Coronavirus has created an awful lot of redundancies, but people are still finding new jobs. It’s time to find out how you can do that too.

This might be the worst slump we’ve had in the past 12 years, and just possibly unemployment is about to go through the roof, but employers are still recruiting. 

In fact if you look at the figures many SME’s (small to medium-size enterprises) are planning to recruit this year. Some of them have landed on their feet in sectors that are doing extremely well, others naturally have a steady turnover of jobs and are always looking to find new people. 

But if you compare the job market today to the one that we saw 12 months ago, it is very different. And as a result, before you even start to apply for jobs, you need to understand how to give yourself the best opportunity.

And while for many that means applying for jobs online, the operative word here is many. Everybody’s doing it. It makes it really difficult to stand out from the crowd if that crowd is a really big one.

Much better, therefore, to find yourself in a shortlist of one. How do you do that? You need to be seen by employers before they even know they’re looking for a job. Or before they have briefed recruitment consultancies, or because someone you know well has recommended you.

It is time to dust off your old contacts. And it is time to leverage these contacts through LinkedIn. It is the premier networking site in the world, while it has its limitations, when you genuinely know somebody is a great way of getting back in touch.

You won’t remember all of them, but if you put all of your details properly into LinkedIn and search for people who were at the same school, university and employer as you, it is surprising how many familiar faces you will see. 

And it is surprising how old faces are really happy to help someone if there is an opportunity.

 

 

The Internet has changed everything. With one click of the mouse you can apply to hundreds of jobs, but so can everyone else.

While it is easier to apply, it is much more difficult to stand out.

And it is more difficult for companies to choose the right one, so the way they view and sift applications has also changed.

Because just as machines have helped with applications, they are also doing a lot of the selection. Programs that look at relevance, experience, character, stability and many other factors. Sifting began with simple pre-qualifying questions, but now some recruiters use sophisticated readers to scan application letters and CVs against specific criteria. Scary.

As we go increasingly mobile, recruitment decisions are now being made on mobile phones and iPads rather than paper. So you need to ensure your CV will stand up to scrutiny and out from the crowd when viewed in these new formats.

So, what can you do?

First of all, read the advertisement carefully. What is the company looking for? Look at your CV, especially the “profile” section. Savvy applicants now make sure this profile matches almost exactly what is requested in the advertisement.

This is not for the benefit of humans, who rarely read profiles, but for computers who never tire of them.

Apparently this is the most feared question in interviews, and features in more Internet searches than any other interview question.

And it’s surprising really, because if you think about it it is the one question that you should know all the answers to. But then most candidates are worried about how they express themselves and how they present themselves in the best possible light.

Well here’s my first tip, don’t talk about yourself, talk about the things you’ve done and achieved, the things that you are most proud of. And give due prominence to the most recent events. It is absolutely fantastic that you got the best A-level results in the country, but if that was 40 years ago I don’t think it is going to impress many employers.

On the other hand, if you have taken your current dealership from bottom of the manufacturers league to into the top 10 in the last two years they may well sit up and listen. If you just tell them you are an inspirational leader they probably won’t take your word for it and ask for some more proof. Achievements, figures, objectively measured results are what matters.

The key thing is to expect this question, it will get asked at least 50% of the time in interviews. Prepare and practice your answer and you will be rarely under pressure when you answer it.

It is always tempting, you are desperate to justify yourself in an interview.

And the best way to do that is to demonstrate what an idiot your previous boss was. Or how incompetent the board was. Or what a ridiculous strategy they were following.

It is probably one of the most common mistakes that jobseekers make. It is entirely understandable and completely wrong. All employers want loyal committed and preferably compliant recruits. It is best not to fall at the first hurdle by giving them definitive proof that you are anything but.

However idiotic or stupid your employer may be, and we all concede that it is quite possible, do not fall into this basic trap. You will almost certainly head to Room 101 before you get a further chance to explain yourself.

All employers have their own agendas, few of them are perfect and everyone accepts that. But few accept that the person you were reporting into is more idiotic than you. So if you’ve been stupid enough to work for them that any length of time it reflects badly on you as much as it does on them. And your disloyalty and disrespect will put almost everybody off.

By all means explain you have had disagreements, by all means explain that you were not the right person for the job. But never be rude about a previous employer, because you won’t get the next job.

Whether you are submitting a CV or attending an interview, the initial impact you make will broadly determine the outcome of the process.

In fact it can be as little as five seconds during which a lot of decisions are made.

Take the humble CV, for instance. Tests have shown that a recruiter will make up a decision about a candidate’s CV in between 6 and 8 seconds.

Admittedly that decision may be a definite No, a definite Yes and lots of Maybes. They then spend a bit more time on the Maybes, but in eight seconds you might not get that far.

In interview situations, however objective the process, a similar instant reaction, apparently less than five seconds, is made by most of us. It dates back to much earlier times, when your very survival depended upon whether an individual was for you or against you. And we just can’t help using those instincts, whatever process we are asked to go through.

It is not the whole secret to preparing a CV or to attending an interview, but if you are entirely capable, and competent, and you can make a great first impression and you can interview well then you are on the road to success.

If you can’t, you have to work that little bit harder. Learn to make an instant impact and you will do better.

However unfair that is.