A dream job. Really? Does it really exist and if so, how do I find it? These are questions that many of us have asked at some point during our careers. This is not surprising given the fact that we each spend 70% of our waking hours every week performing a work-related task. So, it follows that we should want to spend that time doing a job we really enjoy.
The good news is that most people believe that their dream job does exist. Indeed, several surveys have found that although only around two-thirds of UK workers claim to be happy in their current role, around 70% of us believe that our dream job is ‘out there’ – it’s simply a matter of knowing how to find it.
Turn the clock back 20 years or more to 1998 – the year Allen Associates was founded - and the way in which job seekers went about finding a new position was relatively straightforward compared to now. Back then, employers tended to advertise their vacancies exclusively on careers websites, in local newspapers and via Recruitment agencies. Fast-forward to today and the choices available have been amplified.
Now, adding colour to the job seeking party, we have apps, social media, Google and personal branding to name but a few. The job hunting game may have changed, but many of the players stay the same – they’ve just adapted and evolved over time. So too have the ways in which we approach our job search.
Searching and finding your ideal role is only difficult if you don’t know the best way to go about it. That is what this guide is here to help you do.
Over the next few pages, we will share with you the insights we have gained from working with some of Oxfordshire’s largest, and smallest, employers. You will learn the tips and tricks that will help position you as the candidate of choice and maximise your chances of finding that elusive dream job.
Who are you…really?
We think it is safe to assume that if you are reading this, then you are still searching for your dream job. You are not alone, but the difference between someone finding their ideal job and one who doesn’t, will always come down to how well that person knows themselves.
In other words, what motivates and excites you about the job you want? It isn’t an easy question and the only way to find the right answer is by asking yourself the right questions. So, when you think about the job that is truly right for you, it is important to consider the following:
What job did you dream of doing when you were younger? This may seem an odd question to ask, but in doing so you remind yourself of the type of career that excited you as a child. It is here that we often find the best clues to what we really want to spend our working lives doing – the vision we had of the career map we might follow.
- If you haven’t enjoyed your most recent job, or even the one before that, what was it that you disliked. The people? The working environment? The lack of a challenge? The nature of the work itself?
- On the flip side, of all the roles you have held, what have you enjoyed and gotten the most satisfaction from? Professional development and training? Opportunities to use your full range of skills and learn invaluable new ones?
- Think of a time when you have returned home after a great day at work, the kind of day where you got a real buzz and had an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. What were you doing for that to happen? What did you enjoy most about it?
- What skills do you need to acquire to be successful in that role, and which ones do you already have that could be developed even further?
- If you could swap jobs with someone for a day, what would you do? If money was no object and you were offered the opportunity to do this role indefinitely but for free, would you do it?
There is a lot to consider here, so a quick way of getting to the nub of what you are all about is to ask yourself:
- WHAT do you love to do the most when at work?
- WHERE would be the ideal place for you to do it?
- HOW do you put a label on such a job?
The process to finding your dream job is akin to looking for the perfect car. You need to consider a range of factors - the make, model and colour (size of employer, recognised ‘name’) needs to suit your personality.
At the same time, it needs to accommodate you and your growing family (offers career progression) and be able to offer a great on-board experience including a top-ofthe-range entertainment system and superior comfort (workplace culture and environment).
Armed with an understanding of what truly interests and motivates you, you can identify the precise role-type that matches your requirements. Only then will you be ready to take that all-important first step to turning your dream job into a practical reality.
What can you offer?
This won’t come as a shock to you and is as true today as it has ever been – Employers have a need and they are looking for a solutions provider (that’s you by the way).
Recruitment is sometimes referred to as a transactional business – there is a ‘buyer’ (the employer) and a ‘seller’ (the candidate). Both have a need to be filled (a vacancy/a new job) and both are seeking an arrangement that is mutually beneficial.
So, before entering into any transaction, it is important that each party feels they will be in a better position than they were before the job offer was made and subsequently accepted. For that to happen, clarity is needed in terms of what you can bring to the table.
Look beyond the label
Years of experience in supporting job seekers in their quest for finding their ideal role has shown us that the most successful go beyond simply labelling themselves as a “Marketer” or “Accountant”, for example. That is; pigeonholing themselves. Instead, they look at their skills and base their job search strategy on finding roles that will accommodate those skills.
In other words, rather than only searching for a ‘Marketing Manager’ role, for instance, they broaden the criteria to include their strongest skill sets. In doing so, they increase their chances of finding the right role that enables them to utilise these skills fully.
Analyse your skills
You will invariably have acquired and developed a wide range of excellent skills during your career to date, but which ones do you enjoy using the most? What do you do well? Do you have skills that are relatively untapped which could, with additional training and learning, become a huge asset for your future career ambitions? This simple task can be highly effective. It enables you to get a clearer picture of the type of role that provides the opportunity to play to your strengths. For instance, it’s far better to say, “I’m looking for a role that involves these skills” rather than “If I can find a job that lets me use some of these skills on occasion, that would be good.” No. Good is not enough for you. You want ideal, right?
Get your message right
As you get closer to deciding what your dream job is, your next task is to work out how to ‘sell’ yourself to a potential Employer. Some call it an elevator pitch, others refer to it as your personal statement but, whatever terminology you adopt, you need to be clear on how you summarise who you are, what you do and how you could make a difference to a business.
The key is to get to the point quickly. Remember, most recruiters (NOT Allen Associates!) and hiring managers will make a decision over whether to continue reading your CV within 10 seconds…sometimes sooner. So, imagine you’re reading a newspaper and as you skim through the pages, think about the articles that grab your attention.
Show why you’re a great Candidate
Suppose you are looking to make the switch from one career to another, focus on your transferrable skills and show how your experience to date could be an asset to the role you are applying to.
For example, you can say that you are “an experienced sales executive with a proven record of achieving and exceeding campaign targets. By developing long term client relationships and expanding my territory, I successfully boosted sales and revenues by 20% over the last 12 months. Looking for a new challenge that enables me to use my knowledge of delivering campaigns in the field and use this to support the planning process in a marketing capacity.”
Or perhaps you’re not long out of university, college or school with only nominal work experience. That doesn’t exclude you from searching for the role that could put you on the first step on the ladder to ultimately landing your dream job. In this instance, the focus needs to be on how elements of your studies or part-time work you may have done can benefit a potential employer.
For instance, you could say that you are “A recently qualified graduate with a 2:1 in Psychology, now looking for the opportunity to use my statistical and analytical skills in an accountancy environment. My long-term career goal is to develop my potential and eventually assume greater responsibility within a busy, marketleading organisation whose ambitions match my own.”
Look (and be found) in the right places
Finding a job, the right job, is all about having a strategy in place. Get your job search strategy right, and you’re half way there. Opt to go all gung-ho in your approach and with no strategy in place, and you will soon find that the highway to career success will be congested – prolonging the time it should take to reach your destination.
Sending off your CV to all and sundry doesn’t work. Applying for job after job doesn’t cut it either. What does work is taking the lessons you have learned about yourself in the previous sections of this Guide and working out who needs people like you.
Indeed, it is estimated that at least 50% of all vacancies are never advertised – many suggest this number to be even higher. So, how do you find out about these roles?
Networking your way to a new job? It’s possible
Like it or loathe it, attending relevant business networking events can be a great way to both raise your profile and meet people from the types of organisations you might like to work for. They may not have a role right then but, when one comes up, they may well tap into their network before advertising it.
Even if they don’t have a role that’s right for you, they may be able to introduce you to someone who does. Remember, word of mouth can be a very powerful tool for job seekers.
Raise your profile and build your personal brand online
Social media has transformed the way in which we engage and communicate with one another. It has also had a profound effect on how candidates search for and find their next role. But perhaps its greatest strength is its ability to position savvy job seekers as the candidate of choice.
Simply sharing content on Twitter and LinkedIn that is relevant to the sector you work in and the job you want to do, will position you as someone who has their finger on the pulse of what is happening in your field.
Similarly, if you like to blog, then publish articles on your LinkedIn profile and don’t be afraid to offer an opinion on a topical subject. These may seem like simple actions to you, but they get you on the radar of hiring managers and recruiters who use the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn to find Candidates who stand apart from everyone else.
Register with a recruitment agency
A report published in 2017 surveyed employers across the country to gain an insight into their hiring plans over the next 12 months. It found that more than half (57%) of all vacancies will be filled by Recruitment agencies, compared to 46% in 2016. There are a couple of key reasons for this.
First, employers are often time-poor, meaning they are extremely busy with their day-to-day jobs and struggle to dedicate the time needed to undertake a thorough hiring process. They also need to reduce the time it takes to find the right people to fill their roles. Recruitment agencies can help them on both counts, and they can do the same for you.
Agencies often recruit for positions that aren’t advertised. More often than not, the Employer in question will use an agency as its main Candidate attraction strategy along with their own website. So, identifying those agencies that recruit for similar roles to what you are looking for, will be a significant step closer towards your goal.
Better still, because your chosen agency will have prior experience to placing other Candidates in such roles, they can provide you with hints, tips and insights that could prove invaluable.
What does Google say about you?
Have you ever entered your name into Google to see what comes up? Try it, you may be surprised at what you find – that’s if you find anything at all. Once a hiring manager or recruiter has received an application from an interesting Candidate, it is likely that they will search for them on social media and Google.
Ranking highly in the search results can create a positive impression of you, especially if the content associated with your name is relevant to the role you are applying for. So, it’s important to ensure that the information they see puts you in a good light.
Choose a professional looking photo for your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, while for Facebook feel free to opt for one that is more casual but avoids dancing on the edge of showing you in a poor light (snaps of you having a big night out on the town having a few drinks doesn’t tend go down very well with potential Employers).
Make your information readily available
The high levels of employment in the UK are making it harder for Employers and recruiters to find the Candidates to fill their vacancies – the more people in work means fewer people looking for work or new opportunities. In addition to the points above, to make your details ‘discoverable.’ Create Candidate profile accounts on the main job boards that advertise roles similar to what you are looking for.
By uploading your CV and entering key information such as type of role sought, location and salary expectations, hiring managers and recruiters who may be using these sites to find both active (looking for a job now) and passive (not actively looking but open to new opportunities) candidates could find you. They may just have the perfect role for you, so the time spent completing your profile on job boards is an investment that could pay dividends for your career.
You’ve got an interview, now what?
There is a plethora of information out there about how to prepare for and perform well at an interview. Some of that information is incredibly useful, but few of the articles will have been written by recruiters who have actually coached and supported candidates through every stage of the hiring process. That’s where we come in.
Here we take a look at the three things all job seekers must do to ensure they position themselves as the standout Candidate.
Step 1: Be prepared to sell the benefits of hiring you
Looking for a job is often described as a job in itself, but it’s the moment you learn that you have been shortlisted for an interview that the hard work really begins. The fact that you have applied means you are very interested in the role, so find make sure you find out everything there is to know about the position and the company itself.
But remember, Employers reading your application are asking themselves just one thing: what’s in it for us if we hire this person? They are a business and the job of the interviewer is to identify the Candidate who is most likely to make a difference –to add value to the team and the organisation as a whole. To position yourself as that person, you need to sell yourself against the things of most importance to them.
Go through the job description with a fine-toothed comb and identify the key skills and requirements of the role that will be of most importance to the Employer. Think of instances in previous roles when you have demonstrated these skills and the impact they had on the business. For example, you could say “In my previous role, I introduced a new social media scheduling platform into the Marketing department, which resulted in time savings of eight hours per month – the equivalent of a full working day.”
Your CV will detail your previous roles and responsibilities, but the interview presents an opportunity to showcase your achievements. Employers are looking for people with the potential to make a difference to their teams. So, think of the things you have done that have made a difference. Your recruitment consultant will be able to help you with this – they will have firsthand insight into the company and will be best-placed to prepare you.
Step 2: Do your homework
One of the biggest frustrations Employers have is Candidates who attend an interview and know everything about the role they are applying for, but have very little understanding of the business itself and what it does. Your job is to ensure you can converse confidently about the company, what they do and who they do it for.
Google them to see what has been written about them in the past and what media they have appeared in, and take a look at their social media activity. What type of content do they post – are they serious, fun or a mix of both? Do they post anything to do with the team, and what impression does this give you about their culture?
Go through the company website to get a feel for the products and services they provide, read the latest news and blog posts, and check out their team pages. Find out what you can about the people who will be interviewing you – how long have they been with the business (you can always ask them why they were attracted to the role they do). Remember, these are the people you could be spending 35 hours a week with, so it’s good to know what they are like!
Step 3: Follow up afterwards
Contrary to what many people think, there is still the opportunity to influence the outcome of your application after the interview has taken place. It takes no time at all to send a short email to the interviewer(s) to thank them for their time but take this as an opportunity to highlight the added value you can bring to the table.
During the interview, you will have spoken of examples of how you made a difference in previous roles - your accomplishments. To strengthen your case and add gravitas to what you achieved, send the interviewer a copy of the project in question or a link to where the results of your work can be seen. In marketing, this is known as consolidating the sale – the time when the buyer (interviewer) needs to re-confirm the timeframe for when the order (job offer) will be completed. In your follow-up e-mail don’t be afraid to ask about the next steps.
There has never been a better time to be a job seeker, and the opportunity for finding your dream job is greater than ever. In this guide, we have shown you that is possible to secure your ideal role providing you take a strategic approach to your job search. It won’t happen overnight and it will take time and commitment from you. This is your future we’re talking about and the hours you invest in it will pay huge dividends in the coming years.
For the last 20 years, Allen Associates has supported thousands of jobs seekers in finding their next role. We have no interest in finding you just any job. Our focus is on finding you the right job with an Employer and working environment that is right for you and which can support your career ambitions, both in the short and long term. If you are considering your next career move, get in touch with the team today. We’ll take the time to find out what you are really looking for in your ideal role and will work hard to secure the perfect opportunity for you.
Contact: 01865 335 600