The Two Hour Plan to Find Your Next Job

January is one of the busiest months in recruitment. 15% of people typically make finding a New Year's resolution and many people do use the downtime to update their CV and sound out the market. However, although a glut of new roles usually get announced in January many candidates lose their motivation rapidly as they confront the prospect of updating their CV or their applications disappear into a black hole. The first application is BY FAR the hardest so here's how you can get your job hunt really motoring in just two hours and 5 seconds.

5 seconds

Write down how many jobs you will apply for in January. I’d suggest between 6 and twelve.

5 minute vision

Consider and write down where you want to be (realistically) in five years' time. Salary, hours working, location, skills and experience you will be developing. Nobody will hold you to it but it will focus your mind.

8 minute brainstorm

Brainstorm two lists. What you like about your job and what needs to be better. This will keep you motivated through the application/ interview process and be invaluable to a recruiter trying to understand your motivations.

58 minute master CV

Update your CV making sure you communicate the impact you made in any role as well as listing your responsibilities. If you don't have a CV then:

At the top of the page put your name and contact details.

  • Section 1: Summary of your work experience (job title, company, date of employment).
  • Section 2: Detailed experience for recent and key roles. Don't be afraid to use bullets.
  • Section 3: Qualifications
  • Section 4: interests.

15 minute job browse

Get onto our website (of course) and a couple of the jobs boards and look for relevant roles to check your expectations are realistic. A male colleague of mine generalises: men naturally tend to stretch themselves, women often underestimate their abilities (so ladies push yourselves). Your target is to find two roles you want to apply for.

10 minute review your master CV

Review your CV to get it perfect. Then give it to a recruiter (like us), friend or family member to critique.

9 minute covering letter

Write a covering letter for one of the two roles you are interested in. Read the job description carefully and in your letter make links between the skills and experience the employer requires and the skills and experience they will find detailed on your CV.

9 minute covering letter

As above for the second role.

2 minute covering letter review

Reread both covering letters.

2 minute applications

Apply for the two roles then note down what they were, who the recruiter/ company is and the date you applied so you can follow up.

I hope one of your applications will be to us - it is worth a speculative email to us even if there isn't a relevant role published on our website as we will often know about roles before we are allowed to make them public.

Finally, three more top tips to make your job search as painless as possible,

  • Plan to maintain your momentum - set aside time for the coming weeks to search for new roles and follow up existing applications- for example, one hour each Tuesday evening. Remember you set yourself a target for the number of roles you were going to apply for in January.
  • Fewer recruiters is better - if a recruiter knows you are only registered with them, or them plus one other recruiter then they will put in extra effort as their chances of reward are greater. Secondly, it makes it easier for you to follow up on applications.
  • Tailor your master CV for each role - ensuring your relevant experience stands out will make a dramatic difference to your application success rate and this short term time investment will deliver a long term time saving. We didn't do it for the first two applications as the most important thing was getting you into a positive mindset about applying for jobs.

Good luck!

Clare Wight is managing director of Clarity Appointments, a fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals a regional director for The Employment Agents Movement (TEAM). Her email is: