Back to the Grind

Originally posted: Mon, 26 Aug 2019 09:33:18

It's been a busy few weeks here, as I'm back on the job hunt. You'd think searching and applying for new positions would be easy - but there are some rather annoying pitfalls. Here's my short overview, in which we discover that geography should become a compulsory short course for recruiters (particularly if they live within the M25).

Getting setup

The easy bit - open your browser, find your job boards, create your accounts, upload your CV. After this, it's just a case of setting your search parameters and trawling through the results.

Now, you may not be 100% confident in your CV - and that's fine, most people aren't. Most online job boards offer a CV checking service for free. Use them all. Don't just do one, do all of them you can. You will find plenty of contradictory advice, but you should be able to compare notes and work out some good advice to fix the CV up a bit.

It's also worth pointing out that, depending on your industry, keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date (or even building one in the first place) is a good idea. Put the link on your CV, too. Recruiters and potential employers will be looking for an online presence of some kind, so it's probably best to keep at one social profile for professional purposes. You can give them your Facebook and Twitter links if you want, but you don't really want to be judged by photos of that time you went to Magaluf with the gang now, do you?

N.B. on Twitter, you may have multiple handles, so if there is one you keep strictly for work-related things, it might be advisable to put this on your CV.
GitHub/Lab profile links can be highly beneficial to add, as it shows off your capabilities, interests, and projects to companies and recruiters before you even meet them, giving them a good idea about you and your work. Particularly for developers, this can be a boon, as it takes half the pressure off during interviews.

Daily Hunting

With your CV sorted, and your accounts created, let's have a little gander at the actual searching.

The first thing is to try and be as specific as you can - this isn't always possible, as job titles can have wide variations on a theme. But you can mitigate this by making sure you fill out the search criteria as completely as possible. This usually includes Salary (min and max, min is necessary to get the best results),
Location (Postcode is usually best, but town/city can work), Distance (how far you are willing to travel), and Industry (the field you work in).

The main trouble you might have (if you don't live, eat, and breathe London that is), is with the Location and Distance - the results are... interesting. I can tell you stories of results being returned telling me that I'm a perfect match for this job that's just down the road - only to find that their version of "down the road" actually translates to "200 miles away as the crow flies". Job sites and recruiters take a rather liberal interpretation of these two parameters, so be wary and read the job ad thoroughly.

You will also find yourself confronted with a filter on how to organise your results. I highly recommend sorting them by date (most recent). Job ads tend to linger a while after the position has been filled, and there are some that are blatantly fake and exist purely for CV harvesting purposes. If you sort by this method, you get to see if an older job has been re-posted and is likely to not be real.

Searching Miscellany

If you are looking to break into a new field, or area, and you think you might lack qualification or experience, don't worry. Put down on your CV what you are doing about this interest, even if it's a few free courses online - anything that shows you are being serious about it, not just after a pay rise.
While it is important to have references at the ready, you do not have to put them on your CV. This can help, particularly if yours is already running to 2-3 pages. You can also dispense with the "References on request" bit too, as this is taken for granted these days.

I'll also mention that the training industry have decided that their courses qualify as jobs (still trying to figure that one out), and so litter the boards and sites with their adverts. One dedicated company has their adverts show up for practically every village in my search radius.

All about the Benjamins

This is worth noting all on its own: don't believe the listing entirely. When you see the matching criteria at the top of the ad, don't expect it to be 100% accurate. Or even 50% for that matter.

Even though you specified your starting salary, your search will include jobs where that is the maximum. You'll also find that halfway through the vague job description, it might say something entirely different to the figure in the match. These differences aren't minor, either. I've seen £10,000 differences.

The same goes for contract jobs: always check the rate, and always calculate it to your preferred format. You should also check if this is Inside IR35 or not, and whether it is fixed term (aka you'll work for the firm directly), Umbrella, or Limited company.

Closing Notes for Recruiters

Recruiters must often wonder why they get such a bad reputation, I think (if not, then they must remain oblivious). The reason is pretty straightforward - they lie. A lot.

Should they wish to change this state of affairs, it's quite simple; just a few minor changes would make all the difference:
• Stop using imaginary mathematics to judge distances
• Learn to use a map
• Use said map when posting adverts
• Post accurate salary information, and not contradict it within the main body of the ad
• Post accurate job descriptions
• Don't post ridiculous qualification requirements when they aren't necessary, and you don't understand how they work

I think that covers all my grievances for this week!

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