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How to Get a Job in 2012

Posted 11.01.2012 by Maria Onyango

Yesterday was, apparently, the busiest day of the year for jobseekers - that is, the day in 2012 when the most people will apply for jobs. And this happens on every first 'normal' Tuesday in each new year in the UK. It makes sense: amongst the New Years resolutions about losing weight, laughing more and finally kicking the nicotine habit, one imagines that "getting a job I actually like" features heavily.

For anyone applying for a job in 2012, it is prescient to know what sort of job market you are flinging yourself into, and thus be able to create a strategy that can deal with that. The most effective job seekers are those that:

  • Know their market and how it is looking
  • Tailor their applications by showing empathy with the state of that market, and their target company's place within it. In other words understand their pain, their joy, their hopes and ideally ...
  • Be the solution, somehow

This strategy is essential, given forecasting for 2012. The recent Manpower Employment Outlook survey (which looks at responses from 2,100 UK employers, asking questions on their intentions to hire in the coming quarter) revealed that employer's hiring expectations for the early part of 2012 have sunk to their lowest level since Q4 of 2009. In the West of England, Northern Ireland and Wales, employers expect to be employing fewer people than they currently do. However London (FreshMinds' major regional focus) remains relatively positive despite the previous crush of redundancies in Finance, reporting a relatively buoyant employment outlook of +5%.

Looking at sector trends, the Financial and Professional Services sectors will, according to the survey, be employing ... nobody, apparently, with a 0% outlook. As FreshMinds works with quite a few FS and Professional Services companies, we know that this isn't exactly factually correct however it does reflect the mood of those sectors, which have gone from the most optimistic in Q1 of 2011 to the most pessimistic now.

However, and luckily, there are sectors that are actively creating new jobs. Utilities in particular stand out, with an overall reported hiring intention of +13%. This is a rise of 2% on the previous quarter, and Water, Gas and Electricity have shown a continued and consistent positive employment outlook throughout the recession. Manufacturing is another sector showing positive signs, with a tentative but nonetheless upward outlook of +5%.

So, while there are certainly strong signs that the downturn in employment is not over - and that it may still be difficult to find new employment - in particular regions and sectors there is still, if not actual growth in employment, optimism and intention. However, an intention to hire in 2012 does not always result in an actual hire and the median of forecasts for overall growth in employment is just 0.3% with some economic forecasters actually predicting a decrease. It is still very much an uphill battle.

So, as a candidate and prospective employee, what can you do to turn the optimism that your employer has into what's tangible, the offer of a job? Simple: be creative. For example?

  • Look through your CV. Draw up a list of ten (or twenty, or forty, depending on how long you've been working) former colleagues who rather liked you. Track them down, email them, call them, let them know you're looking for an "exciting new role". These people are potential advocates for you within their companies and beyond.
  • Don't target a job, target a mentor. If you are looking to join a sector that is oversubscribed and apparently closed, target someone within that sector who you think might be sympathetic to your cause (senior, perhaps with a similar background to yourself or literally just the person you want to be in 20 years time - LinkedIn is good for this) and drop them a very polite email. Ask if you can have just half an hour of their time to pick their brains about the market and get some advice. At the very least you'll get a 'thanks but no thanks', and you might make some great contacts and perhaps even get a foot in the door of your chosen sector.

You want a new job? What are you doing about it? Some people will walk, happily and easily into new job in 2012. Others will find that sending out CVs and cover letters is no longer enough. Do more. That's the real answer.

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