Lately I’ve been working with a number of senior people who are looking for a new challenge. Some of them are in companies that are re-organising; some have just reached the end of the road in their current job and cannot see a future ahead of them in their current company. All of them are smart, successful people but many of them have not looked for a job in many years. This blog is for them. I have tried to distil the work that my clients and I have done together to help other people who may be in the same position.
Where do you start when looking for a new job
What people tend to do when they are thinking about looking for a new job is to polish the CV, go and talk to a head-hunter or two and hope for the best. Sometimes this works, mostly you either find yourself in a job you really don’t want or you find that the job you dreamed of just doesn’t exist. For many people, looking for a new job is a frightening experience. Many have not interviewed for years, they have been promoted to senior roles on merit and the idea of having to sell themselves is daunting.
What are the steps that you need to go through when job-hunting?
Let’s start with a few simple questions to ask and answer for yourself before you start talking to anyone else.
1. Why are you looking for another job?
There are two audiences for this question. One is a future employer/head hunter; the other is you. You need be sure that you want to move. Possible reasons might be:
- You have lost faith in your company’s strategy
- There is a reorganisation and your role is disappearing
- You have learnt all you can in your current role/company and you need to move on
- There are external reasons (partner/location etc.)
Before you make your move be sure that you have good reasons for doing so. Then make sure you can talk about them in a positive way. If your departure has been bitter and rather public make sure you have got over the bitterness and can be gracious before you go job hunting. Do not be like the ex-CEO I spoke to a few months ago who managed to spend half an hour explaining to me exactly why he had left and how badly treated he had been. It may be how you feel, but it’s not attractive to a new employer.
2. What type of role are you looking for?
You need to be specific and realistic. Do not think about roles for which you are only loosely/not qualified. Look at your skills and your experience and write down what your strengths and great experiences are and then rehearse talking about each of them.
How to write a CV
Now you should be in a position where you can talk confidently about yourself and your past experience and convincingly about why you want a new job. Now you are in a position to write a CV that briefly emphasises all those points.
Get it onto two pages. Be brief about your early experience, what is interesting to an employer is your recent experience. Also be brief about your education, if you are looking for a CEO role, people do not need to know about your GCSE’s.
Get people who know you to review your CV. I’ve seen too many CVs where I know the person to be talented, engaging, and someone that would be a great addition to any business, yet their CV is a dull and wooden list of the jobs they have done.
People employ people; they do not employ a list of qualifications. Let your personality come through.
Your CV is always work in progress. Review it every time before and after you go for a job interview. Every interview will provide learning and you need to review your CV in the light of that learning.
Practice your interview skills
Once you start actively job-hunting, go for as many interviews as you can. Do not turn down an interview because the role is not quite right. Jobs that you think you might not want are a great opportunity to practice. Far better to stumble over questions for a job you don’t want than for the one that you do. Interviews are stressful – especially the ones that matter. Get as much practice as you can.
Thinking of yourself as an actor auditioning for a role can be a helpful mindset. No actor would go to an audition without being word perfect on their lines; no actor is too grand to rehearse. The competition for jobs is as harsh as it gets for great roles and you’re never too grand to rehearse.
You can talk fluently about yourself now, but can you be fluent about why you want this particular job? What is it about the company and the role that appeals to you? What difference can you make? Where can you apply your strengths and experience? You cannot just rely on the fact that you have done a great job in the past; you need to show you can do a great job in the future.
Good luck and good hunting!