Many people have either lost their jobs or put career changes on hold because of the pandemic however experts claim that remote working could in fact provide the perfect backdrop to finding the role you’ve always wanted.
HR experts and career coaches from around the UK have shared their top tips with Femail to provide the ultimate guide to making career changes.
From turning yourself into a brand to finding a mentor and applying even if there isn’t a role advertised, the experts say finding work takes planning and patience.
Here, FEMAIL reveals the top nine tricks for successful job hunting…
TURN YOURSELF INTO A BRAND
Sarah Danzl, Skills Expert at Degreed said: ‘How you choose to portray yourself professionally is as personal as it gets. If you’re outgoing – an entertaining people person – and working in a role in a relaxed industry, don’t think twice about posting emojis to your LinkedIn profile. It might help you get noticed.
‘If you’re working in a buttoned-down industry, you might think it’s best to play it straight. However you portray yourself, realise that you’re creating a personal brand that signals your value to your employer. Even if you make no effort to portray yourself one way or another, your lack of attention will by default reverberate and define you.
‘First, clean up your social media presence. Even on personal channels, choose images and words that serve your career goals. And if you insist on posting potentially damaging content, make sure your settings are locked down and your accounts are as private as possible. And remember that there’s no guarantee that this will save you.
‘LinkedIn is also arguably the best place to establish your online professional brand. For starters, post a profile photo and keep your profile up to date. People with a profile photo on LinkedIn can get up to 21 times more profile views than members without. And profile pages with a compelling headline and summary can boost your personal brand and help you make a great first impression inside or outside your organisation. When you post content or comment on other people’s content, do so with positivity.
‘Your brand exists offline as well — in the way you conduct yourself among your peers and leaders. So do great work. Get noticed by being reliable, friendly, and easy to work with. Do what you say you are going to do.
‘But don’t fake it. Be yourself. Be authentic. You don’t have to be your entire self. But make sure that your personal brand is something you can “wear” consistently, comfortably, and confidently.’
SEEK OUT ROLES WHERE YOUR GENDER IS IN THE MINORITY
Shefali Davda-Bhanot who is the Director of Seventh Degree Limited said that ‘with more organisations wanting to build diverse workforces, with a focus on gender balanced hiring and promotions’, now is the time for candidates to take advantage with growing businesses.
By targeting a workplace where the majority gender is the opposite of your own, you may increase your chances of being hired with businesses seeking to diversify.
However, women must be wary of shutting themselves off from opportunities.
‘Women are generally pickier with what they apply to – and a lot of the time will only put an application forward for a role, if they completely fit the bill,’ Shefali said.
‘In order for organisations to create a gender balanced workforce, both men and women should apply to jobs even if they don’t completely fit the job description. If in doubt – apply. If you like a company – send the head of talent acquisition/CEO/Founder an email.’
Even if companies are not actively thinking about diversifying, your application might be the one to Job hunters should always look at desired companies and make speculative applications for a job that matches their criteria and skillset.
‘Companies often don’t know they need a skill until they see the impact that a candidate has created in another business,’ she continued.
‘As a former agency recruiter, and recruitment business owner – one of the sales tactics for establishing a new relationship with a new client would be to send speculative CVs/applications to businesses to create appetite and need for a role given the profile of the person in their inbox.’
PRIORITISE VIRTUAL COFFEES OVER YOUR CV
Alexa said: ‘Studies show that up to 70 per cent of jobs never get posted online – they get filled through personal contacts first. Instead of submitting hundreds of CVs online: use this time to shoot your shot, introduce yourself over email, and ask out a professional hero of yours on a virtual coffee date.
‘You might be even more successful booking these dates than you would have been before, considering everybody’s stuck at home just like you are.’
Mel Barclay who is Head of Career Transition and Executive Career Coach at LHH UK and Ireland has over 20 years in career coaching.
Mel added that it’s important to stay in contact with old and new contacts, saying: ‘The pandemic has been extremely testing for many people which is why it’s so important to ensure you check in with and stay in touch with your former colleagues or LinkedIn connections. Think about volunteering to gain new skills where possible, and join online groups in your professional area to speak to likeminded people.
‘If you feel comfortable, mention to your contacts that you are on the hunt for a new job and ask who they can connect you with.’
Joanna Howes who is an international award-wining coach and author added: ‘When reaching out to companies that do not have openings, my advice would be to use the metaphor of dating. When you want to get to know someone you begin by flirting, then you go on a date and then after a while it gets serious and you get married.
‘This is similar to finding a job. You need to identify the companies you are attracted to and start to flirt with them, comment on their Linkedin, share their articles and connect with the key people in the organisation. Then you may suggest connecting for a chat over Zoom to get to know them and you will need to have done your homework on the company to give reason why this would be a valuable conversation.
‘You then can move into the more serious relationship and start to see if there is a potential longer-term match with a role. Do not go straight to marriage, spend time building the relationship.’
DON’T RELY SOLELY ON RECRUITERS
Lynne Hardman, CEO of Working Transitions added: ‘Placing a job ad, or engaging a recruitment agency, is often the last step that a hiring organisation will take. Usually, for many weeks in advance of publicising a vacancy, organisations will have had multiple discussions about options for identifying the right candidate and maybe held internal interviews, or asked employees for recommendations.
‘Many organisations too are always interested in hearing from candidates with certain skills or experience, even though they may not actively be recruiting. This is why a well-targeted speculative approach can be beneficial. A speculative approach is a direct approach to an organisation when you are job hunting. By using this method you can give yourself an advantage because you are unlikely to be competing with others.
‘By researching the market you can discover when, for example, there is a proposed expansion or a skills shortage in your target company. The key is presenting yourself as the “solution” to the company’s needs, changes and challenges at exactly the right time.
‘It can be a very effective way of getting an interview, however you do need to be very focused in your approach. To be successful a tailored CV and cover letter is critical.’
‘Building your knowledge is one of the biggest keys to success. It’s not only smart, it’s necessary. The skills we learn in school or early in our careers are often no longer relevant just a few short years later,’ Sarah Danzl said.
‘The good news is that it’s easier than ever to stay up to date with skills you need to be successful, wherever you are working and no matter what your career goals might be. More and more, employers offer employees online learning opportunities on thousands of topics available on demand as courses, videos, books, podcasts, and more. Outside of work, the internet abounds with the same types of learning content, much of it free.
‘It’s one thing to explore new skills, but it’s another to ingrain them into your everyday flow. To become truly proficient, you need to apply new skills in real-world ways. You can do this by taking on new projects, by volunteering in your community, and by mentoring or teaching other people interested in gaining the same capabilities. And if your employer provides you with these or other types of opportunities for enrichment, don’t hesitate to raise your hand and take advantage of them.
‘Every move you make to learn and develop sets you up for your next big career move, regardless of where your physical workspace is. Always be open minded and willing to take risks. Eventually, you can become an expert in your field. But beware – every time you ignore a significant, strategic learning opportunity, you’re choosing to put your career in the slow lane.
‘And, where possible, embrace the opportunities that come with remote work.
‘The biggest obstacle to learning is carving out the time. Now that remote workers no longer have to commute, that can create more time for learning like reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, or watching videos.’
JOIN ONLINE COMMUNITIES
Romanie Thomas who is Founder and Director of UK HRtech startup Juggle Jobs, said online communities including LinkedIn, Slack and Facebook can be educational as well as useful for spotting opportunists.
She added that it’s important to have a list of stimulating questions for sparking up conversations.
‘Linkedin, Slack, Facebook, all of these channels will have high quality communities for your to immerse yourself in your new (or slightly new) field. You will absorb a huge amount of knowledge by asking and answering questions, and following advice on which resources to get stuck into,’ Romaine said.
Sarah added: ‘Done right, networking is as much about helping others as it is about helping yourself. LinkedIn is a great place to start connecting with others. Worthwhile activities include joining groups on topics that interest you, engaging people in conversations, seeking out mentors or simply asking experts questions, and offering to help others.
‘Be willing to swallow your pride and ask for an assist. Maybe that’s asking for a letter of recommendation or a referral. Everybody — even the best — has received career help at some point. When the time comes, be willing to return the favour by providing these things to your connections.
‘You can, and should, also network within your workplace. Volunteer to do tasks you might not want to do. These are opportunities for growth. Network within your organisation to learn all aspects of the business. You might discover new skills you’re interested in. In doing so, you’ll make key connections with people who can help you take the next steps in your career.’
KEEP EMAILS TO SIX BULLET POINTS
John Lees recommends making an email approach if you know the organisation is filling jobs quickly.
He said: ‘Set out six bullet points to explain what makes you a good fit for the role and ask for a call to discuss further.’
John added that emails shouldn’t focus only on you, but should also demonstrate knowledge of the company and provide good reason for them to look at your career history.
He admitted the approach works better with recruiters than directly with companies.
Becca Powers, Executive Career Coach, added: ‘Ask a question at the end of the email that encourages the recipient to reply. Your goal is to start a conversation. The question can be simple.
‘For example: Can you confirm that this email is received? From there, you can ask for a quick 10-minute call to learn more about the role and the company. Keep this simple. You want to get on the phone with them so you can show off your skills and your personality.’
MAKE A FINANCIAL PLAN
Alexa Shoen career coach and author of #ENTRYLEVELBOSS partnered with F&C Investment Trust, saying: ‘Define how much your “dream job” will cost and make a financial plan.
‘If you can’t achieve your dream job now, when might you be able to achieve it? Factoring in training, equipment, travel costs and a likely change in income can help you work out how much pursuing your dream job will actually cost you. Putting it all down on paper and totalling it up may help you realise it’s more manageable than you previously thought, or help you focus on a savings goal to work towards.
‘Look for alternative ways to get the experience you need, alongside your current day job. When able to, you could join a volunteer campaign or offer to help out a local small business on weekends. There are plenty of local businesses and charities out there looking for some additional support, so volunteering is a great way of doing your bit while also building up experience in the field you’re looking to move into. ‘
John Lees who is the author of How to Get a Job You Love, added that it’s not enough to search Google when researching a future job.
He said: ‘Notice the organisations investing and hiring now. Look at as many as you can, and focus on the ones creating products or services which appeal to you. Research them carefully so you can talk enthusiastically about why you’d like to work there and how you can apply your experience in different sectors.
‘Organise your evidence so it matches an employer’s shopping list. Learn to describe what you do well; catalogue your skills, know-how, and list of achievements – times you added value, made a difference, or created something new. Think about roles or sectors where these skills could also apply, and keep having conversations to confirm your guesses.’
NURTURE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Kelly Feehan, Service Director at CABA, the wellbeing charity said: ‘We all know that urge, after applying for a role, to send a quick follow-up email and ask for any news. In the current climate though, try to exercise some additional restraint.
‘Many recruiters and HR professionals will still be working from home, meaning that decisions which might previously have been made with an office meeting now take longer. Likewise, as the number of jobseekers rises, so too will the number of applications for recruiters to look through.
‘I know it’s tough, but the hiring process is likely to be slower for the foreseeable future. For the time being, patience really will be a virtue
‘For those who have been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs to the pandemic, redundancy is a hugely stressful event. It will often have a lasting emotional impact, representing both the end of something familiar and the beginning of something uncertain.
‘It would hardly be surprising for those who are struggling to find a new role to feel anxious or stressed, especially if none of their friends or family have been laid off.
‘Finding ways to remain positive is hugely important to our personal wellbeing. Try to remember that you aren’t alone; there are a great many people who are in exactly the same boat. Nor is there anything to be embarrassed about. If you’re feeling low, try writing down a list of your past accomplishments. It’s a simple exercise, but one that requires you to actively think about yourself in a purely positive way. With an open mind, it’s an effective means of quickly giving your self-esteem a little boost.’
Publication: Daily Mail
Author: Lynne Hardman, CEO