Preparing for a successful job search in 2020

The holidays are here. It’s a chance to slow down, relax, and take a break from work. No emails, phone calls or meetings for a week or so – bliss. But if you’re not looking forward to returning to your current job and are considering new opportunities, you may be feeling anxious or distracted by an impending job search.

This article aims to help put your mind at ease and provide some practical advice. It contains steps to help you prepare for a successful job search in 2020.

Set career goals for 2020 and beyond

So after taking some time to relax, you can use the holiday period to think about what you want for your career in 2020. It’s an opportunity to plan your strategy for moving up to the next position. To understand what kind of role would bring the excitement back to your working week and move you forward in your career.

People who don’t set career goals can struggle to make their ambitions come true. By defining strong career goals you can link your income to your passion. Finding a role that lets you work on something you’re passionate about is – to be honest – not an easy task. But it’s absolutely worth aiming for and working hard to achieve. Good things never come easy, as they say.

We work with many passionate people in the procurement and supply chain industry. People that love the thrill of managing that big tender. Or thrive on securing a supplier that will make a big difference to their business. Or hiring someone who is an excellent fit for the position they’ve been trying to fill. Or finally getting their dream job.

What are your goals for the year ahead? To increase your income? To take on a fresh challenge with more responsibility and excitement? To work for a specific company that you know is great to work for? Start your job search by writing those goals down. Pin them somewhere visible like a notice board or stick a Post-It note on your monitor so you can see them during your job search.

Next, write down your job requirements. A list of what you’re looking for from your next role. Your list might include things like this:

  • Competitive salary
  • A healthy work/life balance
  • Promotion opportunities
  • International travel
  • A particular culture (‘friendly’ or ‘fast-paced’, for example)
  • Ongoing skills training

Companies always have a list of essential requirements for candidates. Why shouldn’t you have a list of essential requirements for them? You should be assessing them as much as they will be assessing you.

Dedicate time to your job search

Once you have set your goals and have your list of requirements in front of you, it’s time to start your job search.

Think about the channels you will use during your search:

  • recruitment consultancies
  • your network (reaching out to people via email, LinkedIn, or maybe over a coffee)
  • job boards
  • speculative approaches
  • networking events

It can be helpful to schedule time in your calendar to organise your search. Scheduling things to do over the holidays will be painful (an empty calendar is a welcome treat this time of year!). But it will give you an advantage over other potential candidates who will be competing with you for the best jobs.

This schedule will help you dedicate time to your job search; reaching out to people, searching through job boards, updating your CV and social media, and so on.

Just make sure not to overwork yourself. Find the right balance between these activities and relaxation. It will be worth it, we promise.

Update your CV and cover letter

Your CV and cover letter are an essential part of your personal brand during a job search. In our article about personal branding, we talk about the importance of consistency between your CV, your cover letter, your social profiles, and the impression you make in the interview.

What you say and how you say it should be consistent. It should also be tailored to the job you’re applying for.

We suggest performing a ‘personal brand audit’. Make an honest assessment of your current CV and cover letter. Look at them through fresh ‘recruiter’ eyes to get an idea of possible weaknesses.

Your CV

Your CV is a vital component of a successful job search, of course. A great CV will provide an ‘at-a-glance’ summary of your education, your career history, your skills and career highlights. All on one or two sides of A4 paper.

Start by updating core details like your employment history. Then think about your most significant accomplishments and attributes. Provide a summary of those career highlights at the beginning of your CV.

For example, a Procurement Manager with strong leadership and problem-solving skills could write something like this:

Effective and forward-thinking Procurement Manager who brings valuable industry experience and the practical skills to achieve real results. Adept in developing key relationships with strategic partners and committed to working to ensure a company continually moves in the right direction. Over five years of experience overseeing and improving all processes related to the procurement of goods and services.

Your cover letter

You will often hear that cover letters are a thing of the past. But a good cover letter can be the difference between getting your foot in the door or not.

A cover letter is a front page or window to you as a candidate. Potential employers won’t judge you on your cover letter alone. But they will spot someone who hasn’t made an effort to customise the cover letter to the position or someone who has made spelling mistakes.

Cover letters are especially important when you’re applying for a job that doesn’t completely match your background. You can use the cover letter to demonstrate and sell your transferable skills. It’s your opportunity to tell the employer why you’re suitable and convince them to meet you face-to-face for an interview.

A cover letter is your ‘elevator pitch’. It’s important to keep it brief – around 100-200 words. Outline who you are, the skills you have to offer, and your career ambitions.

Update your social media profiles to stand out from other candidates

Employers will check your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. In fact, you may find yourself applying for positions using LinkedIn’s job market. You may also use it to contact people and make new connections.

You can reuse parts of your elevator pitch from your cover letter on your LinkedIn profile. Summarise your career and mention recent achievements. Also state your career ambitions in your LinkedIn summary – tell people what you are working towards. LinkedIn gives you plenty of space to do this.

Creating a consistent presence across your social media profiles will help you stand out from the crowd and portray a positive image. This means using consistent profile photos, job title, biographies, and so on.

New Year – new connections

As the holidays near their end and people start filtering back to work, start contacting recruiters. Start exploring networking opportunities in your area as well.

Recruiters

Developing a strong working relationship with a trusted recruiter will pay off now and in the future. Specialist procurement and supply chain recruiters like us exist to help and support your job search in this busy market.

A good recruiter will need time to understand what you need and assess your strengths. It can often take time and a lot of hard work to match the right person with the right role. So contacting recruiters as early as possible in January will give you more time with them.

Making these connections as soon as possible will increase the chances of a recruiter matching you with great opportunities early in 2020.

Read our article about building a successful relationship with a recruiter to get the most out of that relationship.

Networking

Most places throughout the UK have regular networking opportunities; from national conferences to local meet-ups of working professionals.

You can do some research during the holidays and schedule some networking events into your calendar for January. These events are an ideal opportunity to meet up with people who could be working for some great companies. You might speak to someone who has some inside knowledge of upcoming opportunities in procurement and supply chain.

You can find local networking opportunities using event listing services like EventBrite and through industry organisations like the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

Reach out to your contacts in January as well. They might be aware of companies who are hiring or have a connection who can help by passing on your CV to a hiring manager. Often it’s “who you know” that uncovers prime career opportunities.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous year ahead!

Competition can be fierce for any kind of position in a great company, but this is especially true in procurement and supply chain. You need every advantage you can get. We hope this information about preparing for a job search in 2020 gives you an advantage and your job search is successful.

Our vacancies page might list a procurement or supply chain role that matches your requirements and career ambitions. Please feel free to contact us in the New Year for help with your search.

We wish you every success in your job search and a very happy 2020.