Matt Fraser, team manager - planning at Penguin Recruitment, shares his advice on how to maximise your chances of finding a role you’ll love.
Whether you’re applying to work at your dream planning consultancy or a local authority, how can you tell if the workplace culture is right for you? How can you successfully move between the commercial and public sectors? And how can you stand out to recruiters? Matt Fraser, team manager - planning at Penguin Recruitment, shares his expert advice.
If you’re like many other candidates, you will want to have an idea of what it’s like to work for a company before you even apply for the job, or at least before you join. Before you apply for any role, make sure you do your research to find out as much as possible - look online for company reviews, check out the organisation’s website for their latest team news and events, and read the ‘What is it like to work at…?’ articles on Planning Jobs. These will give you an insider’s insight into what it’s like to work at different local authorities and consultancies. You can also read about what makes a wonderful workplace in the town planning sector to help you get a feel for whether a company’s culture resonates with you.
Usually you can get a sense of the culture from your job interview, so make sure you use that opportunity to ask some relevant questions about the workplace culture. If you’re able to get in touch with someone who has worked at the organisation before or is currently working there, it’s a no-brainer that you should ask them for their insights into the culture too.
If you’re looking to move from the public sector to a commercial role or from the private sector to the public sector, you might have to work a little harder to convince the organisation that you’re the right person for the job. Here at Penguin, one of the top pieces of advice we give people looking to move sectors is to speak to your contacts in that sector and research organisations in depth to make sure you know what the role there would involve, and more importantly that it’s definitely what you want to do. Being clear on what path you want to take and researching the areas of interest to you will also help you communicate this confidently to potential employers who will be more likely to buy in to you as a strong candidate.
Once you’re convinced you want to switch sectors, you need to tailor your CV accordingly. Include a detailed statement at the top of your CV clearly explaining why you want to move and why you believe it’s the direction you want your career to go in. Attend industry events to build up your contact list in that sector and open doors for career opportunities, as well as to register with a specialist agency.
Standing out from other applicants
In order to stand out in your job application, make sure you read the job description very carefully. What qualities or experience are they looking for? What strengths, achievements and transferable skills can you bring to the role that other applicants are less likely to have? Write your CV for the job you’re applying for, not the jobs you’ve had, and only include relevant and transferable experience. Whatever you do, make it as easy as possible for the recruiter or hiring manager to see your skills and the benefit you would bring to their organisation.
If you’re moving from the public sector to a commercial role, highlight examples where you’ve exceeded targets or goals that have resulted in a positive financial impact. If you’re moving from a commercial role to the public sector, make sure you’re aware of how you might need to adapt to different success criteria and how your commercial skills could relate to the role.
If you’re not sure exactly what role you’re looking for, which organisations would suit you, or you don’t know where to start with your job search, recruiters who specialise in town planning will be well placed to advise you. Get in touch and make an appointment - we’ll be happy to help!
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