Author: Wendy Foster, Business Adviser
Getting a job is never an easy thing, and it so often feels like the loneliest place to be. But you are not alone and there are ways to increase your chances of getting back into the workforce or finding a new place to work. Below are a few pointers…
Finding an available job. There are a couple of methods for this – the traditional route of applying for jobs that are advertised, or sending in your CV and covering letter on spec. Both are good routes, and it’s worth doing both if you can – don’t rely on just one or the other.
Applications. For both routes the key is knowledge. Know the company to whom you are applying. Companies are run by people, and we all need to feel special, so if a company sees that you have done your research and want to work with them specifically, then they will sit up and take notice. This will also give you the chance to see whether or not you would like to work with them. Tempting as it is to just go for any job, we spend so long at work every day that it is important you make a good choice for yourself.
CVs. Many CVs get passed over because they are a generic CV that looks like it’s been sent out to dozens of different places with no interest in the individual business. You must make yourself stand out. That doesn’t stop you from having one main CV as you can use it as a base and adapt it for each application by throwing in a buzzword or two, or some statistics, that demonstrate you are applying to that specific company. This applies to applications also – got to throw in some data that shows you know who they are and what they do.
Finding information can be surprisingly easy. Of course, there will always be the company’s own website – a MUST for all applications and interviews. Always, always, always know what the company says about itself. Equally important is impartial information on them. At the Small Business Research & Enterprise Centre (SBREC) you can have free access to specialist databases that give invaluable information on companies and on industry sectors, such as ‘MarketLine’, ‘Statista’, and more.
Why not use SBREC’s access to the ‘Fame’ database to identify companies that are in your area and sector of interest? None of us will have heard of most of companies that exist – there are after all over 6 million active UK businesses listed on Fame! – so it can be a great tool to identify companies you can apply to. Even those who are not hiring at the moment might keep your CV and cover letter on file for up to 6 months. I have known people get a job this way and I have known businesses appoint people this way. Why, after all, would they advertise if they’ve already got some great potential candidates they can call in for interview.
Interviews. A continuation of your research really. Another great database you can use for free at the Centre is ‘IBISWorld’ which as well as detailed market research has ‘iExpert summaries’. These contain a snapshot of the sector AND some fantastic potential interview questions – bound to impress. Every iExpert summary has several potential interview questions for you to ask.
Before an interview, check out the company – stand nearby at the end of the working day and see what people look like. If they all look miserable you might want to think twice about working there! If they look happy (even if tired) then it could be a good place to be. It can even help you decide what to wear for interview. Most companies expect you to be smart for interview but what current staff wear can give you a baseline. Once we are through this pandemic and once again able to shake hands, then make sure you give a good handshake – weak handshakes are so off-putting. I don’t propose a bone-crusher, just a nice firm handshake as it demonstrates confidence in your own ability. And… don’t forget all interviews are a two-way street, and they have to impress you just as much as you them.
Finally. Set yourself goals, realistic goals. Don’t make unachievable goals – there are only so many hours in a day so don’t try to squeeze in too much or you will only end up feeling like you’ve let yourself down. When you write down your goals you can set aside time to do some research, which will mean you give yourself better opportunities and better choices. If you’re not sure where to begin with the research, just reach out to us at SBREC and we will happily explain what we have that you can use to help you with your job seeking venture.