7 easy ways to secure your dream job

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Susan Devaney
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Are you looking to take on the challenge of a new job in 2018? Follow our expert advice to dusting off your CV and putting yourself out there.

Searching for a new job can be an arduous task, but it’s essential if we want to move up the career ladder, gain a pay rise or take on a new challenge.

As our generation faces the fact that we’ll move jobs an average of four times before turning 32, and will opt for an entire career change about five to seven times throughout our working life, we’re turning our thoughts towards our nine-to-fives.

With 30% of people embarking upon a new job every 12 months and unemployment at a record 42-year low, now’s the time to get serious about a switch.

With this in mind, why not get your CV in order, update your LinkedIn profile and start applying for your dream job? To help you get started, here are seven strategic ways to kickstart your job hunt and secure the new position you desire in 2018…

1) Update your CV (with ease!) 

30% of people embark upon a new job every 12 months

The first essential step to take before applying for that dream job? Updating your CV.

“Spend a weekend getting your ducks in a row. Update your CV, create a template cover letter and set up job alerts,” advises Pip Jamieson, founder of The Dots.

“Hundreds of people apply for most roles, and employers are short on time, so you need to keep your CV short - limit yourself to one page. If you can’t see the main points in a one-minute skim read, then cut it back.” 

To keep your CV snappy, focus on your use of language and do your research.

“I suggest starting by looking at a job spec or two of your 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,” suggests Evelyn Cotter, founder of SEVEN career coaching.

“Look at people on LinkedIn who are working in those roles and examine how they speak about their achievements and experience, and mirror that.”

It’s tough trying to work out which skills are vitally important, so it can be beneficial to befriend someone who already works in the field.

“Next: get a second opinion from someone who (ideally) works at the type of company you’re interested in applying for,” adds Jamieson.

“Then spend an hour before or after work applying for jobs. Try and respond to messages from head-hunters within a couple of hours (lunch and toilet breaks are perfect for this).”

2) Take the plunge and start networking 

Unemployment is at a 42-year low, so there’s no time like the present to make a job switch

If you’ve always wanted to work for a specific company and a job opportunity has come up, then now is the time to pursue it. Your first port of call is to network, network, network.

“I used to get really nervous about networking, and just shuffle around in the corner,” admits Jamieson. “Then I realised that everyone is in the same boat, so the best tip is to just embrace it.”

Networking can be the key to getting a great job in any industry, with research suggesting that up to 85% of jobs are found through networking. Making yourself known (for all the right reasons) is crucial for getting employers to recognise your talents, thus helping you get one foot in the door.

“Start off by giving yourself a challenge to connect with five or more people - nothing bad is going to happen, I promise. Oh, and wear a big smile. People love chatting to other people who smile, and it will also trick your brain into thinking you’re happy,” adds Jamieson.

Plus, once you get over that initial hurdle of speaking to strangers, it will be much easier.

“If you can find ways of connecting with people on a subject that you are truly passionate about, then it’s surprising how quickly your nerves will disappear. Focus on common ground, interests and passions first, and the right people will follow,” says Cotter. 

3) Avoid the career pitfalls we’re all guilty of  

Research shows you’re likely to change jobs four times before turning 32

It’s hard to sing your own praises, isn’t it? However, if you’ve set your sights on a dream job, then you have to push modesty aside. If you can’t convince yourself that you’re the ideal candidate for the job, then how can you expect to convince a potential employer?

“It breaks my heart, but women in particular can be a bit too humble,” says Jamieson.

From being the driving force behind a team’s success, to stepping up to meet great responsibilities, don’t shy away from listing your achievements on a job application.

“If you’ve done something amazing, such as worked on an incredible project, won an award, landed a huge client, spoken at an event, been featured in the press or built a world class team, then shout about it.”

4) Secure and nail that impending interview 

“It breaks my heart, but women in particular can be a bit too humble”

One word: overprepare. Research really does pay off in an interview. Let’s face it, you’re going to be very nervous, so why not compensate for it by ensuring you’re overprepared? From carrying out extensive research on the company, to finding out some key information about the person who’s interviewing you, knowledge really is key.

“Accept every interview. It’s always worth getting some practice runs in before you interview with the company you really, really want to work for,” says Jamieson.

But do make sure you’re focusing on what you want, before accepting just any job interview. 

“If you use recruiters, be very clear about what you do and don’t want, and brief them carefully,” advises Cotter. “You’ve got to manage them to ensure you get what is best for you, and not just good for their sales targets.” 

5) Get your finances in order

You don’t want to feel pressured into taking the first job that comes your way, so get your finances in order

Sometimes, when the going gets tough, handing in your notice before securing another job offer is the only plausible option. If you find yourself in that position, try and ensure you have a financial plan in place.

“It can sometimes take up to three months for a company to advertise a role, shortlist candidates, complete interviews and make an offer,” says Jamieson.

No one wants to find themselves in the position of accepting the wrong job in order to make rent and pay bills, so it’s important to devise a back-up plan that will ensure you’re not left short.

“I’d suggest getting a part time gig (or going freelance) to tide you over,” says Jamieson. “That way, you won’t feel pressured to take the first offer that comes your way unless it’s perfect.”

6) Navigate the first steps toward an entirely new career 

“Do your research and see if you need any new skills.”

If you’re feeling like this is your year to change careers, then trust your gut and make it happen. But be prepared to put in the work to see the switch.

“Do your research and see if you need any new skills,” advises Jamieson. “If so, there are plenty of amazing short and part-time courses that you can do on the side.”

“More people are adopting portfolio careers (having more than one job on the go at any one time), so it might be worth going part time in your current job and using the remaining days to get the experience you need.

“I’d also head to relevant industry networking events. They are always a brilliant way to meet new contacts and gauge if it’s really right for you.”

Plus, you can make yourself stand out from the (very) competitive crowd by thinking outside of the box. 

“There are so many ways that people have landed themselves a dream job - use your imagination,” says Cotter. “Make a video, or create a presentation or proposal of how you would improve something - think creatively and email it over to the key decision maker. Follow this up. Make it exciting for yourself.”

7) Keep upbeat and plough on  

“There will be rejection, so just accept that it’s part of any good search.”

“Finding a new job is a numbers game,” says Jamieson. “The more you promote yourself, attend events and apply for roles, the more likely you are to land that dream gig.

“Companies can be slow to respond to applicants as they get so many. But if you do miss out on a role, remember that it’s not a reflection on you - they may have found someone internally.”

As you continue to apply for roles, don’t forget that rejection is all part of the process: in fact, Cotter describes it as “part of any good job search”.

“When you are rejected or ignored, try to focus instead on the gains to you as a person and your career. Get excited about what the ultimate prize will be, and the positive impact of working somewhere that challenges you, in a job that makes you feel fulfilled. Where our attention goes, our energy flows - so focus on what you can gain, and ignore the rest. Have faith: there is an ideal job and company out there for everyone and your job is to find it.”

“Keep upbeat and remember that while it won’t happen overnight, it will happen,” adds Jamieson. 

So get organised and secure your dream job in 2018 - good luck!

Images: iStock / Dominik Schroder / Unsplash