Your guide to finding a job

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1 Your guide to finding a job Inside: your questions answered Planning your strategy Being creative with your approach Identifying the right partners INSPIRING LEARNING

2 2 Don t let anything hold you back this year This guide is for everyone who wants to know how The Open University can help them stand out from the crowd in an increasingly competitive job market. Many people can t afford to stop everything to get the career and qualifications they need. With us, you don t have to. We help ordinary people achieve extraordinary things, with affordable part time courses delivered in a way that lets you study flexibly in and around your family and work commitments. Now s the time to change your life with The Open University Highly-respected Employers really value a qualification from The Open University, both for the quality of education it represents and the commitment and motivation it takes to get one. Widely-recognised 75% of FSTE 100 companies have sponsored staff on our courses. Affordable We can show you how learning is more affordable than you might think in some cases, it s free. Contents Get a plan, get a job 3 Gather as much information as you can 4 Be creative with your job searches 5 Advertised jobs 6 Make the first move 7 Who can help you find a job? 8 Have you tried the recruitment agencies? 9 What next? 10

3 3 Get a plan, get a job With this guide and a little hard work, you ll be able to turn your job-seeking strategy into an organised, well-oiled machine that gets results. We ll also give you insight into how the jobs market works and how people are actually recruited. It s vital that you understand how things work and plan your strategy properly if you re to get the job you want. It s also important that you don t spend valuable time applying for jobs where you have little chance of success, or for jobs that don t fit your needs or meet your expectations. By planning your job-seeking strategy, you will be able to focus much more accurately on the jobs that are right for you. Be honest with yourself: what relevant experience do you have? Where are your gaps? How can you start to bridge these gaps? Head of Talent Management, Royal Mail

4 4 Gather as much information as you can Information is key in finding the right job. It pays to find out as much as you can about the jobs themselves and the companies you re applying to. That way you can make more informed choices and focus your energy where it really matters. Info gathering tips: Get to know the main sources of information about careers and jobs Use local careers libraries, relevant journals, professional bodies, regional or national representatives, websites, specialist and general trade directories Review your progress Keep records of all the contacts and applications you make. File copies of letters and applications and record the progress on each one. This will help you see what appears to work and what doesn t. And don t be afraid to change your strategy if you need to. Set up a file of job information, sample advertisements, job descriptions and person specifications, useful company and sector contacts, details of salary bands, useful articles, press releases etc. you might want to do this electronically Follow up this information by talking to professional careers advisers and people in the job areas that interest you Personal contacts can be invaluable: tutors, friends, family and previous employers Keep notes of your conversations, so you know what needs following up Acknowledge those who have helped you quick telephone calls or thank you notes may pay dividends.

5 5 Be creative with your job searches Today s job market is getting more and more diverse. To succeed, you need to play by a set of new rules. The best advice is to start as early as possible and be creative in your job search. Here are a few essential steps to get you started: You need to market yourself consider temporary or part time work to enhance your marketability, skill development and knowledge of the industry or job area, and to gather contacts Think about doing voluntary work be clear about what you re offering to do, how long for, and what benefits you hope to gain from the experience Our Careers Advisory Service can help too If you re an OU student or graduate, you can access a variety of jobs and info on our website: Our Online Vacancy Service Find OU-friendly employers Find Regional and National Vacancy Sources Find out about getting appropriate training or study with work experience this may give you an edge in the job market Network with well-placed, knowledgeable people, including those in organisations you ve already worked for Find contacts in the sorts of organisation and job you d really like consider what you can do for them Develop an excellent CV and application letter, and adapt or customise them with a particular opportunity or employer in mind Use your contacts to get opportunities to work-shadow or to carry out job study interviews that will give you useful knowledge Use employment agencies, but don t let them use you make sure they keep you in mind for suitable vacancies, and be sure to get constructive comments on your applications and overall approach Investigate the possibility of employment through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, a partnership between employers and higher education institutions find out more at:

6 6 Advertised jobs Newspapers and journals You ll find lots of jobs advertised in newspapers and specialist trade journals. The best place to find these is your local library. At the start, you may need to look at them every day, as recruiters seldom place their advertisements more than once. Make a note of which days they advertise jobs. The internet Most jobs are now advertised on the internet through national websites directly associated with particular careers. There are also opportunities to post your CV online, entering it into the database of an organisation (usually recruitment organisations) that will either try to find a suitable match for you or allow an employer to search the information and perhaps select you for interview. Analysing job advertisements Make sure you extract the information you need for your application. Follow instructions If you reply to an advert, always follow the instructions given. If it says write, telephone or for an application form, there s no point in sending a CV. Many employers give very poor information, or none at all, about the job or the selection methods they use. Show initiative by telephoning or ing if you need to know more. You may have to do some detective work if the ad doesn t give a telephone number. Identify the requirements outlined in the job specification Check that your CV or your application form shows how you match these requirements Provide evidence based on your study or any relevant work experience, paid or unpaid.

7 7 Make the first move If you re serious about getting a job, don t just wait for jobs to be advertised. You can tap into the hidden market by making speculative approaches to prospective employers. Staff turnover, promotion and retirement continually create new job opportunities. Putting yourself out there means staying ahead of the competition. This approach gives you the advantage plus you decide which organisations, sectors, jobs and areas most appeal to you. Speculative approaches can even create new jobs. Convince employers that you have exactly the skills they need to solve their business problems. Prove that they need your abilities and would benefit from your expertise. Show why they can t afford not to employ you. Note: making speculative approaches to companies is not permitted in Northern Ireland. To make an effective speculative contact: Pick out likely targets be discriminating and choose worthwhile prospects Contact a named individual approach only the person who can take the decision to employ or help you, and check that their details are correct Get a meeting nobody s ever got a job by merely writing a letter Give a specific reason for contact research the organisation, familiarise yourself with its problems and needs, and show where you can fit in When you meet be business-like and professional, be flexible and be prepared to negotiate Always follow up tell them in your initial contact that you will follow up, and then make sure you do Take a long-term view you need to be patient and not expect immediate results Persevere occasionally persistence will pay off and, after an initial refusal, you may be offered a meeting.

8 8 Who can help you find a job? Draw up a list of everyone who might be able to help you. Your network of contacts can include friends, relatives, fellow students, tutors or people you ve met through leisure interests, voluntary work or casual part-time jobs. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are also a great source of contacts. Even if these people can t help you themselves, they may be able to put you in touch with someone who can. How are you going to approach a contact? You need to decide how you will approach your contacts here are some tips that might help: By telephone Introduce yourself succinctly and use the name of the referral source discreetly State the objectives of your call and get to the point quickly Get the contact interested straightaway Try to avoid being interviewed over the phone unless this is pre-arranged Suggest times and dates for an appointment. In person For a productive meeting, you need a carefully planned agenda. Consider: By letter When it comes to writing a letter, keep in mind that there are three main reasons why someone might want to employ you: 1. To increase sales (or the employer s equivalent service volume, membership, etc.) 2. To decrease expenses 3. To obtain specialist expertise that leads to an increase of sales or a decrease in expenses. The first paragraph is crucial. Use it to mention an achievement related to the job. For example, describe a relevant problem, outline how you tackled it and state what results you got. Exclude personal data (marital status, hobbies, etc.), dates, salary and references Get someone else to check your spelling, grammar and layout. Be critical over the style, and prune ruthlessly. Why you re thinking of leaving your present job (or why you left your last one) Your job goals and your strategy for getting there A discussion about the industries you re interested in and the companies you ve picked out Asking about referrals to key people preferably decision makers who you can ask about opportunities in the industry.

9 9 Have you tried the recruitment agencies? Recruitment agencies often act for small to medium-sized employers that have no personnel or recruitment departments of their own. Many specialise in particular kinds of work or industry, and in some areas of employment (such as medical sales) they are almost the standard source of recruits. Services are free to you the employing company is charged a fee, usually a percentage of your first year s salary. Be clear, though, about what the agency is offering you. Remember that it s there to fill its clients posts, not to help you sort out your career plans. Finding the right agencies The Recruitment and Employment Confederation is the UK association for the recruitment and staffing industry. You can search for agencies by geographical location and by type of work at In Ireland the National Recruitment Federation is a voluntary organisation set up to establish and maintain standards and codes of practice for the recruitment industry in Ireland. You can search for agencies that have signed up to the code of conduct at: Voluntary work can get you a foot in the door Voluntary work can be a fantastic way of getting experience and building networks, as well as showing commitment to an area you re interested in. Local centres help to place people into suitable voluntary work. You may find the following websites helpful for finding work with charities and voluntary organisations: Charity Job Charity People CR Search and Selection Citizens Advice Community Service Volunteers

10 10 What next? So now it s time to put what you ve just learned into action. But you ll need to persevere. What works for you will depend on many different factors, from the industry you d like to work in and your contacts to your experience and your qualifications. And while we can t bolster your contacts list for you, we can help with the qualifications. Speak to us about how flexible learning with the OU can fit in and around your other commitments and how affordable it can be. Improve your prospects with the OU

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