Job seeking is testing. It takes time, effort and patience to land a great role. But there are tried and tested ways to find your next opportunity faster.
Whether you’re switching careers or stepping into the job market for the first time, it pays to know how to work smarter, not harder, to land your dream gig.
Welcome to the job seeker’s bible. From navigating job sites, to setting goals to personal branding, interview tips and sealing the deal, here are our best tips for how to get a job.
1. Setting goals
Finding the right match
As of September 2023, there were almost 988,000 job vacancies across the UK. So, before you even open a job board and start your first job application, it’s best to sit down and understand what type of role is best for you.
With that much choice, understandably it can be overwhelming to find the right opportunity and even decide what vacancies are worth applying for.
Some of the factors worth considering when finding the right role are:
- Company culture
- Working model
Online job boards mean you can save a whole lot of time by inputting your preferences and filtering down to the roles that are right for you. You might also choose to conduct informational interviews to get a feel for what a role is like if you are breaking into a new industry.
Swag Tip: Want to make goal setting even easier? S.M.A.R.T is a simple framework you can use to level-up with confidence.
Short-term vs. long-term goals
Having both short-term and long-term goals can make your job search and career planning much easier. If you’ve got a main goal like changing careers, breaking it up into smaller goals makes it more achievable.
Specific goals will depend on your situation, but here are two areas to consider.
- Short-term: Do you need a job right now to keep the lights on? Or are you gunning for your dream role and don’t mind how long it takes to find your perfect job match? Your urgency determines how flexible you can be. If you need a job ASAP, you might compromise on some dream job features. It’s good to know!
- Long-term: Big-picture goals are like your career’s long-term plan. This spans years, even decades. While the job you’re eyeing might fit your current skills and experience, consider if it’s a suitable stepping stone to your career aspirations. Again, if you’re just looking for a job to pay your bills, this may not matter, but it’s something for career-focused job seekers to keep in mind.
Matching passion with profession
Imagine stumbling upon a job that’s a perfect match for your skills, with an ideal office location and great perks. Pump the brakes—there’s more to a job than just checking off boxes.
Enter the dynamic duo: culture fit and attitude.
Culture fit is like finding your workplace tribe. Spending most of your waking hours at work is way more enjoyable when you align with your employer’s values.
Employers seek candidates who bring good energy to their team. A positive attitude goes a long way in getting through a mundane Monday. Invest in a workplace culture and career path that matches your attitude and energy. If you’re interested in working for a specific company, don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly. Most roles (up to 80% ) are filled by people the employer already knows. So express your interest, keep in touch, and you might just get that call back.
2. Building a professional presence
Job hunting in the digital age means we have to consider what picture we are painting of ourselves online. These days, recruiters look at more than just your CV.
Up to 70% of employers will check a candidate’s social media during the hiring process, so it’s good to be aware of how you are portraying yourself online. Don’t worry —before going silent on socials, consider how what you share might contribute positively to building your brand.
Networking sites like LinkedIn are a great place to connect with potential employers and a huge 85% of candidates are found through shared networks. So, build your personal profile, make connections and express your interest. Next time there are job openings, you’ll be top of mind. Grow your network by interacting with content and creators and follow companies who resonate with you, your career objectives and the specific industries you want to work in.
Swag Tip: Don’t have time to reach out to companies yourself? Swag SmartMatch gives you a personal introduction to our network of 300K+ employers. We put your profile forward for suitable roles and get you to the front of the queue every time.
The importance of personal branding
A well-crafted personal brand can expand your opportunities by attracting employers who align with your values and skills. Your brand highlights your areas of expertise and tells people what you’re passionate about, which can make you a go-to person in your field.
When an employer is considering you for a potential opportunity, they will likely consider your brand, to get a better idea if the ‘you’ they see online matches the type of person they’re looking for.
Swag Tip: A simple way to improve your personal branding presence online is by switching which social media platforms you post on. Instead of announcing your latest big win on Facebook, consider posting on LinkedIn instead.
Curating a LinkedIn profile that stands out
A great LinkedIn profile is a sure-fire way to stand out from other applicants applying for the same jobs. Here’s a step by step guide to help you craft the perfect profile:
- Professional photo: Use a high-quality headshot as your profile picture. Ensure you’ve got good lighting and a neutral background.
- Show personality: Let your personality shine through. Share your interests and hobbies to make connections on a more personal level. Speak about topics you care about and be a conversation starter.
- Use keywords: Incorporate industry-specific keywords into your profile to enhance search engine optimisation (SEO) and make it easier for recruitment agencies to find you.
- Engage: It’s called social media for a reason. Regularly share, comment, and engage with industry-related content and be the first to know about open positions.
- Stay updated: Regularly update your profile to reflect your current work status, achievements, relevant experience and career changes.
These days your LinkedIn profile is like your digital CV and is the first impression you make in the professional world. Investing time into creating an impactful and authentic profile is well worth the effort, especially when it comes to applying for large companies.
3. Revamping your CV
The purpose of a CV
Your CV is like your professional wingman, and it’s got one big job: getting you noticed and helping you find a job.
What should appear on your CV?
Typically, a CV is no more than two pages long, and contains the following key sections and information:
- Contact information (Name, Phone, Email, Location)
- Summary or objective
- Work experience (reverse chronological order)
- Certain skills relevant to that particular job listing
- Certifications or licences (if applicable)
- Projects or achievements (optional)
- Internship, volunteer work or extracurricular activities (optional)
- Languages (if applicable)
- Professional memberships (if applicable)
- Publications or presentations (if applicable)
- References (separate when requested)
If you have so many entries that you can’t possibly keep within the two pages, you may need to limit yourself to the three most job-relevant entries in a category.
Swag Tip: Stumped on what to write in your summary and personal bio? When you create a Swag CV, just click the magic wand and automatically generate a compelling personal summary. All you need to do is enter the keywords, and AI will produce a first draft in seconds. Easy peasy.
If you want more detailed information on how to get a job with a stand-out CV, plus tips from hiring experts, check out our 67 resume do’s and don’ts.
What shouldn’t appear on your CV?
Think of your CV as your highlight reel, showcasing your best qualifications. To keep it in top form, try to avoid:
- Overly personal information: Details like your age, gender and marital status are often irrelevant and can lead to unconscious bias.
- Bad vibes: Avoid discussing reasons for leaving previous jobs or negative experiences with past employers. Keep your resume positive.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes: Carefully proofread your resume to check it’s free of errors. Mistakes can leave a negative impression and suggest you lack an eye for detail.
- Graphics and fancy fonts: Stick to a clean, professional layout. Overly creative fonts, excessive graphics, or decorative elements can make your resume difficult to read and scan.
- Unexplained gaps: Offer brief explanations for significant gaps. You can include the reason for the gap (e.g. personal reasons, travel, further education) directly on your resume.
Swag Tip: Resume gaps are quite common, especially if they are due to personal life circumstances. The key is to demonstrate your growth mindset, adaptability, and commitment to your career despite any employment breaks.
Identifying transferable skills
Once you’ve figured out which skills you want to showcase, the next move is to decide how to talk about them. It’s all about finding the right words to make your skills shine and fit the job you’re going for.
Here are some examples:
- Have you coached a local sports team for 11 years? ‘…over 10 years of leadership skills at a community organisation’.
- Organised your school fair? ‘…time management and event experience’.
- Own a pet frog? ‘…amateur herpetology’.
Frogs jokes aside, you build transferable skills just by living your life, so professionally rephrasing things can show the value of these experiences to potential employers.
4.Writing a captivating cover letter
Understanding its purpose
You may have heard about the Great Cover Letter Debate, but here at Swag, we’re on team cover letter. They’re a great way to provide conversational context to the information on your CV and showcase your enthusiasm to recruitment agencies or hiring managers.
Swag Tip: Cover letters are important, but they can be time-consuming and tedious to write. Swag helps by using AI to generate first-draft cover letters. All you need to do is tweak them to suit the position —and don’t forget to add the personal touch.
Understand your audience
Cover letters can help you stand out, but only if you keep your audience in mind. It can be tempting to use a generic cover letter for every application, but we don’t recommend this as it can be obvious to employers! Crafting your cover letter to align with specific job listings you are applying for will help you to stand out from other candidates.
Cover letters are usually reviewed in two ways: by a human being who wants to be engaged, or by an applicant tracking system (ATS) that will look for keywords to identify you have the right skills and are a good fit. You’ll need to consider your audience and use the appropriate language for both options.
Swag Tip: The best keywords to use on a cover letter come from the job description itself.
5. Choosing the best culture fit
If you’re looking for a career for the long-term you’ll need to consider which companies you’ll be comfortable working for. Consider what a good workplace culture means to you, and explore prospective employers to see if they fit the bill.
Websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn should give you an insight into a company’s values and mission, including some first-hand feedback from alumni employees.
Balancing personal values with company culture
The most common reason people leave an opportunity is because of poor workplace culture.
When considering a company’s culture ask yourself a couple of questions that might impact your experience.
Is the culture serious or laid-back? Do they share your views on social issues? Will you need to join in on non-work activities? If the answers to these questions don’t resonate with you, it might be better to look elsewhere.
Chat with current employees if you can, or bring up these questions during interviews to get a feel for the company.
6. Prepping for the interview
You’ve bagged yourself an interview – congrats! Here are key things to consider so you can make a great impression
Researching potential employers
It’s homework time. Show up knowledgeable and prepared by reading up on your interviewer beforehand. Connecting on Linkedin and researching the business can create a deeper connection during the interview. Visiting the company website and getting an understanding of company goals and values can go a long way in helping you land the job.
Swag Tip: Plan a question or two based on interesting things you find during your research on the company. This will show that you’re interested (and make you more memorable).
Practising common interview questions
When it comes to acing your interview, practice makes perfect! Pre-preparing examples that showcase your strengths, weaknesses, and experiences using the STAR method, means you can put your best foot forward. No stress.
Swag Tip: check out our simple five-step system for interview question prep.
7. How to approach different interview formats
The most important job interview tip you’ll ever use
Avoid closed answers, and always make eye contact.
Job interviews come in all shapes and sizes, but here’s one golden nugget of advice: try not to respond with closed answers like a flat-out ‘no’ when being asked about your experience. Closed answers to interview questions can be a one-word showstopper resulting in a missed opportunity.
Honestly and open answers demonstrate your flexibility and willingness to learn. By steering clear of blunt answers, you’re engaging in a real, open conversation, and that can leave a lasting impression on your interviewer.
Phone and video calls
Check your tech (phone, laptop, etc.) is charged up and working properly ahead of time. Nobody needs to run into technical difficulties during an interview.
Take the call in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. If it’s a video call, also make sure your background is clean and tidy with minimal distractions.
Face-to-face interviews are a great chance to connect. Turn up early in a comfortable and appropriate outfit, and approach the conversation with confidence and enthusiasm.
If you’re not naturally outgoing, don’t worry! Just remember the main interview tip (‘try to avoid a flat-out ‘no’) and build your interview technique around that. You’ll come across as someone who’s goal-oriented and quietly confident.
So brush that bed hair, put on your Sunday best, smile, and be yourself.
If the thought of group interviews makes your stomach churn, you’re not alone. In these situations, you may be tempted to try to stand out. It’s important to show you are a team player but remember not to hijack the interview entirely.
It can be hard to find a balance between ‘actively engaged’ and ‘hogging the spotlight’. If you don’t know where that line is, it might be wise to play it safe.
8. Navigating salary negotiations
Knowing your worth and market rates
Finding your pay rate is probably the simplest part of the entire job-seeking process because it can be done with a quick web search.
Enter your location, and profession, and search ’standard pay rate’ to return a quick cross-check.
If your employer doesn’t bring up remuneration, they may be waiting to see how you approach the conversation. You may choose to wait for a job offer and to approach a salary negotiation, or you may want to discuss it during your interview. There’s no hard and fast rule, so it’s up to you when you feel the time is right.
Discussing benefits beyond the pay check
Some things to consider: Will you be required to pay for parking? Is there a pizza party every month? Do you get medical/dental? Do you have access to company discounts? What about a company car?
It’s good to have an idea of what benefits you’ll receive in your new role before agreeing on your salary package, with over 66% of employees saying benefits have become more important to them than salary when considering a job offer.
Swag Tip: It’s not selfish or annoying to ask these questions. You’ll need this kind of information to make an informed decision. For example: a role may pay less than another opportunity you’re interviewing for, but perhaps it has a great flexible work policy or comes with a free gym membership. This could be worth more to you than a pay increase.
9. Sealing the deal: The initial offer
If you don’t understand your offer, reach out to your employer and ask for clarification or call a friend for advice. Make sure you’ve read your employment contract fully and agree to all the terms before signing on the dotted line!
Smoothly transitioning into your new role
Starting a new role can be daunting, but you’ll be part of the furniture in no time.
First things first, get to know your new team. Understand how they roll and what they’re great at. Align yourself with a buddy and remember, communication is key, so chat about your role, expectations, and the company vibe. Remember, there are no silly questions and don’t shy away from feedback.
Keep things organised with clear goals and priorities. And remember, change is part of the game, so stay flexible to learning new skills, and you’ll hit the ground running.
Making the most of the early days
When you start a new job, don’t hesitate to tap into your supervisor’s knowledge and experience during those initial weeks. They’re your go-to resource for work-related tasks and can offer valuable insights into the social dynamics of the job, which are just as important. This is particularly necessary if you’re working remotely.
Swag Tip: If you find yourself without a designated supervisor, it’s time to take the initiative. Build rapport with a friendly coworker who can guide you as needed.
Keep in mind that the timeline for getting the hang of your role can vary from company to company. Generally, within 2-4 weeks, you’re expected to have a good grasp of your responsibilities. So, embrace the learning curve, lean on the right people, and don’t be too hard on yourself – you’ve got this!
10. Upskilling and continuous growth
The role of continuous learning in career advancement
So, you’ve done it, you’ve landed your dream job. Now what?
If you’re looking to grow, continue to do the things that landed you the job in the first place, whilst also taking opportunities when they pop up. Put yourself forward for projects, share your great ideas and get to know the wider team so you can really make an impact.
Swag Tip: Outgrown your role? Make sure to regularly refresh your CV so you’re prepared for your next big break.
Networking even after landing the job
Networking doesn’t stop once you’ve got the job: see it as a path to progression. Building and nurturing relationships within and outside your company can open up new opportunities, spark collaborations, and keep you in the loop about industry trends.
It’s all about continuous growth and support, so keep mingling, stay curious, and who knows what exciting doors might swing open in the future!
Seeking feedback and refining skills
Employee Performance Reviews are valuable, but they only come around quarterly or annually. Don’t wait for them to find out how you’re doing.
Most employers are open to a simple, “Are you happy with my performance?” at any time. Follow it up with a casual, “How would you like to see it improved?” and you’ll get the feedback you need.
When review time rolls around, it’s your chance to prove you’ve taken that feedback to heart. It shows you’re committed to growth, and that’s a win-win for both you and your employer.
Get a head start on your job search
Get a jump start on your job search with Swag, the ultimate tool to level-up your job hunt and grow your dream career. With Swag, you can use AI to craft a sleek profile in under 5 minutes, manage applications, and connect with hiring managers in real time. You instantly get matched to organisations and jobs that are a great fit for you, and we give you a personal introduction to our network of 300K+ employers. Best of all, it’s free and comes with cash back offers from top retailers. It’s your career’s secret weapon!
Getting started is easy: all you need to do is create a profile and enter your skills, experience and the type of jobs you’re interested in (it takes less than 5 minutes!). From there, our SmartMatch AI will match you to suitable job opportunities, selected just for you.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is current as of November 2023, and has been prepared by Employment Hero Pty Ltd (ABN 11 160 047 709) and its related bodies corporate (Employment Hero) for its Swag brand. The views expressed in this article are general information provided in good faith to assist job seekers in the current market, and should not be relied on as professional advice. Some Information is based on data supplied by third parties and whilst such data is believed to be accurate, it has not been independently verified and no warranties are given that it is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for the purpose for which it is required. Employment Hero does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data and is not liable for any loss or damages arising directly or indirectly as a result of reliance on, use of or inability to use any information provided in this article. You should undertake your own research and seek professional advice before making any important career decisions or solely relying on the information in this article.
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