How to widen your job search for HR roles

Q I have been looking for a job in HR for several months now and want to expand my search. I have only been looking in trade publications and the national press. Do you have any job hunting secrets that would help me build up my application potential beyond this?

A The hidden way in for jobseekers does exist, but it’s hard work. Begin with the basics – how much are you doing to find the right job, and how much of what you are doing gets in the way? A great many people I see actively put obstacles in the way to finding a job – a lukewarm CV, poor messages in covering letters and at interview, and a general lacklustre approach.

The first job search secret is to have a really strong, focused message about what you have to offer and what you’re looking for. If you’ve got that, your job search period will be weeks rather than months. Sharpen up your first impression: what you say in covering letters and e-mails, the first half of the first page of your CV, and most importantly of all, what you say to others who ask the question “what are you looking for?”

Learn the art of a 30-second job search statement: “I’m looking for a job which allows me to do A and B and C in an organisation doing X and Y and Z”. If people only remember your enthusiasm, you’re still remembered. Memorise the statement and use it regularly – it is far more effective than any CV.

There is no single job search method that works on its own. Do everything, and make sure you keep all the plates spinning at the same time.

Build up your recruiter contacts so you have 15 to 20 who you speak to regularly and with whom you are on first name terms. Identify the target companies you’d kill to work for, and send them a strong CV topped by a focused letter which spells out the overlap between what they need and who you are. Use the internet wisely.

And network like mad. This doesn’t mean exploiting all your contacts, but simply asking for help. Adopt a style that’s just on the edge of your comfort zone, use your 30-second statement regularly, and you’ll start to become visible in the hidden job market.

By John Lees, career strategist and author

John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career coaches and the author of the best-selling How To Get A Job You’ll Love (McGraw-Hill).The book is now available in its 2007-08 edition. Click here for more information.

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