Looking for a job is hard at the best of times. But looking for your dream, world-changing job can lead to night-sweats. We know, we have been there. But sometimes you just have to take a step back, put that pen down, close your browser and do things differently. Because, quite frankly, you are unlikely to find your dream world-changing job sitting passively behind your laptop.

Here are our five top tips for job-seekers if you are looking for a job with impact.

1. Reach out

Picture yourself in 10 years. Where do you want to be? What is your dream job? And most importantly, who is doing it now? Well, why not get in touch? The opportunities to connect with someone these days are endless - whether online through linkedin or twitter or by finding out which conferences they are speaking at. Now, we are not encouraging stalking but actually, a lot of people who have gotten to high places (in the impact sector at least) are really, really nice. And are likely to be flattered if you look up to them. The chances are they have had a few leg-ups throughout their own careers and so might want to give you one too. So the main thing holding you back is probably your own shadow.

2. Volunteer

Some benefits of volunteering for job-seekers are clear: it helps to strengthen your CV, provides something impressive to talk about at job interviews and builds out your network. Additionally, volunteering and demonstrating your capabilities to an organisation boosts your chances of being successful in securing any paid roles which may open up there down the line. But as well as these obvious benefits, volunteering can also get you out of your own head and remind you what you're good at - making you feel valued and appreciated. All of which will help to keep your confidence high as you search for your ideal job. Plus, it’s now easier than ever to find volunteer opportunities which suit your interests and time constraints thanks to organisations like Volunteering Matters and Do It.

3. Join a network

There are a few networks, particularly in London, where the key people in the impact sector tend to hang out. Some of them you may know, some of them you may not. Impact Hub is the one for social entrepreneurs and freelancers. RSA is the one for, well, everybody. And On Purpose is a great one for people just getting started in the purpose sector. So check out what events are coming up in the next few weeks and just sign yourself up. Talking to others who are in a similar position can help broaden your horizons, and just telling as many people as possible what you are looking for automatically massively increases the chances that somebody will know somebody who is also looking for you.

4. Don’t apply for a dream job as soon as you find it

This one may at first seem counter-intuitive. However, having spent days or weeks scrolling through websites and jobs boards, many people mistakenly dive straight into an application once they come across a perfect position. So what’s the problem with this? By rushing into an application you miss out on an opportunity to conduct valuable research about the company or organisation which could be crucial for progressing to the interview round. Generic applications which don’t display solid knowledge of an organisation’s outlook and core goals are likely to be neglected. Taking your time to apply also provides you with a chance to reach out to someone who already works there, letting them know you admire what they do and asking for some personal advice. And you never know - this contact could be the key to securing that dream job.

5. Go to a conference

There are a couple of conferences specifically focussed on social impact careers in the UK, including Emerge in Oxford. But you can definitely check out regular industry conferences. It is the perfect opportunity to meet people in a relaxed environment and - even if you don’t feel comfortable doing the smalltalk - just being there and hearing about what others are doing can trigger new ideas and reenergise your motivation. If you are a jobseeker, you probably won’t be able to afford a ticket to the expensive conferences, so why not sign up to be a volunteer or helper (this will even get you a behind the scenes ticket!). In London, you will probably want to check out Unusual Suspects and in Oxford, the Skoll World Forum on Social Enterpreneurship as well as the more informal, fringe event Marmelade.

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Originally published October 24, 2017

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