Is now a good time to start looking for a new job?

“Not Before Christmas!” 

Recognise that phrase?! It seems as if once we get into December, a general assumption floats into the stratosphere that there is no chance things will get done before Christmas. Whether this is home repairs, furniture deliveries, medical appointments or pretty much anything else, at this time of year it can be difficult if not impossible to get things sorted before Christmas.

But does this apply to job hunting? Is now a good time to start looking for a new job or should you leave it till the new year?

Ironically, now could be a very good time to apply for a new job. Job vacancies have recently hit a record high. According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), there are currently around 1.17 million jobs being advertised, with employers struggling to fill key positions.

Some of the sectors where this is particularly the case are:

  • Health
  • Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Transport


A regularly updated list of sectors with current shortages of workers appears on the Gov UK Immigration Rules site.

So if you are planning to change jobs soon, it could well be worth starting the process now and getting ahead of the game. January and February tend to be busy times for recruitment, especially with many people making a job change one of their New Year resolutions. If your application is already with the employers that interest you, it could work to your advantage.

In this article we look at:

  • How to go about looking for a new job.
  • How to stand out from other job applicants.
  • How to prepare for an interview.


How to go about looking for a new job

You need to be strategic and use your time carefully. Don’t apply for anything and everything, but be selective and put time and effort into the applications that matter to you.

There are then four ways that you can go about finding the company and job that are right for you:


1. Look at online recruitment sites

There are a wide variety of job agencies that advertise online. For example:

If you do see a job that interests you, it’s a good idea to apply quickly as these sites can be very popular and attract a lot of applications. It is also worth checking the website of the company advertising the job, to see if you might be able to apply to them directly through that rather than using the agency. 


2. Target companies of your choice

If there is a company you would really like to work for, check their website for potential job opportunities. But don’t be disheartened if there is nothing being advertised. You can still:

  • Send them a speculative enquiry to show your interest;
  • Start learning more about them for future reference;
  • Follow the company’s social media sites and begin interacting with them there.


3. Harness the power of networking

If you are serious about changing jobs, put the word out with all the people you know who may be able to help. Someone may just happen to know of a job coming up and be able to put you in touch with the right person to make an early application. 

Also use online networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook groups and industry-specific platforms to network with others and look for opportunities. Also keep your eyes open for any relevant face to face or online conferences, training seminars and networking events. They could provide the opportunity to meet new people and find companies that may be able to help you.


4. Reality check

When researching job opportunities you need to strike a balance between optimism and pessimism. 

It takes time and effort to prepare a decent job application, so you don’t want to waste time going for something that is way out of your range. 

On the other hand, don’t be put off applying for your dream job if you don’t have every single skill and quality that they are looking for, as most other applicants won’t either.


How to stand out from other job applicants

When applying for a job, bear in mind that many others will be doing exactly the same. So you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

Two ways you can do this are to:

  • Prepare a winning CV.
  • Ensure that your skills are up to date.
  • Prepare a winning CV


1. Tailor it to the job

You need a different version of your CV for every job you apply for. Don’t try to cut corners by submitting the same version for every job. You need to draw attention to the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job, and especially those that are mentioned in the job advert. 

Make sure you keep your CV brief, neatly presented, and avoid any unnecessary graphics or images. 

Also include a well-written covering letter (or email) that is persuasive, reflects your enthusiasm for the job, and lets some of your personality shine through.


2. Include all expected information

Make sure your CV includes all the standard information an employer expects to see in a CV, and . that it is easy to find:

  • Name and contact details;
  • Personal statement – a brief summary about you, both inside and outside work;
  • Employment history;
  • Education and qualifications; 
  • Additional skills – any skills, hobbies or interests that are relevant to the job. 


3. Sell yourself

You need to find a good balance between singing your own praises but not coming across as arrogant. Many people tend to undersell themselves in a CV, but you have to remember that it is your one chance to impress a potential employer. 

So you really do want to highlight your skills, experience and achievements, and make sure that the employer has enough information about you to want to take things further.


4. Proofread

It is really important to proofread your CV. If it includes mistakes in spelling or grammar, or doesn’t read well, the risk is it will end up going straight in the bin.

So check it carefully as you prepare it, and read it through again afterwards. It’s also a good idea to get someone else to have a look at it as well, as it can be very easy to miss things that a fresh pair of eyes can spot immediately.


  • Ensure that your skills are up to date

You will also put yourself at an advantage if you put in the effort to keep your personal and job-related skills up to date. Not only will this give you more to include on your CV, but it will help to increase your confidence in the interview process.

So take time to make sure that you are continually improving the four following types of skill:


1. Personal skills

Your personal skills are often just as important as your job-related skills. Employers will be looking for core skills such as:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to adapt to change;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • A flexible approach;
  • People management skills.

If you feel that you need to improve any of these skills, have a look at relevant online training courses such as Open Learn’s The Importance of Interpersonal Skills.


2. Job-related skills

Times are ever-changing, and you may begin to notice that a lot of the jobs you are interested in are now requiring particular skills that you do not have. If so, it’s a good time to start acquiring those skills to bring yourself up to date. Keep an eye open for training and development opportunities, either in your current company or online, to skill up in these areas.


3. Technical skills

Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in many jobs, so any time you spend improving your technical skills will be time well spent. For example you may want to learn more about spreadsheets, presentation software, Photoshop, website content management systems or html. You should be able to find a variety of online courses available in all these topics and more. 

As a start, check out the government Skills Toolkit website that provides a list of technical and business courses, which are all free.


4. General skills

Learning is never a waste of time. There may be things that you want to learn that are not directly relevant to your job search, but could still be worth doing. For example if you have always wanted to learn another language, online providers such as Duolingo or Babbel have free courses available. 

For more vocational topics, check out Reed UK for a wide range of courses, many of which are free. Topics include:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Admin, secretarial & PA
  • Business
  • Health and Care
  • Health and safety
  • HR
  • IT
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Office skills
  • Project management


How to prepare for an interview

Getting an interview is half the battle. It shows that the employer is interested in you and gives you a chance to shine. Between now and your interview there are three key things that you can do to help you achieve a successful outcome:


1. Get as much information as you can

You need to find out as much about the company as you can before your interview date. Check their website and social media feeds regularly for any news about the company, and also keep your ear open for any more general news and developments in the industry.

Try to get an understanding about some key aspects of the company. For example:

  • The full range of its products and services;
  • How many employees it has;
  • Where are its locations;
  • Who are the CEO and senior management team?


As well as useful background information, being up to date on the company can also help you to prepare some questions to ask them at the interview and reinforce your interest in the company.


2. Create a good impression

Whether your interview is face to face or online, make sure you present yourself as well as you can. Look on the website to get an idea of the dress code of the company and help you decide what to wear. Make sure you are punctual and polite, and do your best to smile and act confidently even if you are not feeling it inside.

If you are doing the interview remotely, it is a good idea to test out your technology in advance so that you are confident about how to use it on the day. Ideally try and do a practice interview with a friend to get feedback about how well you come across on screen, and anything you need to improve.


3. Rehearse your responses

It can be really helpful to think of likely questions that you will be asked and rehearse your responses in advance. This can build up your confidence before the interview itself. Even getting used to hearing your own voice speaking out loud will make things less stressful on the day.

You may not remember your prepared answers word for word, but are more likely to be able to say something sensible rather than feeling like a rabbit caught in headlights.

Also think through in advance some good examples to share of how you have handled difficult situations. Many interviewers will ask these kinds of questions, and if you already have some ideas in your mind you will be more likely to come up with something relevant when put on the spot. 


If you are considering a job change, we hope that this article has provided some useful information as to when and how to go about this.

Good luck in your search! If you need any financial assistance at any stage of the process – for example for training courses or events, home technology or interview expenses – remember that Munzee offers online loans that may be able to help.

Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial articles from Munzee Loans.