Often in the enthusiasm of getting to the job market, job seekers forget to consider the top two essentials needed to be successful. There is a flurry of activity to dust off the CV, track down relevant recruiters and look up old contacts, which are all necessary, but the order of priority may be a bit skewed.

The two things you need to know intimately BEFORE going to market are:

  1. Know what you want
  2. Know what you offer


Know what you want

It may sound a little obvious, but before searching for a role you have to know what you are looking for. Often when people change roles they can take the opportunity to shift their requirements, so what impact does that have on location, salary, career prospects etc? Have you researched the market and can you identify all the criteria that you are looking for?

When talking with any network contact they will always ask you what it is that you are looking for. Best to have an answer! Why? Well people can only really help you if you offer them a degree of clarity. If you go out with a ‘jack of all trades’ message, it is extremely hard for people to narrow that down into something specific – that’s a job for you to do. It is of the utmost importance when approaching a recruitment business. They need to be able to code you and be able to ‘label’ you. The more specific you can be, the more clarity they have, which makes it easier for them to help you. I understand that there are often grey areas but try and bring as much focus to your offering as possible.

The result of you determining this clarity is a statement that anyone can understand and immediately be able to comprehend what you are looking for.

This clarity also allows you to be really focused when you reach the interview stage. If the role fits your job preference then you will be able to demonstrate your passion for the subject and convey well thought out reasons as to why you want that type of role, how your strengths fit with the role and how this move would enhance your career. That’s far more persuasive than those who haven’t given it due thought!


Know what you offer


If preparation is the key to success, then self awareness is the key to preparation. This is so important! In my view enhanced self awareness makes the difference between a good and a great candidate.

Before approaching the market you will need to be really clear about your skills, strengths, weaknesses, values, background and aspirations. These will be asked about and challenged along your job seeking journey, so being able to articulate them is essential.

Look at old appraisals, request feedback, look at your recommendations on LinkedIn or work with a career coach to recognise these factors. Get to know what makes you a great asset to any business, how culturally you may fit with an organisation and what makes you expert in your field. Work out what makes you different and more attractive to the employer; knowledge of this is a great confidence booster.

Importantly know your background – scrutinise your CV and ensure you are comfortable talking someone through your career chronologically, highlighting the relevant strengths required in the role you have applied for. I’ve always been amazed by the number of candidates who don’t easily recall their career dates and details. Make it fluent and engaging!

When, and only when, you can confidently articulate these two essential areas should you go to the job market. Go too soon and you may have a false start and create an incorrect first impression – get it right and you have every chance of substantially foreshortening your job search. Good Luck!

At The Career Gym we are proud of the many success stories our clients share with us; those who have worked with us to get these messages right. If we can help you or a friend, please make contact.