The COVID-19 pandemic has created some truly difficult times for people around the world, but those who have lost their jobs due to the resulting economic downturn, are among those who have been most seriously impacted. If this relates to you, these developments can feel devastating — but there are steps that you can take to accelerate your journey back into employment. In most cases, those who have been made redundant as a result of COVID-19 will not have lost their jobs due to any problems with their job performance or capabilities. As such, even though the current jobs market may seem demanding, it is important to remember that your credentials are just as impressive as they ever were. Those in this position should take a moment to consider a few simple pieces of advice that could potentially help them to get their career back on track as soon as possible. Make the right preparations when leaving your current role If you have only recently received the news that you will be made redundant from your role, you are likely to still be experiencing some shock. However, it may be helpful to realise that there are steps you can take to ease your transition into the next phase of your career, even before you leave your current post. For many, a key priority will be to ensure that their immediate financial future is as secure as possible, which means making sure that your current employer is paying you all the money that you are entitled to. This may include: Redundancy pay Your final salary payment Any pay in lieu if you are not working your full notice period Any remaining holiday pay you are due to receive Outstanding bonuses, commissions or expenses If you have worked for your employer for at least two years at the end of your notice period, you may also be entitled to ask for some paid time off to apply for jobs or go on training, so it is worth investigating these options to see if they are available to you. Take some time to consider your career direction Once you have left your previous role, the temptation may well be to launch yourself back into an identical or similar role as quickly as possible. However, it could be worth your while to take some time and consider whether there are any alternative career directions that may suit you better. Ask yourself the following questions: Were you truly happy in your previous role? Would you want your next role to be similar? Are there any alternative roles that you could pursue in a related field, using transferable skills from your previous job? Would you be interested in changing your career path completely? What kind of new skills and qualifications would you need to accomplish this, and how long would these take to acquire? Are you willing to explore a new type of working? For example, would you be keen to go from a full-time role to freelancing, or to start your own business? When you are involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of a full-time job, it can be hard to find the time and mental space to consider these questions, so, in this respect, you may be able to use the current situation as a rare opportunity to change your direction. Update your CV and LinkedIn profile These are obvious steps to take whenever you are looking for a new role, but should nevertheless be considered top priorities, especially if you have not updated these profiles for a number of years. Both your CV and LinkedIn profile should be expanded to include all of your most recent roles and work experience. Your CV in particular should focus on creating a concise, easily scannable profile of your professional credentials, and needs to be tailored specifically to the requirements and focal areas of the job for which you are applying. If you have made the decision to change your career pathway, this may require you to revise your current CV and professional profiles more extensively, making sure to highlight the transferable skills from your previous role that qualify you for your new choice of career. Review and reach out to your business contacts The purpose of building up a network of business contacts over the course of a career is to generate new opportunities and chances to collaborate when the time is right. Now that you are looking for new opportunities, it may be a good time to reach out and see if any of these prospects are worth cultivating. Reviewing your list of contacts may be a good way of discovering career opportunities that are not being actively advertised, or give you an advantage in an application process due to an existing relationship with the right people. In the current circumstances, a friendly contact is likely to be sympathetic to the reasons for your redundancy, and may be able to find ways of assisting your job search. Look into skills training and coaching Being out of the workforce could give you a perfect opportunity to take some time to upskill yourself, whether this is to enhance your application for a position in your current industry, or to earn the qualifications you need to pursue a brand new role. This may involve enrolling on a college-based vocational training course, taking up a personalised career coaching programme, or exploring one of the many free and paid training courses available to home-based learners online. The latter option may be particularly suitable in the current circumstances, allowing you to expand your skills in your own time without the need for face-to-face interactions. By completing a vocational course, you will be able to earn formal qualifications that can enhance your CV and make your application that much stronger. Sign up with a recruitment agency Knowing where to look for career opportunities is a challenge at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a pandemic and economic downturn. As such, many candidates will be looking to sign up with a professional recruitment agency to make the job hunting process easier and less complex. Partnering with a recruitment specialist can help to get you back into work quicker by giving you a centralised database of potential vacancies to browse online, as well as allowing you to sign up for alerts based on your specific skills, credentials and preferences. These agencies have direct connections with leading employers on the lookout for promising applicants, potentially giving you access to roles that are not advertised elsewhere. Recruitment Consultants will also work to get to know you and your capabilities in depth, helping them to identify different opportunities that will suit you perfectly. Not only will this save you time, but it will also give you a significant advantage in finding the right role. By following all of these pieces of advice, you should be able to greatly increase your chances of securing a new role after your redundancy, ensuring that you will quickly be back on a positive career trajectory as the UK begins its own recovery from the COVID-19 disruptions. If you would like some help or advice on searching for a new role, get in touch, we would be more than happy to talk to you. You can also search our current jobs here.
When attending a job interview, it is only natural to be focused primarily on the questions you will be asked, and making sure that you are able to provide the interviewer with answers that give them a strong impression of your capabilities. However, it is important to remember that the direction of the questioning should not only be one-way. A job interview is not only an opportunity for an employer to get to know you; it should also be seen as a chance for you as a candidate to find out more about a prospective employer, and to figure out whether or not the company is able to offer what you will need to be happy and successful in the role. A positive working relationship needs to be mutually satisfying, and the interview represents a first opportunity to establish that dynamic. As such, when entering an interview, you should come prepared with a few questions of your own, in order to demonstrate that you are fully engaged with the process and thinking proactively about how best to succeed in the job for which you are applying. Here, we examine some of the best questions you can ask in an interview as a candidate to find out all you need to know. “What does a typical day look like here?” This is a straightforward question to ask, but is nevertheless extremely useful in giving you a clearer impression of what you could expect your day-to-day responsibilities to be in this new role. The interviewer’s response will tell you much about the ebb and flow of everyday life at the company, as well as highlighting potential challenges and opportunities for you to excel. In addition, asking this question will help to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are thinking in pragmatic terms, and that you will be keen to learn about what it takes to succeed. “What does success look like for this role, and how will you measure this?” Similar to the previous question, this presents an opportunity for you to find out what the employer would be expecting from you as you settle into the new role over a period of days, weeks and months. By asking this question, you can get an idea of what your bosses would be looking for you to achieve, how fast they are expecting you to progress, and how you can orient your personal development to hit the targets they have set for you. The interviewer is also likely to appreciate the ambition and forward thinking that this question demonstrates. “Are there opportunities for training and progression within this role?” Asking about potential training opportunities is another great way of showing the employer that you are serious about enhancing your skills and developing beyond your current capabilities. Of course, you are also sure to be interested in the answer from the perspective of your own personal development as well. This question will help you learn whether or not you will be entering into a dynamic role that can grow and change as your skills expand, and will give you an insight into how you can keep moving forward with your career within the company. “How do you look to staff to represent corporate values?” Corporate values often seem like a somewhat abstract principle, so it is useful to take time to find out more about how they actually affect workers on the ground. After all, finding the right cultural fit is just as important as simply evaluating credentials and salary rates. By asking this question, you will be able to learn how formal or relaxed the working environment is, or learn if there are any exceptional expectations placed on staff that you may need to know about. This will help you make a more informed decision about whether or not to pursue the role further. “What do you enjoy about your job? What’s your favourite part of working here?” This question allows you to flip the script to a certain degree, prompting the interviewer to share their own first-hand experiences of what it is really like to work for the company. This will tell you a lot about the qualities of the working culture and environment, and how the company’s stated principles work in practice. It is important to pay attention to your interviewer’s response to a question like this; if they seem to find it difficult to give you a positive account of their working lives, this will tell you a lot about the company that you might not otherwise have learned. “Can you tell me more about the team or colleagues I would be working with?” It is hard to know whether you will fit in with a company’s existing staff without knowing anything about them, which is why it is a good idea to ask about the individuals you are most likely to be paired with if you are given the role. Not only will this tell you a lot about the team dynamics within the organisation, but it can also reveal details about the structure of the team, the chain of command and their current project focus. All of this information will make it much easier for you to hit the ground running if you are given the chance to join the team. “Are there any other questions I can answer about myself?” With this question, you can invite your interviewer to bring up any other questions that might still be on their mind. It may be a good idea for you to prompt them to address any lingering areas of uncertainty they have about your application, giving you a chance to provide a conclusive answer. By asking this question, you can also demonstrate that you are not afraid of being questioned, rather than giving any impression that you are keen to get the interview over with as soon as possible. “What are the next steps?” This final question is always helpful, if only from a purely practical point of view. At the close of the interview, you should make sure the interviewer has everything they need from you, and that you have an idea about the timeline of when to expect a response. By closing off with this question, you can get a clearer idea of when you will hear back, and when a final decision will be made – as well as showing the interviewer that you are keen for the process to continue. Naturally, you will not necessarily need to ask every one of these questions to get the most out of your interview. However, by asking the right ones when appropriate, you can make sure that both candidate and interviewer come away from the experience with a better, clearer understanding of what each party has to offer the other.
Although receiving multiple offers for jobs is a nice problem for any job seeker to have, it does not mean making the decision is easy. If you are in this position, you may find it particularly difficult to weigh up your options if different companies are offering different things – and more difficult again if different companies are offering the same things. How do you decide how to choose the right job offer to accept if you have received more than one? In this article, we will give you our top tips on how to make the right decision for you and your career. A complete comparison The first thing you should try to do is make a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the offers that are on the table. For each role, make a note of everything you know so far, including: Salary and financial perks Career development and training opportunities Other perks and benefits Annual leave Working hours The length and difficulty of the commute Your rapport with those you have met at the respective companies The company’s core values Next, prioritise the areas of a job that are most important for you, so that you can see which offers perform well for what actually matters to you. This will give you a solid starting point in understanding which offers, and which companies, are best suited to you. Consider the long-term What are your career goals? It is important to make sure you are looking as far ahead into the future as possible and considering what you want your career and life to look like further down the line. Some roles can seem ideal in the short-term, but may not do much to move you closer to the professional and personal life you had in mind for yourself. Think about: The opportunities to learn new skills How dedicated the company appears to be to training and development The performance management systems and processes in place The typical progression path to get you to where you want to be How much the job will challenge you If you feel you do not know enough about a prospective employer’s attitudes towards training and development, try and do as much as you can to seek the answers you need before making a final decision. Job satisfaction An important thing to consider when weighing up two offers is whether you are going to end up compromising your job satisfaction in favour of a higher financial offer. If you are in a position where one of your offers has a higher salary, think carefully about whether that is what matters most to you. It is also worth thinking critically about other benefits and perks on offer and whether they will make a true difference to your life. For instance, one employer may offer a company car while another may have excellent maternity and paternity benefits, but it might be that neither are appropriate for your current circumstances. Culture fit Linked to job satisfaction is ‘culture fit’, a potentially vague concept that is nevertheless very important in determining how well you will get on in your next role. Working in a difficult professional environment can be extremely challenging and make work something you dread, rather than something that excites you. Think about each company’s core values and whether they resonate with your own personal and professional values. It is useful to have an awareness of the environments and conditions in which you tend to thrive, so that you can properly assess where is best for you to fit in. You might also want to look for company reviews that are available online at websites such as Glassdoor.com, which will help to paint a more objective picture of what it is like to work for the business. Trust your instincts At the end of the day, trusting your gut instinct is very important. Is there one job that particularly excites you? Is there one that makes you feel slightly uneasy or not quite right? Were there any potential red flags that you noticed during your interviews? Remember that while you have to offer something of value to the company you ultimately work for, they too have to offer something of value to you. If you feel that one manager, colleague or company might not give you what you are looking for professionally, take it seriously. If you have more than one job offer, deciding which one to pick can be more daunting and challenging than you expect. However, by being pragmatic and working through the pros and cons of each, you can put yourself in the best possible position of selecting the role that will put you on the right path to where you want to go professionally.
Cover letters – sometimes referred to as covering letters – remain a key part of the vast majority of job applications. With competition growing for each and every available position, they offer an essential opportunity to help you stand out from the crowd and make a case for your suitability in the role. While your CV offers a brief overview of your work experience, it does not provide much room to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for a specific position or highlight aspects of your personality that make you a great fit for the company. In this article, we will offer you advice on how to make sure your cover letter is as effective as possible. What is a cover letter? A cover letter is a document that is sent to a prospective employer or hiring manager to accompany your CV when applying for a job. It is designed to complement your CV and therefore offer additional information and justification for hiring you for a position, beyond what is already in your CV. Do I need a cover letter? It is best to assume that a cover letter is required for any and all job applications unless it is explicitly stated in the job advert that you should not send one. Cover letter writing tips Having helped countless professionals secure their dream jobs and take the next step on their career ladder, we know what an effective cover letter looks like. Here are our top tips for getting your covering letter right. Review and interpret the job description Study the job description in depth before getting started on your cover letter. Most job descriptions will detail the essential and desired skills and characteristics of the person who eventually takes on the role, and your cover letter gives you the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to employers that you have what they need. Sometimes online job adverts will take the form of summarised versions of a more comprehensive job description that you can find elsewhere – often on the careers page of the company’s website. Take time to find the most detailed job description that is available before proceeding with your cover letter. Review and interpret the job description Find out as much as you can about the company in question, as this can give you powerful ammunition for your cover letter that will help to persuade the hiring manager that you are a great fit for the organisation. Pay particular attention to the ‘about us’ pages on the company website, or the recruitment or careers section. This is where you will find clues as to the core values that underpin the organisation and the kinds of things they are looking for in an employee. Think about your own values and how they relate to those of the employer. How can you convey in your cover letter that you will be a perfect culture fit? Be clear and concise Much like your CV, your cover letter should convey all the most important information to support your application as concisely as possible. This is no easy task, as you will have plenty to say to a potential employer about why you are the best person for the role. But it is important to limit what you include in your cover letter. Your letter should ideally be around 250-300 words long and not take too much time to get through – think of all the applications that hiring managers will have to read through. Those that can keep their cover letters clear, simple and short will make the most impact. Be positive Keep your cover letter upbeat and positive, and try to avoid any negative comments whatsoever, for example towards your current or previous employer. Use dynamic language that shows how motivated you are and convey the energy that you would bring to the role in question. Proofread It might go without saying, but you will reduce the chances of success if your cover letter contains spelling or grammatical errors – no matter how small. This is your chance to demonstrate how capable you are compared to the competition. Mistakes in your cover letter suggest you do not care enough about the role or respect the time of the hiring manager enough to check your work. It also implies that you have poor attention to detail, which is not the impression you want to make when applying for a job. Cover letter structure, formatting and layout Many people we speak to wonder about the correct structure and formatting of a cover letter. The best cover letters are between four and five paragraphs and 250-300 words long. You should try and find the name of the person who is going to read it if possible, either by researching online or even getting in touch with the organisation directly. If you cannot find the contact, you should use a generic message such as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. The structure of the cover letter should then flow as follows: Paragraph one — Explain why you are writing the letter, stating the job title you are applying for and, if you feel it is necessary, where you saw the job advertised. Paragraph two — State why you are suitable for the role, listing the most relevant skills and experiences with evidence if possible. Paragraph three — Emphasise how these skills and experiences can benefit the company, including any relevant figures or statistics that back up the impact you are capable of having within the new organisation. Paragraph four — Summarise the letter by reiterating why you would be a good fit for the role and close by requesting an interview or indicating that you are open to meeting the employer to discuss your application further. If you used a generic greeting, sign off the letter with ‘Yours faithfully’ and if you addressed someone directly, use ‘Yours sincerely’. The cover letter is just one of many parts of a job application that will ultimately lead to an offer, but that does not mean it is any less important than the other aspects of the process. Getting the cover letter wrong can instantly leave you on the discarded pile, while getting it right can put you in pole position for an interview. So make sure you put the time into doing it justice and boost your chances of success. Applying for jobs? Why not read our tips on how to perfect your CV.