Saturday, 17 September 2011

How to Find a Job

The recently released UK unemployment figure for July was 2.51 million, or 7.9% of the working population.

I feel for the majority of people who are desperately trying to find work. It is very difficult to find a professional job in Cornwall, where the majority of positions are seasonal roles related to tourism. I applied to many research places only to be outcompeted by people who should be able to find much better opportunities (although fortunately have now found a position that should start next month).

Here are a few things I learned during my search:

Spend SEVERAL hours a day looking and applying for work – Treat your job hunt as the full time occupation that it is. I spent 4 to 8 hours most days looking and applying for the latest positions advertised in my area.

Where to search – As well as your local paper, you should regularly check the government's Jobcentre Plus website, which has all of the positions advertised in your local Jobcentre. Check it every day because the best jobs are rapidly snapped up. If you know what area you want to go into, search on websites dedicated to your field (for example I regularly checked the New Scientist website for science-y roles. You should ask around in case anyone has heard of a job opening. Walking through town you will see several job advertisements in shops and local businesses. Keep your eyes and ears open!

Claim Jobseeker's Allowance – If you are over 18 and actively seeking work you are entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance, so don't feel embarrassed to claim support whilst you are unemployed. If you are under 25, you are entitled to £53.45 per week. It's not a lot, but it'll help you get to job interviews and keep food in your belly.

Find a high-turnover job to tide you over – Jobseeker's Allowance is useful, but no-one can really live on £53 a week. Find yourself a seasonal or minimum wage job with a short period of notice (most will be just one week so you can leave as soon as you find something better) and flexible hours. This will give you some financial breathing room whilst you hunt for the perfect job for you. For example I spent this summer working for minimum wage as a chambermaid in a hotel, receiving ~£180 a week for ~34 hours work. Ensure that you sign off from Jobseeker's Allowance once you find a job, even if it is just temporary.

Tailor applications to each role – Once you've found something to apply for, research the company and the position and tailor your CV (resume) accordingly. What skills does the job need? Which of your experiences is the most relevant? Ensure that if they ask for a particular skill you give examples that show you possess it. If you have related work experience it should be on the first page of your CV, however if you are changing careers you should have key skills on the first page instead.

Send speculative letters – If the companies you want to work for aren't hiring it's time to get pro-active. Write a speculative letter (and accompanying CV) describing why you would make the perfect addition to their company. List your skills and experience and how it relates to what they do. This is how I got in contact with the company I will be working for soon. Often you won't even hear back from them, but you just might make them think about potential opportunities they're missing out on!

Don't give up – It's can be soul destroying to keep receiving rejection letters or not even hearing back from applications you spent hours perfecting. Don't forget that you are competing with people who are likely a lot more experienced than yourself, especially if you are a recent graduate like myself. The best thing you can do is to just keep going!

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