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Going about your job search

If you’re contemplating a move, here are the important things you should know to make your job seeking more targeted, efficient and rewarding.

Prepare the basics

Before you start contacting anyone, there are two things that you need to get right – your CV and your LinkedIn profile. Future employers, HR professionals and recruiters will overlook you if these do not show your expertise, experiences and successes in a clear and succinct way.

Look to your network and get back in touch with former employers; PR agencies you have managed; well-connected friends; journalists you have a relationship with; ex-colleagues who are working at interesting companies; people who rate you; senior people you know who are well-networked themselves. Your network right now is your strongest asset as a HUGE number of roles are filled this way.

Take stock

You are more likely to achieve a fair compensation at a role that is more aligned with your long-term career goals and personal needs if you take time to think about your next move. What roles are relevant to you? What levels? Can you list your main strengths? Do you have evidence of achievements? Which employers appeal to you and why? Do you need some flexibility? Don't go near busy decision-makers until you have answers to all these questions.

Understanding your value

Are you are requesting a reasonable salary for your level of experience? Check that you are up to date on the industry average compensation for your role. Our Salary Guide provides useful insights into average salaries and bonuses for all levels in both in-house corporate communications teams and PR agencies. Note that some agencies might operate on different titles so do your research on the equivalent title for your role in the wider market and reference the correct title when working out your market salary.

Decide on your three main messages

Anyone who recommends you is likely to pass on only three or four items of information about you – your experience, ability and personality. Scrutinise the first few sentences of your CV. Make sure they are positive, memorable and clearly outline what you want to achieve. How likely is it that someone will repeat this information? Do you make clear what you have to offer and the kind of role you'd like to fill? Emphasise these messages in your CV, social media profile and what you say when networking.

Research before you search

Do your homework thoroughly before making any kind of approach, and if you're called to interview, make your research even more thorough. Don't just repeat information from the company's website – try to speak to people who know what the company is trying to achieve and the kind of people they're currently looking for. If you're trying to make a career change, seek out people who have made the leap before you. Look at what media coverage they have received.

Use a multi-channel approach

Make direct approaches to companies who are not currently advertising, build relationships with the right recruitment agencies, talk to people in interesting roles and sectors, and research like mad. Above all else, don't kid yourself that spending all day in front of a computer screen is the best use of your time; get in front of people too. At least once a week put on smart clothes, find someone to meet so you can practise talking about yourself and what you're looking for. It maintains your confidence levels and ensures you're remembered. Plus, if you’re not working, it gets you out of the house.

Is it worth applying to job adverts?

Adverts for communications roles on LinkedIn often attract many responses. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply but we would suggest that you only apply for the roles you are a ‘slam dunk’ for and tick EVERYTHING on the employer’s requirement list. More competition for roles means there are likely to be some people in the mix with everything the employer desires so don’t waste your time on anything leftfield. Be really selective.

Work with a search consultant

Search consultants tend to be a fair barometer of what is happening in the market so get some recommendations for good people to talk to. We are always happy to offer advice! Although remember, when the job market is challenging, it is not a time to rely solely on search consultancies; your network and a proactive approach are still vital to successfully securing a role.

Recruiters have a broader knowledge about the culture/offerings of lots of different companies and can give you fresh ideas for your job search. They can also help advise you on the level of compensation to ask for. If you aren’t sure whether there are openings at companies you are interested in, recruiters can discreetly ask for you, even without sharing your CV.

If you decide to work with an Executive Search firm, make sure you engage them early on in the process. The ideal timing would be before you start applying for roles. You are more likely to be successful in your search if you work with one search firm on an exclusive basis if they think that they can secure you a few well-matched interviews.

Keep going

Finally, finding a new job can take months, even years so you are going to need to pick yourself up and bounce back when people reject your CV and after interviews. It may not be plain sailing and it’s likely to take longer than you think. Keep going, stay determined to find a company and role which is right for you. Get clear on what’s important to you in your career and in an employer and if you have the luxury of time, keep going until you find it.

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