Job-hunting can be a gruelling process for some people – being constantly turned down by employers (or worse, ignored altogether) can become demotivating. Here are some tips for turning yourself into the perfect candidate and getting the job of your dreams.
Get more experience
Being turned down for not having enough experience can seem like a catch-22 situation – how are you supposed to get the experience if no-one in that field will give it to you?
There are three simple ways of getting necessary experience. The first is to volunteer. A week of work shadowing may not be as valuable as full-time employment experience, however it will put you in a better position than those with no experience at all. To secure yourself a voluntary job, simply contact employers directly – many will be more than willing to give you some work shadowing experience. By showing lots of enthusiasm and preparedness, you may even be able to impress employers enough to get hired on a paid basis.
The second way to get experience is to look for transferable skills. There could be career with similar duties to your ideal job – for example, working at a pet store could have some of the animal care experience of working in a zoo. Such jobs may be easier to get than your dream job and could allow you to then put certain skills on your CV that you couldn’t before – just be certain not to get sidetracked and end up down the wrong career path.
The third way to earn more experience is to freelance your skills. If you want to become a photographer but no companies will take you on, try your hand at some freelance photography work by hassling people around you for paid opportunities whether its doing photography at someone’s wedding or helping an aspiring model take some shots. You may be able to use sites like Gumtree and Fiverr to advertise your skills. Freelance work is great experience to have on your CV as it shows that you’re proactive and self-motivated as well having the necessary job experience.
Learn a new skill
Expanding your skillset can also boost your employability. Learning a new skill could involve getting a new qualification. This needn’t mean taking an entire university course – there are many small qualifications that are cheap and easy to obtain. There are qualifications like programming for niche careers that you can learn online. There are also qualifications that employers from all jobs may value such as CPR certification. You can also consider short courses and day workshops if you prefer in person learning as opposed to web-based learning.
Not all skills involve qualification – there may be general skills such as problem solving and time management that you can build upon yourself. Alternatively, there may be skills that can teach yourself using books, video tutorials and how-to blogs.
Have a hobby
Having a hobby can also be good for your employability. Certain hobbies could prove that you possess extra skills relevant to the world of work – being in a sports team could show teamwork ability, video gaming could show problem solving, playing a musical instrument could show self-motivation and blogging could show creativity. Even if your hobby holds no relevance to the jobs that you’re pursuing, its still worth adding as a footnote to your CV as it could help to distinguish you amongst other candidates by giving employers a glimpse of your personality.
Use social media to your advantage
Your use of social media can also affect your employability. Many employers will research candidates on Facebook and Twitter – even if your profile is set to private, you may want to make sure that your bio and profile picture are suitable.
There may also be ways of using social media for professional purposes. LinkedIn is the best platform for showing off your skills – it essentially serves a public resume that employers can view. You can get friends and colleagues to endorse skills on LinkedIn and you can build prestigious connections. Other platforms can also have their uses – you could create a private Youtube video, which you can use to help sell yourself (you can provide a link to this in your CV). Meanwhile, if you’re a photographer, you could create an Instagram account or a Facebook page to show off your work.
Sometimes it’s worth looking beyond job ads and taking a more proactive role in finding a job. This involves applying to companies directly rather than simply responding to job ads. Find the companies that you really want to work for and create a tailored CV and application letter for each of them – you could email this directly or even physically mail it to them. If you get no response, ring the company up to check whether they got your application. This will show determination, confidence and self-motivation – all of which are key to skills to any job.
There are many other proactive ways of obtaining a job. Networking is a particularly effective proactive way of finding job roles – knowing the right people can help your cause when applying to a job. For example, you could use a friend in the trade to help put a positive word in to an employer or you could go to event and speak to an employer in person about possible job roles. Networking events such as job fairs, conferences, seminars and trade fairs are all great place to meet people in a niche trade.
Make your CV stand out visually
You can make your CV literally stand out amongst the rest by considering the visual appearance of it – generic word documents can often fail to make an impression compared to more flowery CVs. Some of the most visually engaging CVs use infographics, as well as experimenting with colour and font sizes. Obviously, your CV should still remain professional and you don’t want to go overboard with colours or crazy fonts. You can find many free snazzy templates online with infographics already in-built for you to edit.
Another option could be to create a digital portfolio which you can link to in your CV. Here you could create a more interactive application showing visual examples of your work, providing different sections and even embedding videos.
Many employers don’t have the time and patience to read multiple-page essays or to hear you ramble on for minutes about your achievements – learning to condense the most important information down will help you to get hired.
When it comes to your CV, avoid huge blocks of text. Where possible, stick to small sections with only three or four paragraphs giving examples of key skills along with evidence of times you’ve used those skills. If you need to list achievements use bullet points, charts and other infographics. Try to avoid overly complex wording – employers are more likely to appreciate a CV in layman’s terms as it shows you’re more down to earth. It’s possible to hire a professional to write your CV for you if you feel writing isn’t your forte.
As for the interview stage, any answers you give should be concise. You don’t want to be giving one word answers but you should take steps to stop you rambling. Being able to give concise answers shows strong verbal communication skills – it could even be worth rehearsing a few answers to popular interview questions if you feel you have a tendency to ramble on when nervous.
Look the part for interviews
The final thing that could be stopping you from getting a job could be the way you compose yourself during interviews. How you should dress for an interview varies widely depending on the job. In all cases you should make an effort to dress smart – you may not have to wear a suit, but you should tidy up your appearance by wearing clothing that’s close-fitting and free of creases.
You can help to stand out with bold accessories and colours – just make sure that they are still professional. For example, you could wear a bright red tie or a funky watch.
Make sure that you act confident too by standing tall and keeping eye contact (obviously you don’t want to stare at the interviewer, but you don’t want to be looking away nervously either). Smiling and remaining cheery can also make a big difference – interviewers like to see enthusiasm, no matter how formal the job is.
Walter G. is a software engineer with over 10 years of professional experience. When he isn't blogging or being a CTO he enjoys coding randomly complex things that he hopes many people will get a chance to use one day.