Focus on what you want and what you are good at – job-hunting hints and tips

Hello everyone.

I’m now just 4 days away from the graduation ceremony and am SO looking forward to it. I’ll share the experience with you in another blog after the event.

Since my last blog I’ve been busy job hunting; I found that the key to success, just like my studies, was to remain focused on what you are good at and what you want. Additionally, I noted a few other key ingredients that I want to share with you.


  1. Buy yourself a notebook. Your notebook will serve two purposes; it will create a permanent record of your professional experience and education for future reference AND it will enable you to reflect upon and identify what is important to you professionally.
  2. In your notebook detail both your work experience and education namely what you have done and achieved and, more importantly, what you have learned. Additionally, write down your strengths, development needs and how you work (alone and in a team).
  3. In the notebook write down interview questions* and answer these as if you were in an interview. Refer to the information that you have written already in your notebook about your experience and education to assist you with your answers. *The internet is a great source for finding typical interview questions. In addition, I have now written another blog with some typical questions here:
  4. Identify what is important to you both professionally and personally. What do you value? Write your values in your notebook.
  5. Know what you want and do not deviate from that. In other words, ask yourself, what industry you want to work in, what company you want to work for , what job you want to do and what your job will entail. Write this in your notebook. Write in the current tense as if you are already in the job. Put it in a picture format if you prefer. Display it so that you see it each and every day. Perhaps have it as a screensaver on your PC. For example, I had a picture of the world with the following words typed over it “I work for an international company within HR strategy and projects across national borders”.


  1.  Be clear on your unique selling point (USP). What do you consider to be different about you that will be of interest to employers. Write it in your notebook.
  2. Write your CV in the way that is aligned to the country culture where you are applying for work. For example, my English CV details my achievements whereas my Norwegian CV details my job responsibilities.
  3. Get a few people to read your CV and give you feedback. Make the necessary amendments.
  4. Ensure that you have a LinkedIn profile and that the content mirrors that of your CV. In the headline write that you are looking for work in XX (e.g. HR) and highlight your telephone number in order that employers can contact you easily. If you are employed just detail your phone number.
  5. Contact your network and let them know that you are looking for work – be specific. Ask for their help namely to let you know if they come across any vacancies that would suit your profile. Remember to offer to help them in future if they need any professional support.
  6. Identify companies that you want to work for. Visit their website and follow them on Linked, Facebook, etc.
  7. Post your CV of job websites and update your CV weekly even if it is just adding or taking away a full-stop; this will ensure that your CV remains at the top of the search pile.
  8. Identify recruitment companies that focus specifically on your profession. Upload your CV on the company website follow up with a phone call after a few days – you may find that your CV has gone to the wrong office or has not been registered at all; ask who you should send your CV to.  OR  Call recruitment companies and ask who deals with vacancies in your profession. Ask to speak with him/her, clearly state what type of work you are looking for and in which industries you are interested in working in. If you are not asked to attend an interview ask for an appointment to discuss your CV further – ensure that you stress your USP. Agree how often you should make contact with him/her.
  9. When speaking to recuiters listen to your gut reaction – if you have a negative feeling don’t waste your time dealing with the company. There are many more out there.
  10. If you have a more than 10 years experience and/or have held senior positions be aware of younger recruiters who don’t understand and/or cannot relate to your profile. They may make excuses for not seeing you or agree to a provisional appointment that is likely to be cancelled at the last minute. Do not waste your time – move on to the next company.
  11. When applying for jobs listen to your gut reaction – if you have a negative feeling don’t waste your time applying; there is a high probability that you will not proceed to interview.
  12. Create a spreadsheet to log who you have sent your CV to and when. Update it each time you make contact with the company.


  1. When you are invited to attend an interview first congratulate yourself and then prepare and I mean prepare.
  2. Look at the job advertisement and job description if there is one. Look at each and every sentence and, referring to your notebook, relate your experience and/or knowledge to the content. If there are elements that you cannot relate to it then ask yourself how you would deal with that particular area of expertise.
  3. Prepare questions that you want to ask about the company and the job.
  4. Read about the company and write down key points. Learn the history of the company and identify what the company strategy is; consider how the strategy may impact on the position which you have applied for. Find out what the corporate values are and compare these to your own.
  5. Identify if anyone in your network works for the company or is connected with someone who does.  Make contact with them to ask questions about the working environment, e.g., what’s it like to work at XX?
  6. Plan your journey; know exactly where you are going and allow sufficient time to get there. If you are able to, make a trial journey.
  7. Up to and including the day of the interview revisit your notebook.
  8. Relax and enjoy your interview.
  9. During the interview, when asked a question do not rush to answer; think and answer recalling your experience and education as appropriate.
  10. If you are unable to answer a question then be honest and say so. Where possible, follow this admission with what you would do in the situation.


If you do not live in the country where you wish to work, do your homework.

  1. Check that there are the jobs available in your profession.
  2. Make sure you can speak and understand the language.
  3. Arrange a trip to visit recruiters……. Allow approximately one hour per interview and don’t forget to allow for travel time between interviews. The fact that you have taken the initiative and invested both time and money in travelling to the country where you want to work will send a strong message to the recruiter that you are seriously interested in working in that country.

Listen to the feedback you receive from recruiters concerning your CV; make the necessary amendments and re-send your CV to the recruiter thanking them for their feedback.


  1. Prepare in exactly the same way as for a face-to-face interview.
  2. Ensure there will be no interruptions.
  3. Have a pen and paper at hand to take notes.


Throughout your job hunting period you will have setbacks. There will be jobs that you really wanted for which you receive either no response or a “your application has been unsuccessful”. Do not allow yourself to be disheartened; revisit your application and identify what you believe to be the reason(s) why your application was not successful. Where there is new learning add this to your notebook. If the employer has not stated in their correspondence that they will not give reasons why your application was unsuccessful or give feedback from your interview then make contact and ask for feedback.

Tell yourself that for every “no” I receive I am getting nearer to the “YES”.

Finally, when you receive the job offer that you want, CELEBRATE and then go back to each and every recruitment company to notify them of your news. Thank them for assisting you with your job search. Additionally, notify any companies where you have made direct job applications.

Enjoy your job-hunting journey. Remember it is a journey; it has a beginning and an end. The end will be a new chapter in your life – the start of a new job.

I wish you every success.



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About ss608

Sue has now graduated from the University of Leicester. I'm Sue, a British expat living in Oslo, Norway. I have over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources (HR) and have recently, successfully completed studying the MSc International Human Resources (HR) and Globalisation course by distance learning with the University of Leicester. Sue has now graduated from the University of Leicester.

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3 responses to “Focus on what you want and what you are good at – job-hunting hints and tips”

  1. Britt

    Brilliant blog Sue.

  2. Cole Msimanga

    This will definitely come in handy Sue,Congratulations and all the very best!!

  3. Wassila Howes

    Great post with valuable tips here! Great news! Congratulations Sue & best wishes:)

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