In a tough jobs market, it can be difficult to know where to start when trying to find work, particularly if you have been unemployed for a while.
Next month, Prospects Events will host the Adult Skills London exhibition at Brompton Hall in Earls Court, bringing together employers, education and training providers, charities and voluntary sector organisations, professional bodies and advice organisations.
The aim of the event is to bridge the skills gap in the capital and also help jobseekers visiting the show to gain direct contact with people who will be able to advise them on how to compete effectively within the current jobs market, as well as gain better qualifications and enhance their employability.
With Adult Skills being free to attend, it will no doubt be seen as a valuable opportunity by many jobseekers looking to get some tips and advice.
In the meantime, we spoke to careers expert Lisette Howlett, founder and managing director of HireScores.com, an independent resource for information and feedback on all aspects of the recruitment experience, to get her guidance for applicants.
Ms Howlett said that anyone who has been out of work for a while needs to start by thinking about what they want to do, the sectors they want to work in and whether their current skills are transferrable to their chosen career.
“The next step is thinking about what they need to do during their period of unemployment to make themselves look employable and attractive to employers and to build examples that will support their skillset,” she said.
Work experience and qualifications are the two key areas that recruiters look for in applications, according to the expert.
“In a difficult jobs market then employers will generally use more pre-selection barriers, perhaps two or three things that would potentially screen out 50 per cent of the candidates without having to read their CVs,” she said, highlighting credentials and experience as the two main areas.
Ms Howlett recommended voluntary work as a great way of gaining general practical skills that employers are looking for.
“What I usually advise people who have been out of work or students who have just finished their education when it comes to work experience is to think about trying to do some voluntary activities as these can demonstrate admin skills, organisational skills, leadership skills,” she said.
“Of course work experience can also get you into companies which might subsequently have a job for you,” she added.
When it comes to qualifications, applicants need to research the kind of credentials that they will need to enter their chosen career, according to the expert.
So, for example, anyone looking to work in accounting or finance will probably need to undertake bookkeeping courses to gain the expertise necessary, or if you wanted to get a job in the secretarial profession, they may want to enrol on a minute taking course or a typing course.
Alternatively, if they were thinking of specialising within a career they are already working in, such as going from an administrative professional to becoming a medical or a legal secretary they would need to undergo specialist courses, such as legal training, for example.
“Speak to recruiters and see what they say and phone prospective employers,” Ms Howlett recommended.
“Equally you can do things like scan job adverts on company websites or job boards and phone up to ask for information about what qualifications and experience people would be looking for in suitable candidates,” she suggested.
Your college or training provider can also be a good place to get work experience, according to the expert.
Writing A CV.
When it comes to writing a CV, you need to make sure you customise your resume to the job you are applying for, according to Ms Howlett.
“One of the mistakes that many people make is to take a ‘mailshotting’ approach and then you lose quality for volume.
Finding work is almost a job in its own right, so be systematic, be organised and do your research beforehand,” she said.
Using recruitment firms to help you in your search is also advisable, Ms Howlett said, recommending that jobseekers select between three and five agencies to work with.
“Ensure that they have experience of finding work for people like yourself, with your sorts of skills and experience and that they have a good source of employers,” she suggested.
“Then focus on building relationships with them, keeping in touch with them, asking them for advice, so that you’re continuing to impress the recruiter so that they will be enthusiastic and confident about passing on your details to suitable employers,” she added.