So things aren't so hot. You hate the commute, the coffee tastes lousy and more importantly you're worried that your career is in a rut. It may be time to move on – this step-by-step guide will help you on your way.
1. Are you sure you need a new job?
It's Monday morning and you're feeling bored, angry or sick at the thought of another week in your job. Before you decide to throw in the towel, ask yourself why you are so fed up. Is it because you are having to work unreasonable hours, or that you feel you are being passed over in favour of colleagues? If you like working for your present employer but think that you're not being given enough support, for instance, talk to your manager or human resources department before taking more drastic action – it may be all it takes to sort things out. But if things can't be changed, it sounds as if a move is on the cards.
The good news is that there are plenty of jobs around at the moment. Iain Dennis, regional director with recruitment consultant Hays Montrose, reports that they are currently registering around four times as many vacancies as candidates.
2. Polish up your CVOrganise it carefully. Start with your name and contact details (including email address and mobile phone number). Follow that with your education and qualifications (don't go overboard on this section if you finished studying several years ago) and your career summary, starting with your most recent position and concentrating on your last three jobs. If you include a short profile, don't fill it with waffly words such as "dynamic" or "high achiever": back up claims with evidence.Be specific. If you managed a £1m budget, or a team of 15 people, say so. But don't get bogged down in detail. Keep it brief. No employer has time to read more than two pages.Keep it simple. A classic font such as Times New Roman or a plain modern one like Arial is best, in 11 or 12 point. Use bold headings to make the CV easy to navigate. Paper should be good quality white or cream.
You've decided to move on. You'll need to bring your CV out of the bottom drawer, dust it off and make it work at selling you.
3. Start the job huntGet on the internet. Key "construction jobs uk" into a search engine such as www.google.com and a huge number of relevant recruitment agencies will appear. If there are specific firms you'd like to work for, have a look at their web sites – many of the big firms use them to advertise vacancies. Building publishes its job ads on www.building.co.uk, which means you don't have to wait for the office copy of the magazine to come round. Sign up with recruitment agencies. Make sure they know what you can do and exactly what you are looking for so that you don't waste their time or yours. Establish a good relationship with your consultant. Let them know if you aren't interested in jobs they send you for so that they can build up a proper picture of what you want.Write speculative letters to companies you'd like to work for. People do get jobs this way, and companies like it because if the right person presents themself, they don't have to spend time and money on recruitment.Get out and network. Go to every after-hours event and use every opportunity to meet people and sell yourself.
The first place to look is the appointments pages in Building and other relevant publications. But many jobs don't get advertised this way, so you need to try some more creative job-seeking.
4. Put in your applicationTailor your CV and the covering letter to the particular position. Keep the letter short but show why you are interested in working for the company and highlight your relevant skills and experience. If you are asked to send your CV by email, don't think it means you can go for a casual approach. You still need to send a proper covering letter with it, which should be as carefully worded as a written letter.Double-check spellings and names. Getting the person's name wrong could put you straight into the "no" pile.
Once you've found a job you like the sound of, get your application in as quickly as possible.
5. Prepare for the interviewDo your homework on the company. Call them up and ask them to send you a brochure. Get on the internet and look at their website and news stories about them.Sit down with the job description and work out the skills and qualities they are looking for. Recall an incident that backs up your ability to meet each requirement so that you can bring them in at relevant points at the interview. Think, too, about the difficult questions you could be asked: What are your weaknesses? Why do you want to leave your present job? Then think of your replies.Decide what you are going to wear and make sure it's all clean, matching and still fits you. Iron your clothes, get your hair cut, polish your shoes and clean your nails. Find out in advance where you have to go for the interview and work out your route. The last thing you want to do is turn up late. Getting there early will also give you a chance to get a feel for the company while you wait.
Your hard work has paid off and you've landed an interview for your dream job. It may be weeks away but there are things you can be doing to make sure you are prepared.
6. Bowl them overFirst impressions are crucial. As you enter the room, smile, make eye contact and don't forget to shake hands.Avoid yes and no answers. Back up claims with anecdotes about how you solved a problem or dealt with a crisis at work. If you need to, pause briefly to think about answers. Don't stray off the subject. Remember the skills and qualities you thought about in your pre-interview preparation and drop these in at relevant points.Look enthusiastic and confident. Ask the occasional question about the company and the job. In particular, always have pertinent questions to ask at the end. Hays Montrose's Dennis says there is nothing more dispiriting for interviewers than to be faced with a blank stare after asking "is there anything you would like to ask us?". Be honest. Lies will come back to haunt you if you get the job.Don't mention money at first interview unless they do first.
On paper, at least, the employer thinks you can do the job. One of the main things they will want to discover at the interview is whether you will fit in. It's also an opportunity for you to take a look at them.
7. Is it the job for you?Think what you dislike about your current job and whether the new one would solve the problem. Will it give you the chance you've been craving to work on bigger projects? Will you get more training? Consider the overall package you've been offered. It helps to have a minimum salary in mind. Check out ads for similar jobs to see what other firms are paying. But a lower salary may be offset by other benefits, such a pension scheme or private health insurance. It may be that out of two job offers, you accept the lower-paid one because the job sounds more interesting or is closer to home. Remember there is always the chance of a pay rise after you start.Find out all you can about the culture of the company. Seek out people who have worked there and quiz them.
You walked through the interview and the job's yours if you want it. Before you accept, think it through. It's easy to be sidetracked into the wrong job out of desperation or because you're flattered to have been asked. Remember that good candidates are currently at a premium, so you don't have to rush into the first job you're offered.
8. Hand in your notice
Congratulations. You've got the job of your dreams. Now all you have to do is plan your leaving do. A final tip: if your boss was the problem in your old job, don't give into temptation and leave him or her off your guest list – you never know when you might need a reference or come across them again.