Give yourself an edge in the jobs market

By Karen Reid, group commercial director for HR consultancy, The Urquhart Partnership

Job cuts in the north-east oil and gas market have been an increasing occurrence recently.

As businesses strive to survive in a competitive market they may have to make essential changes such as organisational re-structuring and outsourcing of work.

This has an impact on the employees, who may find themselves in redundancy situations and looking for new jobs.

This can be a challenging time for many; particularly those who feel out of touch with the recruitment market or those who have a specialist skill set and aren’t sure what their options may be.

Karen Reid

For over 15 years, organisations have engaged The Urquhart Partnership to provide support to individuals who are going through a Career Transition process. Here, we share our advice on how to approach your job search if you find yourself in a similar position:

Think Strategy:

Searching for a job is hard work and the key to succeeding is to develop an effective strategy.
Define what you want and need – think about your transferable skills and experience, individual strengths and other important factors that will affect your search i.e. location or career aspirations. Understanding and focusing on your strengths and what you are good at can bring faster results in a job search.

A Targeted Approach:
You will have more success in your job search and in obtaining a rewarding role if the role is well-matched to your skills, interests and values.
Don’t apply for jobs for which you are clearly not suited or are unlikely to offer you the financial or career rewards you are looking for. Conducting research into fields or areas of interest takes time but will help you understand different businesses and help you to establish which are likely to have open positions.

Make it Happen:
Be proactive – try to get in the door before the competition by using your own personal network, social media and making direct contact with companies which are of interest to you.

This approach could help you tap into the hidden job market and be snapped up at an early stage before the job has gone public.  Ensure your CV is visible on job boards and networking sites.

Be Flexible:
If you believe you may be out of work for some time then temporary or interim work could be an option worth considering.
This can be a good way to learn skills, gain further experience and earn money while looking for permanent work.  It could also be a door-opener as it will be an opportunity to show capability and to be the first to be considered if a full-time position does open up.

First Impressions Count:
CVs need to stand out and create a positive impact.
Many employers will base a decision on whether to interview on a brief review of the CV, so the cost of a badly thought through CV may mean no interview. The CV is, fundamentally, a sales tool.

 It should be no more than two to three pages long and should be a summary of your skills, experience and achievements. It should include a personal profile which summarises your areas of expertise, some of your key skills and an indication of your personality.  

The profile should be brief and striking without sounding cheesy.
You also need to mention your achievements in your CV. This will strengthen it and show not just what you did but how well you did it. Both the profile and achievements should be tailored to the role you are applying for. A customised CV can yield better results than a ‘one size fits all’.

Finishing Touches:
The importance of a CV without spelling or grammatical errors cannot be stressed enough as an employer with many CVs to read may be looking for a reason to rule someone out and typos could lead them to believe you are not careful or conscientious.

Try to read your CV with a critical eye and, if possible, get someone else to re-check for mistakes. When e-mailing your CV ensure it is saved in a format compatible with most operating systems and submit along with a tailored cover letter or e-mail.

The Interview:
Firstly, try not to think of the interview process as intimidating; it’s a chance to “sell” yourself and your skills. Interviewers genuinely want candidates to do well in interview as they have a role they want to fill.
They have also been interviewees themselves so understand that you may feel anxious.

An interviewer will focus on three key areas – can you do the job, will you do the job and how will you fit with the team and organisation.

The importance of preparation cannot be emphasised enough. This will give you an edge over other applicants and the confidence that you are giving it your best shot.

Prepare well by reading the job description and advert thoroughly to understand the role and use Google and Linked-in searches to find out more about the company and the key players. In the interview, think about how you come across – creating and establishing rapport with your interviewer can make all the difference.

Provide concise and considered answers with real examples to back up points – remember sell, sell, sell!

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