If you’ve lost your job how can you improve your chances of getting back into work?

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When the financial crisis first hit home many of the job losses affected men, and women seemed to be spared the worst of the job cuts. But many of the jobs that have been lost have been in the public sector which is a big employer of women. So if you’ve lost your job how can you help yourself get back into work?

Network before you leave
Most of the time the writing will be on the wall before you actually lose your job. Use the time while you’re still in work to network — however informally. It’s much better to look for work while you’re still in a job, if you can.

– Join groups where you may meet people in your profession. Don’t expect to get a job offer at the end of your first meeting but it’s a useful way of expanding your contacts, especially if you’ve worked for the same employer for some years.

– Ask family and friends and ask them to ask their family and friends. You never know who will be in their contacts list. Get in touch with former colleagues if they’re working in a sector you have experience in.

Plan your approach
If you’ve already lost your job — especially if it was some weeks or months ago – you may find it harder to be disciplined about your time. Ceri Wheeldon of the website Fabafterfifty — and a former headhunter – recommends treating your job search as a job.

– Set yourself a routine. Do your job search at set hours in the day, advises Ceri. “Set aside part of the house and give yourself breaks for coffee and personal phone calls. Set yourself objectives for the day or week such as registering with five internet job boards or three employment agencies.”

– Have a comprehensive job search strategy. “Don’t just rely on one or two avenues, such as the internet or recruitment agencies,” says Diane Norris, career coach at part time recruitment company Women Like Us. Networking and speculative approaches are also important. Remember — more than half of all vacancies are never advertised.

Update your CV
If you’ve not applied for a job for a while (or even if you have) your CV may not show off your skills as it should.

– Make sure you have a killer CV: one that presents clear, relevant information which matches your skills and experience to the job you are applying for. Diane Norris, career coach at part time recruitment company Women Like Us says: “Put your most relevant experience on the first page – make it easy for a recruiter to put your CV on the ‘interview’ pile.”

– Keep your CV to two sides of A4. Make sure you summarise recent key achievements and spell out exactly what you can bring to a company. Don’t leave it for them to have to try and work it out. They probably won’t bother.

SAVVY TIP: Don’t use jokes or slang. Check the grammar and spelling – use spellchecker or get someone else to check what you’ve written if your spelling isn’t very good.

Prepare for any interviews
Some people love interviews, others would rather have teeth taken out without anaesthetic. Either way it’s vital to prepare.

– Research the company/employer. Find out about the company’s history, recent changes in management, significant orders it’s won (if relevant to your role) or change in focus/strategic direction.

SAVVY TIP: Don’t just look at the company’s own website but check out its competitors (especially if you don’t work in this sector) and what the trade and mainstream press are saying about it. Get up to speed on relevant issues that you might be asked about.

– Find out about the interview itself. Ask who will be interviewing you and what format the interview will take, says Diane Norris. “Aim to back up your answers to every question with evidence. Keep your responses brief.”

SAVVY TIP: Focus on what you have done — avoid answering questions with “We….

– It’s all about your attitude. Enthusiasm and a positive approach can go a long way. Ceri Wheeldon of the website Fabafterfifty. “It’s important to come across as professional, capable and somebody others would like to work with. Don’t be negative about your previous role or previous employers.”

SAVVY TIP: If nerves get the better of you, don’t worry. If you’re caught out by a question, ask for a second to think about it. Interviewers know that people can get nervous in interviews and sometimes it’s better to compose yourself and give a thoughtful answer than to start answering when you don’t know how the sentence is going to end!

Related articles:

Starting a business in your fifties

What are your rights if you’re made redundant

What you’re entitled to if you’re made redundant

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