There should be nothing haphazard about your approach to finding a new job. You need to develop a strategy for finding out information and acting upon it. You should also be thinking of how to make as many relevant people as possible aware that you are available.
Your strategy should include all of the following elements:
- applying for advertised vacancies
- sending speculative letters
- using recruitment agencies
You should also be flexible in your approach and consider jobs that would not be your first choice, as well as short contracts, consultancy work, part-time employment and voluntary work to develop your transferable skills, if your financial circumstances permit.
If you are not sure about what jobs you could go for then try using job adverts as a source of information and obtain the further details for jobs that really interest you. Use this information to build up a picture of what different positions involve and their skill requirements.
Keep detailed records of your job search activities.
- Record vacancies applied for, speculative letters sent with the dates and outcomes
- Send up-dated speculative applications on a six-monthly basis to companies you are interested in. If they keep CVs on file, it is unlikely that they will remember yours if it was one of many they received last year!
- If you are invited to an interview and are not successful, ask the organisation for feedback. Record their comments and your own feelings. How can you address the points necessary?
- Review your strategy on a regular basis - what is working for you and what isn't?
- Seek advice if you are unsure.
Apply for advertised vacancies
- Read specialised publications such as Chemistry World and New Scientist
- Find out the recruitment advertising pattern of the national daily papers
- Read your local paper and use the internet
Use your local library to avoid unnecessary expense. Major libraries will take specialist journals and will also provide access to the internet.
Remember - when applying for an advertised vacancy, make sure you address the selection criteria or job description you are given. Apply for the job on offer and not the one you would like to do!
Send speculative letters
- Use a targeted approach - consider using RSC Reps
- Research companies working in your chosen field using the Kompass Directory and the internet. Also use the web to look at the company website or ring the company directly and ask for literature, annual reports and other company information to help you construct your covering letter
- Send your letter to the head of the technical section you are interested in, preferably by name, rather than Human Resources [Personnel]
- Enclose a copy of your CV
- Indicate in your letter that you have taken time to research the company and its aims and emphasise not only your experience, but what it can do to help that organisation reach its goals - there is more advice on putting together a covering letter here.
- Keep in touch with contacts in your present job, inside and outside the company
- Make an inventory of contacts you have made in the past and revive them
- Keep up memberships to professional bodies and associations [or join them!]. Being a member of the RSC means that you belong to a network of 46,000 people worldwide
- Have a look at our guide to networking to find out more about how to get involved with the RSC's chemical science community
When using your network of contacts, it is not a good idea to call and ask directly about employment opportunities. It can be embarrassing for all concerned and you may close the door to further approaches. A better approach is to ask for your contact's advice - if they cannot help you directly you will be able to make more contacts through their network. Follow these up as soon as possible.
Remember - only 30% of jobs ever get to the advertisement stage. The other 70% go to those who are in the know and who network effectively!