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Apr 232010
Job Seekers

Image by John McNab via Flickr

Finding a job in today’s employment market is hard work. To increase your chances of success, it pays to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, and a well-thought out plan of how you’re going to go about getting it before you dive in.

1. Know what you want

If you want to find the right job, the first thing you need is a clear idea of the area you want to work in. This could be a broad career discipline… like marketing, accounts or computer programming; or maybe you want to work in a particular industry, like pharmaceuticals, food or manufacturing. If you don’t really know what you want to do, try making a list highlighting the things you like doing, or that you feel are particular strengths. Now look at your list, and consider what sort of career might dovetail with your list of preferences and strengths.

Once you have a high level idea of the area you’d like to work in, refine it a step further by researching various job titles in your area of interest to see which roles are a good fit with your skill set, your temperament and your personal development goals… you want something fulfilling that will stretch and challenge you, and that will allow you to grow and progress.

2. Know where you want it

Are you looking for work in a defined area, or are you prepared to relocate to find the right job? If you have a specific location in mind, your next step is researching suitable companies that operate in the geographical area you want to target. Try contacting local business organisations like local chambers of commerce or other business directories to identify potential employers.

Again, do your research… determine what type of company fits your needs, values, style, and personality. Make a list of things that are important to you in an employer — things like company size, corporate culture, management style employee empowerment and the like — and use it as a guide to shortlisting suitable employees in your target area(s).

3. Know how you’ll find it:

There are lots of ways to find out about suitable job vacancies once you know what you’re looking for… here are just a few suggestions:

  • On-campus Recruiting: if you’re a student, your college or university will almost certainly hold careers or recruitment fairs during the academic year which employers attend to recruit new graduates. Find out what companies are going to be attending, and arrange an interview with one or more of them. If nothing else it will be great interview experience.

  • Other Career Events: as well as on-campus events, there are also local, regional and national careers fairs and recruitment related events, and some industries even have their own events. Find out what recruitment events are happening in you areas of interest and plan to attend the ones you feel are right for your job search.

  • Networking: the vast majority of vacancies out there are still filled through personal referrals and networking — use your professional network. Now you know what sort of job you’re looking for, let other people know. You might be surprised by what comes up.

  • Direct Mail Campaign: this is a traditional method that can still be devastatingly effective when executed with skill and panache. Identify a number of suitable companies in the area you’re searching in, and write to the human resources manager / hiring manager with a vibrant covering letter and outstanding CV. Response rates are typically low, but land your letter on the right desk at the right time and you might just bag yourself an interview.

  • Internet Job Sites: another string to your job seekers bow… but use these sites in conjunction with, rather than as a replacement for your other job-seeking efforts.

  • Company Websites: many employers will post external vacancies and invite applications through their company website. If you have specific companies in mind, check out their sites for information.

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