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Welcome to 2018, an auspicious year since it marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which saw voting rights granted to women for the first time as well as the 50th anniversary of the women’s strike at Ford Dagenham, which led to the eventual introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.
For many the start of the year will begin with a new resolve to switch jobs, return to work or start a business.
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.
It’s not just that you can job search online: you can now apply for jobs on the move and interviews – at least preliminary ones – are often done online or on the phone. Many jobs boards now have apps through which you can apply for jobs and you can upload your cv to various cv portals.
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 it’s still important to take time 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.
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. Whereas before, jobs were advertised mainly in newspapers or through agencies, now they are everywhere – there are jobs boards for every sort of niche and they come through Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
So you need to make your cv stand out. Not by using gimmicks or the kind of cliche-ridden language you heard on The Apprentice, but by making it easy to read and relevant 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.
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, mainly women, who are trying to get back to work after taking a few years out to look after children.
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.
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 Workingmums.co.uk’s career toolkit.
For those who are returning to work after a career break, the job search might seem more daunting, but Workingmums.co.uk has advice that will help and has also got a Returners section promoting the growing number of returner programmes seeking to help those who have taken a career break back to work.
Happy job seeking!