Following the relaxation and self-reflection of our summer holidays, huge numbers of people return to work feeling motivated to look for a new role – making September a busy time of year for job-hunting. Jobs site Adzuna and recruitment agency Foresight both advise that September and October are two of the best months to look for a new job, as hiring activity picks up following the summer lull.
Thinking about going after a shiny new role? Stylist has spent years gathering advice from accomplished women and trusted careers experts on how to live your best professional life – and below, we’ve curated the best tips on how to successfully hunt down the job of your dreams.
1. How to job hunt successfully
Unfortunately, most of us will go through life without ever being headhunted for our dream role. So if you’re looking for a new position, chances are you’re going to have to put in some legwork.
First things first: update your page on LinkedIn so that prospective employers can easily check out your current skills, experience and aspirations. Here are six ways to upcycle your LinkedIn profile today.
Next, make sure that your public social media accounts present you in the best possible (i.e. most professional) light. Of course, having a killer Instagram profile won’t seal the deal in some industries – 18k followers will not get you a job as a doctor, thank god – but it’s a great way of marketing yourself in creative and entrepreneurial fields.
“Many people do not realise how useful a tool Instagram is for putting yourself in front of brands and potential [professional] partners and employers,” Mike Bandar, founder of Instagram scheduling tool Hopper, told Stylist in 2018. Find Bandar’s top tips for optimising a professional Instagram profile here.
Once your online presence has been given a refresh, you’re ready to start job hunting. Begin by checking out the UK’s 13 best careers websites to suit all industries. Just make sure you don’t inadvertently let your boss know you’re thinking of moving on.
2. How to write an impressive CV
Found a job that looks perfect for you? You’ll need a tight CV that stands out from the crowd, and that means one that’s devoid of clichéd buzzwords. And did you know that making a tiny, unobtrusive change to your name on your CV could boost your job chances? Now you do.
If you’re looking to pursue a career in business, top CEOs recommend you highlight these future-facing skills. The World Economic Forum also has some good advice on the positive attributes that will appeal to employers when listed on a CV.
Evelyn Cotter, founder of SEVEN career coaching, advises her clients to start by looking at the job spec of one or two of their ideal roles. “Pick those apart, underline the keywords, and look at the use of language, skills, traits, experience desired and then see where you can mirror those in your CV,” she says. Cotter and other career experts share their advice for crafting an impossible-to-ignore job application in this guide.
Once you’ve nailed your CV’s content (Pip Jamieson, founder of The Dots, recommends keeping it to a single page so the main points can be absorbed “in a one-minute skim read”), it’s time to sort the design.
“Don’t undervalue simplicity,” advises graphic designer Kate Clancy. “It’s really great to add personality, but make sure that whenever you add elements to your CV, it’s for a good reason. It’s most important that it is clear, visually appealing and that your skills are well-communicated.”
Read more CV advice from some of the UK’s most successful female graphic designers here – and then make sure you choose the most effective time of the week to submit your application.
3. How to impress in an interview
Success! You’ve made it to the first round of interviews. It goes without saying that you should brush up on the company’s mission and values, and make sure you know exactly how your own experience and skills align with the role. If you can, it’s also worth doing a bit of research on the person who will be interviewing you, so you can figure out how best to relate to them on the day.
Hiring managers recommend bringing two extra copies of your CV to the interview, and making sure you’re dressed appropriately for the job (if in doubt, go more formal, rather than less). Once you’re through the door, certain simple tricks will endear you to the person grilling you. Smile, make eye contact and use the ‘triple nod’ while listening to show that you’re engaged.
Your extensive prep should mean that you’re ready for most interview questions, but what happens if one comes out of leftfield? Being asked how much you currently earn is a notoriously tricky one – but it is possible to answer without things getting hideously awkward.
Towards the end of the interview, you will almost certainly be given the chance to ask any questions of your own. Recruitment specialist Hanna Neuborn recommends asking questions that show “you are genuinely interested in the position and that you are focused on key initiatives within the business.” This could mean asking how the role you’re applying for fits within the wider structure of the department, or enquiring about the organisation’s strategy for the next few years.
But don’t just stick to business-orientated queries. It’s also wise to ask questions that suss out whether you actually want to work somewhere, too.
“More people expect organisations to show concrete steps have been taken to ensure workplaces are open, honest and active when it comes to gender equality and mental health, or whether complaints are hushed up,” John Lees, career coach and author of The Success Code, tells Stylist. Check out more modern questions to ask in a job interview here.
Of course, there are some things you should never ask an interviewer. Avoid seeming money-grabbing, workshy or ill-informed by avoiding these five questions.
Once the interview is over, ask when you can expect a decision and who to follow up with. And if you want the job, don’t be afraid to say so!
4. You’ve got the job!
We knew you could do it. To make a good impression on your new colleagues, executive coach Jason Sackett suggests asking them questions about themselves, rather than trying to big up your own skills and achievements.
“A common first-day trap is to talk up your own past accomplishments and future ambitions, which makes people nervous or annoyed because they don’t know you,” he says. “Instead, get curious and inquire about the roles, talents, and achievements of your colleagues to establish a persona as a listener, learner, and collaborator.”
And now there’s only one thing left to do: figure out what you’re going to wear.