New Year, New You, Old Job?

Every year, we hear it. “New year, new me!” is shouted across every social network you can imagine, and it is usually accompanied by a picture of some kale, quinoa or a notification that someone has checked into the gym.

Often, these changes don’t last and, come February, the gym membership is forgotten about and the diet has long been replaced by much more exciting, beige coloured food. January is also popular for people considering making a more permanent change though, in getting a new job.

The new year is one of the busiest periods in the recruitment calendar. Budgets are firmed up for the upcoming year and candidates return from the holidays deciding that enough is enough due to the frustrations they’ve had with their current employer.

So, it seemed like a great time to put together an article about how to go about finding something new, for those who have come back to work whilst looking elsewhere!

Step 1: Think Long & Hard

It’s a big decision, and loads of effort

Making a career move requires a significant investment of time & energy, so before taking the plunge think carefully about whether you really want to do it.

It can be a tough decision, and something to bear in mind is that, at this time of year, appraisals are usually around the corner: could an in depth conversation with your manager resolve any of your issues? If so, it’s probably worth waiting it out to lay your cards on the table in this discussion. In a best case scenario, you may be able to rectify the issues you’re experiencing without having to conduct an arduous job search.

There’s some more advice on figuring out when the best time to hand in your notice is here!

When the decision’s made though – it’s time to look forward. What should you expect from your next role?

Step 2: Don't Have Great Expectations

Be realistic!

The next step in the process is to decide what sort of position you’d like to move into. The foundations to this decision should be where you are now and what the realistic next steps could be. In the instance you want to make a sideways step to a different function (e.g from a technical to a commercial role) you need to be asking yourself if you have the knowledge and experience to do this. If the answer is no you may need to be prepared to take a step back.

Next up, salary. When making a move, you should set your salary expectations from the start, but also make sure that they’re realistic. Typically you should be thinking along the lines of a 10-12% increase in basic salary. It is imperative that salary expectations are realistic. There have been countless occasions when I have seen candidates rule out potentially great  opportunities because their expectations have been unrealistic and out of synch with the market!

It is essential that your salary targets are realistic and achievable to avoid an unsuccessful and fruitless job search.

Step 3: The CV

Make sure it’s up to date, and that you’re putting your best foot forward

Once again, we’ve dedicated another whole article to this topic, which gives you a comprehensive breakdown of how to put your CV together, but a quick refresher can never hurt!

The main thing to remember is that your CV is the first representation of you a recruiter or perspective employer will receive, so you need to do everything you can to ensure it is a positive one! Individuals should take pride in their CV and make sure it represents them accurately in the best possible way.

A quick checklist of the DOS are:

  • Limit your CV to 2-3 pages
  • Don’t lie!
  • Avoid blocks of text
  • Concisely summarise responsibilities & achievements for recent jobs using bullet points
  • If you are an experienced individual collate & summarise your early employment history
  • Include a brief summary of yourself
  • Include all educational & professional qualifications

Ultimately whoever reviews your CV first will use it as a key decision making tool, so if it isn’t a strong representation of you it is highly unlikely that your application will progress.

Step 4: The Hunt

(The exciting bit)

So, now you’re set on leaving and you have a top quality CV, the time has come to actually start ‘playing the field’ and searching for that next role.

There are many options available to today’s jobseeker, and choosing the right method or combination of methods is key in influencing how successful the search is. Do you apply to job adverts?, Contact companies directly?, Put your CV on a job board?, Contact a recruiter?

Or just sit and wait for the call?

If you’re serious about your search, I’d probably be inclined to ignore the last option there. When it comes to the others they could all, in theory, help you with your next position but some methods are more effective than others:

Step 4, Option 1: Using a Recruiter

A personal favourite of mine

A knowledgeable recruiter whose expertise and experience is entrenched in your sector can add a lot of value to your job search. Often they have a strong network of contacts and are aware of positions that cannot be advertised for confidentiality reasons. They may also be in contact with clients who have a more candidate-led recruitment strategy, who are always on the lookout for candidates with specific attributes.

A good recruiter will represent you and work in a proactive yet confidential manner to identify as many suitable employment opportunities in the market as possible. In order to do this they should invest the time in understanding your background, experience and aims.

When selecting a recruiter, be critical. Feel free to quiz them on their knowledge of the market, placements they have made and types of companies they work with. Make sure you feel comfortable with them. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll be instrumental in finding you your next position.

We’d recommend selecting one headhunter to represent you, and then allow them 4 to 6 weeks to work on your behalf, as it can take time for opportunities to surface. During this time, keep touching base with them to receive updates and make sure that things are progressing.

We advise against having lots of recruiters working on your behalf as there are a finite number of ways in which we can work. Selecting one recruitment partner to work with avoids the risk of duplication and the same contacts being approached on your behalf. If the same potential employer receives your profile multiple times in a short time period, this will be counterproductive and could tarnish your image and integrity.

Step 4, Option 2: Apply To Jobs

Groundbreaking advice, I know

Going through job boards and company vacancy pages is clearly a good way to get your details in front of one of your target employers.

The only real way for this to be successful though is to make sure you only apply for relevant jobs where your background and experience closely matches the requirements of the job.

If you apply directly, especially to large businesses, chances are that your application will reach the HR Manager via an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) which could read your CV and bin it if it doesn’t contain keywords. Even if there isn’t an ATS in place, if HR or the hiring manager has hundreds of applications to get through, they’re only interested in those that are very relevant.

It’s unlikely that, at application number 86, they’ll see your CV and put you to one side for a role that could come up in a month’s time. You’d be better either asking to be introduced to the company directly through a recruiter, or just waiting that extra month until a relevant role comes up.

The extreme end of this is when we see candidates submitting their CV’s to jobs that they are in no way qualified for, at all. Examples that spring to mind are Sales Executives applying for VP Sales jobs, or Executive Chefs from your favourite burger joint applying for an Operations Manager with a Drilling Contractor! The time invested in these applications is nothing but a waste on the part of the individual who completed the process and frustrates the person reviewing the application. 

One last thing to note is, when you are applying for jobs, to make sure you are applying for a specific role and that your CV is not just being uploaded on to a portal or job board. Keep reading for the reasons why…

Step 4, Option 3: Job Boards

Not a fan of these

Job boards are advertised in the media, a lot. As such, individuals feel the best way to uncover employment opportunities is to upload their CVs to these sites.

Whilst your exposure is increased (recruiters and employers do trawl through these looking for candidates) having your details in the public domain comes with a number of risks. The first of which is that you instantly lose control of your image. You have no control of who is viewing your document, where it is being sent or who it is being sent to. You can tarnish your professional credibility, built up over years, in minutes through our CV ending up in the wrong hands or in the same hands multiple times. As such we would against posting your CV on to job boards.


As I said at the beginning, there isn’t a single way that is guaranteed success, but a great CV, realistic salary expectations and utilising a combination of specialist recruiter and direct applications should give you the best chance. If you’re going to do both though, always tell the recruiter where you’ve applied. This avoids future headaches too.

It’s a time consuming process though, so be prepared to take your time, and choose something that is right for you. Be selective, targeted and proactive, and good luck!

Obviously I couldn’t get through the whole article without getting in a plug. If you are looking for a specialist recruiter in the Energy, Life Science or Medical Device sectors, then we can help. We specialise in the placement of professionals from middle management to board level.

If you’d like a chat, then get in touch at today!

From the archive

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