Over the last ten years, I have been employed full time in 6 different companies. Is that a lot of jobs for one decade? I’m not sure, and I suppose it depends on a lot of factors. I don’t think I have a vastly different career history to other people who work in London, because it is such a fluid market.
But I have left a job because it was wholly mis-sold (having stuck it out for a year) and another I left because the opportunity to move to Barcelona came along both of which are slightly unusual. Anyway, if you want to find a new Assistant job, I know quite a bit about getting a new job, and I’m going to share some of my knowledge with you in this post.
So, you want to find a new assistant job?
Tailor your covering letter and CV
I’ve written posts on both covering letters and resumes so all I would add here is that you should tailor your CV and covering letter for each of the jobs you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an assistant role that supports a communications director do emphasis your marketing skills or if you are applying for your first role working with a board level executive ensure you highlight any previous experience working with senior members of staff.
Working with recruitment agencies
Dealing with agencies – hum, this is tricky. In my experience, there are some terrible agencies out there that will mistreat you and will put you forward for jobs that are unsuitable for you. Dealing with employment agencies like this can be exhausting and a complete waste of time. Through trial and error, I have managed to find a few diamonds in the rough, they are few and far between but out there if you know where to look and how to work with them. Here are a few things I’ve learnt about agencies over the years:
- Agents are salespeople. They are there to broker a deal between you the candidate and the organisation who are their client. The agent’s interests are in the organisation, not you. Most agencies want to place a candidate in a position that they have experience in, ideally one that they have done in the past and that they have a proven track record in. This is great if you are looking for an identical job to the one you have currently but not brilliant if you want to move up the career ladder or try a new industry. This is why you need to tailor your resumes before approaching an agency; otherwise, you will end up doing what you have always done.
- Agents are not there to further your career. They want to find several suitable candidates, place one in the role at a cost-effective price that makes them commission and keeps their client (the employer) happy. Agencies have several jobs and will select the candidate that fills the requirements, and they won’t proactively look for a role that suits you personally. It is worth bearing that in mind when you are looking for a new role. Ensure you are clear with the type of position you want and stick to it so that the agency doesn’t keep sending you unsuitable opportunities.
- When applying for jobs through a website such as LinkedIn, monster.com or secsinthecity.co.uk do make sure your CV has all of the keywords appropriate for the job you are applying for. The agencies will only call you if your CV has passed their keyword algorithm. Unfair but true! Have a look at this post about keywords for Assistants. Here you will find loads that you can add to your CV.
- Quality, not quantity. When you first start job hunting only join a few agencies so that you are not bombarded with calls. If your search takes longer than you thought you could join a few more depending on how urgently you need to find a new job. Remember it is quality not quantity and as I’ve already said some agencies are better than others.
- Interview them too. Once you are invited in to see an agent remember that they are gatekeepers to the organisation you want to work for so do think of it as an interview. Dress appropriate and be prepared to answer questions about your career to date and experiences. Also, remember that you can interview them too; they are making money out of you, so you have every right to make sure they are the kind of agent you want representing you.
Remember to apply directly too!
I often forgot that I didn’t always have to go through a recruitment agency to find a new job. I could do some of the work myself! It is an excellent idea to target organisations that you would like to work for and connect with them directly, they may not be recruiting at that time but might keep your CV on file in case anything comes up. As ever it is also worthwhile making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and you stay connected to your ideal employers on Twitter just in case they post any recruitment opportunities. Also, do network with other assistants and attend any local events; you never know which contact might think of you when a job arises.
Should you go to every interview?
Well, I do think it depends on where you are in your career. I don’t think you should waste time going to interviews that are unsuitable for you at any point. But, if you are not very confident in interviews, or you are not 100% sure what you want your next career move to be then you don’t have anything to lose by going to most of the interviews offered to you. As I said, you gain interview experience, you might find out more about the job and like the sound of it, or you might meet the executive and click. Once you are at a level where you are confident in yourself and your skills, you will become much more selective with the jobs you pick and the interviews you attend. Here is a link to my post on questions to ask at an interview.
Good luck with your job hunt!
Preparing for the Perfect PA Role
In this eBook, you will find everything you need to prepare for the perfect PA job search including templates for CVs and covering letters, questions and answers for PA interviews and those all-important keyword word search terms that will get you in front of the right recruiters. Download the eBook here.