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Job - Ready, Set, Go!

photo shows a chequered flag - the race is won for this job seeker as they have found their perfect job and won the race

Sometimes job hunting and interviews can seem like a giant mountain to climb, especially if you have been out of work, or worked in the same job, for a long time. But the more job-ready you are, you'll find looking for, and getting, the job you want is much easier.

Where to start?

Before you start contacting employers, make sure you have these essential things in place:

  • CV.  Is yours up-to-date and well-presented?  Your CV sells YOU, so make sure it gives the best impression possible.  Make sure you have lots of copies if someone asks to see it.  If you don't have one to hand you might look disorganised or unmotivated. 
  • Interview clothes.  Do you have smart clothes to wear? First impressions are important!
  • References.  This can come from anyone who knows you personally or professionally (except relatives).  It's good to have one of each, but not essential.  Make sure you ask them first and check their contact details are correct.
  • Access to a phone.  Can employers contact you easily?
  • Time.  Are you spending enough time on your job search?  Are other commitments getting in the way?  It is helpful to put aside a specific time each day to job search. We recommend at least 16 hours, or two days, a week.  Treat your job search like a real job!
  • Free support and guidance.  Job searching can be daunting, so take advantage of the free help on offer.  At Working Links we provide a dedicated consultant and before-and-after constant care to make sure your job search goes smoothly.

Improve the odds

How do you increase your chances of getting an interview?

  • Start by thinking about the skills and experience you have. Then think about the type of job you want.  Do your skills and experience match the requirements of the job? Ask someone for an honest opinion of you.  It might be very different from how you view yourself. You might think you're shy – they might think you're a great listener!
  • Don't limit yourself to just one specific job– the most employable people are those with 'transferable skills', meaning skills which can be applied to a wide range of jobs.  For example, you might have been a childminder looking after lots of children, which means you are good at organising yourself and others – also useful for office and secretarial work.
  • If you are missing key skills and experience, don't give up.  Find out about the training and courses available to you – lots of these are free.  Voluntary work is a great way to get work experience.
  • Be realistic.  Go for jobs you have a realistic chance of getting but make sure you don't undersell yourself. Ask your consultant for help if you aren't sure.


A-hunting we will go

  • Keep a diary of your job search.  Write down the companies you are interested in, the companies you have contacted, the closing dates for applications, interview dates and so on.  It'll help you stay on top of everything so you don't miss anything important, and keep you motivated.
  • Because vacancies are advertised in many different places, and there is no single newspaper or website where everyone advertises, make sure you look in all the possible places for new jobs.  Local newspapers, company websites, recruitment agencies, specialist trade magazines and online job listings such as Guardian Jobs are all good sources of new vacancies.
  • Speculate!  If you are interested in a company, call them and introduce yourself.  Send in a CV (within 24 hours) and follow it up with a phone call in a few days. Call them every 6 weeks to 3 months to find out about new vacancies. Sometimes companies don't even advertise new jobs if they have good CVs on file, and by keeping in contact you'll stand out from the crowd.
  • Review your progress.  If you aren't getting anywhere, try and work out why.  Perhaps you are applying for too few jobs, or your CV has spelling mistakes in it.


Invitation to interview

You've made it! Your hard work has paid off and you have been invited to interview.  You will be up against the best candidates who applied for the job, but remember, that includes you so stay positive. Follow these tips for interview success.

  • Your consultant will help you prepare with a mock interview, which will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Or ask a friend who interviews people on a regular basis to step in.
  • You will be asked questions about the company so research them thoroughly and impress them with your knowledge. Use the internet, your consultant, friends and local libraries to find out what you need.
  • Think of questions to ask at the interview - employers will be impressed.
  • Plan your route beforehand – practise the journey if possible.  Arriving late without a very good reason will put you at a disadvantage and won't give a good impression.
  • Telephone and confirm your interview with the person who has written to you when you receive your letter.  If you can't make it, let the company know as soon as possible.


On the day

You're bound to be nervous, but think positive.  If you've done all your preparation and research there's no reason to worry.

  • Get a good night's sleep.  Do some preparation the day before, but stop and unwind in the evening.  Watch a DVD or chat to a friend to take your mind off the interview and help you relax.  But resist the temptation to go out – a hangover will undo all your good work!
  • Have a good breakfast.  If you skip your morning meal, it has a negative physical effect.  Your blood sugar levels drop and you will find it much harder to concentrate.  And a rumbling tummy might be a little off-putting for the interviewers!
  • Set off early.  You can always sit and wait with a cup of tea and re-read your CV.  Then you will be much more relaxed than if you dashed in one minute before your interview!
  • Don't worry if you are nervous.  Employers know that interviews can be daunting.  Take deep breaths, concentrate on the questions and you'll soon forget your nerves.
  • Be positive.  Smile and look at the interviewers as you shake hands.  Sit up straight and look interested. 
  • Give details in your answers and use examples to help explain your answers, but don't talk for the sake of it.  Once you feel you have answered the question as fully as you can, stop talking and smile. And never interrupt the interviewer halfway through a question – wait until they have finished speaking.
  • Tell the truth.  If you were dismissed from your last job, be honest.  But prepare an answer to show you have learned from your experiences.  For example, you could say, 'I realise now that I didn't have the proper skills to do the job they wanted.  Now I have taken a training course and feel I am better prepared for the job.'  Or: 'I was dismissed from my job for arguing with my boss.  I have worked a lot on my anger management issues with my consultant and feel I am now much more capable of responding in an appropriate manner.'


After the interview

  • De-brief.  Write down your thoughts, feelings, things that went well and things that didn't, and any questions that you had trouble with.  Spend one hour on this then stop.  It's good to look back and evaluate the interview but over-analysing is counter-productive.
  • Treat yourself!  Interviews are hard work.  Try and arrange for any other commitments to be put off until at least two hours afterwards.  Have a bubble bath, buy a nice lunch or play some sports.  You've earned it!
  • Remember that practise makes perfect.  The more interviews you do, the better you get at them.  So don't be discouraged if you're not successful the first few times.  Make sure you always ask for feedback from the interview so you can see where you can improve and soon – job's your uncle!

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Much of the advice on our website has been kindly provided by local companies and organisations for which we are very grateful - could you offer some advice to our visitors in return for some free coverage on our website? If so please get in touch here as we'd love to hear from you.

About The Author

This article was written by Aimee Izzard of Working Links

Author Profile

Employment specialists Working Links have helped over 108,000 people back into work across England, Scotland and Wales since 2000.

Our aim is to help as many people as we can overcome any barrier, such as those who have been unemployed for a long time to former offenders, lone parents and older workers, and help them back into work.

If you’re a jobseeker, you get your own personal consultant who'll work with you one-to-one - to really get to know your skills, needs and goals, and advise you on what sort of jobs to go for, and what support you need.  It's completely flexible and you have a real say in the kind of support you get. Whether it's training or work experience, help with your CV or interview skills, or even money to pay for practical things like transport or childcare.

If you are looking to recruit, we offer a fee-free recruitment service through our specialist employer solutions teams. We help businesses by pre selecting candidates whose skills and experiences match the vacancy, and provide a unique service in free pre-employment training and work trials. Our training ensures candidates are job ready in particular sectors such as care, retail, administration, warehousing and security. Bespoke training can also be arranged.

Logo for Working Links Aimee Izzard

Author's Contact Details

Aimee Izzard
Working Links

Telephone: 0870 917 9262
Telephone: 01273 774010
Working Links website »

AllDevonJobs are very grateful to Aimee Izzard and Working Links for taking the time to provide this advice, please use the contact details above if you'd like to contact Working Links.

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Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this information is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.