A few days ago, I was invited to take part in the expert panel for the Guardian Careers on New Year career resolutions. You can access the full discussion here. In this article I will provide the most relevant questions and my answers to them. Hope you will find it helpful.
Q: Do you have any tips or techniques that people can try to refocus their job hunting?
A: I would suggest to refocus from applying strictly online to carefully considered and selective networking by identifying and contacting key people at target companies. Aim to gather up to 10 contacts (but the more the better) for your companies and get contacting them for informational interviews. Proven and results-oriented approach.
Q: I have a strong interest in management, but have had a problem trying to find anywhere which offers junior/entry level management positions. I have applied to multiple graduate general management schemes, but have always been knocked out during psychometric numerical testing which is admittedly something I have always struggled on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
A: It sounds that you are successful in converting job applications into interviews, which is a great thing. What you need to work on is numerical tests and it is much easier than converting into interviews. It requires careful planning and dedicating at least an hour each day for practice tests (there are a lot of good free ones online and some high quality paid for ones). Numerical tests tend to test basic maths skills and speed of thinking – the former you have got already I am sure and the latter is developed by everyday practice.
Q: I’m struggling to decide on either a new direction or stick with what I know …
A: Well, changing careers is always a challenging task which requires a lot of consideration and weighing up. Initially you could write out a list of all the positives associated with your current career and what you like most about it, then what you don’t particularly like and the key reasons you will consider changing. Then compare and weigh up – but would recommend to do it over a period of time to make sure you don’t make a mistake and everything is carefully thought through. You can also involve close friends and family and ask for their advice.
Q: I have a good degree in Sociology with a customer service/admin background. However, I cannot seem to find an industry to break into or a career path I’m passionate about – Help!
A: Perhaps with your background you could consider a job in market research as a starting point and then progress to client management within the same or different organisation? There are a number of more junior market research openings at big companies such as WPP, which if performed well, can lead to client-facing positions and then once you have gained experience, you could join a consulting project oriented firm.