7 Top Job Hunting Tips to Make Yourself Stand Out in a Global Pandemic
Updated: Nov 7
Welcome to my very first blog! The first in a series of useful tips aimed at supporting job seekers, career-movers & shakers, and working professionals looking for their next career challenge.
Fay Phillips-Jones, a qualified HR & Recruitment professional who has just launched a new virtual career coaching practice called Coaching with Fay, provides her professional insight and advice on the topic below:
Job hunting has always been tricky at the best of times, but throw in global pandemic and one of the worst recessions to date and you could be left feeling a little clueless about how to increase your chances of standing out in a hugely competitive market right now. Find out my hints and tips below:
What's going on in the job market today?
Well, to be frank it's all looking a little bleak out there. According to the BBC, 40-plus unemployed people are chasing every job advertised. The Institute of Employment Studies (IES) says the number of live job vacancies in July 2020 stood at 361,000 - less than half the number advertised in February before lockdown.
IES' director Tony Wilson describes it as the "toughest jobs market in a generation".
A record number of applications are being received in certain industries, for example, in Manchester recently almost 1,000 people applied for a single receptionist job. This makes the job of standing out amongst your competition more important than it has ever been.
Don't throw away that job application just yet, there are a multitude of ways in which you can enhance your chances, here are my Top 7 as a starter for ten for you:
1) Update your CV.
As archaic as this tired piece of paper you have been carrying around since your first student job is, it is still considered 'king' to recruiters, head hunters and your potential future employer. Therefore, it is critical to ensure it is up to date, relevant and accurate, and showcases your skillsets in the best possible light.
Key areas to focus on;
- Include a professional summary
- Cross reference key words from the job description you are applying for
- Get someone to proof read it for you
- Stick to two pages max (!)
- Ensure there are no typos...
- Introduce the reader to the company (especially if they are less well known)
- Introduce each of your roles to give the reader a flavour of your responsibility/skillset
- Use a chronological order (this is easier on the eye)
- Lay it out in a clear way for the reader to easily digest the relevant information
- Don't use too much personal information (they don't need to know your children's names!)
2) Ensure your professional LinkedIn profile presents you in the best possible light.
From having spoken to 1000's of job seekers throughout my professional career, it is really evident that most people tend to underestimate and undervalue the importance of an optimal LinkedIn profile.
Why is it important? There are many reasons, but the biggest is because it's usually the first place recruiters, head hunters and future hiring managers will look. They will want to check out your credentials, see your past employers and ensure all of the information matches your CV. They will look for recommendations, check out your photo and see how 'socially active' you have been.
Any discrepancies between the CV and your profile will likely result in confusion and mistrust, thereby lessening the chances of the all important phone call or follow-up after your application. LinkedIn helpfully suggests a number of improvements so you can start enhancing your profile straight away.
Make sure you have a photo as this will help bring you to life to the reader and ensure it looks professional!
3) Get 'interview-ready'.
If you are lucky enough to receive a follow-up and are anticipating an interview regardless of whether it is a quick telephone interview, a more formal face-to-face or an AI interview - you will need to be ready for it!..
Key areas to focus on;
- Think of your strongest and most recent examples of success in the workplace and keep in mind so you can easily discuss them
- Sit down and revisit previous appraisals
- Review your CV and know it inside out
- Review the job description of the role you are applying for
- Research the company
- Research the hiring manager
- Learn their competitors
- Prepare some great questions to ask
- Be ready to explain any gaps/short employment stints in a succinct manner
- Understand your 'worth' so you can negotiate a great or reasonable uplift if successful
4) Know what you want to achieve.
It is always tempting to 'spray and pray' as many relevant (ish) job applications as you can get your hands on, then sit back and feel smug for a few days... this doesn't work!
Untailored and unfocused applications are a sure-fire way to wind up with either no response at all, or a multitude of rejections - all of which can cause your self-confidence and motivation to take a real hit.
Write a clear list of what you’re ideally looking for in your next job. List your 'non-negotiables', your ‘nice to haves’, and what you definitely aren't looking for. To help with this, reflect on what specifically you have and haven’t enjoyed in previous roles. What do you want to start, stop, and continue in your next job?
5) Create an action plan.
If a new job is something you are really committed to, you need to reflect and write down your action plan. Yes, this seems like a pain or something you might not feel you have time for, but you will find that writing out your goals, key milestones and priorities/actions will help drive a more fruitful search.
The most common concern people have with creating a plan on their own is “I don’t know where to start!”. Sometimes it doesn’t matter exactly where you start – there is no one magic formula towards job hunting. But you do need to start somewhere, and we are so much more likely to achieve things we write down.
6) Reach out to your network.
Don't underestimate the value of keeping in touch with your professional (and personal!) network. This could be your old boss, the person you impressed on a previous project, or simply friends and colleagues. Do so with the genuine intention of reconnecting and checking in with them, rather that with the sole objective of wanting a job.
Why? This re-connection has the potential to provide a rich source of information and could be an advocate for you in more ways than one;
- They may know of new job openings before they are even advertised (not all jobs are advertised either)
- They may have connections in other industries that have been on upward hiring trends
- They may be able to act as a mentor and provide and share their insight and guidance on the market
- They may introduce you to influential people
- They can provide quality information about their workplace
- If there is a role they can bypass the LinkedIn application and go straight to the hiring manager's in-box
- They could act as a referee for you
7) Be different.
- Send a thank-you note to the interviewer / head hunter following your interview
- Do deeper research on the company and role you are applying for and ask really smart questions and delight them by showing your enthusiasm for the role
- Research the interviewer beforehand and find common connections, shared commonalities and come better prepared to anticipate their perspectives and therefore build deeper rapport than the person before you
- Format your CV in a way that will stand out to the recruiter / hiring manager but still provides the quality information needed
Make some time to look after yourself. Whether this is through 'genuine' downtime, running, yoga, meditation, Zooming friends and family, or getting an early night's kip - remember that you are not facing this pandemic alone.
Take control of what you can in your job search, and most importantly – stay safe.
Reach out for a free 30-minute
consultation with an established HR & Recruitment professional to discuss how you can enhance your job search and keep working towards your career goals during the pandemic here or;
Tel: +44 7970 772 809
Visit my website for more information; www.coachingwithfay.com
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Happy job hunting in the meantime!