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Back to Basics Guide

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 9 Feb 2022

Job seeking can be tough, it can take time and a lot of energy. However, more often than not, it is worth all the time and effort that you put into it. Some people may think of job seeking as an art. It takes time to perfect, and you often pick up and develop new skills on the way. This guide is all about the basics of your job search. Discussing decision making, your CV and everything in between. So, if this is your first time looking for a job in your chosen sector or you need to readjust your job search, this is the guide for you.

What do you want - Basics Guide

You might have an idea of the kind of job you want, but have you figured out all of the other aspects of getting a new job? There’s a lot to think about:

  • Your job title
  • The specific sector
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • The length of the commute
  • Location

You might not think too much about some of these, but they are all equally as important as each other. In order to have a successful job search, you need to know what you want and what to expect from an employer. If you have all of this information figured out before you start looking for a new job, chances are, there won’t be any surprise questions from employers, and you can use this information to filter your searches.

Your chosen sector and job title are important - This is the actual job role and you’ve probably already thought long and hard about this one. A job search can’t really happen without it. Be sure to explore what a specific role entails because some employers use different job titles to describe the role. So, what do you want to be doing day-to-day? Figure this out, do some research and see what other job titles come up in your search. This ensures that you aren’t leaving out roles that could be right for you because of a different title. The chosen sector is another important filter to use on job boards. Are you looking for electrical roles in any sector or is your search specific to the renewables sector? Important information to include in your CV and cover letter as well.

Your salary is up to you – The likelihood is, you have thought about the salary you would like. This is a personal choice, and you need to understand what you need from a role. It can be different for everyone, depending on other factors in your life, so ensure you aren’t accepting less than you need, especially if other roles and companies provide what you are looking for. Salary is often something that can be discussed with the employer and doesn’t always become the biggest factor for some people. Nevertheless, it’s important to do your research and see what that job title is earning on average. This will change in different sectors and areas, but it’s good practice to be aware.  

Do you want a commute or relocation? – Travel to work can make or break your choice to work for a company. A commute takes time out of your day and you need to be comfortable with the amount of time you are setting aside. The good thing is, more employers are starting to embrace hybrid working, so if this is an option for you, definitely communicate this with the employer or check if they’ve included it in the job description. Or is it a relocation you are looking for? Moving is always an option, but does it fit in with your current lifestyle? All valid questions and again, can affect your job search with appropriate filtering.

Having this sort of information figured out on the get go can help you answer any questions recruitment consultants have, employers have and just generally help you rule out any jobs that don’t fit with your criteria. Saves you a lot of time applying for roles that you later find, don’t suit you or your needs.

Do your Research - Basics Guide

Research is always important, it’s the foundation of a good job search. Once you have figured out your goals and what you want from a job, you need to look around to find out where can offer you these things. A job is more than just turning up for a day at work, there are things we need to consider before accepting a role and even before applying.

  • Average working hours
  • Salaries
  • Opportunities for travel

There are going to be many different factors that you want to research, the above may just be the start. When looking for a new job it’s important to know what typical working hours are for jobs in this field and average salaries etc. If you have researched this information, you won’t sell yourself short or expect too much in the first place. Things like salaries vary from industry and company type, so being aware of this can help you in the long run.

Things like this are likely to be stated on the job description, but if you feel like information is lacking, there is always the option of contacting the employer before you apply for the role. (If they provide contact details) Where there is a will, there’s a way.

Another key detail to research is the employer itself. You want to know who you are working for, even it’s a big organisation, it’s always good to have a look at what they’ve been doing. Have they been in the news for any reason lately? Can you find information on their latest projects or ideas? Anything that would help you see if they are the right employer for you or not. Many people search for the job title and forget to do a background check on the company. It might not matter too much to you, but this way, at least there’s something extra to talk about in any potential interview.

The final research advice we have for you is obvious but needs to be shouted about. Research interview techniques, questions, and answers. There is plenty of information about this on E&TJ, especially in our interview advice section. So, for more information on this, click here.

Gather Evidence - Basics Guide

As stated before, there is more to a job that just the working element. How long would you like to work for this company? Is it a place you want to use as a steppingstone or an organisation you would like to grow and develop in. All valid questions, that deserve an answer. Researching things like opportunity for relocation, promotion rates and career progression are great, but where is your evidence?

This can be something you search before applying and during an interview. You can’t find out everything through google, so don’t stress yourself trying to. Sometimes, we get so caught up in finding a job, we forget that it has to be a positive experience for us. Although sometimes, the main purpose of a job is to get paid, there is so much more to ensure that you have a healthy work-life balance. With research comes evidence, so keep note of everything you find, and the answers employers give you to these types of questions. This way you can make informed decisions on how you want to make your next steps.

List and Research - Basics Guide

For some professionals, the company they work for is very important. This could be for a few potential reasons from:

  • A company in their chosen sector that is booming
  • Innovative company with lots of interesting projects
  • A company they’ve dreamed of working for
  • Name-drop it on your CV

We all have our own reasons for choosing a company. Some people are more interested in the work a company does for a sector, than the job itself. For some job seekers, the company can make or break their decision to work for them. You need to think about what priorities suit you best.

A good way to keep track of this is to write down companies you want to work for, check their company site for job openings and if nothing, then go to job boards and consultants asking for exactly that. Research their competitors as well. If they don’t have an opening, someone else in the same field with a similar reputation might. Try and find every opportunity you can.

However, if you come up with a disappointing result, don’t let it get to you. Lots of people have dream companies and it’s important that we do all we can to reach those goals but don’t let a set-back stop you. Companies hold recruitment events and open days, so ensure you are keeping in touch with their activity. If it’s not in the cards right now, move on, develop, and come back to it at a later date. Aspirations are important, but don’t let them blindsight you from your career progression. You’ll get there, even if not today.

Your Skills - Basics Guide

As important as it is to realise that we need to know what the employer will offer us, it’s always good to brush up on skills that the employer requires from a strong candidate. During the research phase of your job search, you are likely to be filtering through numerous job descriptions and requirements. It’s important to know that not everyone can do everything, and some descriptions do ask for a lot. If you find yourself seeing the same set of skills or a few skills that you don’t think you have, now is the time to find a way to obtain those skills instead of feeling down about it.

Sometimes, it can be our first instinct to push something away when we think we’re not good enough. However, just because you need to brush up on a few skills doesn’t mean you can’t do the job in question. There is more to a good candidate than a perfect repertoire of skills.

Firstly, focus on what you can do and highlight this in your CV and cover letters. Secondly, it puts you in an even better place to highlight what you can’t do or may not be as good at, find training or a way at work to learn and talk about how this motivated you to get better. It’s okay to feel negatively about something, but what sets you apart from others, is your ability to get up and do something about it.

Job searching is all about learning. There is a constant evolution in technology and skills shortages are very apparent, especially in the engineering sector. So, what can you do?

Turn to your current job - Are there any opportunities for you to take on new responsibilities or collaborate with another team to learn? If you ask, they may even agree to inhouse learning, what can help you will help them.

Online learning – There are online courses and learning opportunities on various online platforms. Whether it be the IET Academy or LinkedIn learning, every little helps.

Talk to the employer – As I said before, there is more to a good candidate than just your hard engineering skills. Technology is changing and companies need to be able to adapt to ensure they aren’t letting go of good talent. If the job spec looks like an overall fit with a few minor issues, discuss it in the interview. Lots of employers offer new employee training. You never know what they could offer you.

Test CV - Basics Guide

Looking back at your work and trying to think of criticism or things to alter, can be difficult. Especially if you’ve been working on the same thing for a few hours or number of days. Naturally, some people just find it hard to alter their work, it’s their writing and sometimes don’t find the simple faults in it. Additionally, if you’ve been staring at the same thing for days on end, it’s not going to help you to continue. Either take some time away from it to come back with a fresh perspective or ask someone you know for help.

Friends and family are usually willing to help out and give your CV a read. If not for the more technical language, but for the grammatical errors you may have made and may not have noticed. They can give you advice on how to improve, rewrite some things and if your personal statement gives them a good idea of what you do and who you are. All of these things are important to a working CV and mistakes are easily avoidable.

If you don’t think your friends and family are the right people to help with a more technical CV, then there are other options. You can take it to career fairs. Sometimes, there are people there that help with CV’s, it may be a good idea to take it to them before handing it out to the potential employers.

You can also use your network. There are going to be people around you with more experience, in both job seeking and professional work. So why not use these people? Reach out and ask them for advice, your network is there for a reason.

Plan Ahead - Basics Guide

You’re probably sick and tired of people telling you to plan ahead. But it really is the best thing you can do to achieve your goals. We all know to prepare ahead of an interview, but why not save yourself a bit of time and start preparation from the second you submit an application?

I’m not talking about full-on preparation. You don’t want to waste your time. However, be aware of the company. What is being said about them in the news, why do you want to work for the company and do some research on company policies and how they take care of their staff.

There are things that you can find out on the company site and through social media. Know the company, especially if you are planning or have applied for multiple roles with them. You will only have to do this once and it’s a good idea to keep your notes for future purposes. You never know when a new opportunity will arise.

Preparing interview questions is also a very good idea. This will usually, only have to be done once and you can adjust your answers depending on the employer. We have plenty of advice on E&TJ about answering interview questions, so click one of the links below to find out more.

  1. How to answer career goal questions
  2. How to prepare for and answer competency-based interview questions?
  3. How to answer the “How long do you plan on working here?” Interview question
  4. How to answer the “What are your greatest strengths?” Interview question
  5. Answering those difficult interview questions

It’s also good to have your own questions prepared. These can be specific for the company or you can have a variety of generic questions ready in advance. This way, you are always prepared, even if they answer some of your questions before you even ask them. (We’ve all been there) Asking questions and showing your interest is very important, so stay one step ahead.

Resources - Basics Guide

Again, it might be simple but using all the resources that are right for you and your job search can help you reach your goals a lot quicker. It can be easy, after a long time of searching, to revert back to scrolling through jobs boards without thinking about what you’re doing.

Job boards can be very important for a job search, especially industry specific ones. Here, you can find roles that are right for you without the need to filter industry. You’ll still need to look through for the specific sector, but the effort is limited. Job boards have a lot of different resources alone. They include the ability to upload your CV, subscribe to job alerts, free career advice and information, as well as being able to search for specific recruiters. E&TJ offers all of this, so ensure you go back and use everything that is available for you.

On the other hand, there is so much more to job seeking than job boards. There are recruitment events, fairs and open days. Ensure you are being active in your online community to be able to keep track of what is going on and talk to people! – Don’t hide out on your own, your network is there for you and you are there to help them too.

Use social media. Find what is right for you, but LinkedIn especially. It is designed for job seeking and the platform also offers a range of learning opportunities as well. Explore it and see how more than just scrolling can change your mindset.

Apply with Confidence - Basics Guide

Finally, you need to believe in your ability to succeed. The aim of your job search is to find a job, you’re doing it for a reason, so always remember why you started. If you start to find yourself losing motivation or even getting a bit tired because of it. Take a well needed break and come back to it. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

The whole point in a job search and interviews is to persuade the employer that you are the right candidate. You need to believe it before you preach it. It’s normal to be nervous, but employers can tell when you are reading from a script. You should be able to talk about your skills, experience and yourself in a positive way without having to write it all out beforehand. This can be a great method for preparation, but never a good idea to read it word for word.

You need to be kind to yourself. Take the time you need, ask people for help if you need to and ensure to make the most of this experience. Likelihood is, this won’t be the last time you look for a new job. So, enjoy it, take the time to learn and most importantly keep your eye on the prize. Be confident in your ability and trust that you are good enough.