Job hunting in the recession

26 October 2010

Jon Gregory

Jon Gregory

Former Consultant

The message that the job hunt is tougher now than it has been in years is probably well and truly drilled in to you all by now. But it really is. Infact, finding the right opportunity is now becoming a full time workload in itself.

The blog Jobseekers’ Employment Hopes and Expectations draws from a totaljobs.com survey which recently revealed that almost a fifth of job seekers registered on their site have been looking for between one and two months, an alarming figure. With decreasing opportunities for an ever increasing candidate pool (in terms of both numbers and quality), those seeking their next position need to take extra steps to get ahead of the game. Simply sending emails and letters applying for jobs will no longer suffice in what is an extremely competitive marketplace.

As both a job hunter and a recruiter during this recession, I found the following as the best tools to market myself.

CV and covering letter

The most fundamental marketing tools for candidates, and yet (in my experience), the area that so many people fall down on. This is the first impression to a prospective employer, and spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and unclear presentation are sure fire ways to see your application ignored. Whilst there’s no standard CV template – different people adopt different styles – it should be extremely easy to read.

You wouldn’t read a book you couldn’t understand, so why would an employer look endlessly at a CV they don’t understand? Working history generally should start most recently and work back chronologically. Be sure to mention any achievements, awards and promotions – this could be the difference between an interview and finding your CV in the reject pile. Some information on CVs has proved very interesting during recent recruitment at Bluefin Solutions. One candidate mentioned on their CV an iphone application they had developed – very attractive in terms of the role for which they were applying. You can make skills and achievements relevant to the role and the company.

Covering letters should be tailored towards the job for which you are applying. Being ‘hardworking’, and a ‘good team player’ are great, but employers are looking for tangible examples to back this up. Matching your experience and skills closely against the requirements of the role, and providing examples, will show the hiring company that you have transferrable experience to bring to the role.

Walk the streets!

Whilst jobs are advertised online, and applications can be made, candidates need to be visible in order to stand out. If already in a role, it’s not always easy to get away from the office, but to take a day off, print a few CVs, and walk the streets, can be highly effective – indeed, that is how I found my most recent job at Bluefin Solutions. It’s amazing what you can find out by just walking around. Have a target list of companies, agencies and people you want to meet to avoid aimless strolling. And print more than you’ve planned to hand out – you will see more and more places that you want to drop your details off at. This shows an entrepreneurial spirit which, certainly at Bluefin, is very welcome.

Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc are becoming major players in the recruitment industry, and are sure to give recruitment agencies a run for their money (literally). Free for both hiring companies and candidates, it gives all parties the opportunity to connect directly with each other, taking away the necessity for an agent to represent ‘clients’ and ‘candidates’. Key functions in this arena are the Facebook ‘Marketplace’ application, following companies and recruiters on Twitter, and connecting with hiring managers and HR professionals on LinkedIn. On all of these platforms, jobs are regularly posted, so as well as connecting with people, there are always live positions to look through. Be sure to build up your profile(s) with job history, nature of industry you work in or want to work in, a photo and any recommendations and references that you can get.

CV search engines

This is a candidate’s opportunity to get in front of an absolutely huge audience. CV search engines are used by agencies and direct recruiters alike, and the main benefit from a recruiting perspective is the ability to search a very specific group of people and skills if necessary, rather than sifting through applications from an advert. A CV is posted on to the site, along with salary expectations, industry desired, location, and level of experience. From here, recruiters can search for people using these queries, and view the CV. After this, a call or email is usually made to the candidate to discuss their details further. Just remember to take down your CV once you find the perfect role, as you will still be contacted!

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