How to advance your career in 2021: “Wilfully disrupt” your job search
- Be proactive: “Mindset is playing a huge part in a jobseeker’s ability to secure a new role right now,” says Nick. “We’ve spoken to a significant number of candidates who think that because of COVID-19, they won’t be able to get a job. So, instead of quitting before you even start your next job search, think more positively and understand that when markets change, you must pitch yourself at the right point."
- Build relationships: According to Nick, this begins with being proactive in your job search. Rather than sending your CV and hoping for the best, he explained, reach out to the relevant employer and follow up every application. “Relationship building is more important than ever to cut through and shine, so make a genuine effort to engage the recruiter or hiring manager when you follow up to ensure you are at the front of their mind. Don’t forget to also ask that all important question, “If you don’t think this role is right for me, what other roles might be suitable?”
- Avoid the scatter gun approach: Don’t use the same CV in every application, warns Nick. “Every employer is different and therefore naturally values different skills and competencies. Take the time to research an organisation to understand their values and what they want, then tailor your application to engage them. Yes, personalising your CV for each application may seem like a lot of effort, but if you really want a particular job, you need to invest an hour or two to customise your CV for that role.
“You may also think that you don’t have enough time to personalise each application because there are a lot of jobs you want to apply for. If this describes you, it’s time to be honest. Yes, you could apply for them all, but you won’t be applying for any of them very well. So, think objectively about your strengths and skills and identify the roles that suit you best. Then spend time personalising your CV for each one.”
- Be brave: To advance your career in 2021, you may need to consider previously unchartered waters. “Look at the industries where vacancy activity is highest, even if you haven’t previously worked in them before,” says Nick. “For instance, IT, healthcare, logistics, infrastructure and professional services have strong job opportunities on offer, so be brave and consider searching outside your typical parameters.”
- Sell yourself: The ability to sell yourself doesn’t come naturally to everyone, says Nick. But today, if you want to stand out, it’s essential. So, the advice is to identify and understand your unique selling points and how your key strengths can add value in the job you’re applying or interviewing for. Remember to share concrete evidence of your achievements for each selling point. Practice articulating your pitch to family, friends or trusted colleagues.
- Show you used 2020 as a year to grow: A recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t need to know all the details of how your career plans for 2020 went astray, explains Nick.
“Unfortunately, many people experienced a similar situation. Instead, spend the crucial time you have with a hiring manager or recruiter sharing what you learnt from your experiences during the past year and how you developed and upskilled yourself. For example, did you join an association, volunteer at a local charity, complete one or more short courses or listen to relevant podcasts or TED talks? For those who found themselves unemployed in 2020, showing how you used the time productively to upskill demonstrates an impressive commitment to your field.”
- Prove your adaptability: If there’s one soft skill that will top all in 2021, it’ll be adaptability, believes Nick. “This is a critical skill given how much change is occurring both within organisations and the wider world of work. So, in your CV and an interview, share examples that demonstrate your adaptability, such as how you were able to continue to add value to your employer and how this makes you a stronger candidate today.”
- Don’t let the conversation end with the rejection letter: Persistence is an important trait when job hunting today and one that should not end when you find out your application was unsuccessful. As Nick explains, “Call or email the hiring manager to ask why your application was rejected and if they can suggest any areas to improve to aid your continuing job search. You may not receive a reply, and you may not receive helpful feedback, but it only takes one hiring manager to give you the constructive advice you need to help you succeed next time.”
- Use social media to show genuine interest in your field: Cleaning up your digital footprint may seem like job seeking 101, yet Nick says recruiters continue to see countless candidates who fail to review their social media profiles before applying for a job. “Those memes you think are funny or the scathing product reviews you posted may not present you in a professional light, so Google yourself and remove anything that doesn’t align with the professional reputation you wish to present,” he explains.
“Then update your LinkedIn profile, follow industries and organisations of interest, keep up to date with your specific market and post on LinkedIn. Such demonstrated interest in the market will aid your application.”
- Articulate how you are most productive: 2020 marked a turning point in the way people work, with the acceptance of flexible working catapulted years ahead. With more employers, when relevant, using a hybrid working model, Nick says you need to be able to express the steps you’ve taken to ensure you remain productive in both a central office and remote model. Share any changes you made to adapt your working style to remain productive in both settings.
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