Finding a new job: a step-by-step strategy to help you succeed

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Article by Alison Wilde and Jo Hind, Birdsoup

As each day seems to bring news of more job losses in the UK, the reality of finding a new job is becoming all too real for thousands of people.

Many industries are effectively shut or shutting down due to the Covid restrictions, creating a ripple effect on countless related sectors and businesses. Budgets are being cut and redundancies are being made in a bid to keep companies afloat during the next few months. In times like these, it is difficult to feel secure about your job and this can lead to a range of behaviours, many of which are not helpful.

In our experience, there are broadly two typical responses to job loss: paralysis or frenzy. Those who feel paralysed by the idea of losing their job and finding a new one may find it difficult to accept what is happening. They will be secretly hoping that it’s not true, that the situation will change and, during this time, they will not do anything to start their job search. Those who get into a frenzy do exactly the opposite. Within hours of finding out they will be made redundant, they have updated their CV, and in a matter of days, they’ll have a number of job applications submitted. But what’s problematic with these behaviours?

Well, doing nothing is fine for a while – but how long you maintain this state is crucial. While it’s important to have a break to gain perspective, too much time can cause you to lose momentum and confidence. Frenzied activity may pay off for some people however, in our experience, job hunting takes longer in difficult economic times – meaning you can burn out or lose faith. Ultimately, it’s about knowing how to pace yourself.

What should you do if you have lost your job or feel this could be a possibility? There are a few things that need to be taken into account in order to develop your job-hunting strategy:

  1. Is your sector still hiring?
  2. How much time do you have before you need to find a job?
  3. What do you have to offer prospective employers?

Finding out the answers to these questions takes time, but if you follow a simple process you will be better prepared and have a good strategy to follow to find a new role.

Step One: Research the job market

There are hundreds of online resources available to job seekers – from LinkedIn through to specialist job sites. If you’re looking for a similar job in the same industry, research it thoroughly.

Identify the companies that are hiring, the types of roles they are looking for and any obvious career moves. If your industry isn’t hiring at the moment, you need to think more laterally. Are there industries that are linked or associated with yours in some way that would provide opportunities? If so, then do the due diligence and find out as much as you can about individual companies and what they are looking for. If you feel you need to change careers then bear in mind that this can take a long time to achieve. Set yourself realistic goal sand expectations.

Step Two: Get up to speed

Pull together an up-to-date picture of the skills, strengths and experience you have to offer. Use a strengths tool (such as VIA strengths, or Wingfinder) to discover the ones you use most.

You should think about how you apply them at work and the behaviours you demonstrate. Draw together all of the skills you have. If you’re struggling then ask colleagues, family members and friends as they may see something you don’t. Include softer skills (like communication) rather than focusing on hard skills (such as Excel). Experience-wise, make sure you include non-work-related experiences – it’s surprising how many of us forget that they are just as valuable!

If you need to make a career shift, then do some work identifying your transferable skills (i.e. the skills you have that would be applicable in other job sectors).

Step Three: Mind the gap

Do you have any knowledge gaps? If so, work out what you need to plug them. Do you need training or to get more experience? Research the ways you can get what you need. Be creative, use your network to find out exactly what is on offer for you. The internet is a treasure trove of free or cheap online resources and courses you can complete in your spare time.

Step Four: Check your resources

This is where you need to get realistic. Work out how long you have in financial terms to find a job. Identify the people that may be able to help you (within all of your networks), not just in finding a job, but with getting relevant information, support or gaining relevant experience. If you feel you need to do some training, how long will that take? Once you have a realistic picture of your personal situation, then take some time (if you can) to do the work in order to get yourself into a strong position to interview.

Ideally, you should do all of the steps above before you begin applying for roles. By doing so, you will have a truly current picture of what you have to offer prospective employers, as well as a targeted job-hunting strategy. This will give you confidence and avoid wasting valuable time, helping you stay focused.

You may not be successful the first time, but be insistent about getting feedback on all aspects of your application so you can refine and adapt your approach until you are.

Jo Hind, Alison Wilde, BirdsoupAbout the authors

Birdsoup is a career consultancy founded by Alison Wilde and Jo Hind. Their mission is to help women succeed in the workplace, at every step of their career. Recognising that personal development is the responsibility of two people, they offer coaching, training and mentoring to employees and employers alike. Get in touch via the website.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

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