It is said that looking for a job is a full time job in itself. It takes a lot of commitment, time and thought. This is particularly true at the moment as recruitment is slow and the talent pool of available, skilled HR professionals is large. Candidates need to be switched-on and proactive if they want a job at all, let alone a good one.
The good news is that there are lots of options available. Gone are the days when it was a matter of going through your phone book for old contacts and signing up with a few recruitment agencies. Now there are also job boards and social media sites. But which option is best for you? The important thing is to understand the different options, and know which is most likely to yield success and how to approach the whole process. And then keep an open mind.
"The best advice is to use a number of different avenues," says Nicola Grimshaw, executive director at HR recruiters, Digby Morgan. Recruitment agencies have a lot to offer so find out which agencies operate in your field and the locality you want to work in and sign up with a few. Do your research before you choose an agency and it is worthwhile meeting up with the recruiters themselves so that both parties can get a good feel for each other. Keep in regular contact so that you are in the front of their mind when relevant opportunities come through.
Agencies can also be valuable sources of information about market rates; who is hiring; who is firing where demand is and so on. "If you use specialist HR recruiters, you can get up-to-date information on salary levels, advice on who is hiring and on the skill sets being sought," says Grimshaw.
There are many career websites that offer this kind of information as well, such as personneltoday.com. Online job boards are also a good resource, although some are better than others. "Positions will be advertised on online job boards and for this reason it is important to have a good understanding of where the best jobs are located online," says Steve White, HR manager at recruitment consultancy Badenoch & Clark.
Some job boards also offer more than just a list of vacancies, with many offering career advice, jobseeking tips and areas where site users can interact with each other. But the online method that everyone has been talking about is the use of social networking sites, the prime one being LinkedIn. These sites have transformed the face of recruitment. Recruiters and organisations are looking at sites such as LinkedIn for candidates and are advertising on them. This is particularly true for senior level recruitment. "If organisations are looking for senior managers, director, divisional director and so on, very few of these roles are advertised on job boards now," says Mervyn Dinnen, HR recruiter and blogger. "Companies prefer to go to a recruiter or get someone internally to find someone through LinkedIn. In fact, at senior level, being found is more important than going looking."
Facebook is less relevant for senior level jobseekers, but still important for those earlier on in their HR career. Organisations and recruiters are more likely to target groups through Facebook, rather than individuals - such as looking for graduates from a particular university or people living in a certain area.
If you are on LinkedIn or Facebook already, make sure your profile is up to date, that there is no unsuitable material on it and that it reflects where you want to be career-wise, as well as where you are now.
Then use these sites as the networking tools they are. "Look up people you used to work with and people you studied CIPD with," says Dinnen. "If you are not connected with them, get connected. If you are connected, send them a message. When you are looking for a job you need to engage with everyone you know. You will find people you barely know sending you job ads or making recommendations."
Recommendation and referral have always been important ways to find a job. Otherwise known as word of mouth, this is why it is important to be out there letting people know you are jobseeking so that they know to recommend a job to you or recommend you to a job. This can be done online, through sites like LinkedIn, through calling up old contacts and through old-fashioned networking such as going to industry events and going to networking forums. Being visible is key, whether you are actively and openly seeking a job or just touting around to see what is out there.