GUEST COMMENT: Confidence is key to clinching a job

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If you are looking for work in today's banking market, the important thing to remember is that the process has not changed - the need to distinguish yourself matters just as much as it always has. Looking for a job remains a full-time occupation in itself, and in any job search, you need to concentrate on promoting your strengths.

It is quite normal to feel uncomfortable about promoting yourself, but it is necessary when looking for a job. Your resume is, in essence, a sales document, and you should treat it as such when you compile it. Would you 'buy' this person?

Work your contacts

Once you have your resume, you need to look for roles. There are many avenues open to you. For example, consider your own network of contacts. Many opportunities become available through referrals and word of mouth. Of course, recruitment consultants are there to guide and assist you, too. The better they understand your career objectives the more likely they are to be able to match you to current vacancies.

Make yourself aware of what employers are looking for. For example, the computer system that was a prerequisite when you were last on the market may not be in such demand today. Speak to your consultant about what is current.

Once you attain an interview, remember that preparation is critical. Research the organisation concerned by visiting their website. You should also look professional, act professionally and dress professionally for your interview. As a general rule, you should expect the environment to be conservative and corporate, so dress conservatively rather than casually or radically. Arrive at least 10 minutes early, walk tall and offer a smile and a firm handshake.

Keep answers to the point

Answer questions honestly and directly and keep to the point. Everyone present will be focusing their attention on you, so clouding your answer with jargon, or evading the issue, will be more obvious than you think.

Towards the end of the interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions of your own. Be confident when asking your questions and use them as another way to impress. For instance, you could ask about the company's plans for the future and the part this role could play in that future. At the end of your interview, smile and thank the people involved for their time.

If you have recently been made redundant, it can be a tough blow to take. However, as difficult as it may seem, real positives can be taken from the situation - you have the chance to re-evaluate your career goals and face up to new challenges.

Don't sit back

First and foremost - don't lose confidence. Once you've left your job, you may be tempted to sit back and relax for the first few days, but it's important to set a precedent for the rest of the time you'll be spending in-between jobs. As mentioned, looking for a job is a full-time occupation, so begin looking for your next job straight away. You don't know what opportunities are available unless you start looking.

It's natural to worry that employers may be sceptical about hiring someone who has been made redundant. But there is very little stigma attached to redundancy these days, and most employers agree it's better to have one redundancy on your CV than two short-term jobs, both of which you left of your own accord.

Looking for your next role in the banking sector is no different to any other market at any other time - just remember, it takes time and commitment on your part, thorough preparation, promotion and the resources of a specialist recruiter. When all these combine, it is by no means an impossible task.

Chris Mead is general manager of Hays in Singapore.

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