The job market in the UK, Europe and the US is ultra-competitive at the moment. Big institutions are threatening redundancies, government austerity measures are impacting jobs in the public sector and growth is still stagnant. So, how can you go about making yourself stand out from the crowd? Here are some tips on how you can become more employable.
1. Work on your CV
This has two aspects. First you need to improve the actual CV document, so focus on the way you are presenting the information to an employer. Is the layout correct? Does the most important information stand out? Are your qualifications and experience obvious to those who don’t know you? Think about improving the appearance of the document to make it more eye-catching, but don’t let it become gimmicky. Get some advice from your friends or family. If you do get to speak to a recruitment company then ask their opinion.
You should also think about developing your CV by improving the contents. Are there any development areas? Is there any training in your current role that would enhance your CV and get you more experience?
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2. Develop new skills
This is closely linked to point one. Once you have worked out how to enhance your CV, you might find that you need to develop new skills or areas of expertise in order to achieve your goals. This could mean going on training or professional development courses. There are many different courses on offer. Choose something that you will enjoy and that will be useful in the future.
Consider developing your personal skills, for example, you could undergo a leadership course or learn how to mentor others..
3. Change your job application pattern
Perhaps you have got into a rut with your job applications. You may send out so many applications that they start to blur after a while. While you might change your application slightly for each job to tailor it to the job specification, you might still rely on a cover letter and personal statement that was written months ago. Try starting again from scratch. How would you sell your experience and skills now?
It is also important to consider the types of job you are applying for. Perhaps you are applying for too narrow a range of positions and could consider alternative roles. Or the opposite problem could be true. Are you using a ‘scattergun’ approach and applying for too many jobs when you would be better applying for positions only in your field?
4. Do a mock interview
‘Practise makes perfect’ is very apt for interviews. Sitting an interview is one of the most alien things you are likely to do. Most IT people choose IT because they are not sales people. They are no good at selling themselves yet this is what we are trying to do in an interview.
Going along to interviews even if you are no successful is a great way to get experience. Learn from your mistake, remember the questions you got stuck on and develop your responses. Get advice and coaching from friends and family. If you are lucky maybe even ask one of them to sit a mock interview with you and learn from the experience. The process will give you the chance to rehearse some of your answers to challenging interview questions and hopefully you will get some positive feedback on your performance.
I can recommend ‘Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions‘ by Martin John Yate. I use this myself and contains load of examples of typical interview questions and how to phrase your response.
5. Broaden your horizons!
Although it is easy to become single minded when looking for a job, it is important to constantly reassess the situation. Are you sure that you really want to work in the field for which you are applying? If you have any doubts, perhaps it’s time to come up with an alternative plan. There are many other ways of finding fulfilling work apart from doing a permanent job. Many scholars have portfolio careers where they work for a number of different universities, perhaps doing freelance tutoring or exam marking as well.
You could also consider volunteering. It is a great way of getting new skills and of helping a charity or local organisation. And it will really enhance your CV and give you a sense of self-worth during a difficult time of unemployment. Future employers will look favourably on someone who thinks outside the box to try to develop their workplace skills. (The agreed supreme walks before the pretended governor.)