New job in the new year?

It’s the start of a new year and a new decade and a great time to think about new starts. has some advice if you are looking to start a new job, change career or return to work.

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The new year often heralds a rethink. As people ponder the return to work after the xmas break or after a longer break looking after young kids and settling them into school, they often reflect on what they really want to do and how they can get out of the rut they are in or start again.

If you’ve been in the same job for a while, you might feel a bit daunted by the whole process of job hunting. New technology and social media have altered the playing field and this can be intimidating.

  • Where is the best place to go for jobs?
  • How do you get past all the algorithms
  • What if you are not up to date with the newest technology?

Social media has become a growing force in recruitment, with many people using sites like LinkedIn to find out about job opportunities or network so as to be in the right place at the right time if a vacancy occurs.

Everything is moving very fast, but the first bit – the reflecting bit – is still the same. The bit where you think about what it is you want to do, what your strengths, interests, etc, are.

Once you know these it helps you to hone your search. Of course, you might not know all the different types of jobs available, given new ones come online so often, but by focusing on your interests and skills [in the broadest possible sense] you can narrow the search to the type of role that might suit you best. As for the sector, think laterally. All sorts of sectors require all sorts of skills so don’t limit yourself.  Books such as John Reed’s new Life’s Work provide a good source of suggestions on industries that are growing fast.

Remember, when you apply, to think through the demands of a particular job and to tailor any application to that, rather than just to forward a cv at the click of a button.

That means doing research. With so much information now available on the internet, it is vital that you show that you have done due diligence on the firm you are applying to and about the job role.

Employers will expect that you have at least looked up the company or organisation and got a good idea of what its aims and objectives are. You can also check which organisations have good work life balance policies and practices, for instance,’s highlights best practice in its reports and publications.

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Stand-out cvs

Another factor to bear in mind in the new fast-moving jobs arena is that apps and sites that make it easier to apply for jobs mean increased competition.

So you need to make your cv stand out by making it easy to read, by highlighting your skills at the top and showing how relevant they are to the job you are applying for.

Keep it down to a couple of sheets of A4 and format it clearly, listing the duties you have performed in your various roles in bulletpoints, including transferable skills. Employers want to see concrete proof that you have the essential skills they want. With increased use of automation, it is also a good idea to add in some of the keywords in the job spec to ensure your cv directly links to the skills the employer is seeking.

If you’ve taken a career break, think about doing a skills-based cv rather than a chronological one which may highlight the gap, giving examples of how you have used those skills in previous roles.

You might also look at the various returner schemes that cater to those who have taken a career break. The good news is that more and more employers are offering these or have heard of them.

And don’t forget that any prospective employer will no doubt do some online research on you before the interview. That means making sure that your social media presence is not full of inappropriate comments or images which might put them off hiring you.

Cover letters

Remember too that if you are writing a cover letter, it counts just as much as the cv. It is the first thing that grabs an employer’s attention and a lot of thought and effort should go into it.

You should use it to make an impact and to stand out from the other job applications. That doesn’t mean writing attention-grabbing statements or a 10-page tome. Again, keep it brief, stick to the facts and show clearly and succinctly why you want the job, what you have to offer and why the employer should read on.

For interviews over Skype, think about your backdrop and ensure it looks professional. Test that Skype is working more than five minutes before the interview so you don’t appear flustered if there is a hitch and have a back-up plan in case technology lets you down altogether.

Also, try to engage as much as possible through your tone of voice, eye contact etc since you will not be able to rely as much on body language.

For phone interviews, ensure you are in a quiet spot with good reception. Again, tone of voice is important as is listening carefully to the questions. Phone interviews can seem more rushed so make sure you don’t get flustered and if you think the interviewer may need you to elaborate on something don’t be afraid to ask if they need more information.

For advice on everything from interview technique to how to find or negotiate a flexible new job, check out’s new free back to work toolkit.

Good luck!

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