Employment

6 insider tips from career coaches to boost your job hunt for 2023

Is making your CV stand out as important as we've been led to believe?

Career coaches Hannah Salton, Nisha Aubeeluck, Joanne Mallon offer their tips to boost your job hunt. Image credit: Hannah Salton, Nisha Aubeeluck, Lauren Psyk

“There is a lot of movement in the job market at the moment because of the crazy last few years we’ve had,” says Joanne Mallon, who has over 20 years’ experience as a career coach.

“So many people are re-evaluating their choices, changing careers or opting to work in a different way.”

She’s not wrong. There were around 1.2 million job vacancies in December last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as sectors ranging from hospitality to health and prisons to plumbing desperately try to hire new talent. This means there’s less competition for roles than in past years, making 2023 an optimum time to bag the role you want.

Career coaches, like Mallon, can help you to figure out what you want from your work life, and equip you with the skills you need to make it a reality. 

But, unless you’re a student with access to a free career’s service – in which case take advantage of that right now! – they can cost a pretty penny. 

So, we asked some of the UK’s best career coaches to kindly share some of their wisdom to turbo-boost your new year job hunt, from applications to CVs and interview questions.

1. Aim for quality over quantity when it comes to job applications

This one might come as somewhat of a relief, because less may, really, be more. 

Sending the same generic application in a scattergun approach to lots of different employers is unlikely to be as effective as you hope. “It’s far better to apply to less, but make your applications specifically targeted to each job,” says Mallon, author of Find Your Why: How to Discover Your True Purpose and Live Life to the Full.

“Remember that many job applications are electronically sifted, so make sure you match the language that’s used in the job advert to the language used in your application.” 

Mallon also offers 30 minute “laser” coaching sessions to help people tidy up their CVs and LinkedIn profiles. She does this on a “pay as you feel basis” to make her support as accessible to as many people as possible.

2. Highlight the positive results of your actions

“The biggest mistake I see in applications and interviews is people talking about what they have done instead of talking about the results they have created. The way to stand out from every interview is by talking about impact and results,” says Nisha Aubeeluck, a feminist career coach and student career consultant at London School of Economics.

For example, instead of saying you “worked across all social media platforms for x company”, try saying: “I created a monthly social media content strategy which resulted in 500 new followers a month and a one per cent increase in engagement on Instagram.” 

Be specific about what you have achieved, so that employers can easily envisage what you could do for them.

3. Get visible on social media

Everyone from corporate CEOs to Big Issue vendors have a LinkedIn profile, and if you don’t you’re at a disadvantage. 

“Social media is pretty much the internet so I’d advise you to use platforms like LinkedIn to show employers what you’re about,” says Aubeeluck. 

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“I’m not saying you should be a content creator, but get your profile updated, new picture, ask people to write you recommendations and share a few posts. That way, you’re getting in front of people so they can find you. 

“The day my clients started using LinkedIn is when they became more proud of who they are and their confidence skyrocketed. I was found on LinkedIn for article so it definitely works.”

4. Keep your CV simple

A good CV should contain… “as little as possible!” says Mallon. “So many jobs get hundreds of applications that the recruiter isn’t going to wade through pages and pages to find out if you’re right for the job. You need to make that clear from the top of page one.”

Give the most space to what you have achieved in the last five years, she continues, “this is what will have the most influence over what you do next.”

For Aubeeluck, making your CV stand out is just as important as we’ve been told.

“In a highly competitive market, recruiters are reviewing hundreds of CVs, and so the one that has a killer layout, quantifiable results and a personal profile that is actually personal, will always stand out,” she says.

5. Prepare for the worst question you can think of

Career coaches have a range of tips for preparing for an interview.

“A question I often ask coaching clients when I’m helping them prepare for an interview is: ‘What would you least like to be asked about in this interview?’” says Mallon. 

Some of the trickiest questions can be:

  • How could we improve our service / product? 
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What did you dislike about your last job?
  • How do you feel about criticism?

But it’s also helpful to think about what tricky questions an interviewer might ask you specifically. 

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Having an answer to the question you’re most worried about will really help your confidence, making you safe in the knowledge you’ll be able to respond to whatever comes your way. 

For more advice on how to answer job interview questions, and what to ask in response, take a look here

6. Show passion

Last but not least, get passionate! Your cover letter or interview is not the place to play it cool, don’t be afraid to express how much you want, and would enjoy, the role up for grabs. 

“The biggest mistake I see in job applications and at interview stage is candidates failing to demonstrate an understanding of and passion for the role they’ve applied to,” says Hannah Salton, career coach and author of Graduate Careers Uncovered.

“Your experience is important, but your motivation and your attitude are just as, if not more, important.”

Big Issue Group has created the person-centred recruitment service, Big Issue Recruit to support people facing barriers to employment into sustainable jobs. To find out how Big Issue Recruit could help you into employment, or help your business to take a more inclusive approach to recruitment, click here.

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