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Podcast: Top tips for a winning job search

By: Marc Burrage, Managing Director of Hays Poland, on Oct 31st, 2020


What is the best way to go about searching for a new job? To help us understand some top tips for a winning job search, I shared my advice on the Hays Worldwide Careers Advice podcast, see below for the audio and transcript.

1. It can be so tempting to dive head first into a job search, particularly if you are unhappy in your current role and want to find a new one quickly – but would you advise jobseekers against this approach?

Yes, I would, the first thing you need is a plan. By diving head first into your job search without really stopping to think about what it is you want from your next role, you will be wasting valuable time. And, more importantly, without taking a considered approach to your job search, you will likely end up in another role which isn’t right for you.

2. So, once the decision has been made that it’s the right time to find a new job, what should the next steps be?

The first thing I would recommend is to actually interview yourself. Take stock of what you are really after in your new role. Ask yourself some key searching questions to help you define what it is you really want. Ask yourself things like:

  • Why am I really looking to leave my current role? These are the push factors. It could be that you’re not feeling valued. It could be that your current employer doesn’t offer you any opportunities for promotion or maybe you have skills that are not being utilised. All of these are good reasons for a change in your job and can give a strong indication of what’s right for you in your next move.
  • What do I enjoy most about my current role? Consider the things you love about your job and put these things top of your wish list when looking for a new role. It could be that you enjoy autonomy or variety, or the office environment that you work in. These are the ingredients that you need to think about replicating and how they will affect your enjoyment in your new job.
  • What is it that I want from your career moving forwards? Is a promotion, a better work-life balance or more variety your priority? You really need to think about these things carefully and focus on the roles that will give you the opportunity to actually tap into those key factors.
  • What company culture would suit me best? Company culture plays a critical part, and I think people really need to think about the culture that would suit them. And often this could have a far greater impact on job satisfaction than the actual job itself. Do you enjoy working for a large organisation or smaller, more dynamic company? Do you like high pressure and fast pace? Would you get bored in a gentler-paced job?
  • What are the things that I am prepared to be flexible about? Consider which elements you think are absolute must-have’s and start to force-rank those as your priorities.  Always remember that career paths are not always linear, sometimes a step sideways or even a step backwards can lead to many steps forwards in the long run.

By asking yourself these questions, and by being honest with your answers, you’ll be able to build a better and more accurate picture in your mind of exactly what it is you are looking for in, not only the role but also the type of employer you are looking for next.

3. Are there any other things job seekers should consider before they start their job search?

There certainly are some other practical considerations.  For example, how far are you willing to commute? What impact will a long journey have on your job satisfaction?

Equally, would you be willing to relocate? If you’re living on your own and renting, relocation might be very straightforward. However, if you’re married and have children, that might not be so practical for you.

And lastly, it’s important to have an idea in your mind as to what salary you are looking for. Try to be as realistic as possible when thinking about your salary expectations. It may be that you’d be prepared to take a pay cut to secure that dream job, but if that is the case just make sure you have thought through the financial implications of that first.

4. Now that the jobseeker has taken a step back to really figure this out, what should they do next?

It’s important to look at the whole process. Now that you have interviewed yourself, the next step will be to get the criteria down in writing, so you can identify what are the key aspects associated with your ideal role.  Pull out keywords associated with your ideal role, industry, company culture and anything else you deem as important in your next job.

Having done that, review your resume and online social profiles in line with what you have just identified, adding these keywords where appropriate. Register your resume with a recruiter, and make sure you have a conversation with them so that you can talk them through your resume and explain what you are really looking for. A recruiter can often save you a lot of time and effort.

I would also add that each time you apply for a new role, remember to tailor your resume, highlighting the skills and experience that are important to that particular role.

So, it’s important not to simply see yourself just as another generic candidate, but as a solution to that particular hiring manager’s needs. Research as much as you can about the role and company that you are applying for, to make sure that you are making yourself the standout candidate.

5. Many find that searching for a new job can be time consuming and hard to prioritise, especially when juggling the demands of everyday life. Are there any tips you can share to help our listeners find the time to job search?

It’s true that job searching requires a lot of energy and focus that many feel they don’t always have. It’s important that you’re in the right frame of mind when you’re conducting your job search, but also that you have clear time to do so. However, there are some simple steps you can take towards creating time where before there wasn’t any:

  • Consider utilising your daily commute or using your lunch break to research relevant companies/roles or update your resume. Of course, you want to be doing this in a private environment and not in an office environment or on a company computer.
  • Consider when you are most productive – the average person is most productive during the first two hours after waking up, so perhaps wake up an hour earlier than you otherwise would, do your exercise and get job hunting.

6. Now, most people don’t find a new job overnight, sometimes it can take weeks or even months. Understandably, many start to feel dejected when their job search is taking longer than they initially expected. What advice would you give job seekers to help them keep motivated and focused on the end goal?

I think the two keywords here are focus and attitude. You need to start off with a very deliberate focus, only applying for those jobs that you absolutely believe match your aspirations, your desires, your wants and your needs. If you need to compromise at some point then do it much later, certainly don’t do it at this stage. Meet with a recruiter, make sure they really understand what you want so that they can be working for you, even when you’re not focused on your job search.

Then you must make sure that you stay organised. Make sure that you stay on top of all the applications that you are making. You have to be resilient doing this, as there are some situations that you can control and some you cannot. It is unrealistic to expect that you will get a job offer straight away. This is where attitude comes in, so being determined and being optimistic. You’re only looking for one person to give you an offer that you want to accept – remember that. You just have to keep pushing yourself to find that.

It’s very important to keep reminding yourself what it is you want a change. Whatever your motivation for leaving your existing job, don’t lose sight of it. Every time you feel frustrated with the job search, keep your motivation in mind and keep reminding yourself that the right job will arrive eventually, providing that you continue to work hard to get it. Remember that a new job is also a vehicle, whether it is to help you achieve your career goals or to help you achieve a lifestyle. Coming back to that keeps the motivation beyond the simple transactional aspect of job seeking.

Outside of that, it is important to give yourself a break. Make sure you take some time out of your job search, give yourself some clear space. You could use this time to upskill yourself, indulge a hobby or go away and travel, that will enable you to top up your energy levels and start again with fresh vigour.

Exercise is really helpful in any situation, but particularly when you’re in a situation such as this, that can be taxing mentally and physically. So, make sure you are exercising as much as you can.

Reach out to your support network. Talk to your family and friends, and even any mentors that you have. Many of those people will have experienced what you are going through, and they may be able to share their experience and their learnings.  They will also be able to act as a very valuable sounding board for you.

And finally, self-affirmation, you are the boss of you, and you are in control of yourself, so remind yourself that you have great assets already. Look back on what you’ve achieved in your life so far and remind yourself of your capabilities, your experience, your skill sets, personality traits. It is really important to stay positive about what it is you bring to this equation. There are people who will absolutely want to hire you, and benefit from your unique contributions.  Doing this will help you to stay positive and keep reminding yourself what a great asset you will be to the right company – once you have found them.

7. And finally, and this is a question we ask all of our guests – what’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve ever been given?

I could sum it up in two short sentences:

  • Never say never: for me, this means being open minded to opportunities that you perhaps hadn’t considered before – often these can lead you to some great places that you’d never imagined.
  • Never settle: for me, this means always look to improve your situation, and never take anything for granted.

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