Two years ago, after 6 years as a Recruitment Consultant, I left my job without anything to go to. This was a massive leap of faith and I must stress, this is not something I would ever recommend you do!  However, 6 weeks into my gardening leave, I found a new role and I haven’t looked back since.

The experience of looking for work and of being a candidate again was interesting, terrifying and bewildering at the same time. As a professional recruiter, I knew the job market and (thought) I understood how to market myself effectively however I still learnt a lot from the experience and here are some of the main points to consider before entering the job market.

Set your strategy

Create a project plan outlining your different approaches and the channels you are planning to use to market yourself. This should include direct channels (sending your CV directly to a company), recruitment agencies, your own network and social media.  We are in a multi-channel market place and social media has an important role to play in marketing of both products and people. If you are unsure how to use social media effectively, seek advice!

What is your Unique Selling Point?

What qualities do you possess that make you stand out from your peers? Seek 360° feedback from people you trust. In order to sell effectively, you need to fully understand your product…You!!

Define your goals

Before you do anything else, think about what kind of role you are hoping to find and what you can realistically hope to achieve. Deciding what you want to do and are qualified to do will dictate where you target your efforts and also how you market yourself.

What is your personal ‘brand’?

This is the message you convey to the market and to future employers. Your ‘brand’ should be a positive representation of your skills, experience and personality and this should be consistent across all the media you use to engage with others eg. Your CV, Linkedin, Twitter etc. Don’t forget that your brand message should also be consistent in person so think about body language, presentation and how you communicate with people around you.

Identify your target market.

Knowing which companies you want to target will help you refine your ‘message’ and ensure it is delivered to the right place. Research companies and brands to identify those which fit with your goals and align with your values.

Re-write your CV

Merely updating your CV is not enough. It may be several years since you last looked at it so it is worth looking at the whole thing and checking that it is representing you accurately and is in a format that will be well received in the current market. At the very least, you will have achievements to add and your skills and experience will have progressed. This is your shop window – it must present you in the best possible light and accurately reflect your brand message.

Create/Update your Linkedin Profile

Like it or loathe it, Linkedin is widely used by recruiters when sourcing candidates (some would argue that it is its principle function!). Your Profile must be up to date and must portray you and your experience in a positive light. I found Linkedin invaluable when I was looking for a role as it enabled me to identify key individuals in my target companies and where appropriate, make an approach.

Set yourself targets.

Like any good campaign, it should be SMART (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Setting specific time frames for a job search is very difficult – timescales are often a moveable feast and you will need to remain flexible and organised to keep track. Be prepared to review your time frames and re-adjust if processes are delayed or postponed. This will help you remain focused and ensure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Conduct regular brand reviews

As you progress along your job search campaign, you may reassess your goals and identify new companies to target which you hadn’t previously considered. Ensure that you keep your message clear.

Review your strategy

It is important that you regularly assess the effectiveness of your strategy and if necessary, make amendments. Has your target audience changed? Do you need to try a different approach? The more exposure you have in the market, the better idea you will have of your own marketability. You may need to amend your brand ‘message’ following the feedback you have received along the way.

By managing your job search campaign in a pro-active and positive way, you will be master of your own destiny and ultimately increase your chances of landing the role you want.

Sophie Mackenzie

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