Jobseeking in tough times
The last couple of years have been very tough economically, and particularly difficult for jobseekers. The bright side is that companies will always be on the lookout for talented individuals to ensure their business is one of the trailblazers to emerge from the recession, so there will always be great opportunities out there, particularly for those who are thought leaders in their sphere.
If you’re a senior HR practitioner looking for a job now, it can be tough as many of these opportunities are not advertised due to being part of a confidential change programme and, if they are, job boards and agencies mean that even at senior level businesses are inundated with CVS and it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.
As a career counsellor, much of my time has been spent supporting individuals to identify opportunities which aren’t on the open market and market their achievements effectively so that they will find the right career move for them.
Personalise your CV for every application
It’s very important that you don’t have a 'one size fits all' CV as, even at senior level, the hiring managers recruiting will only have a limited amount of time to assess each one.
Think about tailoring your achievements to what the business is looking for on their job description; this could be ensuring any financial metrics are relevant to the job applied for and that any leadership, organisation change or personal expertise examples are adapted to the role. A bit of extra time here is always worth the effort as it means the difference between being on the 'no' pile, or having the opportunity to market yourself at interview.
Maximise your public profile
I find that many senior people haven’t had the time to network, attend events or build up a contact base as they’ve just been too busy doing the job, particularly with the level of change management in HR recently. This is your opportunity to change that. See yourself as a product and all publicity as good. Attend events - if you can get a speaking slot all the better, and get in touch with old colleagues, managers and suppliers to meet for a coffee.
At an event, don’t stay in your comfort zone, identify senior players who you want to engage prior to the event as often delegate lists are published. Approach them and send them follow up emails afterwards, inviting them to join your LinkedIn network. If you impress someone, then it’s a way to target those hidden vacancies.
Create a web footprint
Social media is something most senior HR practitioners that I see haven’t had time for recently, but the web can be your personal brochure. If I’m recruiting at senior level I’ll always Google someone to see what information comes up on them. You need to be seen as a thought leader and expert in your field and the best way of doing that is to raise your web profile; for example by writing blogs, either setting up and writing a relevant and personal one yourself, or contacting industry publications and writing articles for them.
You could set up a Twitter account and build up a following through posting interesting blogs or articles written by other HR experts. If you’re speaking at events then all the better as that will build your web footprint further.
Use online social networks
Often I find that the individuals I am supporting with career counselling find this the hardest, whether they’ve been made redundant or changing career, as they think you have to lose an element of personal pride by contacting people for help.
We’ve talked about building up your LinkedIn network and becoming active on the events circuit and it’s about using those contacts to find a job. Let them know you are on the market, what type of role you are looking for and what your areas of expertise are. Yes, this can be tough if you have never had to market yourself on the job market before as you’ve either been headhunted for new roles or have been with one company a long time, but it’s the most effective option to identify those roles which aren’t advertised.
Relationships with headhunters
It’s worth investing time to research who the most effective agencies to use are, and personal recommendations are definitely worth following up. Go and meet a headhunter face to face and if they don’t have time for this then I wouldn’t suggest you work with them. Stay in regular contact and give them updates on your market activity to make sure you don’t overlap with job applications as this won’t reflect well on you. I’d suggest that around three agencies is enough as more than that means you won’t have the time to maintain an effective relationship.
Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas on how you can make a start with marketing your personal brand and identify vacancies which aren’t advertised - good luck in your job search.