Make the first move. 1 Identify a new direction. “Create a list of career options you think you’d really enjoy, not just the ones you think you can do. Don’t limit your thinking at this stage. If you really want to start your own business, put that on you list. Then research how others changed into these careers.
2 Think about things you’re good at. “Jobseekers who ask, ‘What can I do with my qualifications/experience?’ have it backwards,” says Tanya de Grunwald, founder of GraduateFog.co.uk. “A good job search should start with you, not your CV. Are you an ideas person? Do you have the gift of the gab? Are you good at explaining things to others? Most of us don’t think of ourselves as ‘talented’ – but look closer and you’ll find something to guide you towards the sort of jobs you’ll most enjoy.”
3 … then think about the skills you have picked up. Is there crossover between the two? If so, use these lists to help identify the types of jobs and industries you are most suited to. “Get to know yourself and focus on your strengths,” says Renee Mathys our HR Manager “What makes you come alive? Ask yourself what really motivates you? Understand your unique skills, abilities and interests.”
4 Do your homework. “Many careers can sound exciting when you only know a little about them,” says Dr Rob Yeung, executive coach at consultancy Talentspace. “Make sure you know what’s boring and awful about a job, as well as what’s great – only then can you decide if it’s the right choice for you.”
5 Dip your toe in before taking the plunge. “Research what it entails, what training you may need and talk to people doing that job,” suggests Roan. “If it’s possible, try it out part-time, or shadow someone in the role.”
6 Tidy up your CV, look around for inspiration. Talk to recruiters in your sector to establish what they consider to be an above-average CV. If you can afford it, consider asking a CV-writing agency to help you, “but only one that comes recommended by someone in your network,” suggests Rowan Manahan, author of Ultimate CV:
7 Create your own marketing pack. Spending a little extra on good quality materials can really make your application stand out. “Choose a high quality paper with matching envelopes,” says James Innes, author of The CV Book, The Interview Book and Brilliant Cover Letters. “A co-ordinated image can really impress; it’s a small investment which could pay dividends.”
8 Include a cover letter. “According to a recent survey, cover letters are seen by almost 50% of recruiters as being equally as important as the CV itself,” says Innes. “Many people lose out not because of their CV but because of their cover letter – or lack of one.”
9 Create a template cover letter and modify it to suit your needs. Including one allows a little more of your personality to shine through, and an extra platform on which to sell your skills.
10 Customise your CV. “Put yourself in the shoes of each recruiter and make sure you’ve emphasised the bits they’ll be most interested in,” says de Grunwald. “Don’t use jargon they won’t understand and if your former employers aren’t well-known, explain briefly the nature of each, before detailing what you did there.”
11 Where and how to look, go online. Search by both area and job title, and repeat your search every day. “The methods that pay most dividend are Google Alerts for the wider market and manually tracking specific companies you’d like to work for,” says Manahan. “Register judiciously with reputable job sites
12 Target organisations you’d like to work for. Visit their websites and look for employment information – you may find jobs that don’t appear elsewhere online. “Demonstrating that you have a genuine interest and real enthusiasm for an organisation can make you really stand out,”
13 Look under your nose. While many large firms use the internet to find employees, most small businesses do not. A local paper can still be a useful place to find jobs in your town.
14 … but also cast the net wide. If you currently work five minutes from home, try widening your search. “Difficult times require more creative solutions and you will find more options by casting your net more widely,” says Corfield. “Don’t be put off by commuting. It can provide time for reading, learning or just thinking.”
15 Aim high and low. Apply for jobs above and below the level you are currently (or were formerly) working at. It’s hard to generalise, but particularly if switching career, you need to be realistic about the level of opportunity that may be open to you.
16 Apply to unconventional places. You may assume your local hospital, for example, doesn’t have any jobs you’d be suited to if you aren’t a healthcare worker – but you might be wrong. “Most large organisations have admin, IT and HR staff,” says Corfield. “Scan job vacancies widely and use your contacts when job-hunting wherever they work.”
17 Look out for scams. There’s no shortage of unscrupulous people out there waiting to take advantage of the unwary. Scams can encompass everything from WORK AT HOME ” to “pay for a list of available jobs”.
18 Also, some agencies trawl for good CVs, then approach companies with the claim that they have the cream of the market,” says Manahan. “Employers hate being approached this way, so make sure that the ad you’re responding to is a real job.
“Get some real detail on the position; if you have any doubt as to its veracity, then don’t apply.”
19 Build an online profile, put your CV online. It creates a strong impression if your résumé is available to employers to download. Try it once yourself to see how it looks, and make sure it prints out the way you expect it to.
20 Use a universally accepted document format. “PDF or Word-compatible are the best,” suggests Innes. “If your CV is in a different format, you’re immediately reducing the chances of someone being able to access it – and thereby your chances of getting a job.”