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  • Martin Garrity


Getting a new job – whether you're currently in work or not – can be a daunting prospect.

If you're a career returner – perhaps you took a break to care for dependents – the world of work may have changed while you've been away. What used to be a simple process of sending a CV and covering letter now involves among other things making sure your social media presence accurately reflects who you are. And how do you write an effective CV that has a 15 year gap in it while you cared for children or for an elderly relative?

Or you may have been made redundant and are looking to quickly get back into work.

To all those who are scared of that process; there is good news. Successful jobsearch is a series of steps. As long as you keep moving forward and reflecting on what works and what doesn't, you will be successful.

There's also some not-so-good news. The steps have obstacles that you'll need to overcome. Like a hurdler running a race. Clear each hurdle and you'll get to the finish line – getting a job offer that you'll accept.

Over the next few weeks I'll post a regular article on each of the steps. Stay tuned if you want to get the whole story!

If you have friends or colleagues who would benefit for reading this, feel free to share this content.


Maybe you thought that being a successful jobseeker would mean being better at interviews or at writing CVs or at networking.

All of that's important but comes later.

The first priority is to understand yourself – to be able to describe yourself sincerely and completely.

If you're a jobseeker, you're really selling a product. The product is you. And you can't effectively sell a product unless you thoroughly understand the features and benefits that the product will bring to the buyer.

So how do you make sure that you thoroughly understand yourself? Perhaps you already have a well-developed sense of self. Perhaps you already know the skills you possess and the interests you have. Perhaps you can describe activities that energise you and those that bore you rigid. If all that's true for you, you could skip straight to next week's Step 2 if you like.

But for those of us who have some self-discovery to do, here are a few pointers to help you.

1. Skills: activities or procedures that you can carry out without further instruction. For example, driving a car.

To help you think about all the skills that you currently possess try thinking of these categories:

Thinking or Analytical skills such as problem solving, decision making, planning or numeracyTeamworking and People skills. For example collaborating, communicating, being flexible or resolving conflictOrganisational skills such as project management, multitasking, strategic thinking and objective settingLeadership and management skills. For example inspiring, engaging, controlling, managing stakeholders etcPersonal skills which can include dedication, overcoming adversity, caring, integrity, resilience and common sense.

Take a look at these categories and think about each of them. Make a list of any skills that you're confident you have shown in the past. The key here is to be honest with yourself – can you describe real examples of the times that you've demonstrated these capabilities?

The list above isn't meant to be exhaustive so you'll need to think widely.

2. Your personal characteristics or qualities.

Your skills are things you can do. Your characteristics are who you are.

So how would you describe yourself? What kind of person are you? How would your friends describe you? What feedback have you been given over the years (positive and negative)?

Here are just a few suggestions:

Ambitious, Articulate, Competitive, Compassionate, Detail-oriented, Efficient, Honest, Innovative, Methodical, Open minded, Passionate, Persistent, Persuasive, Resourceful, Strategic, Supportive, Tactful, Tough, Trustworthy, Upbeat, Visionary.

3. Your interests and passions

These are not necessarily the same as your skills. These are the topics that you are naturally drawn to. If money was not an issue for you, what interests would you pursue? What voluntary work do you do? What causes do you care about? What do you do in your spare time?

All these questions can lead you to a description of your values, drivers or motivators.

You can also ask the opposite question. What activities are definitely not in line with your values? What voluntary work would you actively avoid – not through lack of time but because you actively don't want to be involved?

These topics can be hobbies or causes about which you care. The reason for thinking about them is that the list can point you to a deeper understanding of the person you really are – the product that you hope an employer will buy/hire.

All of the above comes before you write your CV or apply for a job. It's essential preparation for a successful jobsearch.

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