Job hunting advice for the employed

Before you begin your job hunt, consider whether it is really necessary for you to move jobs at all.  What is motivating you and can these issues be addressed in your current role?  Perhaps you could secure a promotion, relocation or a change of responsibilities with your current employer; there is an argument for ‘better the devil you know’.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, it is generally inadvisable to leave employment before finding another job.  The security of a regular income will enable you to keep looking until exactly the right role comes up.  Being able to pick and chose in this way is a strong position to be in and will minimise the chances of you making the wrong choice.


It is common for people to wish to seek new job opportunities confidentially.  While there is always the risk that your job search will come to the attention of your current employer, there are steps you can take to minimise this.  

It may seem obvious, but you should avoid telling anyone at work that you are considering a move, no matter how trustworthy you feel the colleague in question might be.  Never use your work email address, internet or phone for the purposes of job-hunting.  It is wise to indicate in all job applications that you are available to talk only outside of office hours; in this way you should avoid raising suspicion by having to take incoming calls at inappropriate times. and certain other websites will allow you to omit personal details such as your name and current employer when registering your CV.  Those reviewing your details will see only enough information to get an idea of your skills, while your identity is withheld.  Interested parties can contact you indirectly by email, leaving you in control of who you do and do not respond to.

If you are dealing with recruitment agents, tell them at the outset that you do not wish them to send your CV or release your identity to anyone without your prior permission.  Once you have agreed on this, insist that they send you an email confirming that they understand your wishes; this should provide you with some recourse should the worst happen.

Refrain from listing your referees on your CV; instead state that ‘references are available upon request’.  You may still include written references with your application if you have them; but remove any information from that could identify your referee. 

CV and covering letter

Take the time to ensure your CV is of excellent quality; it should be well written, concise (2 pages as a rule) and clearly laid out.  There is a CV Builder Function on that can get you started. 

Remember to tailor your CV and covering letter to the particular vacancy you are applying for.  Avoid using the ‘Cut & Paste’ method of recycling the same text for different job applications; it’ll be blatantly obvious to anyone reviewing your application and in all likelihood yours will go to the bottom of the pile as a result. 

Locating vacancies

Use all of the resources that are available to find vacancies including jobs fairs, industry publications, national & regional press, recruitment agencies, networking, company websites and jobsites.  The more resources you utilise on a regular basis, the greater the chance of you coming across your ideal opportunity.

Huge quantities of job vacancies are not advertised at all and applying speculatively to companies is a way of accessing these ‘invisible vacancies’.   Try to identify the individual who manages the department you wish to work for and apply directly to them as well as the Human Resources department, which may not always be aware of all of the company's recruitment needs.   An application by post in a hand-written envelope marked ‘Private & Confidential’ is the most likely to reach the intended recipient without first being intercepted.  Ensure that your covering letter concisely explains why it is that you wish to work for the company in question and be sure to mention should you wish your application to be treated confidentially. 

Recruitment Agencies specialising in your chosen field should be easy to locate using the internet.  By law their recruitment service must be free to their candidates, although they are allowed to charge for additional services such as CV writing.  Using a Recruitment Agency can be a good way of taking much of the leg work out of your job search and they should also prove an excellent source of help and advice along the way.   Make your wishes clear to your agent from the start; when are you available for interview?  When are you able to talk?  How should they contact you?  Must they seek your permission each time before releasing your CV to a company?   Do you require a full job description before attending an interview?  Are there certain companies you do or do not wish them to approach on your behalf?

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