Job searching

Looking for work can be a daunting experience no matter how many jobs you have had or how long you have been out of work. Job descriptions can seem unachievable and you risk becoming demoralised by the high standards that employers ask for.

Make sure you plan your time and stick to a routine. When you are unemployed, finding work is your job, so get up, washed and dressed before 9am and give yourself tea breaks and lunch breaks to stay in work mode. Write down all your skills and likes / dislikes (be realistic about your dislikes!) and apply these to different sectors. Where else could you work? How could you apply your existing skills to something new?

Job searching can be done in many different ways and each person will have their own approach. Stay proactive and positive about your job search, keep looking for those sometimes hidden opportunities such as friends’ companies who may be hiring and notices in shop windows. In the meantime, build up your employability by gaining as much experience and as many skills as you can.

  • Top Ten Tips

    1. Check for vacancies everywhere! Online, newspapers, shop windows etc.
    2. Put the word out with friends and family, they may know of vacancies.
    3. Make sure your CV is up to date.
    4. Sign up to job alerts for companies you are interested in.
    5. Have you thought about who are the main employers in your area and getting in touch with them? Click here and check out our noticeboard for the latest vacancies.
    6. Try to network, meet people and make connections.
    7. You could gain some experience through volunteering.
    8. Make sure you have a sensible email address and voicemail for potential employers to contact you on.
    9. Take part in any free training that’s available.
    10. Stay positive and keep applying.
  • Useful Websites

    National Apprenticeship Service 
    The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) is where you can view and apply for Apprenticeships.

    Universal Jobmatch 
    Online job searching website

    Reed Online job searching and recruitment service. Also provides advice and guidance on a range of employment-related subjects

    NotgoingtoUni website for young people who are not going to University. It contains Apprenticeship opportunities, advice on training and debt-free education

    Indeed Useful and easy-to-use online job searching tool

Things to consider

If you are taking your CVs in to local employers, make an effort to dress smartly. Even though it is not an interview you definitely don’t want to introduce yourself in jeans and a t-shirt.

The equivalent of dropping in with your CV for office environments might be to call the employer for an informal chat to discuss their requirements and ask smart, well-researched questions about the company.

You can find directories of local businesses using Google or the online Yellow Pages.

If you are telephoning businesses, make sure you sound bright, energetic, polite and happy on the phone. If you slouch in your chair, sigh and your signal is poor, the employer will simply stop bothering to listen.

  • Do's and Don'ts

    Do’s and don’ts

    • Do bear in mind that a job description or person specification is an employer’s ‘wish list’. Carefully study the job description and person specification and if there are only two or three minor aspects that you are missing, take your time to complete a considered and thorough application, stating how you would address the missing aspects. Employers will appreciate the effort you have demonstrated in understanding what they are asking for and may interview you based on your initiative and quality application.
    • Don’t underestimate the power of turning up in person – whilst this may not be so effective for a call centre or an office, calling into local businesses to ask if there are any vacancies shows initiative and means that the first impression you make is not based on your CV.
    • Do check your voicemail message – it should be professional, state your name and not be humorous or confusing. Also, if you have set your phone to play music to the caller while it rings, switch this off.
    • Do work smarter – it is easy to sit in front of the computer looking for jobs and get distracted by emails and YouTube. Before you know it, you have been online for four hours and have only applied for two jobs! This can be very draining but also fools you into thinking that you are working harder than you are. Work smart and assign yourself smaller chunks of internet time to job search and only check emails and social networks in-between these times.
    • Do ask your friends. If you have friends who are doing well in their jobs, the chances are a recommendation from them to their manager would be well received.
    • Do offer to do a free work trial – this is not always possible for larger companies who have central HR processes, but for smaller organisations this is a good way for you and an employer to see if you are a good fit for the job. Offering to prove yourself for free shows real enthusiasm and commitment to the role but be wary – a work trial should be for a short period of time and there should be a job opportunity at the end of it. Always let your Jobcentre Advisor know if you are offered a work trial so that your interests are protected.
    • Do be aware of your online presence – employers are. When is the last time you Googled yourself? You might be surprised to see what comes up. Make sure any online employment profiles like Linkedin or Reed match the CV you are sending out and the dates you are putting on application forms. Write to, or email, any sites who are displaying old or unflattering information. This includes any political or controversial comments you may have made on forums. Make sure your social networks are set to the highest privacy settings – your future boss does not need to see pictures of ‘that night out’.

    Change Facebook privacy settings 

    Protect your tweets

    Creating secret boards on Pinterest

    Change your Google+ privacy settings

    Change your Tumblr settings

    VK User preferences and privacy settings FAQ

    Be available for interview. You never know when an employer may call you in last-minute for an interview. Make sure your interview clothes are washed and pressed, shoes are shiny and you’re ready to go. Keep socialising to outside of business hours and always call numbers back promptly.

  • Have you thought about an Apprenticeship?

    Another route to consider is an “earn while you learn” apprenticeship – want to know more? See the FAQs below and see whether an apprenticeship is the right choice for you

     I’m too old for an apprenticeship

    Anybody over the age of 16 can apply for an apprenticeship. There is funding available to employers for younger applicants however there are still some apprenticeships open to older people and some employers are prepared to pay the learner fees for older apprentice applicants.

    In short – you do not know if you are too old for an apprenticeship until you ask the employer. Be aware that apprenticeship wages are exempt from National Minimum Wage and be sure you can afford to commit to one before you accept.

     I didn’t get any qualifications from school – can I still do an apprenticeship?

    Different apprenticeships have different entry requirements, however, if you do not have your basic Maths and English qualifications you may find it hard to find an employer who will take you on. Don’t panic! You may qualify for a Traineeship – a mini-apprenticeship which equips you with English & Maths qualifications and is designed to help you get an apprenticeship. For more information on Traineeships see here

    What happens if I can’t handle the coursework?

    You will be assigned a tutor through the training provider who is there to help you pass. If you are struggling, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell your manager and our tutor so that you can get the support you need. If you are seriously concerned about your ability to work and study you may find that a traineeship would prepare you for an apprenticeship.

    What if I find a job before my apprenticeship ends?

    Nothing will happen to you if you find a job before your apprenticeship ends however you should not use an apprenticeship for work experience if you have no intention of committing to the term of the apprenticeship. You can find advice on this website about how to gain work experience through placements, work experience programmes and volunteering, for example. You should also consider your professional development. An Apprenticeship equips you with relevant qualifications which will form the foundation of a career.

    Who do I speak to about apprenticeships?

    You might wish to discuss apprenticeships in detail with the Apprenticeship helpline Telephone: 0800 015 0400 or 0247 682 6482 or email 

    Alternatively, you can contact your local Employment & Skills Representative for more information

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