Job-hunting basics: eight steps to success

To find a new finance job, you need to do more than scour the job ads in the local paper. In fact, knowing how to look for a position can be as important as having the right qualifications. The following are strategies that can help you make the most of your job search efforts- and increase the probability of finding a new and rewarding position.

1. Think of your career search as a job unto itself

  • It takes time to research and locate your ideal position
  • If you are unemployed, make this task your full-time job; if you're employed, set aside time every day after work to devote to the search

2. Narrow your focus

  • Before you blanket the market with CVs, spend time thinking about what you want from your next position.
  • Make a list of the five most important criteria for you, whether it's non-profit based work, extra time with family or a management role.
  • Consider your skills, accountancy or finance qualifications and related background.
  • As you review job opportunities, look for those that match your priorities, talents and experience. This will help you focus on a position that will not only pay the bills, but also make you happy to go to work each day.

3. Explore every option

  • Internet job boards, professional networking sites like LinkedIn, company web sites, recruitment agencies like Robert Half and classified adverts are all good places to conduct your search.
  • Universities are also usually well-prepared to provide assistance to alumni seeking employment. Take full advantage of these services.

4. Know the marketplace

  • Try to objectively assess how in-demand your skills are, based on current job openings and the availability of people with your experience.
  • Talk to recruiters or other experts in your field who may be able to provide insight.
  • Attend job fairs to get in touch with in-house recruiters for a number of companies and keep an eye out for lectures, courses or seminars; you may meet someone who works in the field you're pursuing.

5. Create a winning CV

  • Quantifying your achievements. For example, if you completed a project under budget, state what the projected numbers were and how much you actually spent. This will demonstrate your value to potential employers.
  • Tailor your CV and covering letter to fit the most important criteria in the job description. However, be careful not to misrepresent yourself: If you only know the basics in PowerPoint, don't say you're an expert.
  • Your CV should have a professional appearance: Proof-read it carefully, and choose a legible font like Arial and point size. Use cream or white paper if you're posting the CV, and create a print-friendly version when sending your CV by e-mail.

6. Network, network, network

  • You can tap the "hidden" job market by developing a list of contacts through friends, family, former co-workers or alumni.
  • Create a profile on professional networking site like LinkedIn. Read more about managing your reputation online here.
  • Make it your goal to speak with five or six people each week for advice, helpful information and job leads. Always be polite and courteous, and be prepared to return the favour.

7. Create a "pitch"

  • When you are telephoning or emailing contacts for advice or leads, have a brief description prepared. Four or five sentences that describe who you are, your background and what you are specifically looking for from the person you are calling.

8. Develop strong interviewing skills

  • Make a good impression at an interview by showing that you've done your research on the company. Before the appointed time, request company literature and locate industry-related articles on the Internet. Visit the company website.
  • Ask yourself questions such as, "What are the company's strengths and weaknesses?" Make a list of what you could contribute if hired for the position.
  • Research basic interview questions and prepare your answers- just be careful not to over-rehearse.

When searching for a job, it's always a good idea to go the extra mile by conducting research, creating a top-notch CV and preparing carefully for each interview. It takes perseverance and dedication, but with the right tools, and a bit of luck, you'll land your ideal position.