Getting an MOT on Your Job Search

By David Smith

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That dreaded date entry on your calendar, the nervous ‘how much is this going to cost me’ feeling as your trusty chariot slowly rises on the ramp, checking the mechanic’s face for puzzled frowns and listening for the sharp sucking in of air through the teeth that so often signifies a problem.

Why does your [three-year old] car [and yourself of course] have to endure this ordeal every year?

Really it is to do with road-worthiness rather than the condition of your engine, is your car likely to get to your chosen destination in one piece?

Just like your car, your job search also needs some periodic testing to make sure you are still on the right road to your career destination, although I recommend performing these tests more often than once per year!!

What kind of tests are needed? Here are 10 aspects of your job search that require regular checks.

Let’s kick the tyres!

Brakes

Oddly enough, this was the last thing on the list I checked to write this post! I would have thought it would be one of the most important things to check in view of the fact that being able to stop your car quickly would be one of the most important functions.

It is the same with your job search journey. If you discern that any part of your methodology and tactics are either not producing good results, or even hampering your success….STOP immediately and change direction…which brings me onto….

Steering and Suspension

Steering Wheel

Personally, I really don’t like the idea of being in a self-driving car! I prefer to have control at all times, likewise, with your job search, it is not enough to upload your CV a few times and hope that you somehow arrive at your destination, you have to really steer the whole process yourself if you are going to be successful.

That means that you need to change the ‘direction’ of your CV and your covering letter, according to the jobs you are applying for, it means ensuring your uploaded CV is totally loaded with all the most appropriate keywords so that you get contacted by recruiters in your preferred field. You should be able to three-point-turn away from poor job seeking habits.

You will need your ‘suspension’ to be in good order so that any bumps [and there will be bumps] in the form of potential rejection, demotivation and other frustrations you may encounter on the road. This refers to your personal resilience when undergoing this journey – don’t forget to get support from people who know you are on this path!

Registration Plate

Interestingly, your plates will be checked for condition, security, legibility and format of the lettering to make sure it complies with regulation. Does this remind you of anything?

You will predominantly use your CV to ‘register’ your interest in a job. It has to be in good condition, definitely legible by recruiters [and robots] and formatted appropriately for your industry or method of application.

That would be the subject of a different post, but let me know if you need help with any of this!

Windscreen, Windscreen Washer Bottle and Wipers

Integral to any journey is the ability to be able to see where you are going and the ability to remove smudges that could impede your vision. Having a clear objective, other than ‘I really fancy a change, but not sure what…’ is absolutely vital to your journey.

If you can’t see clearly, you may miss your turning in the form of opportunities that arise, so keep an eye on your windscreen, which in this case is usually a PC monitor – keep your eye on the most popular job boards, job sites that specialise in your industry, and also set up some google alerts that will drop the latest vacancies into your email inbox.

Related to objectives, your CV should also contain the job title of the vacancy you are applying for…state your destination and aim for it.

Horn

Guess what? At times, you may need to let someone know that you are there! I am not suggesting that you bully people who are in competition with you, although you do need to compete with some major talent that is on the same road as you, but that isn’t what I mean here.

Beeping at the right people will alert them to your presence, that could be by networking with them at career fairs and suchlike events. Easier than that is Linkedin, but clearly, there is some etiquette involved, you know how annoying it is for someone to beep at you without cause.

Using Linkedin as a networking tool takes some skill, but getting noticed by the right people is beneficial. Get involved in conversations or join groups that give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise and knowledge is essential.

Let the right people know that you are there! 

Lights

Headlights

Have you ever driven in the dark? Without your lights? Probably not, I can’t think of anything more terrifying!!

The thing is, there are times when you can feel a bit in the dark on your career path, especially when it comes to applying for specific vacancies, and even more especially when you are changing direction in your career.

Clicking submit and sending your application out into the ether can feel a bit like a shot in the dark. Have I included enough keywords? Have I tailored my cover letter enough?

Well if I may shamelessly promote my services for a moment – I have the same tools as recruitment sites and am able to score applications prior to submission *a bright light suddenly blinds you* - feel free to test me out on this!

Emissions

Exhaust

How annoying is it when you are driving behind a vehicle that is clearly past the due date for the MOT? Black smoke churning out of the exhaust and filtering through your vents? Ugh! How awful!

Hopefully the same is not true of you in your job search? How could this apply?

What emissions are detected when recruiters pre-scan your Social Media platforms? Is it a beautiful, ‘road tax free’ purring and a gentle tip-toeing carbon footprint type of exhaust pipe, you know, kittens, holiday snaps and inspirational quotes with the odd picture of your lunch, shoes or baking project?

Or would someone be shaking their fist at a billowing cloud of political vitriol, politically incorrect opinions, questionable jokes and postings, or even worse?

It may be time to check your emissions!

Mirrors

Perhaps not quite as important as your windscreen, but think about how often you [consciously or subconsciously] check your mirrors during a journey, hopefully, it is pretty often!

Likewise, on your job search journey, it is good to look back in order to determine how you could have driven better or to review your progress.

Keeping a job search tracking tool [email me for a freebie] is a great way to not only keep tabs on your journey so far but also to make sure you know your next milestone.

Fuel System

With petrol prices being what they are, a key factor in choosing a car is ‘how many miles to the gallon will I get?’ So, efficiency is a major issue.

Not only that, but you want your car to last as long as possible before shelling out a king’s ransom for a new one.

It is just the same with your job search, don’t waste time on opportunities that you are not absolutely sure about. The effort that goes into each application is considerable, so choose your battles – be efficient.

Also, your motivation levels play a part in whether or not you go the distance, so make sure you tap into all available resources, such as your support network and nearest and dearest to spur you on in your quest.

Tyres

OK, new tyres are pretty expensive! But bald tyres can not only add serious endorsements to your licence, but they can take you off the road completely and you could [heaven forbid] end up in the ditch or worse. Prevention is most definitely better [and cheaper] than a cure in this case!

If you feel that you are not as far along in your journey, or have drifted off the road a little [or ended up on a different road], it may be time to check the tyres on your job search.

A major contributor to balding tyres may be purely the amount of time you have been on the road, why, what is taking so long to arrive at your destination?

It may mean some analysis of your progress, your methods and techniques, checking the tracking and even getting under the bonnet and doing some diagnostics.

Obviously, you could do this yourself with some success, but a professional may have the tools to clearly identify any problems rapidly and get you going again.

I hope this was useful, feel free to get in touch, give feedback or ask for advice via Twitter, Linkedin or email

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