Did you know that interview coaching is my #1 service as a Career Coach? It goes to show that whether you are applying for your first job, searching for a new challenge or have been made redundant, you’re not alone in looking for some guidance to help you take the next step in your career. From finding job opportunities you’re excited to apply for to impressing interviewers, the job search process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!

There are 6 main stages of the recruitment process that you need to know about and I’ve outlined my top tips for each, breaking down what recruiters are looking for and what you can do to end up with a job offer you’re happy to accept. So, here is the complete guide to getting your next job. 

Stage 1: What Are You Looking For?

It’s hard to find a job you’ll enjoy if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You could apply for similar roles as previous jobs or you could decide to do something a bit different, exploring jobs in a sector you haven’t worked in before or positions with more seniority. Take this as an opportunity to reflect on what you want for your next job and where you see your career going. I suggest you make a list of your top priorities to use as criteria when looking for jobs. This can include the job responsibilities and scope, the compensation you will receive and the organisation you will be working for. 

When deciding what you want to do for your next job, looking at your strengths profile can be really helpful. It’s an assessment that determines the skills you are really good at and enjoy the most. These are your strengths as they lead to high performance and job satisfaction. Identify your strengths by answering these coaching questions or booking a Strengths Profile assessment. Being able to name your strengths will help you to find job opportunities that suit you and describe why you’re a good candidate in your applications and at interviews. 

The same goes for knowing your workplace motivations. It’s really informative when looking at jobs because it tells you what kind of work you will be motivated to do. Would you thrive in a collaborative environment or one where you have the freedom to work independently? Would you succeed in a role where you have a lot of responsibility or one that feels meaningful? The Motivational Maps assessment will identify your top motivators and therefore what to look for in your next job. 

Add your strengths, motivations and any other non-negotiables or preferences for your next job to your criteria list and you’re ready to seek out job openings. 

Stage 2: How To Find Job Opportunities

When looking for job opportunities, the first places people go to are Indeed, LinkedIn and other popular job boards but they aren’t your only options. You might find better opportunities on industry or sector-specific job boards. Look up relevant recruiters because they often list the jobs they are advertising on their websites and social media. 

Don’t forget to let people know you are looking for a job and the kind of opportunities you’d like to be put forward for. This is a great time to go networking, especially in industry groups. Get the word out because you never know who other people know. Update your LinkedIn profile so it’s easy for recruiters to find you and connections to recommend you. 

When you are using job boards, make the most of them. Avoid searching for your current job title unless you are looking for exactly the same role. Searching for job titles isn’t the best way to find job opportunities anyway because they’re inconsistent. Search for keywords related to the kind of role you’re looking for and read the job description before deciding whether it would work for you. In general, I encourage my clients to widen their search criteria so they have the full picture of the jobs on the market. 

When looking for jobs, have an open mind about where you will find opportunities (it could be a job board, LinkedIn message or conversation at networking) and what roles you’d be good at. Your perfect next job might not have the job title you think it has!

Stage 3: How to Get Interviews

What I say to everyone about applications is their purpose is to get you an interview. Write your application with that in mind. Make it really clear that you have potential when it comes to the specific role at the specific company you are applying for. Tell them who you are as a candidate, what you have to offer and the impact you could make in the role. 

I know it’s tempting to panic apply for jobs, especially if you’re not getting results, but you’ll do yourself a disservice. Being more strategic and targeted gives you a much better chance of receiving an invitation to interview because you’ve taken the time to build a strong case for why you should be interviewed. I’ve written an application strategy you can follow which includes how to tailor your CV and application to each job. 

As for CV mistakes to avoid, being vague will always switch off recruiters. Focus on your achievements because they demonstrate the impact you have made. That’s the most important part of your previous experience. No one wants to read a boring list of responsibilities. They want to know the results you were able to get. Make clear connections between what you’ve achieved and the requirements in the job description. Even if a past job or qualification doesn’t seem relevant, there will be some kind of transferable skill you can highlight. 

When talking about your experience, always use action words – even better if they’re action words pulled from the job ad. They make your CV interesting and clearly communicate your impact. You could even provide evidence of your capabilities by including testimonials that describe what you were able to achieve. 

Most importantly, stay motivated even when you don’t hear anything back. Stick to the application strategy and keep going. As long as you keep submitting tailored applications with specific links between your experience and the job description, you will get interviews. 

Stage 4: How to Prepare for Interviews

If you have been invited to an interview, congratulations that means they think you’re a good candidate for the job! But don’t make the mistake of relying on your application to get you through the interview stage. Sometimes candidates with less qualifications get the job because they had a better interview than more experienced candidates. 

Start by preparing answers to common interview questions such as:

Think about industry or role specific questions they might ask as well. You don’t need to learn your answers by heart. What is important is that you have a bank of examples you can use to prove your capabilities and enthusiasm. The STAR model is a great way to structure your examples. 

Don’t stop at coming up with answers to interview questions. Practice your answers out loud. This won’t only help with memory but ensure your answers flow well so you aren’t put off by stumbling over your words during the interview. For a full guide on how to prepare for interviews, read my book Be Better Prepared for Interview Success. Grab the free chapter on explaining why you want the job. 

The best way to improve is to seek out feedback on your interview performance. Other people will notice things you don’t such as a nervous habit or an example that could be explained better. Objective feedback is one of the main reasons clients book interview coaching sessions with me. 

Interview preparation involves researching questions, prepping answers that include examples, practising your answer and getting feedback on what you can do even better. Finally, if you’re not sure what to wear to your interview, I talked to a stylist about how to send the right signals with your style. Check it out for some interview outfit ideas

Stage 5: What To Do on the Day of the Interview

On the day of the interview, you will feel nervous. That’s fine but it doesn’t have to impact your interview performance. There are lots of things you can do to keep yourself calm such as journaling, breathing exercises, time management and warming up beforehand. I’ve got a list of interview relaxation tips you can try out.

During the interview, don’t make any assumptions about what the interviewers know about you. They might not have read or remember your CV. Make it really easy for them to understand why you’d be a good fit by reiterating your application and going into more detail. 

Don’t forget about the value of being enthusiastic about the job. Show your passion in your body language and your answers. A strong why is really compelling for recruiters. This is what one of my clients said about explaining their motivation during an interview: 

“Not only did she refresh my memory of good interview technique, she also taught me new ways of handling common interview questions, helping me to stand-out as a candidate. In fact, I found out after my interview that one specific piece of advice Sarah gave me – in relation to speaking openly about what motivates/excites me in interview – had really impressed the panel. I am so pleased to say that, with Sarah’s help, I was successful in securing the first job I interviewed for.” Ruth

Stage 6: How to Follow up from an Interview

Here are four effective strategies for following up after an interview:

  1. Send a Thank-You Email: Within 24 hours of your interview, send a personalized thank-you email to the interviewer. Express gratitude for the opportunity, mention specific topics discussed during the interview, and reiterate your enthusiasm for the role. This helps reinforce your interest and keeps you top of mind.
  2. Connect on LinkedIn: If you haven’t done so already, consider sending a LinkedIn connection request to the interviewer with a brief, polite message thanking them for the interview. This keeps you connected professionally and allows them to see your ongoing career achievements and interests.
  3. Follow Up at the Right Time: If you were given a timeline for the hiring decision and the deadline has passed, it’s appropriate to send a follow-up email. Politely inquire about the status of your application and reiterate your continued interest in the position. This demonstrates persistence and enthusiasm without being pushy.
  4. Send Additional Materials: If relevant, follow up by sending additional materials that could strengthen your application. This could include a portfolio, references, or a brief summary of your ideas for the role. This shows initiative and a proactive approach to securing the position

 

That concludes my overview of how to do your best at every stage of the recruitment and interview process. There’s a lot you can’t control about finding your next job such as competition for a job or going up against internal candidates. Focus on what you can control – impressing potential employers at every stage. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get invited to an interview after your first application or you’ll be offered the job after your first interview. But you will get another job because you know how to demonstrate your capabilities, value and impact during each step of the process. 

If you are worried about any of the stages of the recruitment process, I can help. During a career coaching session, we can look at your strengths, motivations and what you want to do next as well as your application strategy. Book an interview coaching session for personalised guidance, interview practice and objective feedback on how to be a stand-out candidate. If you’re not sure what you need, book a free consultation

Remember everything to do with careers is learnable!

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