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Women in Focus

Job hunting

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 25 June 2008

Looking for a job isn't easy, especially in the current job market. But are you looking in the right places? There are opportunities out there and you need to persevere, be organised and know how to unearth them.

Here’s our advice on finding the job you're looking for.

Organisation
Whether you're looking for a new job or your first job, it takes good organisation as well as lots of motivation. It’s rare for jobseekers to find something immediately except in some sectors which are always taking people on (such as restaurants). It also requires you to be determined and not give in to negative thoughts.
Follow these rules for an effective and fruitful job search:

- Establish a rhythm.
Looking for a job means dedicating several hours a day to the task. So you need to set up a timetable to write your cover letters, establish phone contacts, follow up leads etc.

- Structure your day.
Set your job hunting to working hours, usually 9-12 and 2-5, so that it’s easier to get hold of people by phone or by email.

- Use your contacts.
Maintain contact with old colleagues and friends. There’s no shame in job hunting! Who knows who may know of a job going and could even recommend you.

- Set aside dedicated space
. Looking for a job requires concentration! If you can, dedicate a quiet corner at home if you don't have a study, well equipped with a phone, desk, computer and internet, so that you can be alone during the day and give your all to your job hunt. We're often more efficient when we're alone. Set up a follow-up list so you know whether employers have contacted you or if you need to contact them.

- Don’t put your life on hold
.
There’s no point holing yourself up and only thinking about work. The few hours that you dedicate to job hunting are often emotionally tiring. Get out and get some fresh air and don’t give up your usual activities (sport, nights out with friends etc.). It'll keep you sane!

- Get help from friends and family.
Your circle of friends can also be a great comfort. When you lose hope they can give you a boost and convince you to carry on looking. They can also help you by looking at ads for you.

- Don’t give up!
It’s rare that the first jobs you apply for will be the right ones. It’s also essential that you stay positive! Even if they don’t reply or the responses are negative, keep the faith and continue to look.

Review your skills
Time to analyse your background and skills. It will help you be more self-confident. Once you’ve had a look at the employment market, reviewed your career direction and analysed your skills and updated your CV, you're ready to go. You need to be able to answer questions about how you see your career mapping out, what experience you have and what you can bring to a company.
Ask yourself these questions and decide what positive and negative results you've taken from your previous jobs, so you can target your search and answer questions fully in an interview.
The same goes for your personal qualities and your personality traits. It’s important to make sure that your skills match those required for the job you’re applying for.
Identify what your professional objectives are and what progression you expect from the job. Then ask yourself what your priorities are (salary, responsibilities, opportunities abroad, etc.).
All this will allow you to hone your search for a job and to have a precise idea of what you expect from your working life. And it will also save you time!

Tools for job hunting
Now it’s time for action. You can apply by email or post, depending on what you and the employer prefer (usually stated on a job ad). Find job offers through:

- Spontaneous applications. Target companies you'd like to work for and check that they meet your requirements. Send them a cover letter as well as your CV. You'll find their contact details on the internet or in the Yellow Pages. Note that only 5% of unsolicited applications lead to interview.

- The press. Although less and less used these days, the ads section of appropriate papers and magazines are good places to find job offers.

- The Internet. General job sites, specific sites for certain fields, professional networking sites, discussion boards, company websites...anything is possible and you can target your search in seconds. You can also post your CV online.

- Professional fairs. If you get the chance, go to fairs and other events that may help you meet people who work in your field. You never know!

by Sarah Horrocks

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