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How to get a job

What matters to you?

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Hopefully you're not at the stage where you'd take just any job, because although a getting a job is a necessity (for most people), it's important that you're happy in your work too - especially if you're starting on a career that you hope to do for a long time. For this reason, you need to spend time thinking about the kind of work that would best suit you, what you'd like to do, and the type of company you'd like to work for.

By giving some thought to what you're looking for in a job, you'll also be able to write job applications that are more convincing - potential employers like candidates who have thought about all aspects of the job, are enthusiastic about working for them and who'll fit in to their work place.

Activity: what matters to you? - 20 minutes

In this activity you get to make a wish-list for your perfect job. You may not find all these things in a single job (especially not your first job), but it's helpful to be clear what your ambitions are for your working life, so you can aim to achieve them. If you've no idea about the kind of job you'd like, this will also help you to focus on what you want.

1. Make a list of the things that are important to you in a job or career, by thinking about the following things:

  • the field you'd like to work in: bioscience research, public relations, education...
  • location: within 10 miles of Milton Keynes, anywhere in the UK, overseas - preferably a hot country...
  • specific skills you'd like to use: working with computers, lots of contact with the public, a caring role...
  • type and size of company: a large multinational, a small family company where everyone knows each other...
  • working environment: a large office, lots of outdoor work, plenty of opportunities to travel - not stuck behind a desk...
  • level of responsibility: upper management responsible for many people, responsible for a small team, no responsibility for managing staff...
  • conditions: flexible hours, access to childcare, able to plan my own working day, long holidays...

2. From your list, choose the 5 things that are the most important to you and rank them in order of importance, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.

3. Keep your list in a safe place - it will help when you need to write job applications or covering letters and when you're preparing for interviews.

Recommended Further Reading

You should now have a clear picture of your ideal job. But, if you're struggling to decide what's important to you, try chatting to friends and acquaintances who are working and ask them about their jobs and working environments. Get an idea of what sounds good, and not so good, before having another go at the activity above.

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