The A-Z of Job Search

I pulled together this list as a bit of light-hearted fun on one of my Monday morning LinkedIn Lives or #jobhuntingwithjane . This is a brain dump from me of all the words we associate with job searching. How many will you guess? What do you have in your list? Let me know in the comments below.

A is for Achievements, Applications & Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Think about what your past achievements are, this is a strong indication of what you will bring to an organisation in the future. Many of my clients say things like “It’s hard for me, I was just doing my job”. Consider how you can quantify your achievements where possible, what is the number you can attach to each one. If you are struggling think RIGIS – what did you Reduce, Increase, Grow, Improve or Save?

Sending endless applications can be frustrating, especially as most large companies use an ATS system nowadays – this is a computer that sifts through your application. I’m an advocate of going up, over and around the ATS – try and get to the hiring manager yourself.

B is for Bouncing Back

Whether this is from redundancy or the emails letting you know that you were “not successful on this occasion”. You need to bounce back each and every time things don’t go your way and, when you are in the market for a new job, things will frequently not go your way.

When things don’t go well, there is always something that you CAN take from the situation, think about what went well? The quicker you bounce back, the quicker you can move on.

C is for CV, Cover Letter, Counter offer

If you would like to write your “Best Ever CV” that you can adapt for each and every opportunity in less than 15 minutes, you can get a copy of my bestselling eBook right here.

When you are asked to write a cover letter to accompany a CV, write on! The cover letter should focus on your motivation for the role and joining the organisation.

D is for Differentiate yourself

How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd if you are doing what everyone else is doing? Avoid the ATS at all costs, try and figure out who the hiring manager is and send them a cover letter that will grab their attention. Does this take longer? Yes. It also means that you are more selective about the roles that you apply for.

Go back to your list of achievements – which ones are most relevant for this particular opportunity. Focus your achievements on how you made money, reduced costs and mitigated any risks – talk the language of the business.

E is for Endurance

Manage your energy and your time. It is rare to leave one job and walk into another, for most people it takes a little bit longer that you originally thought to secure the right role.

“Job hunting is a marathon not a sprint” Jane Ferré

F is for Forgive yourself

You go through a swathe of emotions particularly if you have entered the job market via redundancy. There are some things that you no longer feel like doing, like going out with your friends and being sociable. I’m here to tell you, it’s ok to stay at home and binge-watch Netflix – just put a time limit on it.

G is for Give

Give your time and attention to help others. When we are in the job market, we are 100% focussed on ourselves that we can sometimes forget about other people. How could you use your time and attention to help other people whilst you are out of work?

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Why don’t you:

  • Make an introduction
  • Write a recommendation on someone’s LinkedIn profile
  • Volunteer (you never know who you might meet who is also volunteering, remember the power of weak ties)

H is for Help others, help yourself

Linked to ‘G” above, by helping others, you help yourself – this is just good karma.

I is for Interview

I’ve written a couple of articles about how to prepare for interviews and the questions that you should ask at the end of an interview, check them out.

J is for Job Profile, Job Description, Job Sites, Jargon

Job profile and job description are interchangeable words meaning the same thing. It is a wish list from the hiring manager – they would like someone who is an expert in every single thing on the document.

Job sites are always a conversation starter with job seekers. I’m yet to meet anyone who has had any job success from applying through a job site. They seem to advertise “vacancies” that will tempt people to submit a CV into a black hole, never to receive a response.

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LinkedIn is a kind of job site, be wary of LinkedIn Apply as this is a frictionless way to apply for jobs as you can do it at the touch of a button. When something is that easy, everyone is doing it, so how are you standing out?

Only use it if your LinkedIn profile is optimised for the role, otherwise, you are just wasting your time.

Every industry is full of jargon that is specific to that particular industry, you may have to use jargon at some point. If you do, make sure that you write any abbreviations in full the first time you use it (as I have done above when introducing ATS).

K is for Kindness – to yourself

Being out of work a disruptive time. There is a reason that on a safety briefing, you are instructed to fit your own mask before helping anyone else. You need to put yourself first and if that means taking time out then take time out. The job centre are of the view that you can spend 8 hours a day looking for a job – I disagree. If you are running out of steam and need to switch off, switch off.

L is for LinkedIn Profile

This is a key part of your job hunting strategy and you need to get this working for you. Focus on 3 areas:

  1. Add people to your network every day – think about who would employ you, ex-colleagues, people you meet at networking events etc
  2. Create regular content, by regular I mean daily – most people in your position aren’t, so this is a way for you to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
  3. Engage with other people’s content

M is for Monitor

You should be monitoring the job market, the news and what is happening in your industry. Who requires what you provide? Is there a company moving into your geographical area who needs your skills? Is there a company who is about to embark on an acquisition or a merger in your industry? Which companies are growing right now?

Monitor what is going on and you will be ahead of the pack.

N is for Negotiation & Networking

Understand what is important to you in terms of your package – not everything is based around money. You do not need to take a pay cut to get the job you really want, even if you are changing industry. Know your worth and make sure that you demonstrate your value – this will drive up your price.

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The more places that you are out there and telling people about what you do, the more people you have helping you get the word out on your behalf. It is more challenging to network as a result of Covid, you need to get creative. Join online groups that will get working on your behalf.

Are you a member of any professional groups? I’m in the HR world, so my body is the CIPD – do you know what yours is? They run a number of online sessions where I can connect with other HR professionals.

I run a Free Facebook Group called “Get That Job! Senior Job Search with Jane Ferré”, you are most welcome to join to help you add a new group of people to your network.

O is for Offer

When considering any job offer, we tend to focus on the salary which is important, but not the only consideration.

Think “Total Reward Package” and what else is part of the offer? For example, how many days holiday do you get? What is the employer pension contribution? What is the bonus structure? Is there a budget for personal development that you can spend on what you want? Will the company pay for maintaining and/or upgrading membership of professional bodies? What about flexibility? Do you have to be in the office everyday or do you have the option to work from home?

P is for Priorities, Person (Hiring Managers are people too)

This links to the offer – what is a priority for you? Think location, organisational culture, size, industry – what is a priority to you, what are you prepared to compromise on?

What are the priorities for the job itself? Of all the elements on the job profile, which one(s) take priority? Make this part of your research before applying for the role so that you can target your application.

Q is for Questions

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These are not the questions that you are going to be asked, these are questions that YOU are going to ask the interviewer. This list should get you started.

What is it that you want to know? How will this hiring manager and organisation support you in your career, your growth and what is important to you?

Be prepared with the list in hand – do not try and remember these on the spot – you will forget!

R is for Routine, Rules, Review (your performance)

It is so important to establish a routine when you are out of work, I had some rules in place to help me with this. I always made sure that I got showered and dressed before I came down the stairs in the morning. The advantage of this is that I was always ready to “hop on a quick Zoom call”.

Consider your weekly routine – what days are you going to focus on job hunting? What days will you include time for exercise? What are your new operating hours?

After each interview, review your performance. This is the time to review what you did well and should continue doing and also to consider what you can improve on for next time.

S is for Second interview

Hiring is a big decision, it’s a costly mistake if you get it wrong so expect a second interview, especially for more senior positions.

The hiring manager will use this as an opportunity to get you in front of different people, these could be stakeholders, direct reports, peers, so be prepared to answer some similar questions again.

Prepare in exactly the same way as you would for your first interview, especially researching the people who are going to be there. What do THEY want to hear?

T is for Track

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Track your opportunities, track your progress. This doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet.

Tracking your progress will help you to figure out where you may need to focus your attention. For example, if you are applying for roles and not getting invited to interview, your CV probably needs some work. If you get invited to interviews and not offered the job, you need to review how your are preparing for interview along with your technique.

Having a tracker document prompts you to follow up with people. Hiring managers generally have 101 things on their plate and responding to you may keep falling to the bottom of their list. A prompt from you might nudge a response back to the top.

U is for Umbrella Terms

What other terms are used to describe your ideal job?  In my field of Human Resources, the top role can be known as People Director, Head of People, HR Director, Head of HR, CHRO etc

Another example would be Programme Manager, in your dream company this could be known as a Project Manager?  Do some research on job boards and on LinkedIn to understand the terms that are used in the places you would like to work. This will help to expand your search.

V is for Values

When I start working with a new client, the first exercise we do is one to understand their values. This can save you time in your job search as you will not spend time applying for roles that are not in alignment.

Further on in your job search, you can use your values to make a decision about which job offer you should take.

W is for Weak Ties

The power of weak ties, you never know who knows who. If you are clear about what type of role you are looking for and in what type of company, your network can work in your favour. Bear this in mind when you are networking.

X is for Xenagogue

This means acting as a guide (or guiding someone).

Are you acting as a guide for someone right now? Who is your guide? Do they know that they are a guide?

This could be a formal arrangement with a coach or mentor or someone else to whom you are accountable. It could be someone whom you admire from afar who is helping you.

Y is for Yes – you’ve got the job

It will happen and there is no other feeling like taking the call to off you the job, especially if you have been looking for a while. Only accept if it is a “Hell, yes” from you.

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Z is for Zero Response

Sometime you will get Zero Response, I don’t agree with not responding to people who have taken the time to apply for a role.

One way to get over this is to be more targeted and personalised in your approach, how can you not respond to a direct message?