Whether you’re fresh out of college, five years’ down the line treading water, or have had a revelation in your 50s that the creative industries is for you: some ways of looking for work perform better than others. Here are ten tips:
1. Don’t send in your CV. Ask a question, don’t start by telling them stuff. Don’t just send them stuff – they won’t read it. If you’re going to approach by email (most small agencies have all the contact on their websites these days) do it to establish what the procedure is, whether they do take unsolicited CVs, where they advertise when they recruit etc. This will be much more likely to get a response and it will start the crucial thing that’s going to set you apart: an existing relationship.
2. Take the time to research the correct contact name, spell check your email, don’t “Forward” the same email to more than one person and make sure what you write is specific to the person / company you’re writing to. It sounds obvious but you wouldn’t believe the number that don’t, and they go straight in the bin.
3. If you do get asked to send a CV, and at any rate when you come to apply for a job, customise it to the role you’re applying for. You should build up a file of slightly different CVs for every vacancy you’ve ever gone for.
4. Use a local business directory to make a list in excel. Phone up to get the contact details of the person you’re going to introduce yourself to. Record and monitor your progress. If people are happy to accept CVs, make a note by their name. Then you can send updated versions from time to time.
5. Set yourself time aside just for research and to approach people. Then set yourself clear goals. If six months in you’ve had no interviews, there’s something wrong with your approach. If you’ve had a dozen interviews and they’ve all been unsuccessful, perhaps you’re going for the wrong roles.
6. Go networking – look for free events at the Chamber of Commerce, search around on meetup.com for open get-togethers.
7. Get a LinkedIN profile.
8. Make yourself findable on the internet – start a blog, get active, so people can find you and your work when they search for your name.
9. Remember that when a company isn’t hiring, job-seekers are an unwelcome distraction. But every business knows that when it does need to hire, it wants to get the best people which often means looking far and wide. Make it easy for them.
10. If you have a massive ego, no sense of self-doubt, an ability to speak more than you listen and an unmitigated desire for wealth you should probably think about owning a business rather than working for one.
(This advice is mostly aimed at people looking to employ their creative skills – but core professional such as management, marketing, finance and sales are the most sought-after. If you’ve got a successful career in one of these behind you and fancy a change of scene please email me: there’s a chance someone I know will want to talk to you).