A step-by-step guide to finding a job

Looking to find a job? Have a read of our step-by-step guide, designed to make it as easy as possible to find a job fast.

Our services

Register your details with us, and you'll be able to take advantage of our free job alert service, with a round-up of the best jobs to match your requirements sent straight to your inbox on a daily basis. These email alerts take away the effort of trawling through multiple job sites - and avoid the hassle of browsing hundreds of job listings only to discover you've already seen them posted elsewhere.

Our partnership with CV-Library also allows you to register and upload your CV, making you directly visible to employers and headhunters alike. With over 9,800 companies searching for their next hire, it's an effortless way to throw your name into the ring without the need to fill out lengthy application forms or craft speculative tailored letters, all of which can take a great deal of time.

General job search tips

If you're looking to take your career to the next level - or even change career completely - it can sometimes be hard to know where to start. If you're not careful, it's a task that can be all-consuming, taking a vast amount of time and becoming more and more frustrating as time goes on.

To make sure your job search is as effective as possible, it's vital to have a specific job goal: a vision of the type of job you would ideally like, and to be able to demonstrate the skills and the qualifications that make you perfect for the role.

Before starting your search, one important job tip is to define your personal brand - what will make recruiters and employers gravitate towards you rather than any of the thousands of others also looking for their next role? Your personal brand is what defines you and makes you unique, whether it's the skills and qualifications you have, your past experience or your character traits, and should carry through consistently from your CV right through to your job interview approach.

With your requirements and your personal brand defined, it's time to establish which employers are the perfect fit with your needs.

Using employee reviews to find top employers

You may have come across a job listing that sounds like your dream role... but would you be working for your dream employer? A simple Internet search can throw up all manner of horror stories, from female employees being sacked while pregnant to incompetent HR departments.

But how can you ensure you avoid things like this happening to you?

The answer? Check out reviews from existing and former employees before you sign that contract.

Glassdoor is a site that features reviews of over 600,000 employers across the globe, giving you an insight into exactly what working for these businesses can be like. As well as the reviews, you'll also find details of questions that these companies use at interview plus salary information, giving you a comprehensive overview of whether a company really is the right fit for you.

It's a site that's known as a reputable source of inside company information - and one that regularly makes the press. In mid-2017, The Telegraph revealed the 10 worst companies to work for in the UK according to Glassdoor ratings, with the Financial Ombudsman, Laura Ashley and Ladbrokes all making the list.

Similarly, Glassdoor themselves curate a list of the best companies to work for based on employee reviews: a list that features Google, Anglian Water, Salesforce, Lookers and others for 2018.

You'll also find that some of the top job sites offer staff the chance to review their employer, giving you multiple sources of information about potential employers, meaning you can make a balanced decision about whether a particular company really is right for you.

How to find local jobs

While some people may be happy to commute long distances for their dream job, others - whether due to family commitments, a lack of transport or simply personal preference - will be looking for something closer to home. While simply searching for "jobs near me" can bring up results, there are other ways to give yourself a great chance of a role nearby - even at companies where no roles are currently being advertised.

One top job tip is to sell yourself as often as possible, ensuring that neighbours, local business owners and anyone else you meet in your area knows what you do, and that you're looking for a change. While they may not be able to offer you a job directly, they may know someone who's looking for an employee with your exact skillset.

Local networking events for those in your industry can also yield results. Sites like MeetUp list all sorts of informal and more formal meet-ups for people with all sorts of interests, so it's worth checking out listings near you.

Community newspapers may also be a source of potential employment opportunities: scour the news for stories about local businesses that may benefit from your skillset and experience, and don't be scared to contact them, mentioning the article in question. While they may not have any immediate vacancies, many firms will look positively on proactivity, and may reach out if they have a suitable position available in the future.

You could also offer to give talks to local groups (such as the Women's Institute, the Rotary Club and others) about interesting aspects of your field - as long as it's relevant, of course. While it may seem like you've exhausted the lists of local jobs that are suitable for you, taking these proactive approaches may lead to some surprisingly positive conversations.

For a digital approach, remember that the top job sites will all give you the ability to search listed vacancies within a specific radius of your location, narrowing down the swathes of results to list only those that are within the area in which you're willing to travel.

Interview preparation and top tips

If you ask any employer how to get a job at interview, their answers will no doubt be the same: preparation is key. Before the big day, ensure that you have a good understanding of the role you're applying for (with a list of questions to ask the interviewer if anything isn't clear), as well as researching the company itself: devouring the contents of their website to understand the way they work, researching their strategic plans for the future, checking their social media feeds for the latest updates, and searching online for news stories about the firm.

It's also well worth preparing your answers to some of the most commonly asked interview questions in advance, meaning you can answer to the best of your ability rather than being put on the spot. Popular questions include "what are your strengths and weaknesses?", "where do you see yourself in five years time?" and "what did you like most/least about your last role?" - you'll find a great list of common interview questions here.

It may seem obvious, but planning the logistics of the day in advance is also important. Have a haircut and trim your nails if needed, and lay out your interview outfit the night before so it's ready for the big day, and check travel plans well in advance, as well as traffic conditions before you leave: the last thing you want is to turn up late.

Another top tip is to locate a coffee shop near your interview location in advance, and factor in a little extra time to sit down with a brew and go over the job description and your CV again before you go in. It will mean that you're not stressed and rushing to get there, and will give you a chance to compose yourself and your thoughts before the interview starts.

How to work as a contractor

For some, a role as a regular employee may not suit, and often, people will consider contracting in place of taking a position as a permanent employee. Working as a contractor can offer a number of benefits to a job hunter. Many are attracted by the ability to take short term contracts - normally from 3 months upwards to fulfil a specific project at a company - before moving on to a new contract elsewhere, giving them plenty of variety in the work that they do. Contractors can also earn significantly more than full-time employees, and can enjoy a great deal of flexibility when looking for work.

However, being a contractor can also have its downsides. There's no guarantee that a contractor will be able to find a new contract role to begin immediately after the last one ends, which can lead to a loss of income. Contractors will also not receive the benefits that their permanent employee counterparts enjoy, such as paid holidays, subsidised travel and more. And finally, becoming a contractor will require an individual to register as self-employed or as a limited company, meaning that they are responsible for their own tax returns, tax payments and National Insurance contributions.

Rather than sign an employment contract as a sole contractor, some will be able to go down the route of using an umbrella company, if finding work through an employment agency. An umbrella company is a third-party limited company that is set up to act as an "employer", normally for a number of contractors. If a contractor chooses to use an umbrella company, this firm will essentially act as their employer. Every week (or every month), the contractor will invoice them based on that period's timesheet, with a salary paid by the umbrella company after the deduction of tax and National Insurance.

For many, the use of an umbrella company is preferred, as it saves them the hassle of completing tax returns. However, umbrella companies have come under fire in recent years for exploiting temporary workers by charging huge administration fees - as well as for being domiciled overseas to reduce their own tax burden. Our advice? Do your research before deciding which approach to take.

Job search mistakes and scams - and how to avoid them

Searching and applying for jobs can become a draining and demoralising process - especially if you find it takes a while before your perfect role makes itself known. However, some job hunters can scupper the process themselves by making basic mistakes that can easily be avoided.

The first? Sticking to searching in the same places as everyone else. While job sites and agencies offer plenty of choice, the number of applicants through these channels could be vast. Rather than using these as your sole search option, remember that word of mouth and your existing networks could unearth opportunities that you may otherwise have not discovered.

An unavoidable part of job hunting is rejection - and many will take the receipt of a rejection letter personally, leading to negative feelings about the search for a new role, which can hinder success still further. Instead, see rejection as an opportunity: ask for feedback from employers who have said no, and use this feedback to move forward, increasing your chances of future success.

Even simple things like spelling and grammar can have a huge impact on your job search. Research shows that half of employers reject applications with spelling errors: an easy mistake to avoid by checking your CV or application form and cover letter carefully.

You should also think about your online presence, and whether it reflects how you want to be seen by potential employers. More and more businesses are searching out information about candidates online before making hiring decisions - and research shows that a fifth of employers have rejected a candidate because of social media. Aggressive or offensive language, references to drug use and bad spelling and/or grammar are the top three culprits: be sure to check your social media feeds before applying, ensuring that all that's visible is what you want potential employers to see.

Something else to be wary of is employment scams, which can catch out those placing their CVs on job sites. Fraudsters may contact site users with details of a fictitious role - sometimes overseas - that fits the bill perfectly, and with a substantial salary to boot. Questionnaires are filled out, phone interviews are conducted, and the job hunter is offered the role. However, some may then be asked for a fee to cover arrangements, while others will be asked for bank account information to set up salary payments. Before they know it, they're left out of pocket - and realising that this dream job was too good to be true. Find out more about employment fraud here.

Searching for a new job can be frustrating, time-consuming, disheartening and lengthy - but it need not be. Sensible searching, perfect preparation and avoiding common mistakes can make the process a whole lot easier - making it far more likely that you'll find your next role in no time at all. Happy hunting!