Who said finding a job was easy?

Written by: Adam Bernstein
Published on: 30 Jan 2018

Job Search

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Unless you’re fortunate enough to be headhunted, it’s not easy to find a new job.

You’ll need determination and some luck – and a good action plan to boost your campaign.

Time your approach

Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach. Many disagreed with his politics and military actions, but, in this comment, he can only be said to be correct.

Think of any task that may be difficult or stressful – at home or work. How much easier are they when you’ve had something to eat?

Extend the principle to approaching an employer or recruitment agent. If you make your approach after they have eaten their lunch – rather than first thing, just before lunch or just before they’re about to go home – you will be more likely to get their full attention.

The Economist ran a paper in April 2011 titled “I think it’s time we broke for lunch…” that illustrates the point well. The paper found favourable outcomes to parole hearings were greatest after meal breaks. So, where possible, see if you can time interviews or awkward conversations just after lunch.

Set a target

The problem many face, especially when looking for work while unemployed or facing redundancy, is the panicky feeling they have to find any job quickly. It’s understandable.

However, a better situation would be to calmly set a target – job, location, salary and employer – and work towards it in a structured way. Set time aside each week for seeking out posts, making applications and, hopefully, getting to an interview. At the other extreme, a lack of short or medium-term success can be dispiriting and may lead to lethargy. With a targeted goal, your motivation should be maintainable.

Find and use contacts

There’s nothing like “cold-calling” someone you’ve never spoken to before, for something he or she may not want to give you, to put the fear of God in anyone other than hardened and seasoned salesmen (even they would privately confess to being uncomfortable contacting people out of the blue).

One way around this is to network and use, but not abuse, your contacts. Why? Firstly, you’re speaking to people who already know you and, by definition, it’s not only easier, but you’ll be more relaxed. Secondly, if he or she can’t help you, but knows someone who can, the door is going to be easier to open because you effectively have a recommendation.

Social media sites – such as LinkedIn and, to an extent, Facebook – are great for this because their raison d’être is to connect people with similar interests. They help uncover who your contacts work for and personalise any approaches you make.

Don’t let it go

It amazes me how many telephone calls I get from salesmen trying to get me to buy this or subscribe to that, but then never follow up that first telephone call.

Someone, somewhere has expended time, effort and cost in getting hold of my details so a telephone call can be placed to me. The “fire and forget” method is doomed to ultimate failure because, unless the salesman strikes lucky first time, he or she will never get my custom.

The same applies to those who use a scattergun approach to finding a new job – sending countless job applications, but failing to follow up. It wastes time, effort, postage and emotional energy.

If you want a new job, invest time in making a first-rate application, follow it up at least three times and only give up if it’s a definite “no”. It shows you are hungry for the job – it’s also less expensive.

Review and retrench

Let’s assume you’ve got most of the way through the interview process, but have fallen at the last hurdle – you didn’t get a telephone call back or a job offer. Have you stopped to think why?

Some may choose to think a physical characteristic – age, sex, race or religion – had an influence. While illegal, it is possible.

However, it’s more likely another underlying issue led to your rejection. Ask yourself: did you dress appropriately? Were you clean and tidy? How did you answer questions – and did you ask the right questions? Did you research the employer properly?

These, and other questions, may help you evaluate your performance for next time. Remember, you’re playing a game against competitors and need to offer an employer a reason to give you the job.