Searching for a job

Your perfect job, the job that would make you happy, challenge you and reward you handsomely is out there. Somewhere. The only problem is that at the moment you don't know where it is, or maybe even what it is. This is where the job search begins in earnest. For many people, this stage of the recruitment process is one of the most frustrating - partly because it involves much introspection about what your perfect job could be, but also because even with regular searching, you might have to wait for the perfect job to arise. However, if you follow some expert careers advice, you might find that you don't need to wait for the perfect job to appear out of thin air after all.

What are these?

Decide what job you actually want to do

There are tools available such as the Myers Briggs tests (http://www.discoveryourpersonality.com) that for a fee will help you decide what job you are suited for. There are other, equally useful job tests available for free though (http://tinyurl.com/h4374). You could also make an appointment with a job centre, occupational psychologist or careers advice centre to discuss your options. Ultimately, you are trying to pin down not only what motivates you (Money? People? Fame?) but also what you like and dislike in a job. Combining these factors with good research about existing jobs should help you realise what position is most likely to meet your criteria and then, when you know what your perfect job actually is, you can start to look for it.

Can you change your current job?

It's rare to find that someone hates everything about their job and often it's just one element that they dislike (the work has become repetitive, they clash with their manager, etc). This is where speaking to your manager or HR department about your feelings can come in handy. Replacing employees is a costly business (and can cost your company more money to replace you), and resolving current employees' problems will always be best practice. Even if you want to change jobs you might not have to change companies. Often an employer would prefer to help you re-train and put you in another section of the business, especially if you are willing to commit to a contract tying you to the company for a few years.

Registering with recruitment agencies

One of the first places to start your job search is with the recruitment agencies. They should be able to give you a good indication of how your current skills will be received and what you need to do to improve your employability. The key to getting the right agency is to only apply to join members of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and organisations which specialise in your industry, like ATSCo in IT. We are a member of both organizations. The members of the REC adhere to a code of conduct, if you visit the REC site, you can search for agencies in a specific area or industry, allowing you to approach agencies that have the best experience of the role or position you are trying to find.

Register with the appropriate job search websites

There are so many job websites that it is impossible to give a comprehensive list of ones that you should try. It's more important to talk to several people within the area that you would like to work and ask them where they found their jobs and which sites they now use to advertise. This should give you a hit-list of five or six websites to focus on. Registering with all of these sites and making good use of them all, should set up a wide net and make it unlikely that any advertised position will escape your notice. Don't forget to also register and upload your CV to an iProfile. An iProfile is the preferred CV template of leading recruiters, and it is being rapidly adopted by job boards and industry associations.

Succeeding with email alerts

Most job websites will email you the jobs that match your criteria. The key to email alerts is that you should think of them always as a work in progress. If you can set several for each site using a range of keywords and criteria then do so. This should produce a set of results and from there you can begin to refine the process. The idea is that it's always better to have to read a hundred irrelevant ads than it is to miss the perfect one.

Apply for jobs that don't exist

Speculative applications can be made to a company even when there's not actually a job advertised. The key is to very carefully research the companies who you would most like to work for and then make a targeted approach. This is best done with a combination of contacting them by phone to ask if you can send in your iProfile for their consideration. Then, following it up with your iProfile and a covering letter explaining what you are looking for and how you can help them. A great way of bypassing the fact that a job doesn't exist is to arrange a period of work experience or work shadowing. Once you have your foot in the door of your dream company, make a good impression and search out when and where jobs will appear.

Don't forget publications

Even though the vast majority of jobs are now advertised on the web there are still a good number that never reach the internet. For these jobs applicants must make sure that they are searching through a good range of paper publications. National and local newspapers are useful sources of jobs and many publications will carry specific jobs on different days - your newsagent should be able to help select the right publications. There are also a range of job publications which focus on set geographical areas. These are useful because smaller companies often recruit from a localised area and these jobs might not otherwise be seen. Finally, trade journals are a useful source of adverts and the industry knowledge will also keep you up-to-date with developments that could lead to positions.

iProfile - let your perfect job search for you

By registering and uploading your CV to create your iProfile you are putting yourself in touch with thousands of potential recruiters without having to do a thing. In much the same way that people used to put their CV online in the hope that an employer might approach them with the perfect job, the iProfile puts your skills and experiences in front of a range of different employers. However, rather than being unformatted like a CV, employers and recruiters can use the iProfile to search for specific skills sets, meaning there's a much greater chance that your perfect job will find you.

Exploit your contacts and networks

It's surprising that people discount networking when you learn that 28% of women and 33% of men got their current job because someone from the company told them about it. It's a simple truth that an employer is much more likely to hire someone that has been recommended by one of their current employees. You might think that there's little you can do to help this but it's amazing how many people forget to tell their contacts that they're looking for a job, or even tell friends, family and old colleagues that they're looking for work. Even if you're moving industry you can find networks by joining professional associations or attending alumni events at universities.

Get Creative

To find the perfect job you might have to search in all sorts of unlikely places and in all sorts of unlikely ways. In the past job applicants have taken out adverts promoting themselves, circulated viral adverts for their skills on the web and even found temping work in the right organisation and worked their way up. There's no reason you will have to go to such extremes but it's vital not to discount any ideas. You might think that there's no way you can go freelance, or start your own business (effectively creating your own perfect job) but if you're open to new ideas it might be something unusual which finally helps you track down the perfect job.