Job-hunting: Organisation is crucial

Redundancy is a reality facing many workers in the tech sector - but there are ways to make job-hunting more organised and productive

Six weeks ago, Paul (not his real name) was made redundant from a senior position in a global IT firm. He had been there five years and had risen through the company to a level where he was responsible for implementing complex IT projects and managing staff across several countries. His company was hit hard by the recession and after three rounds of redundancies, his entire department was axed. Speaking about the experience of being laid off, he said: "Redundancy was a real kick in the guts." After the initial shock Paul set out to find a job in a determined and methodical way. Use his tips to learn how to find a job in a recession. You need to be focused
Firstly,don't panic. Easy to say, but the reality is that once the shock wears off, you have to be focused. It really is a full-time job to just look for jobs. Be flexible
This is vital. Remember there are a lot of candidates all out for the same job, so you have to be flexible over factors such as location and salary. Work out your minimum salary, accepting that in these times, this may be a reduction from the one you are leaving behind. If you say this (and also offer to relocate) it gives you a greater opportunity. Try not to box yourself in by saying you won't take on any salary other than what you are on now. The greater the flexibility the better chance you have, and agencies don't appreciate someone who will not budge. Look at current CV trends
Work on your CV. It's vital that you change the CV to reflect the current norms. Change it to two pages, include a profile paragraph at the beginning and make yourself marketable. You have to sell yourself. The agency will get hundreds of CVs a day, so you must hit the spot immediately. Many CVs get put straight into a database and are never seen again, so you need to get them interested enough to pick up the phone and call you. Once the CV is complete, you need to put it out. This means registering with various sites, which means giving out personal information. It doesn't matter about the size of the recruitment agent. It's a gamble from now on, and the recruiters may be good or bad. Organise yourselfNext, draw up a spreadsheet. This means you have to enter every job applied for, contact name/number, agency, when you called, when to follow up and a brief history of the outcome. It's vital you do this because you will get calls from agencies and you need to be on the ball. Have the spreadsheet open and ready. Register with a site, enter project management as your specialty for example and you'll get daily or weekly emails with your specified area. Two minutes or twenty
When you see a job you like, note the name, contact number and position. Instead of sending an email cover letter with your CV, ring them up and ask if the job is still available and -- this is the key -- ask if they have two minutes to talk about you regarding the job. Use a conversational, "just enquiring if this position would suit me," approach. If they are interested, two minutes will become 20 and from there you will get an idea if you have a chance with the job. Don't be surprised if the job has mysteriously gone or is a victim of budget cuts. It's possible that they just want your CV in their database, so it is better to ask. Remember they will get at least 100 (and sometimes more) applicants all applying for that one role, so you have to be good and quick thinking. Most of the time the named agent will give you his personal email address rather than the generic one. This is a good sign. The waiting game
Next, it's a waiting game, so give them a few days to think it over (update your spreadsheet). If recruiters say they will call you back in the afternoon and don't, give them a couple of days before you call them back. Hassling people will backfire. Understanding the fine line between being persistent and annoying people is important. Use the broadsheets, TV job shops, Internet, friends, local newspapers. Don't concentrate on one medium as jobs are advertised everywhere. It's up to you to find them. Three types of recruiters

  • Type One: Disorganised and say they will call you back but never do. In some instances they even assume multiple identities to ward off unwelcome callers who appear to be 'hassling' them. In Paul's case, this type of recruiter also failed to arrange a second interview even though the company asked for it. Call them at least once a week to start with, but if they don't sound positive then forget them. At all times be pleasant. You never know, they might call you for something else or you may have to apply for a totally different job and use the same agent.
  • Type Two: Proactive and creative. They call you back once a week. This is not typical though, but if one says "call me back in a couple of weeks..." this is still better than nothing. A pleasant follow-up call is useful but bear in mind that if the original job you applied for has gone, there may be something else. A good agent may tell you if something similar has just arrived. Again that is a good sign. Try building up a rapport: ("How are you? Good weekend?", etc). This makes it more personal and friendly. If they like you, they'll remember you and if they remember you, you may get contacted again.
  • Type Three: The best agencies. Here the agency will interview you to get plenty of information about you, and then send your details to a list of the clients they have contacts with. These companies may not have positions, but the agent will sell you to the company as an interesting asset. However, this is a long-term play, which may tale longer than anticipated.
At the interview
Read up on the usual techniques about interviewing. Ask the right questions about the company -- do your homework (use the Internet to find out as much as you can about them) and bring it all along. Some important advice: bring some work you have done; presentations, documents, plans, etc., and show them what you have done. Skim through them; they will be interested. It's a great visual way of showing what you have done, and they will ask you questions about this. It also breaks up the interview -- rather than just talking about things, they have something visual to see. The golden question
Your last question -- the golden question -- ask if they have any concerns about the position and you as the candidate. This is a great way of turning the table, but it will give you an instant idea if you are in with a chance. You are basically asking them if they think you are good enough for the job. Their response and body language will be a good indication. If they do have any concerns, you can deal with them straight away, rather than leave a lingering thought in their mind. Once you've got the job
Use the recruitment agent to negotiate the salary. Write down all the concerns about the job (pay rise or drop, notice period, relocation package, etc.). Remember, it's as much to the benefit of the recruitment agent as it is to you, so they will help you get the best out of the company. The worst that the company can say is no. If necessary speak to the HR manager of the company and get all the concerns and questions answered. Its better to find out before you sign the contract. There is work out there, but it depends on your will and desire to get the job. If you are really determined to get a job, you'll get it, but it's hard work, time-consuming and not easy. But the rewards are there. It will pay off.

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