2009 - so how has been for you so far?

Nearly every candidate I speak to has been asking the same question, "how's the market?" From my point of view, different covers it.

Certainly the number of jobs available are decreasing at least in he short term whilst organisations decide what they are going to do.  This may change in the medium term, many organisations (including some of my clients) have people that were great for them when everything was going well, now that times are hard they need a new approach, people that are more creative, cost effective and not afraid to take the tough decisions.  The other change, at least from my client base is a lot more interest in interim or short term employment finding specialists to come in to a specific role rather than join on a permanent basis.

The number of candidates is increasing dramatically, some people have been made redundant, some think they will be made redundant and lets not forget some people just want to change roles still.

So it's back to the age old question - as a candidate what can you do to improve your chances of success.

First up, think about how you will get your next job.  You can use people like me and we may or may not be able to help but think in broader terms and turn to your personal network.  Use linkedin to raise your profile, I use it, other recruiters use it but so do potential employers.  If you are going to use a recruiter, select them carefully, we come in all shapes and sizes, the good bad and ugly.  For the first time this week I was actively qualified by a candidate who asked sensible questions about who I knew, the organisations I work with and likely success.  All good stuff, everyone should do this, the reality was I am in the right place for this candidate had he been in something outside of my specialism then we would have been wasting each others time.

Qualify the recruitment agency, ask them outright "do you think you can help me? It's OK if you can't I just want to use my time effectively".  Make sure you work with the ones who can help you and don't spend time chasing those who can't or who just don't want to.

Take some time to look at your CV.  It is a sales document and on average has between 20 and 30 seconds to grab a recruiter who uses traditional read the cv approach (like me) and a lot less if keyword searched by one of the large agencies recruitment systems.

Focus on your achievements, the 'so what' test of each role you have done.  If you are in sales say how much you sold not just against target, if you are in service say what the impact was of your latest service improvement etc.

If you post your CV on job boards, go back to refresh it, most agencies only search on the most recent CV's so it is worth editing or tweaking on a regular basis.   Make sure you accurately fill in salary and skills data etc. as a lot of agencies outsource or use keyword systems to search their database using very strict rules in terms of criteria.

More to come in the next few weeks - it is hard out there right now but not impossible.