Hays’ Amanda Whicher offers her top tips for those looking for their next tech job opportunity – and dispels some common job search myths.
Now that we’ve settled into 2024, you may be taking proper stock of your situation and wondering if it’s time for a new chapter in your career. But whether you’re just starting out on your journey or a seasoned tech professional, the job search can be a daunting prospect.
Is all the advice you got the last time you looked around still true? Are there new ways to find your dream role? How much of a freshen up does your CV need? To help you elevate your job search, we spoke to Amanda Whicher, director for technology at Hays UK and Ireland.
Focus on skills, not job titles
One of the most important things to bear in mind, according to Whicher, is that due to the constantly changing tech landscape, the job title you currently have might not still exist in the same guise by the time you start your job search.
“I think it’s really important that you understand what type of [tasks] that you really enjoy doing, but you’re also really good at and when you’re searching for a role, that you’re searching by the term rather than the job titles,” she said.
“If you’re really specific in the job title because of the organisation you’ve potentially worked in for the last 10 years, you might not have anything come up because actually that job title isn’t necessarily a standardised job title.”
Be thoughtful about your applications
It has become incredibly easy to apply for jobs nowadays. With many platforms, a simple click of a button labelled ‘apply’ could send your standardised cover letter and CV off to several recruiters at once.
However, this in itself has become a pitfall for many jobseekers according to Whicher. “If you’re really generic in your application, then that’s going to be received as generalist and so therefore, you might not get a response,” she said.
“I think being more thoughtful in the roles that you’re applying for is really important. And I would always connect on LinkedIn or reach out to the individual, whether it’s a recruitment agency or the hiring manager to make them aware that you’ve applied.
“You want to differentiate yourself in the market that we’re in at the moment that while we’ve got skills scarcity across technology, it doesn’t mean we don’t have applications for jobs, it just means that the applications that we get in a lot of cases aren’t fit for purpose for the role.”
Leverage your network
While it may be easier to apply for jobs and there are thousands of roles available on job sites, LinkedIn and recruitment sites, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to weed out your dream role there.
So, what’s the best way to lay the groundwork when it comes to getting your next job? Whicher advised going to the source. “Not everyone advertises externally,” she said. “So I think definitely look at some of the target organisations you potentially want to work for because they might not be visible in other places.”
She also spoke about the importance of growing and using your network. This may be more of a long-game approach, but it will allow you to be there for opportunities that may not be as easily found. “The best time to apply for a role is before a [company] has even advertised the role,” she said. “I think also reaching out to your network to understand, ‘do you know of any organisations that are going to be recruiting in the next six months for my type of skills?’”
The myth of the two-page CV
While tailoring your CV is important, Whicher was eager to dispel a few myths that many of us would have picked up and stuck to since school. “Whoever told you that your CV has to be two pages was fooling you, because it’s not the reality,” she said. “How can you fit a 20-year career on two pages?”
While she hastened to add that it shouldn’t stretch to 10 pages, it’s about putting forward the right information, so three or four pages is definitely OK as long as the content is relevant.
“I always say your CV’s your shop window. So if you were walking by that shop, what is it you want to see about you as a person and as an individual?”
Highlight your key achievements
Most jobseekers will know that they need to make sure that ‘shop window’ CV displays their skills via the tasks they’ve done in previous roles. But Whicher said it’s important to be mindful about how you’re showcasing those achievements and not to just boil it all down to a list of bullet points.
“If you’re a project manager and you’ve delivered 25 projects, but one of those projects really helped change the landscape of an organisation, that needs to be in your key achievements,” she said.
“If you were to look back on yourself over the last few years, what are you really proud of? What are those moments and how do you feed that into your CV?”
Seek feedback from your rejections
Even the best of us will face rejection when it comes to the job search. Whicher warned that the likelihood of those rejections goes up for those who have “applied for 100 jobs in one click” and advised that you often get back what you put in.
However, for those who follow the above advice, apply thoughtfully for jobs relevant to them, showcase their skills the best way they can and get to interview stage, rejection can understandably sting.
“Some people feel like they’re failing and, to me, you’re not failing, but take every opportunity as a learning moment, and how can you improve from it?”
Whicher advised jobseekers who are unsuccessful to seek feedback from hiring managers or recruitment agencies in order to learn and develop for the next role. “If you went to someone asking for help and saying, ‘I really want to improve myself, I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get the job with you. But I really do want to invest myself and you know, it’d be really useful any insights that you can share that I could have done better?’”
In spite of the learning opportunities a job rejection can provide, there’s no denying that it can be demotivating. But Whicher said it’s important to believe that everything happens for a reason. “You might not be able to see it today…[but] you will get there eventually.”