Following years of doom and gloom surrounding the state of the UK economy, we finally heard some good news last week from the National Careers Service. Recent research has found that the nation is becoming more confident in their jobs, and the level of opportunities open to them. The first ever Job Confidence Index Survey looks at various different elements of employment, such as experience, qualifications and opportunities. It has revealed that nearly three quarters of people (74%)* have maintained the same level of confidence, or have become more so, in their job, and nearly two thirds of employed people feel they could find a new job within six months.
Whilst it is great to hear that those in work are confident about their prospects, the fact remains that the job market is still highly competitive. For those who find themselves unemployed, for reasons such as redundancy or looking for that first coveted first job, it may be daunting and overwhelming to know how to get out there and into interviews.
There are a few key things to consider when looking for a job. Networking is hugely valuable and it is worth turning to friends and past colleagues to let people know you are looking for work. Make sure you research the market you are interested in to ensure your skills and personality match the industry requirements - and be open to the idea that you may need to gain additional qualifications.
As well as careers advice the National Careers Service can help identify relevant courses. This is also a good opportunity to check out a couple of specific companies to see what they've been doing recently and familiarise yourself with the latest industry news.Creativity is important when looking for work - not every opportunity will be posted online, so it's important to cast your search much wider by looking up and contacting companies.
Once you've decided what you want to do next, it's really important to dedicate a bit of time to updating your CV. I'm frequently asked for help and advice in CV writing and the two most common questions are about format and length. A great CV should be no more than two pages and should include key information about your skills and qualifications. Remember - this is your first chance to make an impression so think carefully about your strengths, and please, no spelling or grammar mistakes! If you're really stuck, then visit the CV Builder website, which will help you put together all of your information.
You may think that once you've done all this the hard work is over, but hopefully, if you've followed my tips you'll have interviews to prepare for. Cue more research. So that you can get an idea of what will be expected of you, look specifically at both the company you are interviewing with and look for information about the job you are applying for. It sounds like common sense, but you wouldn't believe how many people go into an interview woefully underprepared. It's also worth having a line ready for general interview questions, such as what are your strengths and weaknesses and why you want the job. It's ok to be nervous and need a moment to gather your thoughts before answering a question, but these are things that you really should know already.
Finally, and after all of your hard work, the day of the interview arrives. Hopefully you'll have had time to research and practice your route so that you turn up on time. Research has found that in the first few minutes of an interview the majority of the interviewer's opinion is formed based on how you look, act and sound** so make sure you are dressed smartly, and please, turn off your mobile phone. If I find it rude that you aren't giving me your undivided attention when it comes to career advice, I can assure you it won't be well received by a potential employer.
Looking for a job is a job in itself but if you follow these simple common sense steps, you should be well on your way to getting your foot on the ladder. Let's try and get that last quarter of people feeling positive about their job prospects before the next Job Confidence Index survey.
The National Careers Service supports, encourages and inspires people at every stage of their working life by providing the right tools and advice on the right steps at the right time.
Through online tools, web chats, telephone and face-to-face advice, the National Careers Service help people to improve their job prospects and take control of their careers and working lives. Visit the National Careers Service website for further information or free career advice.
* ICM interviewed a random sample of 4,002 adults aged 18+ in England online between 25 and 29 July 2013. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For further information, visit www.icmresearch.com