Ask The Expert - Lucy Bousfield

Published: 09 Sep 2009

I'm thinking about exploring my options outside my current firm but am still cautious of doing so is it worth waiting until things stabilise further and, if I do make a move, what are employers really looking for at the moment?

We've witnessed a continual increase in insurance roles over the past eight months and all the indicators certainly seem to suggest that recruitment will maintain this up-tick for the remainder of the year. However, since the market post-recession has been more difficult to predict than a BBQ summer, I'm not sure how much you'll really gain by postponing your job hunt until the new year. So, I'd suggest you dip your toe in the water now.

At the very least, if you monitor the market more closely now, you'll be better informed when you do make a move. It's the same principle as buying a house" the more you know about current activity, the easier it is to assess each opportunity on its true merits, rather than purely against your wish list in isolation. The best way to keep your ear to the ground is to browse recruitment consultancy and job board websites and set yourself up on job alerts. But we do have a word of caution. Avoid the temptation to take advantage of your current company's internet access during working hours, or using your work e-mail address to correspond with a prospective employer, job board or recruitment consultancy. Your current employer would be within their rights to discipline you for breaching their e-mail policy, so make sure you set up and use a personal e-mail account in your own time.

Your next important step is to dust off your CV" but be careful. While the market is picking up, hiring firms still know they're very much in the driving seat and can cherry pick the best applicants. Even if you updated your profile just before the downturn, you'll need to revisit it again to make sure it reflects your expertise. This is especially true for candidates who may have taken on far more responsibility over the past six months as teams have become leaner. Make sure you highlight any increased accountability and quantify any impact you have made on the bottom line. Companies are extremely interested in hiring candidates who have demonstrated they can make a material difference to their employers, despite the worst market conditions for some time.

Finally, if you're approaching recruitment consultants please don't take your registration interview lightly. While I know most people feel they only need to impress the client not the recruitment consultant, we're increasingly being asked to only put forward the top two or three candidates we have on our books and this is likely to continue" even as things improve. You may have a CV that ticks all the boxes" but so do a lot of other candidates. So, if you don't stand out at registration, then it's hard for us to envisage how you will perform in front of a client.

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