Top 10 tips for kick starting your job search.

Looking for a job is hard no matter if you’re a graduate, unemployed, been made redundant, wanting a career-change or simply unhappy in your current job.  There are many free career search resources out there but it’s difficult to know where to start with them.  Here are 10 tips & resources to help show you how to find a job.  Please let me know of any more you have used and rate.


1. Understand the world around you, and particularly what that means for jobs.  It’s cheesy, but the Shift Happens (below) video is still an inspiring video to watch (note the best version is still from 2008 so some of the figures are dated).  Key fact to take away: The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.  Lesson to take away: you don’t have to follow other people, you can create your own job.

2. If you hear of a job, from a friend, in a film, whatever… research it! Find out as much as possible to see if it might suit you.  A good place to start is Prospects.  It features great job and industry profiles such as the Creative Arts industry or an Advertising Art Director (as well as lots of other aids such as CV help etc).  It is aimed at graduates but really is applicable to anyone.

3.  Use your career service.  If you’re in school or university you will probably have a dedicated room and/or tutor who is trained to help you with your career, be that simply choosing a career to start with, or how to get into the career you know you want.  University career services in particular have an unbelievable extent of information, training sessions, contacts and trained advisers.  And yet they’re shockingly underused.  Here’s my uni’s version, Futures, as an example.

4.  Read magazines and industry publications to keep up to date with advice and trends.  A growing number of magazines, particularly women’s (sorry men, you seem to have been left behind on the career focused magazine front!), are recognising our desire for our careers to be an enjoyable part of our lives.  Titles such as Red, Psychologies and Essentials often feature interviews with successful business women, tips on work and career, and up to date reports on the state of the work place (i.e. equal salaries). [Note: I’ve linked to the websites but often you’ll have to go to print versions for these features.]  Also, check out magazines like Recruiter for more in depth info on job markets, as well as trade magazines specific to your area of interest such as Marketing Week for marketers, to keep on top of the latest trends.

5. Talk to people you’d like to work for/with.  It’s so easy these days to email someone, or give them a quick call and say hey could I pick your brains for 5 minutes or buy you a drink.  Be polite and people will usually oblige.

6. Wanna know what’s even more easy? Twitter.  Twitter is now a great tool to see into the lives of people you never knew about before.  In the past it was all about celebrities and that was it, now services like twitter mean you can hear and talk to the CEO of a food corporation, the editor of a magazine, a graphic designer, etc… you can get a gimpse into their lives and see if it’s for you.  And you’ll learn more about the industries you’re thinking about it.  Amazing tool, use it.

7.  Live your career – if you want to do what you love but aren’t sure what that is, take advantage of programmes that allow you to explore your passions while being funded, such as The Rotary Foundation’s Ambassadorial Scholarships which allow you to study in a foreign country for a year, fully funded.  These awards invest in you because they understand that by giving you chance to explore yourself, you will ultimately help others to  make the world a better place.

8.  Be patient.  So you haven’t found your dream job?  Find something to pay the bills, relax a little and keep looking.  Spend your free time doing what you love and trying to find ways or jobs to make that a career.  You’ll be earning money, developing skills, and even potentially finding opportunities in your less than perfect job, to do what you actually want to do (think working out of hours on a project that wouldn’t be possible to create without the resources of your current job).

9.  Use internet job searches, and then some.  The internet has some substantial job listing sites.  The most well known include Monster, Total Jobs, Fish4Jobs, Reed and Guardian Jobs. Even more effective is to search on websites specific to your career area.  For example, theatres will often only list arts jobs on specific arts websites like the Art’s Council’s Arts Jobs.  But don’t stop with these websites; use them as inspiration.  Use them to see what jobs are out there… what kind of salaries? are you missing any key skills that the jobs you want seem to require? is there a job similar to what you want but not quite? can you ask someone in the industry whether the job you want exists? can you create it?

10.  Our government has a hideously under-marketed dedicated careers service called Next Step.  Their website has some useful starting points, but more importantly they have a careers advice line which you can call on 0800 100 900 (free from landlines, open 7 days a week 8am – 10pm).  Don’t expect these guys to divine your career for you, but they know their stuff and can help guide you in the right direction to get further tailored advice.

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