Here’s a tip: according to a study held earlier in the year by Executives Online, November is one of the best times a year for unemployed people to find a job (much more effective than December). But more than just looking for any old job this winter, we want you to find a job you’ll love, and John Lees wants that too. John is a well-known careers coach in the UK, and author of several career-based books. He’s written career columns for the Metro and People Management, and leadership pieces for The Times and The Guardian, so he obviously knows his stuff.

His most recent book, How to Get a Job you Lovehas undergone the biggest update in over a decade to reflect changes in the rapidly evolving job market. We had a chat with John to find out if you really can find a job that makes you want to get up at 6am on a Monday morning…

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“I’ve always been interested in the world of work. It’s a strong idea at the moment when people say ‘I’ll find a perfect job’, and if they can’t find that, anything will do,” John explained. “We should all be looking for a deal, and look for something that’s 6 or 7 out of 10 from your perfect job. That’s what’s important.”

A job is a routine, but a career has progression and promotions, explains John. “A career is a good match to more than half of things you want, has opportunities for development and growth, looks good on your CV and moves you forward in other ways possible.”

But finding a job you love gets people thinking what their perfect job would be. “If you don’t have a sense of doing something that is energising, two things happen: one is that you don’t communicate things about yourself with energy, and two is that you don’t look hard enough. When you’re hungry to find out more, you put more time and focus into your job hunt.”

So do we have to love our job 24/7? “It’s more about looking forward to work on a Sunday night, with skills you find interesting, working with people you like, and working on a subject matter you like.”

“If you enjoy your job for 3 and a half days out of five, that’s fine! Younger people might compromise, as you typically moving through anything between 3 and 7 jobs in that decade so think of it as a stepping stone, compromise and a deal.”

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“It worries me when young people start out with a nice career idea, and then take anything that comes along and gets stuck in a low-skilled job.”

Finding a career helps if you understand yourself a bit better and know what motivates you in a working week.  John said young people shouldn’t accept glamourised pictures of work and they need to have conversations with people and ask “What do you actually do most of the time in your job?”.

There’s no quick fix to finding out what career you’d like to do, but there are some shortcuts: “Thinking of what comes naturally helps; whether it’s selling, communication, or looking after people. Looking at the things you are most interested in outside of work and seeing what possible connections they can make between that and the workplace helps, too.”

“It’s rare that people walk into their perfect job first time, but it’s about taking a good match, and making sure your next role builds on this. Lots of things pay well and we can be successful, but some things aren’t fulfilling, and a career is about trying things out and discovering unexpected pathways.”

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“A good job search is about relationships and contacting people. Communication on paper is distance.”

Yes, everything is online nowadays, but is that the most effective way to hunt for jobs? Apparently not. “As much as possible, you should tap into people you know by asking them to tell you about the job and who else you should be talking to.”

“Getting out there in real workplace situations takes the mystery out of work, and people need to use the networks they already have in place. There are all kinds of facilities and support groups and alumni associations already willing to help. The ones who break out of unemployment are the ones who get out there and talk to people rather than sitting at home and sending off job applications.”

Sending applications to jobs you’re unsure about is unfocused and creates a negative feeling if you’re getting rejected or having no reply. “Employers are interested in people with energy and stories to tell, so by talking to people you can demonstrate that you’re interest is genuine one rather than just responding to advertisements.”

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  • “Real interview practise is important, because otherwise you use your first 4/5 interviews as a test ground – it’s a waste of time and has a negative effect on you. Find somebody with recruiting experience and get honest, genuine feedback.”
  • “Carefully rehearse the answers that might be difficult (‘Why didn’t you finish this course?’, for example), and compile bits of evidence so you have stories to talk about.”
  • “Cover letters should be three paragraphs: the first is about the interest in the job, the last one is positive and upbeat, and the middle one should show 4/5 bits of experience relevant to the job.”
  • “Start talking to people as early as possible, not saying ‘help me get a job’, but usefully saying about what their work really is. You don’t have to be a great networker, just curious.”
  • “LinkedIn pages are usually short on evidence and only state the obvious – talk about what you learned, improvements you made, level of abilities rather that dull, dry obvious facts, i.e. ‘I put input into the new menu, rather than, I just waited on tables’.”

If you loved that advice, find more career inspiration here:

Careers advice from the head of GoThinkBig

Three great tips from a career coach

Four reasons you should attend our upcoming GTB sessions