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The Map – A Guide Through The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Feb 14, 2012 in Job Search

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Finding a job in the current climate is a full-time job in itself, but there are ways to make things easier on yourself. Use these points to draw a map to navigate through the job search jungle.

What’s your skill-set?

Firstly, be honest with yourself about the skills you have. Sit down and make a list of the jobs you’ve held in the past, the dates they covered, and the skills required. If you’re an experienced professional, limit your outlines to the most recent ten years. If you’ve been out of the workplace for a while, then list any relevant voluntary posts. If you’re new to the world of work, think about any mentoring or extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in, including sports or drama. This information forms the basis for the professional experience section of your resume, which in effect is your calling card for jobs and can also be used to help fill in application forms. Other sections typically include some personal details, including how employers may get in touch with you, and relevant educational qualifications. Have a basic prototype curriculum vitae (CV) that you can use as the basis for different types of jobs and industries.

Where are all the jobs?

Secondly, think about the type of job you want, and where those jobs are advertised. Local newspapers and job boards are a great start, but many openings are now advertised only on the Internet. Many appear on professional job boards, but several are advertised only on the website of an organization. Many more openings are not advertised at all, and this is where you need to think laterally about your contacts. Do any of your friends or relatives work in organizations that are hiring? Which school did you attend? Are you aware of any alumni who have gone into businesses that are expanding? What agencies can you think of who deal with your industry, and have you registered with them? What technical and specialist trade magazines are there in your area? Even if they don’t carry situations vacant, the news items offer an insight into companies that are expanding. Many local libraries carry copies of trade magazines, so you can browse at your leisure.

Target your application

Thirdly, once you’ve found a vacancy that looks promising, go through the job description carefully. Make a grid of how your skills and experience are the best possible match for the vacancy, and mentally prepare for your interview by thinking of at least two, preferably three, concrete examples of how you displayed those skills in previous posts. Take your base cv and target it for the post.

Expand your skill-set

If you’re finding that many promising job advertisements you spy ask for skills outside your area, think about how you can upskill yourself. Is there a local college course in your area? Could you work on a voluntary basis for an organization to refresh your skills, and do some good at the same time?

Be realistic

You may also find, especially if changing industries or just starting out, that you need to revise your salary expectations or the type of role you’re willing to take. At the moment, it’s an employer’s market, and although history tells us that everything moves in cycles, flexibility is the key at present. You may also need to be extremely creative in the job titles and keywords you use to carry out your search. Once upon a time, a secretary was a secretary. Now, he or she may go by the title of executive assistant, virtual assistant, or clerical executive. And who’d have thought a librarian’s post would be advertised under the title of information alchemist?

Be patient

However you choose to carry out your job search, be patient. The right job is out there somewhere.

This guest post is contributed by Sally Derby. Sally is an experienced office manager with over twenty years of successful personal job-hunting experience in the administrative field. She writes for Degree Jungle on the topics of interviewing and helping candidates to sell their skills and expertise, on paper and in person.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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