Finding Your Ideal Job

This article is © Copyright Liam Healy & Associates 2009. We are happy for other sites to link into this page, but no unauthorised copying or reproduction is allowed.


Guide use
This Guide is intended as a manual for people who are thinking about changing jobs, organising their career or starting out in the world of work. It contains information for use through the whole of the job search process, from thinking about looking for a new job, to the first few months of a new job.

This information is best used in conjunction with other Liam Healy & Associates career development products and throughout the article there are references to our products that may help you in your Career Development.

*Please note that some information is applicable only in the United Kingdom.*


Changing Trends in Work

The nature of work is continuously evolving and changing, the notion that an individual will have a job in the same organisation for life is a very rare concept. Today people tend to change jobs, industries, or even careers more often. It is not unusual for a person who is established in one career to decide to go to college or university to train for another, totally unrelated career for better opportunities and rewards.

Organisations are no longer responsible for an individual’s career; it is left up to the person, meaning that some people drift through their Career, without any real goals or focus, changing jobs without a plan of what they want to be doing in the next six months. Whereas other people take control of their own personal development and plan where they want to go and what they want to achieve.

Organisations encourage their employees to take advantage of learning opportunities as a way to enhance their skills and motivation. The accessibility of learning has increased, with more online, distance and part time courses becoming available for people interested in learning new skills.

The emergence of new technology has dramatically changed the way organisations are run. Computers and Internet technologies have enabled different parts of organisations to communicate with one another across continents and work together from all corners of the globe. This has enabled organisations to centralise departments and use fewer employees to perform the same volume of work that was accomplished previously, cutting costs for employers. This has brought about greater job insecurity for the remaining employees, fearing that their job will be cut next.

Technology had also led to changes in the types of working practises. Part-time work is on the increase, so is Teleworking (working from home), Job sharing, Short-term contracts, flexible working hours, team working, even working with teams across the other side of the world.

Employees today have to be flexible and adaptable and be able to tolerate the level of change that their organisation is going through. They have to be able to use the latest technology in their work and keep up with their continuous personal development so they do not get ‘left behind’.

Preparing Yourself


1. Time
Looking for a job or new career is a time consuming process. Expect to spend at least 10 hours a week on working towards getting a job. You need to spend time planning and doing research, completing application forms, tailoring your CV, following up applications and attending selection events.

2. Commitment
You need to be wholly committed to your Career Development, because nobody else will do it for you. It is your responsibility to manage your career and develop to your full potential. It takes a lot of effort and energy to research different career options but it is important for you to choose the right one for you, as you will be in your career for years to come. Properly researching your Career Goals is a major, but extremely worthwhile investment you can make for yourself.

3. Access to Resources
You can find a vast amount of information about Career Planning using the Internet. There are many websites devoted to trade associations and career advice. Organizations provide web surfers with information about what they do, cases studies of recent work they have done and job availability.

Membership of a library may be extremely beneficial, as well as the resources they provide, there is also the added benefit of having somewhere to work on your career without normal day-to-day interruptions. There are many Career Help books on psychometric tests and interviewing techniques etc. that may come in useful. Libraries often have access to trade magazines and newspapers, which will help you in your Career Research.

4. Support
You will, no doubt, need some support during your career planning, both financial and emotional. A Career Search can be a very stressful process, due to the fact that it is strange and unfamiliar. Also, during selection procedures you have to reveal a lot of sensitive information about yourself to relative strangers and open yourself up to rejection. There is also the added pressure of having to wait to see if you are invited to come for an interview or rejected. Due to the volume of applications a job opening usually has, it is becoming more common that the organisation does not contact you to tell you that you have been successful.

Going to organizations for selection events may be a costly process, especially if you have to travel a long distance. Sometimes the organization will pay your travelling expenses. Help with travelling costs may also be offered by your local job centre, contact them for details.


Career Options

There are many difficult decisions to make when looking for a career. The main question people typically ask us is:

What Career would suit me and enable me to become successful?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with all the answers. This is a serious decision and the only person who can answer this question is you. A number of different factors predict ‘success’ in a job. Everyone has his or her own definition of success. For some it is becoming very wealthy, powerful and being the ‘boss’, for others it is having a job they enjoy, find interesting and can do well.

Motivating Factors
When looking at Career Choices it may be useful to look at the things you want to get out of your work life.

Examples of motivators include:

  • Helping others
  • Being involved in good causes
  • Enjoyment/fun
  • Social Interaction
  • Money/Reward
  • Power, control and influence
  • Variety
  • Intellectual Challenge
  • Responsibility
  • Recognition
  • Achievement

You have to decide whether you will get what you want out of your career. It may be useful to remember that within a particular industry, all organisations are different and the benefits offered by a job in one organisation may not be what you get out of another.

Interests have a big influence over what type of career you would be interested in. For example, if your least favourite subject at school was art and you have no artistic ability whatsoever, you would be advised to stay away from being an artist or graphic designer. The same goes for people who disliked studying maths, they may not enjoy being a maths teacher or accountant.

When making your Career Choice, try to answer these questions.
1. What subjects did you enjoy at school?
2. What do you enjoy doing now?
3. What skills do you have?
4. If you had the guarantee of being successful, what would you be doing in 10 years time?

These questions will enable you to think about the areas you would be interested in finding more information out about. If you have completed the Careers Interest Report, use your interests and the report to narrow down the type of field you would be interested in to start of your Career Research.

The actual ability to do a job is an important factor. If you find that you are unable to sing a note, despite having lessons for years, it may not be practical for you to pursue a career as a singer. The same goes for intellectual ability, if you found that you struggled at physics and nothing made sense to you, it may be logical to stay away from jobs that required any use of physics.

Different types of ability have been shown to be gender-specific due to biological and evolutionary factors. Males tend to be better at spatial awareness and numerical reasoning, whereas females tend to be better at communicating and verbal reasoning. There are many exceptions to this, of course, but this is the reason why you find more men in scientific careers and more women in counselling and caring professions, although the gender ratios are rapidly changing. You should not stay away from careers that have been traditionally male or female, you should try to find a job to suit your personal interests and abilities.

Q. What do we have at the Career Psychology Centre that can help you gain an understanding of which types of work you may be interested in?

A. The Careers Interest Report is designed to help you.  Using a comprehensive on-line Occupational Preferences Assessment Questionnaire developed specifically for the purpose, we can assess your occupational interests for the 8 major Job Groups and 27 specific Job Types. 

There are many physical tools that are needed to carry out your Job Search.

Having access to a telephone and answering machine/service is essential in your Career Search. This will enable potential employers to contact you, and if you are not available, they will be able to leave a message for you to return their call.
Address Book
It is very important to keep a note of the names, phone numbers and addresses of all the people you speak to in your job hunt. This includes people who interview you. Having an address book is essential as you will need to use it to chase up applications and know who you have sent your details to.
With so much going on it is essential that you keep a diary. This will enable you to track how much time you have spent on an application and plan your days. You also will be able to schedule your selection events and plan your preparation for them.
Filing System
You should keep records of all paperwork that an organisation has sent to you and photocopies of everything you have sent to an organisation. Keep all paperwork from the same organisation together in one place, so the information is easily accessible if you are called in for selection events.

Q. What do we have at the Career Psychology Centre to help you with you with keeping addresses a diary and your CVs in order? 

A. The Job Application Tracker is a piece of software that will enable you to do all the things mentioned above. You are able to put in all the details of the organisation you have applied to, details of the job and keep track of any correspondence you have sent to a particular organisation. Click here for more information.
Company Research
The key questions you need to answer when you are researching companies that you are going to be applying to are:
1.     Will this organisation suit me?
2.     Will I suit this organisation?
There are other things you need to find out about a company, which will aide you in your choice are: 

  • The history of the company.
  • Products and Services they offer
  • Their main competitors
  • The challenges they are currently facing
  • Any recent news about the organisation.

The more research you do into your target organization, the better prepared you are for the application process and for any selection events. It also shows that you take your career choice seriously and want to work for the organization. 

Job Hunting Techniques 

 There are a number of places you can look to find a job:
Newspaper Advertisements
Newspapers have job advertisement sections on a weekly basis. Libraries often have daily newspapers in them and increasingly newspapers are also advertising vacancies on their Website.


  • You may find that different industries are advertised on regular days of the week in certain newspapers.
  • Your local newspaper will have details about jobs in your area.
  • You may be able to access job advertisement information on the Newspaper’s Websites, forgoing the price of the newspaper


  • You may have to pay for a newspaper, unless you have access to a local library.
  • You may have to trawl through lots of irrelevant job adverts to find the ones that are applicable to you.

Trade Magazine Advertisements
Most Trade Magazines have job advertisements included in them; it may be useful to have a look through them.  Trade Associations usually have a website with a dedicated area for job vacancies.


  • The advertisements will be specific to your field; you will not have to spot a relevant advert in masses of irrelevant information.
  • You may be able to access job advertisement information on the Trade Magazine’s website, although a subscription charge may be required. 


  • It may prove expensive to subscribe to trade magazines; a library card may be a must in this case. 

Online Job Posting Databases
There is an abundance of websites, which offer the opportunity to complete an online CV and search and apply for jobs in the database. Typically potential employers are able to search the database and contact you directly.


  • The service is usually free; the employers have to pay to advertise.
  • You could just sit and wait for a potential employer to contact you, but this is not recommended!
  • Once you have completed your CV, it is usually very quick and easy to apply for jobs.
  • You are often given the opportunity to sign up for ‘job alerts’ of jobs that are of relevance to you this can be by email, or even by SMS text message to your mobile.
  • You may have the opportunity of making different targeted CVs and sending your selected CV in response to a job advert. 


  • There will be many other people with similar qualifications to you, so you have to have a remarkable online CV to get noticed.
  • Recruitment companies tend to use these services, which makes it difficult for you to do some proper company research before applying.
  • A quick and easy way of applying for an online job may mean that lots of people apply for the same job. This could suggest that the organisation you apply to may not always send you a response to your application.
  • There are certain security issues with having your CV online, including who will have access to information about you. Online Job Posting Databases have many methods of rectifying this, but you have to make sure that you only give your details to a reputable company and one you trust, please read the terms and conditions of service on the individual websites. 

Company Websites
Today most organisations have their own websites and often list any job vacancies they have on their website. These are beneficial for companies, as they do not have to spend a lot of money advertising positions, but it tends to be big companies who do this in conjunction with another method for attracting clients.


  • You can apply directly to organisations that you are interested in.
  • You can explore the company website while you are deciding to apply and find out if the organization is one you would be comfortable working in.
  • You do not have to apply through a third party; you know that the information you send is going directly to the organization itself.


  • You will have to go through a lot of company websites until you find one that will have a suitable vacancy. 

Out and About
Many job opportunities can be seen when you are walking around your neighbourhood, or the town/city where you live. You often find jobs advertised in local shops and supermarkets, this is particularly true about jobs in retail.


  • If looking at a job in the window of a shop, you can see where you are likely to work before you apply to work.
  • You can stumble across great job opportunities when you least expect it; you have to keep your eyes open.
  • You may be able to go into the place where the job is being advertised and speak directly to the person who is responsible for hiring. You could leave them with a good impression by asking relevant questions before applying. 


  • It is highly unlikely for you to be carrying around your CV when you are walking around the shops, so you may have to return at another time. 

Employment Agencies
Employment agencies exist to put people into jobs and they are tend to be paid by their clients only when they successfully place a person in a particular role.

Before you go to work you need to find out from the agency:

  • What you should wear, whether you need to take any specific clothing or equipment.
  • The time you need to arrive, where to go and who to report to.
  • Anything you need to know for health and safety reasons.
  • The rate of pay.  


  • The agency does most of the work finding you the job.
  • If you impress the organisation they may decide to keep you on for a longer-term project and buy your contract.
  • You may gain valuable experience of an industry by being a temp in different organisations.
  • It is easier to find a job whilst in employment, even if it is only temporary.
  • Some people prefer the challenge of adapting to many different environments and would like to work for organisations on a project basis. 


  • You may have to keep reminding the agency that you are still available for work.
  • If you keep turning down work or not impressing the organisation the agency may refuse to refer you for further work.
  • People in the organisation may treat you differently as you are a ‘temp’ and will be only there for a short period of time.
  • You may be on a different pay scale to people in the organisation as a percentage of your salary may be given to the agency.
  • You will not be able to do much research into companies, as you may not know which organisations you are applying to! 

There have been scores of books written on networking and the best way to do it. Basically, networking is a term to describe the way we interact with people and build relationships with them. In job-hunting terms, it is about asking the people you know, your friends and family for help in your job search. They many have information that could be useful to your job search.


  • People have many different contacts and using your existing network may prove useful.
  • You have countless opportunities to get to know people from the industry you are interested in, which could be excellent for learning about the industry and making valuable contacts. 


  • Some people are reluctant to talk to people they do not know.
  • People may feel uncomfortable about giving information out to people they barely know, you have to take time to build relationships with people
  • You have to be careful to respect the wishes of the person giving you the information as to whether or not they want you to use their name in the contact they have given you.
  • If you have been given permission to use the name, the person you networked with may get informally asked what they think about you, so make sure you are certain that they will give you a good recommendation. 

Speculative Approaches

Making speculative approaches is a very good way of getting a job. Many employers may be considering taking on an employee, but have not got round to formalizing the process they want to take, or they may even create a post for the right applicant.

This method works very well if you have a recommendation from someone they know and trust, so you are able to say “ Mr. Smith recommended that I contact you…”

You have to be prepared for rejection as not all companies can afford to take on a new employee, so you should ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable job position in the future.
There are three ways of making a speculative approach, but the most important thing to do before considering any of these approaches is to DO YOUR RESEARCH and focus on what you can do for them, not what they can do for you!

In Person

  1. Contact the organisation and ask for the name and job title of a person who is doing the job.

  2. Go to the employer’s premises in very smart clothing, as if you were going to an interview.

  3.  Take with you a copy of your CV and Covering Letter in a large envelope addressed to the person that makes hiring decisions.

  4. Ask to speak to the person responsible for making hiring decisions.

  5. Make sure you are very polite and friendly, as secretaries and receptionists tend to keep people from wasting the time of people in the organization.

  6. If the person you want to speak to is available:

    1. Thank them for agreeing to see you.

    2. Give your CV to the person.

    3. Explain who you are, what you want and what interested you in the organization (in less than 5 minutes, practice what you are going to say before you arrive so you come across as confident and prepared).

    4. Answer any questions they have.

    5. Thank the person profusely for their time and leave.

    6. Call the person a few days later to ask about their impression of your CV.

  7.  If the person you want to speak to is unavailable:

    1. Ask to speak to someone else in his or her department – try not to be pushy, as this may come across as aggressive.

  8. If you are unable to see anyone:

    1. Thank the receptionist for his or her time and ask if you could leave your CV and Covering letter for the person you wanted to speak to.

    2. Call the person a few days later to check that they have received your CV and ask about their impression of it.


  • This shows the employer you are serious about working for the organization and that you are confident, determined and self-reliant.
  • You give the person in charge of hiring a face to put to the endless CVs they receive, it is harder to say ‘No’ to someone they have met than a CV.
  • Gives the employer a chance to ask you further questions and get to know more things about you.
  • Even if you do not get to speak to the person you were after, the receptionist may be compelled to describe you to the employer.
  • Gives you more knowledge about the organization, which will help you decide if you would like to work there. 


  • It takes a lot of courage and self-belief to walk into a company and do this.
  • If you make a poor first-impression, it is quite difficult to mend relationships so you have to be extremely careful about being polite and professional at all times.
  • If the company is a long way from where you live, the costs of getting there may be extortionate, so the best thing to do would be to call the company. 

On the Phone

  1.  Contact the organisation and ask for the name and phone number of the person who makes hiring decisions.

  2. The structure of the call would be:

    1. Explain who you are, what you want and what interested you in the organization (in less than 5 minutes, practice what you are going to say before you phone so you come across confident and prepared).

    2. Ask the person if you could send your CV to them and how they would like you to do it, e.g. by post or e-mail.

    3. Make it obvious you have done your research into the organisation.

    4. Answer any questions they have.

    5. Thank the person for speaking to you.

  3. Send your CV to the person by post or email

  4. Call the person a few days later to ask them for their impression of your CV.


  • The employer will know that you are serious about the organization and the job.
  • It will ensure that the person is expecting your email/letter and it will get their interest.
  • Gives you a better impression of the organization, which will help you decide if you would like to work there. 


  • Can also be a nerve-wracking experience, requiring confidence and self-belief.
  • If the person you are calling is having a bad day and does not want to be disturbed, they may come across as annoyed and uninterested, or cut you off. You can’t let this upset you or put you off other speculative approaches, you can learn more from situations, which did not go well for the next time. 

By Letter/ Email

  1. Contact the organisation and ask for the name and address/email address of the person who makes hiring decisions.

  2. Send the person your CV and Covering letter, making reference to your company research.

  3. If you are emailing your CV, some organizations do not like to receive attachments due to computer viruses, it may be better to remove all formatting and put the CV and Covering Letter content into the main body of the email. Then send a nicely formatted CV in the post.

  4. Wait until they have had the CV for a few days and call them to ask them if they have received your CV and what they thought about it.


  • This is the less intimidating route and will suit more introverted people better, your CV still gets delivered to the person who needs to see it.
  • It may be extremely difficult to contact someone who is very busy and this way they have something tangible which they have to do something with. 


  • This may not be very effective unless you make the call afterwards as it takes less effort for the employer to not respond to speculative CVs, than to respond and say thanks, but no thanks.  

Q. What do we have at the Career Psychology Centre that will help you write your CV?

A. The Personal CV and Resume Writer will help you develop your CV and Covering Letter for speculative approaches.

Job Centres / Careers Centres/ University Careers Offices
These places tend to have Jobs advertised that may not be elsewhere. You do not have to be unemployed to go into a Job Centre. Job/Careers Centres often have company brochures and application forms ready for you to take away and complete, bypassing the need to contact organisations directly.


  • You may find jobs that are not advertised elsewhere and you can get advice on how to tackle your application.
  • You could ask for help from people who work in the job centre with aspects of applying for jobs. 


  • You have to make the effort to physically attend the job/careers centre.
  • The quality of jobs on offer may not match your expectations. 

Create a Job for Yourself
Creating a job for yourself basically consists of doing some in-depth research into the target organisation, finding a niche in the organisation that you could fill and the sending a proposal for the job to the person who is in charge of the hiring process.
Just think of yourself as a specialist consultant, offering them your knowledge and skills to solve a problem that they have. You have to put the problem in a reasonably good light, so it does not look like you are blackmailing them into offering you a job!


  • You could end up with exactly the job you wanted, but could not see advertised.
  • Your employers will be very grateful that they found you, especially if you solve their problem. 


  • There is a thin line between looking like you want to solve their problem and telling someone how to run their business, which may not go down well!
  • The organisation may not have realised they had a problem. They may decide to use your problem and solve it themselves, using your methods, thus not requiring you!
  • If you are unable to solve the problem you highlighted to get your job, it will look very bad on you. 

Become Self-Employed
With the right idea, you do not have to be an employee. It has never been so inexpensive to start your own business, the start up costs now can consist of; a computer, modem, Internet Service Provider and a Web hosting Account. This has resulted in a proliferation of new businesses worldwide offering every imaginable product and service.


  • You will have total control of the work you do, when you do it and how you do it. You will not have to answer to anyone (other than your customers).
  • You could potentially be making a lot more money and feel more satisfied with what you are doing than you were in employment.


  • Starting a new business and becoming self-employed is a life-changing event and it is a big risk not having regular monthly pay coming in. If you are not doing the work, you are not getting paid!
  • You are wholly responsible for the success of the company.
  • There are frightening statistics about how many new businesses fail in the early years, be sure to research and plan what you will be doing very carefully.

If you want to go down this route, there are many places you can turn to for help. High-street banks have business advisers and can help you with the financial side of starting your business. Organisations such as chambers of commerce or business clubs offer advice to people considering starting up in business. The Inland Revenue arranges workshops covering aspects of business. Your local council may be able to give you information about grants that are available for starting a business, hiring employees etc. Make sure you get advice from everyone who is offering help and research and plan for all eventualities.