Posted On 1st January 2012

“Anyone can do anything if they’ve got what it takes…  If they’re stupid, lazy or frightened, I’m not going to help them get a job, why should I?”

‘Marlene’, Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (1982)

We’re all frightened, aren’t we? The current global economic circumstances mean that former certainties are becoming unknowns and carefully laid plans are being cast aside.

The view of ‘Marlene’ (the Thatcherite first female MD of the Top Girls Employment Agency) may seem exceptionally harsh but in an increasingly difficult job market, the art of persuading the recruiter/hiring manager/boss that you are indeed the right person has equally become harder. There is little space for stupidity, no time for laziness and, as for fear, it’s best concealed.

The best I can come up with to counter this problem is to adopt a broad-based strategy for getting your next job. What do I mean?

First of all, assess what you can do. Perhaps you have a clearly defined career path? But does this, in itself, restrict what you can do? Unless you cannot see yourself deviating at all from your path, consider what else you could do with the skills and experience that you have.  That way you may find a new job more quickly.

If you are open to a change, sit down and work out what this means. Research the kinds of jobs you think you would like to go for and ask yourself whether you can put together a convincing application for such a role? Consider how you would change your CV so that a potential employer could see you in the role and make sure it makes your case as strongly as possible. Remember a CV is a marketing document, not just a synopsis of everything you’ve ever done.  Get a second opinion. Reflect on whether you need to consider retraining. Be realistic but keep an open mind.

The other thing you should do at this stage is take a long, hard look at what you can afford to earn, not simply at what you would like to earn. I’ve already covered this extensively in“What are your values?”

Having decided what you are going to do – i.e. whether you are off fly fishing or trawling – make it your business to get a job. Perhaps your strategy of recent years has been to talk to a handful of recruiters with a presence in your sector, or even to wait for them to call you. Today, unless you are lucky, you need to do more than that. Be warned, this is hard work!

So here’s the business plan:

  • Find out who all of the relevant recruitment consultants are. Send them your CV, indicating the kind of role you’re interested in. Follow up with a call, checking they’ve got your CV and asking if you could discuss possible opportunities with them – diarise something if at all possible.

  • Put your CV onto every relevant jobs board and sign up for job alerts on a daily basis. Assess the resulting emails every day and follow up all of the ones you think you’d have a chance of getting. If they offer a conversation to find out more, take it up. Ask intelligent questions and hopefully this will mark you out in the mind of the recruiter. It always helps to be remembered in a positive light.

  • Do the old-fashioned thing and trawl the papers. You never know…

  • Tell everyone – and I mean everyone – that you are looking for a job. You never know what the kindness of friends and family might come up with.

  •  Make sure your LinkedIn profile is on good shape: that it is complete, up-to-date and fit-for-purpose. Actually, speaking of telling the world, tell the world on LinkedIn that you need a new job. And if you want your profile polished up and a bunch of tricks of the trade for finding work on LinkedIn, call us.

  • If you know which companies you want to work for, it goes without saying you should also check their website regularly. To jog your memory, sign up for alerts if possible and if that’s not possible, try a free facility such as “Watch that Page” to help you to keep tabs on things. You could also check out their Facebook page to see if they post vacancies there

A lot of work, yes, but with any luck, rewarding work. And if you’re anything like me, keeping busy is the best antidote to fear that there is.

Heidi Nicholson

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