New Year, new job opportunities, but be prepared

January is often a time for those considering a new job, whether it’s for a fresh start or the result of a less than desirable bonus. Yet what is commonly presented to employers is an old CV with recent experiences tacked on – this is not a positive start.

I’ve seen thousands of CVs that fail to demonstrate how an applicant’s previous experience translates into the skills required for the role they are applying for. A few updated bullet points is not enough.

The best approach to any job search is to review the entire content and layout of the CV and ensure it’s directly relevant to the position being applied for. Deciding to look for a new job means you have just joined the sales department with you as both the sales person and the product!

Research and planning should be the initial phase. You need to take stock of your transferable skills (such as cost saving or sales). Skills can be divided into physical, mental and interpersonal, but they are not to be confused with traits. Traits (good judgement, great teamwork, and so on) are the style with which you execute and enhance your transferable skills.

Ask yourself what is unique about you as a product? What benefits can you offer the company/person you are approaching? Once you identify this then you are clear on what you can offer a potential employer. Perhaps you have specialist knowledge and experience, but remember to specify in terms of what, where and when. Do you have contacts, languages, qualifications (academic, technical, professional)?

To sell these features, specify the advantage they offer to an employer by showing how you have used them to add value.

Once you have ascertained your marketable skills, you need to question your values and work preferences. What people do I want to work with? What environment do I want to work in? What work do I want to do? How do I get to where I want to go? Having a plan B and C will be essential.

It is absolutely critical you have an increased awareness of yourself, your value; get this wrong and you waste an enormous amount of time and energy. You’re more likely to succeed if you have correctly identified what you offer and what you want from a job. By concentrating on jobs that match your thorough inventory of your interests, skills, accomplishments, experience, goals, and values you are much more likely to credibly convince an employer that you are the right person for the job.

To create enough interest in your “product”, along with an excellent CV and cover letter, you need a proactive attitude, to be persuasive and persistent. The right mind-set and a well thought-out and executed job search strategy will almost certainly increase your chances in the jobs market.

Sarah Juillet is the director of postgraduate careers, Cass Business School