I get asked for career advice a lot. It’s an occupational hazard of being a recruitment entrepreneur, it seems.
To be fair, I’m probably better placed than most to give advice. My business, Instant Impact, acts as an in-house recruitment function for our clients, and our awesome recruiters fill thousands of jobs each year—everything from COOs to interns. There isn’t much that we haven’t seen….
Unsurprisingly, requests for help go up as the economy starts to dip—and I’m always happy to help. Looking for a job is scary at the best of times, but there seems to be an extra edge to some of the conversations I’ve been having this time around. With redundancies, recession, a cost-of-living crisis, a war in Europe, and the largest strikes we’ve seen in decades, it must feel pretty bleak for those out there looking for a new career.
So all in all, I thought that it might be helpful to share my top tips for getting gainful employment.
Take Your Time
As crazy as this might sound, I’d advise any job seeker not to jump into the first paying job that you see. Of course, if you need the money, then sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But for those who are already in work or who have enough savings squirreled away to hold out for a couple of months, I’d recommend being as picky as you would have been in a boom market.
While it’s true that companies are slowing down their hiring and being cautious, there are still plenty of opportunities: the US, UK, and the majority of European economies are still operating at nearly full employment. Good talent remains hard to come by, whether you’re in management consulting or hospitality.
Use any break in your career as a rare opportunity to take stock and think about what you want to do for the next decade—then set your mind to it, even if it means that you have to take a couple of steps back or retrain.
It’s easy to apply for a job these days… way too easy.
The vast majority of candidates find opportunities via job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn. These companies make it their mission to make it as seamless as possible to apply for a job. LinkedIn has a “one-click apply” functionality that means that you don’t even have to upload your CV!
That’s great for job seekers, right?
Put yourself in the shoes of the person who has posted the job. Such low barriers to application mean that they are likely to get hundreds of applications—most of them completely unsuitable for the role. It can be hugely time consuming to review these, and as a result, your application is likely being reviewed by someone pretty junior.
Too many job seekers make the mistake of sitting down for a session of job hunting and blanket applying for dozens of jobs per hour.
Instead, I’d advise you to be selective with your job search. Thoroughly research companies before applying and then dedicate much more of your time to each application.
Get the basics right! Make sure your CV and cover letter are tailored to each company and each opportunity. If you mention your passion for equity sales and you’re applying for a venture capital firm, you won’t get very far. I learnt that the hard way back when I was applying for my first job!
Avoid the Well-trodden Path
In a world where you’re likely to be up against hundreds of applicants—all one-click applying on LinkedIn—why not try to stand out? Connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn with a charming note saying how excited you are to find out more about the company, what made you apply, and what you bring to the table. Why not do the same to the recruiter, the HR Director, and the CEO while you’re at it?
Use Your Network
If you know people—or know people who know people—who already work somewhere you want to work, then get in touch. In my experience, people are usually more than happy to put in a good word, but at the very least, they can give you some advice on how to best approach the hiring team.
Many job seekers forget how much the world has changed since Covid. A lot of forward-thinking companies (including Instant Impact and several of our clients) are now happy to hire talent no matter where they are in the world. You don’t need to move to San Francisco to work for a tech giant, so don’t limit your job search to where you are. Spread your wings and look for remote roles, too!
This is especially true if you’re in the UK, which is predicted to be one of the slowest G7 countries to recover from this economic slowdown—so if you have always wanted to work overseas, now might be a great time!
Don’t Do This On Your Own!
Finally: remember that job hunting is hard! It can also be lonely, stressful, and a highly uncertain time.
Don’t go it alone: make sure that you surround yourselves with family, friends, and those who can support you. Pick people who are particularly partial to a pep talk or a nicely absorbent shoulder to cry one! (Hopefully you won’t need it!)
Good luck, stay positive, and happy hunting!