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How to: Crack the job market

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This Expert Guide has been provided by AccountingWEB recruitment partner Robert Half International. Visit the RHI StoreFront for more career and recruitment guidance – and to view the company’s huge online selection of accounting job vacancies.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that candidates are over-dependant on just two job search avenues – responding to job advertisements and using recruitment consultancies.

By making use of all the job avenues open to you, you can greatly increase the likelihood of finding a job. Leads can originate from a number of sources – direct applications, personal or business contacts, reviewing newspapers’ business pages, notices of new appointments, attending conferences and seminars and using connections during temporary work.

To maximise your chances of securing a job, we recommend you take note of the following tips:

1. Network your own contacts for company and industry information, job leads and additional contact names. Your initial list of contacts should include friends, former colleagues and bosses, your company’s auditors and other business contacts such as bankers, lawyers, etc.

2. Write to companies that are not currently recruiting. But don’t write to the Company Chairman or the Personnel Department. Write to the person who is likely to be your direct line boss if you were to join the organisation. Always write to a named individual and send a letter marked ‘Personal’ as opposed to ‘Private and Confidential’. The content of the letter should emphasise the benefits and relevance of your experience to the potential employer and not your needs or requirements. Follow up every letter by telephone.

3. Focus your job search. Don’t just write to any company. Investigate those which are experiencing growth, or where your experience will be of particular relevance. Make a list of all the companies you have ever worked for. List their competitors, then other organisations within the same industry, followed by companies within similar and allied industries.

4. Don’t confine your search to large organizations. Recent reports show that you may be better off thinking small. There has been a significant decline in recruitment amongst companies with more than 1,000 employees, whilst most new jobs are created by firms with fewer than 20 employees. These companies might not offer as many benefits or as much job security, but they can provide that vital job.

5. Customise your job applications. Whilst it is labour intensive, it is important that each application is ‘tailored’ to meet the specific requirements of each particular position or company.

6. Respond to job advertisements over a wide salary range. Your objective should be to obtain as many face-to-face meetings as possible. Whilst the job you are being interviewed for may not be right for you, the meeting may lead to other job opportunities or contacts, or at least provide you with valuable industry information.

7. Respond to advertisements promptly – ie within 10 days. Make it clear exactly which position you are applying for. Ensure your covering letter addresses the key requirements for the job. If possible, follow up by phone. Ensure your CV is relevant for the particular position.

8. Don’t confine your search to the job pages of newspapers. You may identify potential job opportunities by reviewing the Business Pages for news of mergers, acquisitions and recent company developments. Notices of new appointments give you the opportunity to contact both the new incumbent and their previous company.

9. Ensure your CV is a good advertisement. It should not merely be a list of your duties, but should highlight your achievements and indicate both the breadth and depth of your experience. Your qualifications and the details of your current or last job should be shown on the first page, and in total it should not exceed 3 pages in length.

10. Establish a job search routine and stick to it. If you are not working, structure your day with a clear division between job hunting and leisure time. Many job seekers waste time and then feel guilty. If you are conducting the job search properly, you should be purposefully filling a whole day. However, if you do have spare time, use it to your advantage and do something to improve yourself. This could be further skills training or temporary work.

11. Make sure you do your homework on an organisation thoroughly before the interview. Nothing impresses an interviewer more than good preparation. Where possible, obtain an annual report, plus any company brochures. Prepare questions to ask and be prepared for the interviewer’s questions.

12. Don’t ignore the importance of first impressions, as interviewers are easily influenced by the image you project. Ensure you are smartly dressed and well groomed.

13. Always show great interest and enthusiasm about the job you’re being interviewed for. Let the interviewer know how keen you are to work for the company. Enthusiasm can sometimes make up for lacking quite the right experience.

14. Consider temporary work. It will provide work experience and buy time until the right opportunity comes along. Also, many temporary jobs turn into full time positions. It is also worth looking at voluntary positions –particularly if the work will be helpful in the long term and allows access to potential employers.

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