Friday, 21 January 2011

If you’re miserable, quit and do something else. If you’re still miserable, it’s you.

‘If you’re miserable, quit and do something else. If you’re still miserable, it’s you.’

I received a fun email the other day with a list of humorous, yet insightful business missives which included this one. It got me thinking about the inevitable questions that most people have about career happiness and job satisfaction that arise around New Year; a time of year which somehow never fails to make us consider the past year’s achievements and future plans. A couple of dark, dreary morning commutes in January can really bring all your misery to the forefront and make it seem like it’s time for a new start.

It’s not the easiest time to change jobs though, The public sector alone is planning to shed 600,000 jobs by 2015, and the online HR forum, Personnel Today, predict up to half of all UK employees plan to change jobs this year. It’s a well documented fact that most employment changes happen in the first three months of the year, so it pays to be prepared for a competitive job market.

But how do you give yourself the best chance of finding a new job? Here are some tips to get prepared:

First steps:
Think about what you’re good at, and what would make you happy.
It’s easy to do yourself down, and think, after years on the same treadmill, that you’re not talented. Have a long hard think about yourself. Are you an ideas person? Do you enjoy explaining things to others? What really motivates you? Is there an industry sector, or even certain companies that you’d love to work for? Make a list of your skills, experience and values. Look at how these fit the needs of your target employer.

Do your research, and make sure that you also know the downsides to that ‘dream job’ too. If you have to take a salary drop, you need additional training to make yourself qualified or you simply need to find out what’s boring and frustrating about your ideal role (every job has them!) so you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for.

Writing your CV:
A sharp, professional CV is an essential, but it can be hard to know what will impress a potential employer. If you need help, here at Blue Box Recruitment, we offer a tailored CV writing service that could give your application the edge. Otherwise ask advice from trusted friends and really think about what your future employer would want to know about you. Make it clear, logical, positive and use strong words for impact, not glitz and gimmicks.

And don’t forget the cover letter, tailored to your reader, which gives you another opportunity to sell your skills.

Where to look:
Online is most people’s first port of call now. Look for job title, industry sector and geographical area. Register with reputable recruitment sites and agencies, but beware of those scams that ask for payment for ‘job lists’. The local papers can sometimes reap fruit as many smaller businesses do not advertise online, and casting your net widely, often in unconventional areas, may yield surprising results. All industry sectors use admin, HR, IT and some sort of customer service and communications, to some extent. Just because you’ve spent your life in the NHS doesn’t mean you don’t have transferrable skills for manufacturing or retail, for example.

Use the internet to your advantage:
Making your CV available online is a great start. Use succinct language that is rich in keywords. Try the Google tool, Adwords, to see what popular terms refer to your job description, personal specification or industry.

Building your online profile through networks such as LinkedIn, Xing or on industry associations’ websites spreads the word about your skills. If you use more social media such as Facebook, Twitter or MySpace, be very careful to show yourself in the most professional light. Make sure casual viewers don’t have access to your drunken party photos or risqué jokes. Think what you’d be happy for your future boss to see about your private life.

Use your network:
Asking friends and business acquaintances to keep an ear to the ground for you, or even refer you to others is an excellent way to raise your profile and put in a good word for you. Former employers and colleagues may also have information that could help in your job search.

And ensure you are easy to get hold of. Check your mobile has voicemail turned on, monitor your emails daily and always reply to messages promptly.

Be prepared for your interview:
See our website for top tips in interview techniques, but make sure you are well prepared. Anticipate questions, and have positive answers ready; know your strengths and have your ‘elevator pitch’ well rehearsed.

Look the part in dress code and body language. Be nice to everyone you meet, just because the girl on reception greets you and offers you coffee, doesn’t mean she isn’t the boss who then interviews you. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Take the long view:
Times are hard, and you may not be successful straight away, but treat your search for a new job professionally. Do something every day towards achieving your goals even if it’s just reading the business pages online.

Sign up for courses or extra training that will help in your long term future; look at the world and imagine how it will be post-recession. Some industry sectors, like renewable energy, customer services and medical research are in a boom. Where will your skills fit into a changed economy?

Or would starting your own business be the answer to your future happiness?

Be Tenacious:
Use your resources, seek professional help, and be determined – many people have been in your shoes and if you asked them, they would tell you not to give up. Believe in yourself and don’t give up!

If Blue Box Recruitment can help you in your job search, contact us at or see our website,

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