You’re hired

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Landing your dream job is the goal that most of us are working towards – whether we’re studying for a relevant qualification, gaining work experience in our chosen field or filling our CVs with extra skills that will make us stand out from the crowd.

But as with most things in life, nothing is guaranteed – so how can you prevent your ideal job from passing you by? Here we explore every aspect of the process, from where to look for work, right through to giving the best possible impression in your interviews. Remember that sometimes you’ll have to think outside the box to get to the top – we show you how.

Alternative routes to your dream job

Many of us will have had an idea of what career path we want to follow from a young age, from high-flying medical professional to Michelin-starred chef – and everything in between. But sometimes life gets in the way of our plans, and for whatever reason, it’s easy to end up in a dead-end job, longing for an escape route.

In this situation, it’s important to take a long, hard look at the constraints on your career path: financial issues, qualifications, where you live and work, your ability to relocate and anything else that might prevent you from making a change. Then think about the alternative routes you can take to your ideal employment.

Can’t drop your wage to get experience in the field you want to move to?

Then consider where else you can make savings to make this possible – perhaps you could move to a lower rent flat or house, or consider taking on a lodger if you own your own home.

If you lack the necessary qualifications to follow your dream career path, why not study part-time to gain those vital certificates? The Open University (www.open.ac.uk) offers a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses that can be studied part-time from home. Around 70% of their undergraduate students are in full-time employment – so you’re in good company.

If you don’t fancy pursuing further education, it’s still possible reach a compromise which will allow you to use the same skills as in your dream job. For example, if you’ve always wanted to be a doctor but never made it to med school, why not take a St John’s Ambulance (www.sja.org.uk) course to become a qualified first aider? You could find yourself in a support role at the London Marathon, or an integral part of an emergency ambulance crew. Exciting stuff!

Where to look
Once you’ve worked out what kind of jobs you want to apply for, you’ll need to know where to look for them.

Depending on what field you are planning on entering, there are specific sections in many national newspapers that you should get hold of and scour – for example, The Guardian on Monday includes the Media Guardian and Office Hours supplements, listing between them all of the latest arts, broadcasting, creative design & technical, fundraising, marketing, media sales, new media, office hours, public relations and publishing vacancies.

Local newspapers can be a good source of foot-in-the-door opportunities at smaller businesses. Also, the jobs advertised will be local to you, which can be particularly helpful if relocating poses a problem, for whatever reason.

It’s also worth finding out what trade magazines are relevant to your chosen career path. These are targeted at a specific audience, and aside from the fascinating editorial insights into your future line of business, the job ads will often be with more prestigious companies or for more specialist positions. For example, budding marketing executives would be well advised to invest in a weekly copy of Campaign, the leading magazine for the advertising and communications industry.

Many employers use employment agencies to handle their recruitment as it is quick and saves time. Sign up with the right agency and you could land a great job without the usual sifting and scouring. For example, New Frontiers (www.newfrontiers.co.uk) is a leading recruitment agency for the travel industry, pooling jobs with different tour operators, travel agencies and airlines conveniently in one place.

Then there are global companies like Hudson (www.hudson.com) – a leading provider of permanent recruitment, contract professionals and talent management solutions worldwide. From single placements to total outsourced solutions, Hudson helps clients achieve greater organisational performance by assessing, recruiting, developing and engaging the best and brightest people for their businesses. The company employs more than 3,600 professionals serving clients and candidates in more than 20 countries.

If your search is still proving fruitless, you could also try your local Job Centre (www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk) – unsophisticated it might be, but turning your nose up might mean you miss out on a wealth of opportunities. If you can’t find time to visit
a Centre, the website has comprehensive job listings in a wide variety of industries, as well as details of training programmes and other initiatives to help you get ahead.

Projecting the right image
The way we handle ourselves is key to how others see us and can give us a fascinating insight into the way we are viewed, be at work, home or anywhere else, for that matter. Body language expert, Judi James, says that ‘55% of the communication we make on a face-to-face basis is through body language.’

So what are Judi’s top tips for projecting the right image in the work place? ‘Pause before you walk into a room – whether its for a meeting, job appraisal, anything. Straighten your posture, iron out your facial expressions and walk in expecting to shake hands. British people are so bad at handshakes – they’re either too limp or involve getting your arm pumped.

‘You must also keep a diary on how you greet clients. If you hug them or air kiss them at a meeting and then six months later go back to shake their hand, they’ll wonder if you’ve gone off them.’

What are they looking for?
What are employers looking for when sift through reams of CVs, cover letters, application forms and conduct endless interviews? We think it boils down to:

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