There are any number of reasons you could currently find yourself in the employment market. Perhaps you are a recent graduate, or you were unfortunate enough to face redundancy following the COVID crisis. Maybe you are looking to return to work after a sabbatical or a period of unemployment. Whatever your reason for beginning a job search, the 2021 job market can seem like a daunting one. Unemployment has increased during the pandemic, due to business closures and economic difficulties, and you may be considering postponing your job search.
However, a recent Ranstad study demonstrated that it took the average American approximately five months to get a new job. This means that you should not delay your start. Instead, look at the following guidance to help you stand out from the other applicants and increase the chances of success.
Some people make the mistake of writing one resume when they graduate college, and then firing it off to every employer on their list then wondering why the calls aren’t coming in. Your resume tells a story about you as an individual, your educational, work, and volunteering background, as well as the journey you have undertaken to reach the level of experience and qualification that makes you believe you are the ideal candidate for the advertized position.
Unfortunately, despite the lack of time and attention many hiring managers give to resumes, they still matter as they are often the first (and only) impression you are allowed to give, which will be the deciding factor as to whether or not you get an interview. This is one of the key reasons your resume needs to be clear, concise, and to the point.
Hiring managers are interested in finding out as much information as they can with as little effort as they can during this process. That means that, if your resume is full of complex terms and jargon, it is likely to be discarded. Worse, it looks like you are compensating for a lack of experience by using technical language. Instead, keep your resume as clear as you can and follow simple steps to make it watertight.
Whilst networking is a term that makes many of us want to run for cover, there is no denying that it is often hugely beneficial, especially in the job market. Aside from anything else, it often guarantees that you hear about opportunities before anyone else, and that means that your email can be in the right inbox at the right time. It is not about asking for favors, or brown-nosing. Successful networking is about securing mutually beneficial, professional relationships with colleagues in your field of work.
As you meet, and therefore network, with people in your field, you will make connections with people who could become future mentors, as well as increase your own visibility with senior management. This does not always mean being the last one standing at the Christmas party. In fact, the opposite should be true and your professional behavior is key to your networking success.
There are a multitude of reasons that you should increase your networking, and find opportunities to meet new colleagues and share in their experience. Take advantage of people’s willingness to talk about their own experience, but make sure you aren’t too pushy.
If you feel your resume is lacking, or the jobs advertized one rung up the ladder from your current position are asking for a specific type of training that you do not currently possess, then it might be time to consider retraining.
It may also be that you are looking at an entirely different career, and potentially considering, for example, gaining a contractors license, or otherwise improving your current skill set. If your employer is not providing and therefore funding the training, then ensure you do some thorough research and discuss the course with those further along the career path than you. Is it training they undertook? Did it increase their employability? If the answer to these questions is yes, then it is certainly something worth considering.
However, be aware that, if you are exhausted by the job market, there are plenty of courses out there which will promise to find you the perfect job and provide you with employability training, along with CV or resume writing services that may not be all that they seem. Read online reviews and ensure you are pursuing an accredited course which will lead you to your career goals, rather than waste your time and your money.
Many people do not consider finding a mentor, and yet it can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your career, at any stage. Someone who has been in your industry longer, has a significant number of accolades, and is experienced, will be able to offer you some guidance as you navigate your way through your career.
Be selective about who you choose, and how you find them. You may not want someone inside your own organization if you are currently experiencing difficulties with management and feel like you will need an understanding pair of ears to vent to occasionally. They do not even need to be someone in the exact same industry as you – the most important detail about your mentor is that they can be a role model to you.
A good mentor will listen, but should also be someone who will challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone, so you have external accountability to keep challenging yourself. They should be someone that you aspire to be like in the future and, crucially, someone you like right now. Be honest with yourself with what you need from a mentor. Will you respond well to someone who is strict and hold you to account, or do you need a more sensitive, responsive form of guidance? Whatever it is you need, be honest when you open initial discussion with your mentor, as they will be well aware of what they are able to provide.
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