July 3, 2020, by Katie Andrews

Advice for job seekers series: Do your research

There’s no question that the current pandemic and the responses to it have been devastating for many; not only in human health terms but economically too.  Many people have found themselves unexpectedly looking for work in a jobs market that has markedly changed in a relatively short time.

For those looking for work for the first time in many years, it may be a whole new ball game.  Understanding how the recruitment and selection process may have changed is key to being prepared for seeking and applying for new roles.

In a series of daily blogs, Dr Terri Simpkin, Associate Professor at the Nottingham University Business School, and former Human Resources Director, provides some insight and tips on navigating modern job search practices.

It’s recruitment, but not as you knew it.

In the not too distant past, job hunting was often characterised by pounding the pavement dropping off CVs, letters of introduction or personal resumes to businesses that might be looking to hire new employees.

Not anymore.

Even prior to lockdown, it was highly unlikely that organisations, particularly chains or larger firms, would accept unsolicited applications ‘in store’ or via branches.  The recruitment and selection process has largely been centralised or outsourced and at least in part, automated and managed online.

This means your approach to finding a new job might need to be updated to suit the ways in which organisations manage their hiring practices and to improve your chances of finding and getting the job you want.*

*(The move to online recruitment and selection methods assumes that applicants have access to hardware such as a laptop, desktop computer or a smart device as well as reliable internet access to engage with the application process.  This may be a disadvantage, so be prepared to seek assistance from friends, family or community groups that may be able to help.)

In the first instalment, Dr Simpkin talks research – but not the academic kind!

Advice for job seekers: Do your research

There are many online job sites that will offer the opportunity to search and apply for jobs.  Use these sites to get familiar with what jobs are available and what employers are looking for.  Be prepared to tailor your applications to fit the role you want.  Generalised applications designed for a ‘one size fits all’ approach may not get past the shortlisting process.

Be aware that your application may not even be seen by an actual person until after the initial screening process.  Automated methods are often used to whittle down the number of applications and ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) based tools may be looking for certain phases, terms and content that matches with the selection criteria for that particular role.

Quick Tip – Use the language as used in the job advertisement or like what you find in similar roles on job sites (e.g. TotalJobs, CV Library, Monster etc). Avoid quirky terms like ‘expert number cruncher’ or ‘marketing wizard’ or ‘super-duper service star’ (and yes, I’ve seen all these in job applications over the years!).

Also, use the resources that many of these sites offer.  There are whole libraries full of good advice, examples of cover letters and CVs as well as hints and tips for interviews, for example. Best of all, it’s freely available.

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