Getting your career back on track

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The last couple of years has undoubtedly been a difficult time for many engineers. The drop in oil price has seen companies slash spending, delay or cancel projects, and cut jobs. If you find yourself back in the job market after a long period of employment it can be a daunting prospect. So how can you get ahead in a competitive market place and get your career back on track?

Getting started

Before you enter into the job search you need to clarify exactly what it is you are looking for:

Where to look

There are a number of methods you should investigate if you are to adopt a complete job search strategy. Most individuals find an effective approach involves searching both the open and hidden job markets

Open job market

• Review job leads through newspapers, specialist journals and industry websites

• Visit online job boards. Visit the large job boards first, and look for links through to your specific industry. Aim to find niche job boards and sites dedicated to your field. The Chemical Engineer job board is a good place to start: http://jobs.thechemicalengineer.com/

• Register with a recruitment agent such as NES (www.nesglobaltalent.com). A recruitment consultant can have greater access to job openings. They also have long established links in your industry and can identify the right role for your needs.

• In addition, recruitment consultants can provide advice on targeting your CV, how to prepare for an interview, tips on negotiating salaries and making the most of your soft skills.

• Choose your agency carefully – Assess how they work and whether they are technically trained to represent you.

• Once you have registered with an agency you are advised to call your consultant regularly to keep your name at the forefront of their mind for any opportunities.

Hidden job market

• Research and contact employers. Send out speculative CVs to specific companies you have an interest in and target the particular individual who you would like to work for. Don’t forget to explain in your cover letter why you have pinpointed them.

• Cold calling target firms can also be of use. By going straight to the source you can ask for the name of the person who runs the department and request any information to be sent to you about the company – this will give you a better idea of what the business’ key objectives are. If you can speak to an individual, you can mention in your cover letter the conversation you had.

• The non-traditional job search: expand your network. Attend local meetings, become active in professional organisations and community groups, speak with associates and ask people who and what they know. Sign up to appropriate mailing lists, newsgroups, and chat forums.

Get organised and get committed!

The biggest mistake most people make is finding excuses for not being active in their job search. Develop a daily plan and stick to it. Create a document to track when and who you sent applications to, so you remember to follow up all opportunities. When you are offered a position, send a note to all the people who helped you relaying the good news.

This can ensure the continued growth of your career. By occasionally contacting these people you will remain active and open to opportunities.

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