Tips for independent job-searching

Your job search

Looking for a new job can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a while. There are now so many places and ways to look for work that it can be difficult to know where to start. Taking the time to plan your approach and making sure you’re well prepared will help ensure you don’t waste any time and succeed in finding a job that is right for you sooner rather than later.

Preparing to job-search

It’s vital to make a plan to help narrow your search and make the most effective use of your time:

  • Identify target roles based on your skills, career plans and previous experience.
  • Identify the kind of companies and employers you’re interested in and know where and how they are most likely to advertise their vacancies. If you plan to self-market, have a plan for what information you need to know about potential employers before you approach them.
  • Decide how much time you will spend on different types of job searching, but be prepared to be flexible. If you find you’re getting lots of call backs from self-marketing approaches, it makes sense to focus more of your time there.

It’s also really important that when an opening comes up, you’re ready, with the right tools to hand, to make the strongest application you possibly can.

  • Spend some time thinking about your skills, training and previous experience and how you’ll market yourself to a potential employer, whether you’re responding to a job advertisement or making a cold approach. Sometimes we overlook skills we use everyday – driving is a really good example – so try enlisting a friend’s help to brainstorm your skills. During periods of unemployment, stress and anxiety can make it difficult to see the positive things in yourself, so friends and family members may also be helpful when it comes to listing your strengths and the qualities that will make you stand out to an employer.
  • Update your resume and carry a copy with you, you never know when you might come across an opportunity.

Where to look

It’s important to bear in mind that there is both an open and a hidden job market and that you may need to tap into both in your job search. When looking for ‘open’ job opportunities, your main sources of information are likely to be:

  • Newspaper advertisements.
  • The internet – common job search engines allow you to narrow the search down to your industry and your locality, i.e. Seek, CareerOne and JobSearch (which collates all Australian online vacancy listings). A benefit of using these sites is that you can usually register your details with them to receive regular updates about new job opportunities which might be of interest to you and which match your skillset. Many companies also list vacancies on their own websites.
  • Community noticeboards.
  • Windows of shops, restaurants and other businesses in your local area.

Other job opportunities can be found through:

  • Self-marketing, either in person or by telephone. You can use the internet or sources like Yellow Pages to find and research companies before approaching them.
  • Your network. Many people find jobs through word of mouth. Make sure that people know you are looking for work and they might think of you when a position comes up.
  • Labour hire/recruitment agencies.
  • LinkedIn – follow companies you are interested in

Hints and tips

There is no set amount of time that you should spend on your job search, but the more time you spend, the more quickly you are likely to be successful. Most advice suggests that you should treat your job search like a full-time job in itself. This has the additional advantage of keeping you busy and providing structure in your day – two important elements in helping to maintain emotional well-being and reduce the impact of stress during periods of unemployment.

Job searching can be a stressful and sometimes demoralising experience. It’s important to try and remain positive by:

  • Managing your expectations and knowing, from the outset, that your job search will take time and there will be disappointments along the way.
  • Not taking rejection personally. You may have been one of a number of   strong candidates, the role may only have been advertised externally for compliance purposes etc.
  • Keeping the focus on elements of your job search that are within your control rather than getting caught up worrying about things that you can’t affect.

Key points

  • Spend time researching and planning beforeyou start to make sure your efforts are as targeted as possible and that your time will be used effectively.
  • Know where to look for jobs and cast your net wide by pursuing a range of avenues in your job search and prioritising those that are most appropriate to your industry.
  • Try to keep your job search structured, stick to a routine if you can and stay positive.

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