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When you are looking for a job, you need to make an informed decision. You need guidance in so many areas, but where can you find the answers?

With a myriad of choices in front of you, any search can seem a noisy and confusing place to start with. If you are not deliberate in the way you navigate your search, where you find the information and whom you ask for help, you risk missing out on valuable insights.

Here are five key “go-to” sources of guidance for any candidate in their job search. While everyone will have different needs, here are my tips to make the most of them:

Family and friends. Your family and close friends know where you have been, and they are invested in ensuring that your next step is personally fulfilling. You can be candid with them about your fears and they will be honest about their thoughts. They can offer you feedback on the types of roles that you are applying for and the cultural fit of the organisations that you are looking at. They know you best, so they will help you avoid any clouded thinking. They will most likely be the most honest opinion in the room.

Your network. Before you embark on your search, your wider online and offline network will hold the answers to many of the questions that you might otherwise ask recruiters or employers. Finding out information through your network early will make later conversations more worthwhile and many of these chats lead to opportunities as well. Think about all the people you’ve worked for and with over the years, who do they know that they could introduce you to? What advice could they give you based on what they know about you? Most people are only too happy to help when asking for their honest opinion. Reciprocal networking is incredibly powerful, so always help others because you never know when you might need it yourself.

Recruiters. While recruiters are increasingly considering the softer aspects of a candidature (as software starts to handle the basic selection questions), their basic role is to cross-examine a candidate’s work experience in relation to the job description. They offer a crucial benchmark and reality check for any candidate – if you tick the “functional” boxes with a recruiter, you can confidently explore deeper during the employer interview. Pick no more than three – a good headhunter/ niche recruiter will always be aware of the key roles in their industry, and the closer your relationship, the more chance you have of being successful.

Employers. When you are sitting opposite your future employer, you need to investigate the cultural and behavioral fit. Sure, they will want to probe your functional suitability for the role, but if they offer it to you, you have to be confident that you would “fit in.” If an interview is superficial, you will not be able to be confident at an emotional level. It has to click for both parties – good interviewers will want to understand this as well. Again, do you know anyone at that organisation and could you gain an insight into the culture ahead of an interview?

The internet. From Glassdoor, company blogs, industry presentations and even stalking the CEO on LinkedIn, there is so much additional information on the internet and social media that can inform your decisions. LinkedIn activity is an obvious “must,” and there are communities such as Gated Talent that offer additional benefits.  Remember to build your own online presence and profile, as prospective employers are increasingly looking at your ‘digital footprint’ to further examine suitability and fit – it’s important to give the right impression the first time.

In conclusion, any job search will be a noisy cacophony of information hitting you from all angles, but if you are deliberate in terms of what information you are getting from which source, utilising your own personal network to its full potential and staying close to the right people you will have the best chance of securing a fantastic role.

As we approach 2020, If you’re thinking of discreetly seeing what the market looks like, want general advice on how to tackle a job search or partner with someone who can work with you long term on developing your career then drop me a line for a confidential discussion.

About Jonathan O'Hagan

With over 14 years of experience Jonathan is a respected Headhunter/ Executive Recruiter with a strong and proven commercial background. Having moved into Executive Search in 2006 Jonathan joined a midlands based Executive Search Consultancy establishing and specialising in the FMCG and Retail practice. He quickly and successfully built an impressive reputation in the market place and established himself as the preferred search partner to a number of major blue chip retailers, food manufacturers and wholesalers. Throughout his career Jonathan has handled various assignments across the UK and EMEA regions in all areas of the industry from Sales, Marketing, Operations, NPD, Technical and other specialist functions. In early 2011 Jonathan founded Leader Executive Search following a strong desire to provide a more personal, professional, quality driven and flexible consultancy for both candidates and clients alike in this ever demanding and changing industry. Previously Jonathan has worked for leading multinational companies including DSGi and the world renowned Franklin Covey Group. Specialties: Executive Search (Headhunting), Career Development, Talent Attraction and Online Resourcing Tools and Methods.