JOB SEARCH SUPPORT
The purpose of this page is to assist you in your search for suitable employment. The following sections provide advice for the complete job search process, starting from scratch and may be useful to read through to ensure you are fulfilling the process to the best of your ability, however if you only require assistance in a specific area please chose the appropriate heading;
What is my current situation (availability for work)?
You need to be realistic as to the amount of work you can or need to commit to under your personal circumstances and be as open minded as possible as to location, type and level within your capabilities and the availability of work in the search area.
Where am I now – where do I want to be?
Are your looking to work within the same type of role or industry as your previous experiences or are you seeking a change and in which case you will need to be rational in how you will get there; if you need to undertake training, go into the role at a lower level or if there are other roles which would be useful as a stepping stone for a future career goal.
It can be quite difficult to assess transferrable skills as you are so close to the subject, sometimes it is easier to be objective by taking a step back.
As part of candidate registration with our agency we undertake personal stocktaking by going through their employment history and identifying transferable skills from their responsibilities and duties, as well as taking into account their individual specifications (covered above).
Do I have skills and/or qualifications that would transfer to other roles or industries?
Which companies based on the Island can be targeted? Is commuting to the mainland a consideration?
- Local Press: Isle of Wight County Press, Island Business Magazine, Isle of Wight Beacon
- Sector Specific Press (if relevant): Journals and industry magazines.
- Job Centre Plus or their website Find-a-Job.
- Registering with job boards (including sector specific, if relevant): Indeed, Reed, Monster etc.
- Register with recruitment agencies that can pro-actively search for jobs on your behalf.
- Specific Company Websites. e.g. those you have identified in the previous section.
- Isle of Wight
Which publications should I search?
Which agencies should I register with (are there any who specialise in my sector)?
Which jobs-boards should I register with?
It may also be beneficial to look at similar jobs nationally to see what companies’ specifications are and whether you are required to hold specific qualifications, licences or professional memberships.
If you have identified that you need to refresh or learn new skills to gain the posts you are looking for, this may be a good opportunity to source training providers and available courses which you can undertake whilst seeking work and shows a proactive approach.
Can I improve or refresh my skills? Where can I access training locally?
CURRICULUM VITAE REVIEW
Your CV should include the following:
- Personal Details
- Personal Statement
- Employment History
- Education & Training
- Skills & Attributes
- Additional Information
There is no right or wrong way to compile your CV and it should reflect you as an individual, without detracting from the contents. As an agency we see dozens of different CVs everyday, so have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Your CV should always be computer generated (unless the job advertisement states otherwise). Most professional CVs are set out clearly and concisely, under a series of headings using short paragraphs and bullet points.
These should include your name, residential address, contact telephone numbers and email address.
You should state your nationality and, if not a citizen of the EU, your right to work in the UK (e.g. visa).
You should include your availability for work and any notice period you are required to give.
You can also add your mobility, whether you hold a full driver’s licence and have your own transport. These details, with the exception of your name can be put at the front of your CV or at the very end.
You do not have to disclose your date of birth, age, gender, religion, marital status, or dependants as these should not be used in employment selection.
This should be an overview of your experience, highlighting the areas of your work history which are relevant to the work you are looking for, if you are looking for a change of career you should highlight transferable skills from your previous employment. You can include a brief description about yourself and your characteristics. You may also want to include the reason you are seeking employment/ aims and goals.
This should start with your most recent employment first, as this is going to be the most relevant to your prospective employer.
Each job should include the dates from and to which you worked, the name of the company, location and your job title.
You should then write a brief description of the duties and responsibilities you had, this can be set out in a concise paragraph but looks much neater in bullet point format. Under each post you can list your major achievements.
You should NEVER leave gaps in your employment history and should include periods of unemployment by explanation e.g. raising family/ relocation and renovating house/ travelling or work seeking.
Education & Training
This should start with your earliest qualifications (GCSEs/ O’levels) and should include the dates, the school or college attended, the qualifications and subjects studied and the grade achieved (this can be reversed).
You should then add any additional training courses /licences or certificates you have gained that are relevant to the work you are looking for.
Don’t forget to include any professional memberships you hold as a result of your qualifications.
Skills & Attributes
In this section you should make a list of any skills you have that are relevant to the type of work you are looking for e.g. computer literacy and a list of the software you are proficient on or any foreign languages you speak.
In this section you can include a brief description of your hobbies and interests, things that you do outside of work e.g. membership of any clubs or associations, voluntary or charity work, as they may be of relevance to the work you are seeking, especially if you are looking to change career.
You should always be able to give at least two references and at least one of these should be an employment reference. Your referees should cover at least the last three years of your work history.
If you have been self employed, good references usually come from key clients, suppliers or an independent accountant.
Acceptable character referees should not be relatives but people who have known you personally for at least three years. These can also include professionals such as doctors or bank officials, but their permission should always be sought first.
Referees contact details do not need to be included on your CV, instead you can replace this with the phrase ‘available upon request’..
Instead of a CV many companies require you to fill out a generic application form which makes it easier for them to review and screen, allowing them to focus on the information specifically required.
Again the first step of the process is to plan and gather the information you require in order to complete the task. Make sure you read through the form before you start and follow the instructions.
Application forms generally follow the same lay out as a CV, so if you have yours to hand you should have all the information required.
You may also be required to fill out additional information such as equal opportunities forms, medical questionnaire and criminal conviction disclosures, read through these carefully and be as honest as possible.
Don’t leave any sections blank, if they do not apply to you put Not Applicable or N/A in the relevant box.
If handwritten, it is useful to prepare a draft on a separate sheet of paper prior to completing the form. Once completed, make sure you photocopy the form, or if on line print a copy of your completed application form prior to sending so you can refer to this if asked to attend interview.
It is always worth sending your details to companies who may be able to use your relevant experience or transferable skills, which you should have identified from personal stocktaking.
Even if they do not have a vacancy at that time, they may keep your details for future reference ,or it may bring to their attention a workforce requirement e.g. duties that they usually outsource being able to be brought in house by taking on a candidate with your experience.
If you have a well laid out CV there should be no reason to alter the document for each position you are applying for, instead use a covering letter to tailor your application.
Your covering letter should be laid out in a professional letter Format.
You should note whether you have been supplied with the name of the person to contact, or just their position, as this dictates how you sign off the letter e.g. if the correspondence is to be addressed to the HR Manager you should start with ‘Dear Sir/ Madam’ and finish with ‘Yours faithfully’ alternatively if you know the name of the person you are addressing the letter to you should sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’.
If you are applying for an advertised vacancy, this is a very important factor as larger organisations may be advertising for multiple vacancies, so you want to ensure that you are considered for the right role. You should include the job title, department and the reference number (if applicable).
State where you saw the role advertised e.g. ‘I am writing in reference to the above role advertised in…’or if sending your CV speculatively, state the type of position you are looking for within the organisation. Introduce yourself in the role you are currently in/have most recently held, the level of experience you have and your current situation e.g. relocating / looking to progress.
Briefly identify the skills you have which are relevant to the role you are applying for (these can be usually found in the vacancy advertisement) and which would be beneficial to your prospective employer.
A simple ‘Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you’ is sufficient Or if sent speculatively ‘I hope that you feel that my skills and experience can be of benefit to your organisation and look forward to hearing your comments.’
Ensure that you have included your contact details and telephone number to enable a reply.
Research The Company
Knowing that you have done all the background work you can should give you confidence and show the interviewer that you are interested specifically in the vacancy at their company.
- Were you sent any information about the company when you applied for the post?
- Has the company got a website or social media? Has the company got any marketing literature?
- What industry are the company in? What products do they sell/ service do they provide?
- Who are the company’s competitors?
- Has the company been in the news? You can also look at the annual report ( particularly useful if applying for senior or finance related roles).
If you applied for the post using an application form you should always keep a copy for yourself to refer to as this is the information the company will interview you from.
If you have sent them your CV make sure you know its contents thoroughly and all the information is truthful. You should be prepared to explain why you left previous employment and any gaps in your employment history.
Do you have a job description for the role? If so you should examine what the company are looking for and think of examples of how your experience and any transferable skills you may have, meet their requirements.
On The Day
You should know where and when the interview is taking place. If you are unfamiliar with the location of the premises, do a dummy run so you know how long it will take to get there, where you can park etc.
You should know who is interviewing you and their position within the company and whether you will be interviewed by one person or a panel. This information can be found out when you accept the interview, at this stage also try to find out the company dress code and if you will be required to undertake any testing.
Ensure you pay attention to the request for any additional information, if the company will need to see proof of ID, or if they have asked you to create a presentation to support your application. Also take with you any qualification certificates and licences that are relevant to the role.
No one should hire an employee based on what they look like, however there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to dress for an interview. Whilst a suit is always a good option, as long as you are smart, clean and tidy this should not be an issue.
Try to avoid excess make-up, jewellery, scent and take into account the role you are applying for. However, you are you and you should not be ashamed of your individuality, within reason – although a statement piece maybe an ice-breaker, remember you want the company to remember you for who you are not what you were wearing. If you are a smoker you should ensure that your clothes do not carry the odour as some people can find this off-putting.
It doesn’t matter how senior level a position you have held in the past, when a prospective employer wants to meet you, you may still feel nervous. Try to concentrate on your breathing and positive statements about yourself and your achievements. Be ready to greet your interviewer, a firm handshake is always a good start. Maintaining eye contact is very important ; it will affirm your statements and hold the interviewer’s attention. Posture is also vital; be relaxed but don’t slouch. Using hand gestures and positive body language can emphasise the importance of your statements.
Tell Me About Yourself
One of the most common opening questions used at interview. The interviewer should have, by this stage, your CV or application form to refer to and is aware of your education and work history so a brief summary
will suffice, however you should highlight any special achievements or specific skills you have gained. You should also touch upon why you have applied for the position, if it is progression or whether you are looking for something new, why this particular role interests you.
Fulfilling The Job Description
The company, possibly even the interviewer has compiled the job description, person specification or vacancy advert and will use this to structure the interview so you should tailor your answers to meet their criteria and give examples of how you have done what they are asking for in you previous employment.
Answering Difficult Questions
Why Did You/Do You Want To Leave Your Current Employment?
No matter how tempting it is, never put your current/previous employers down, instead look on the positive side; you are interested in the company, you want to progress your career. If you were made redundant or proven to be dismissed unfairly, this should be disclosed as shows your previous employer was at fault for you leaving rather than being a reflection on you.
Turning Your Weaknesses Into Strengths
It is easy to pick out your strengths and refer them to the job description, without being arrogant. It is a little more daunting to be asked to name your weaknesses as this can be believed to put an employer off selecting you for the role. However, if you can turn your weaknesses into strengths for example; stubbornness – but your persistence has meant that you have finished a project on time, or you have a weakness which you have identified and are working to overcome e.g. poor/ rusty computer skills, but you have enrolled in or are undertaking a computer course, shows that your strength may be your initiative and self motivation.
Give An Example Of…
More than likely you will be required to offer examples of how you have previously dealt with various situations, be it resolving customer complaints, cutting costs, motivating staff or working under pressure.
Your answers can be taken from your work history or even your personal experiences, as this helps assess your characteristics as well as your capabilities.
Why Are You The Best Candidate For The Job?
Again, always difficult to answer without sounding arrogant, however you can turn this into how the company would benefit from employing you using your wealth of experience ,rather than your individual characteristics, referring to previous achievements as examples.
Preparing Your Own Questions
It is better to formulate questions based on your future within the role, for example;
- Opportunities for growth for both the company and the development of role you are applying for?
- If the position is new of if the company is looking to replace someone?
- Whether there is training involved?
- Who does the post report to and if there are any direct reports?
- Whether there are targets or performance levels to adhere to?
- Whether travelling is required?
- What is the timescale in which they want to fill the role?
You can of course ask for the salary banding, if the information has not been volunteered, so you know whether the role meets your requirements. However it may seem forward to discuss benefits or holiday at a first stage interview.
The majority of posts have at least two stages of interview, the last usually at Board/ Director level in which you may be asked to prepare a presentation or action plan of how you intend to increase productivity and efficiency, therefore further research will be required.
Often undertaken as a pre-interview screening measure specifically for customer service based roles.
This is used to assess aptitudes and personality characteristics and can include various tasks including speed, accuracy, verbal, numeric and spatial awareness tests.
Please find below some websites which can give further information and offer practice tests;
Depending upon the position you are applying for, there are numerous practical tests which may be required. These can be manual tests within the industry e.g. soldering, welding, cooking or computer based in-tray exercises to ensure literacy on certain relevant programmes, but would dependant on the position applied for.
Competency based interviews
These can be known as structured or behavioural interviews, whereby each question asked is scored depending upon a candidate’s answer. The interviewers will have determined which types of answers will score positive points and are normally directed at asking the candidate to give examples of how they would react in certain situations.
More information can be found at www.interview-skills.co.uk/competency-based-interviews.aspx
Role Play or Group Excersises
Similar to competency based interviews whereby you are given a scenario and the employer expects you to act out how you would act within a situation; these can be group or one to one sessions and depend upon the positions applied for but give an insight into your through processes, actions, reactions and how you interact with others e.g. communication and leadership skills etc.
These can be required at second interview stage when you may be asked to prepare an action plan of how you will go about the tasks required in the role, be it implementing new systems in order to increase efficiency, bringing in new business, or streamlining to cut costs. The most professional way to compile a presentation is using PowerPoint via a laptop or PC, in which case you should always check what equipment will be available for your use prior to the presentation.
Usually used by larger organisations when recruiting in volume and can last from half a day to several days dependent upon the role and will involve a mixture of the above.