertainty and provide a strategy for success…

Figure out what job you want

When I started writing this blog CV writing felt like the top priority but, if you don’t know what job you want to do then how can you write a CV that focuses on that outcome! Think about your career to date – what parts of the jobs that you’ve done did you enjoy, where did you excel, what made you want to jump out of bed in the morning and get into the office?

Don’t jump out of the frying pan and into the fire by taking a role that is identical to what you have just left or are planning to leave if it didn’t fit with your strengths, aspirations and motivations.

Figure out what type of company you want do it for

What size of company do you want to join, what industry are they in, what are their values, their growth plans, the technologies they work with and what type of culture works for you? Some job roles are fairly restricted to a certain type of industry, but our focus is the technology skill sets of Cloud, Security, Service Management and Project Management which are fairly transferable from one industry to another.

Figuring out the type of company you do want to join is as much about working out what you don’t want. Some candidates feel passionately about particular industries as either a big turn on or an absolute no go.

Working out the type of job and the type of company will give you that motivation to really go after it.

Re-vamp that CV

A key task is getting your CV up to scratch. Is it optimised for your industry, have you focussed on achievements or simply listed a load of role responsibilities, is it backed up data / numbers? There are lots of blogs on CV writing and a huge number of professional CV writers. Recruiters will often be willing to advise on a CV so unless you’ve got a lot of spare cash or outplacement support as part of your leaving package then don’t feel you necessarily need to invest.

Having said that, if you’re really coming up short and feel your CV is not representing you in the best light then paying someone to take a look at it could be money well spent. Simply asking friends / family for feedback is a good place to start…but only if they understand a bit about your background and how a CV should look for the industry in which you’re in.

More information on CV writing can be found here.

One thing we’re hearing a lot of is the rise of the ATS system – at present a very small percentage of companies use an ATS to process applications so whilst you should have the CV optimised with keywords and phrases that are relevant to the role you’re applying for in the main it is likely a human will make the decision to progress or reject your application.

Revamp your LinkedIn profile

Making sure that your profile is well written, easy to understand and that the dates mirror your CV are the basics. Banners, recommendations and endorsements are the next phase. If you’ve left a job recently then lean on ex-colleagues, managers or team members to write an endorsement and of course return the favour by writing something nice about them. LinkedIn have a free social selling index tool that measures how well your profile is performing.

If you want your profile to work then the next bit is about engagement. You need to engage with other people’s content as well as posting your own. The traffic on LinkedIn is phenomenal – there are over 260m monthly active users but many of these have a quick scroll and don’t actively engage. People will reciprocate so if you comment and engage then you’re much more likely to get something back. This then gets your profile noticed and you’re more likely to see business opportunities as a result.

Start that search, but where?

Job boards, social media and recruitment agencies are likely to be 3 of the more productive sources. During the pandemic the number of jobs advertised, as you’d expect, reduced dramatically and this was at a time when applications were on the rise which as a candidate makes you feel that you’re really trying to push a snowball up a hill. Do still apply but make sure your application stands out.

Social Media is becoming more and more important for candidates – regardless of sector. Some roles are advertised on sites like Linkedin so that fully optimised profile is essential.

Registering with and speaking to recruiters that focus on your market is also an important avenue. Build relationships and make sure your strengths, skills and experience are understood. Most recruiters talent pool effectively and will already be thinking about who they want to speak to when taking on a brief from a client. Making sure that you are front and centre of their thoughts is great strategy. The “hidden” job market is where roles are filled that didn’t make it on to a company career site or were not advertised by recruiters. This is generally where the role comes live and no search is needed as there is a known person who is a good fit.

Once you’ve applied, get the most out of those applications

This also links back to a previous blog (see here for more detail) but if you’ve taken the time to apply for a role then make sure you follow it up. Be proactive, use different communication tools and make that Hirer / Recruiter / HR / Talent Manager know that you’re keen and stand out from the crowd by chasing it up.

And finally…

Don’t beat yourself up

Take time to look after yourself. There’s plenty of advice about seeing the search as a “full-time job” and I’m not sure I wholeheartedly agree with this. Definitely have structure, definitely diarise time for searching / applying / following up but do be aware that there is only so much you can do so if everything is covered then make time to look after yourself whether that is going out for a run or some fresh air, cooking a great meal for you and the family or simply sitting down to catch up on the latest series.

Picture of Ben Leeds
Ben Leeds
With over 20 years’ in the recruitment industry Ben has seen quite a bit and hopes that by sharing some thoughts he can help you to either hire the best person or find the right job!
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