Five ways to boost your career opportunities

Looking for a new career or role? Read five things you can do to help boost your career opportunities – and give you a head start in your job search.

Whether you’re looking to move up the ladder, looking for your first job or simply fancy a career change, job searching can be exciting but also a minefield.

Five ways to boost your career opportunities

So how can you make your job application stand out from the rest and make yourself more employable in 2016? Business writer Patrick Vernon shares five tips to help you get noticed for the right reasons.

1) Get your CV sorted

Your CV is often the first impression that you give, so it really does have to stand out and set a positive tone. Obvious spelling and grammatical errors don’t look great and neither do hobbies such as “I enjoy watching TV” or “chilling out with friends.”

Don’t rely on spell-checkers. Instead, get a friend or family member to read over your CV before sending it out. And triple check the name of who you are sending the application to – that’s one thing you definitely don’t want to get wrong!

If you don’t have a name, why not call the company and ask rather than just addressing it to ‘Dear Sir or Madam’? If you include them on your CV (many people don’t today), make your hobbies and interests exciting. (You can reason some hilarious examples of CV mistakes to avoid here.)

2) Get on the road

Do you already drive? The good news is that, not only does it appear that women are better drivers than men, but it also can help boost your employability – and make working easier.

Being able to drive ensures that you’re not at the mercy of public transport or lifts when getting to work, or making it back in time for childcare. It also increases the number of positions you can apply for (even if you don’t need to drive to do your job, it means you can apply for roles in hard-to-reach locations).

If you don’t have a licence already, maybe it’s time to consider it? Sites like Top Tests make it easier than ever before to prepare for your test with free mock theory tests to help you pass as quickly and easily as possible.

3) Boost your experience

It’s always hard to get a foot in the door without having the required work experience. So how do you get experience without being employed?

The best way is to contact prospective employers and see if you could possibly go and do some work experience for them. Yes, it might be unpaid but if you can spare a few hours a week you could learn some vital skills, add something impressive to your CV and, more often than not, if you do a good job you could find yourself being offered paid employment.

Don’t overlook the idea of volunteering either. A well-chosen volunteering opportunity can help to boost your employability in specialist experience, new skills and greater confidence.

4) Get tech savvy

There’s no getting away from it, the world has now gone digital. If you find yourself struggling getting to grips with Skype or Instagram and are still hunting around for the hashtag symbol on your keyboard then it might be time to brush up your skills.

Children as young as five are now learning how to write computer programmes in UK schools as part of the National Curriculum – but don’t panic, there is help out there. Local colleges often run evening classes to help you get more tech savvy and Barclays Digital Eagles run sessions to improve your confidence when using the internet and computers.

You can even take it once step further and join a course at a coding school for mums like Mums in Technology.

5) Check and protect your online reputation

Many employers now check up on you by Googling your name or looking at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media profiles to find out more about you.

So ensure you make a good impression online. Would you really want a potential new employer seeing photos of that messy night out last weekend or an angry rant you may have typed in the heat of the moment? Make sure there’s nothing on there that could paint you in a negative light or check your settings so your posts are not being broadcast for the whole world to see.

If you do discover something horrifying or just slightly embarrassing when Googling yourself, take steps to repair your online reputation.

Looking for a role that fits around your family? Read our top 10 stories on flexible working