There are many reasons why people look for a new job. Maybe you’re about to take the first step in your career. Perhaps your job role is becoming redundant. Do you want to try something different? You might even be looking to go freelance or start your own business. 

Whatever your reason, it’s sometimes hard to take the first step. This lesson will help you do that. It has top tips on how to plan and prepare for your next job. We want you to feel ready to move into your new role, whatever that may be. 


  • Know the work options available
  • Plan how to find your next job

  • Build the right CV for you and the role

  • Prepare for an interview

  • Explore ideas to work for yourself 

Read time:

16 mins

Chapter 1

The future of work

Read time:

3 mins

What does work look like right now?

Work has changed in many ways over the years. So we’re going to start by exploring what it looks like right now. You’ll have the chance to think about the different types of work and ways of working. There’s an activity at the end of this chapter for you to jot down your thoughts and ideas. This will help you plan your next steps.


Types of work that are growing

We’re using digital tools now more than ever. The job market reflects that. This means there’s plenty of work if you’re curious about technology. You don’t need to be a tech whizz to succeed in the workplace, though. 

Walk down your local high street – what do you see? How is this different to a few years ago? There are likely to be fewer shops and more ‘services’. That’s cafés and restaurants, gyms, nail bars and beauty salons.


Sectors where job numbers are growing include:


In the UK, 3 million people work in tech with a growing number of roles 

Green energy

The government plans to support up to 250,000 new jobs by 2030

Food and drink

Over 460K jobs are in the UK food and drink industry

Health and social care

Research predicts over 100,000 more healthcare and social care vacancies by 2030 

Where we work

Remote working is one of the biggest recent changes in the world of work. We can use technology to support us, whether we work from home, an office or elsewhere. 

More than

1 in 3

people work from home at least some of the time

Office of National Statistics Opens in a new tab


Say it helps their work life balance

Office of National Statistics Opens in a new tab


of businesses use or plan to use home workers in the future

Office of National Statistics Opens in a new tab

Home or Hybrid?

Home workers (sometimes known as remote workers) tend to spend all their working hours at home. You might hear the term ‘hybrid’ too. This refers to people who work from home (or elsewhere) some of the time. The rest of the time, they’re in the workplace – often an office.

Working from home can make it easier to juggle home or family life. You can save time and money as you don’t need to travel every day. It has its downsides too, though. You need a quiet space to work, away from distractions. Some people get lonely when they’re at home all the time.

They prefer the office buzz, chatting with their workmates. Plus, not all work lends itself to home working.

Top tip

Job sites like and remotive focus on remote or home working roles

When we work

More than 4.3 million people have flexitime working. They can decide (if their employer agrees) the days and times that they work. If you have family or other commitments, this can really help. For some, it makes the difference between being able to work or not. The days and hours you work may depend on the type of job it is. Job-sharing may be another option. This is where a full-time role is split between two people.

Top tip

Seen a job you like but it doesn’t mention flexible hours? It’s always worth asking if this is something they’d consider.

How we work

So far, we’ve talked about working for someone else. You might have other ideas – and you’re not alone. There are almost 5.5 million small businesses in the UK. Working for yourself means you have more control over what you do. There are risks too, though. Being self-employed can mean anything from working freelance to owning your own business and hiring others to work for you.

We’ll look at running your own business later in this lesson.

Activity – your ideal job

Think about your ideal job – what would that look like? Let’s break this down. First, look at the different types of work that are available. Which ones appeal to you? Make a note of these. Now turn your attention to when and where you could work. Jot down your preferences. Finally, think about whether you want to work for yourself or someone else. Note any pros and cons for each if this helps.

Chapter 2

Prepare for your next step

Read time:

3 mins

Plan your approach

It’s going to take some time and effort to find your next job. Some people treat this as a full-time job. That may not be for you, especially if you’re working already or have other commitments. You can still plan how you’re going to achieve this. In fact, you’ve already started, by thinking about what your ideal job would look like. Your next step is to find out where to look for it.


Steps to your next job

Step 1 – Find opportunities

Use your contacts, agencies and other resources to find roles you like

Step 2 – Show your skills

Write your CV to show you have the skills these roles need

Step 3 – Meet the employer

Learn more about the role and show more of your skills and experience in the interview

Step 1 – find opportunities

You may feel that you need to trawl job sites to find your perfect role. In fact, opportunities can come from anywhere.


You can:

  • Ask friends and family – They may know of a job, or know someone who does
  • Use your wider network – This is bigger than you think! Try our activity in this section
  • Sign up with an agency – Some focus on one type of work while others have a wider range
  • Check a company’s website – A good option if you’re keen to work for a certain business
  • Visit local employers – Drop off your CV with them (see our next chapter on CVs)
  • Check out job ads – Find these everywhere, from shop windows to the back of a bus
  • Look online – Try sites like Monster, Indeed or TotalJobs. Sign up to get emails with suitable roles
  • Browse your company’s job board – The new role you’re looking for might be an internal transfer



How many people do you know? Networking is all about getting in touch with others. You never know who might be able to help you to find your next role. The wider your network, the more likely you are to know someone who can help.

For your next activity, we’re going to ask you to think about everyone you know. Take your time to do this. You can always come back to your list and add people later. Once you have your network list, challenge yourself to reach out to each person on it.

Activity – your network list

Write a list of people you know. Some people will come to mind straight away. Friends and family are usually the first we think of. If you take a typical day, who do you see or chat with? This could be at the school gates, the bus stop, round the shops or in the pub. Next, look at who you know online – through social media or other groups. Add anyone you can think of, even if you don’t know them very well.

Online groups and networks

Did you add any online contacts in your activity? We use social sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and TikTok to connect with others. Any one of your online friends could work somewhere where they’re looking to recruit. They might know someone who could help. So it’s a good place to ask around.

LinkedIn is a bit like these sites, but with a work focus. Some people use this site to find work. Others post job roles on it. If you’re interested in a particular career, there’s likely to be a LinkedIn group for it. You can learn and share career ideas and experiences there. It’s a place to grow your network, too.


Make the most of online groups and sites:

  • Join professional groups on LinkedIn
  • Find pages and people to follow
  • Make new connections through people you already know
  • Comment on articles by people you admire
  • Share posts on work topics that interest you
  • Write about topics where you have skills or experience
  • Connect with people and start a conversation

Be aware

People form a picture of you from your online posts, photos, and comments. So think before you post. Many employers will search online to find out more about you. Make sure what they see is all positive.

Chapter 3

Your CV and other ways to show your skills

Read time:

5 mins

Step 2 – your CV

Say you’ve found a job you want. Now it’s time to write a CV that shows what a good fit you are for that role.

The aim of your CV is to get you an interview. So what’s in it should match as far as possible the skills and experience that you know the job needs. You’ll find this information from the job ad, job description (if available) and any other research that you’ve done. This is your chance to show that your own set of skills and experience make you right for the job.

Activity – your skills list

Start your skills list by writing down all the tasks that you can do. Some people call these ‘hard skills’. For example, using a spreadsheet, working with power tools, nursing, plumbing, handling cash. Next, list your personal strengths. These are ‘soft skills’. They could include team working, patience, reliability, being organised or caring. You may want to ask someone who knows you well to help here.

Applying your skills to the role

Now you have your list of skills, you can start to see where they fit with the role. You might want to tick or highlight skills in the job ad that are also on your list.

Can you say where you’ve used each of these skills? It’s a good idea to jot down one or two examples for each one. For example, you might have some experience of using a till during work experience at a charity shop. Maybe your school or college report mentions your punctuality. Or you look after the family budget. You can use examples from other jobs, volunteer roles or other community groups.

This will give you a good framework to use in your CV. You can come back to this list and use it for different CVs for other jobs.


Start to build your CV

There are many different templates you can use to help you write your CV. It’s worth searching online or using the ones available from Word or Google Docs. Going for a creative role? You may want to check out sites like Canva for different formats.


CV top tips:

  • Keep it short – Two pages is enough to keep a recruiter’s attention
  • Pick a clear font and layout – This makes it easy to read and looks professional
  • Put jobs in date order – starting with your most recent role and work backwards
  • If you don’t have much work experience, try a functional format
  • Start with your profile – A few sentences to highlight your unique skills and qualities
  • Avoid long paragraphs - Try bullet points · Include keywords – Recruiters often use software to spot them
  • Highlight your achievements
  • Adapt your CV for each job – Use your base skills list to make each CV right for that role
  • Proofread before you send it – Ask someone else to check it, too


Share your CV

Once you’ve created your CV, it’s time to share it. If you’re applying for a particular role, send it to the agency or employer directly. They may also ask for a cover letter. This should say why you’re interested in the job and why you think you’re a good fit for it.

You may also decide to share your CV with other agencies or job sites. Some of these have forms to complete. Others let you just upload your CV. Research the sites to check that you’re using the best ones for you. If you’re on LinkedIn, you can share your CV in different ways.

It’s worth printing a few copies, too. That way, if you see a local job ad, you can pop in and hand it over in person.


Other ways to show your skills

Your CV is a great way to share your skills and experience with recruiters. It’s not the only way, though. In step 1, we listed options to find jobs. You can use these same routes now.


Why not:

Chat to people you know

about your interests and what you can do

Create an online profile

using sites like LinkedIn

Highlight your talents

on social media and other online groups

Introduce yourself

to people you meet at social and other events

Your online profile

Many recruiters use online sites like LinkedIn to find suitable candidates. So we’ve put together some ideas on how to make your profile stand out.


Top tips for using LinkedIn:

  • Use a professional photo
  • Write a good headline – Keep it short, snappy, and relevant to what you do
  • Take time on your personal summary – This should highlight your key strengths and skills
  • Write in the first person – Use words such as ‘I’ and ‘me’ when you list your experience
  • Include the right keywords – Look at your CV for these
  • Highlight your achievements
  • Update your profile and your status regularly
  • Use Jobscan’s LinkedIn optimisation tool – This helps you reach the right recruiters


Your intro speech

Meeting new people is a great way to grow your network and share your skills. If you don’t often do this, it can seem hard at first. So it’s a good idea to practise your ‘intro speech’. Some people call this their ‘elevator pitch’. It’s a short, catchy introduction so people know who you are and what you can do. You can use it at social events and to answer the interview question ‘so tell me a little about yourself’.

You may find it helpful to think about what you’d say here and write it down. That way, you can practise a few times before you use it for real. Our next activity encourages you to do just that.

Activity – write your intro speech

Write down a few sentences to introduce yourself. Start by answering the question ‘who are you?’. Then say what you do. This could include a current or recent job, your skills, or strengths. Think about what might interest the other person. End by mentioning that you’re exploring new roles now.

Chapter 4

Before and during the interview

Read time:

4 mins

Step 3 – meet the employer

Getting through to the interview stage is always really exciting. Now you need to prepare for that conversation. Interview formats can vary. Some employers will just want a ‘coffee and a chat’. Others will have a process they follow. This may include tasks and sets of questions to go through. It’s good to ask about the format, to help you prepare.

The interview might be face to face or ‘virtual’. We’ll look at how to handle video calls in a while. Let’s talk first about what to do before the interview.


How to prepare for the interview

Check their website

Use this to research the company

Learn what they do and why they do it

You can find this on their home and ‘about us’ pages

Prepare answers to some common questions

See our examples in this section

Jot down examples that show a good fit

So you can talk about your experience and how this matches the role

Interview questions

The interviewer will want to get to know more about you. They’ll be looking to see how you’ll fit with the role and the team. So expect some questions! Some of these will be about the role itself. Others are more general.


Common interview questions:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your main strengths?
  • What is your main weakness?
  • What can you tell me about yourself?
  • Give me an example of a time when…

Top interview tip

Bring a notebook to jot thoughts, conversational points, or ideas

Face-to-face or virtual?

Much of your preparation will be the same, whether the interview is in person or through a video call. Let’s look now at some specifics for each of these.


Select each interview type to find out more

  • When you prepare for a face-to-face meeting, you’ll want to check where this is. Think about how you’re going to get there. What buses or other public transport do you need to use? If you’re driving, check where you can park. Some companies have car parks with visitor spaces. Others don’t have any parking facilities, so you’ll need to look for nearby car parks.

    If you get the chance, try a ‘dry run’ to see how long the journey will take. Do this at the same time of day, to get a feel for traffic. You may be anxious about getting there on time, so allow yourself plenty of time. Don’t panic if you’re running late. Just be sure to let them know and give an idea of your arrival time.

    Make sure you know the name of the person you’re meeting. Then when you get there, you’ll know who to ask for. Be polite and friendly towards everyone there – from the receptionist to the interviewer. If you get the job, you’re likely to see these people every day!

  • If the interview is going to be a video call, they’ll email you the details in advance. This will tell you the platform they’re using, the start time and instructions on how to join the call. Not used this kind of video call before? That’s OK. You just need to allow some time to prepare. It’s a good idea to look at the platform’s website. Common ones are Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet.

    For most platforms, you don’t need to sign up to join a video call. Just give yourself 10-15 minutes time before the start, to connect. Follow the instructions on the email to join the call.


    Tips for online interviews:

    • Test your Wi-Fi strength
    • Get familiar with the controls – Check you know how to mute / un-mute and show / hide your video
    • Find somewhere quiet
    • Switch your phone to ‘silent’
    • Close any apps that are likely to make a noise – For example, email and any other ‘notifications’ apps
    • Look at the camera or webcam – This way, it seems you’re looking at the people in the call
    • Pick a neutral background – Avoid clutter. Some platforms let you blur or change your background
    • Keep calm – Technical issues and interruptions can happen to anyone. Stay calm and manage them as best you can

What to expect

During the interview, you’ll be answering questions and learning more about the role. They’ll also ask if you have any questions. So it’s a good idea to think of a few, beforehand. Try to avoid asking directly about pay. Instead, take this chance to learn more about the team you’ll work in and the work you’ll do. Find out what a typical workday might look like. Ask about training and other support. This is your time to find out if the job is the right fit for you. It’s also a good idea to ask what the next step is.

When the interview comes to an end, smile and thank the interviewer for their time. Don’t forget to repeat your interest in the role and let them know that you’re looking forward to hearing from them.

Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.


Jay Danzie

Chapter 5

Working for yourself

Read time:

1 min

Starting out

Not sure you want to work for someone else? Think about building a business from a skill or interest. Many people make money from their passions and hobbies. There are plenty of digital tools to help get you started. Usually free to join, they can help you find out if you want to turn a hobby into a business.


Platforms that can help you make money from your hobbies and skills include:


Do your research

If you want to take this further, it’s worth finding out more. Think about the skills and passions you want to use in this way.

Plan your research:

See if anyone else is doing this

If so, research them. If not, there may be a gap in the market.

Find out if people would pay for it

Ask around to start your research. Start with friends and family.

List the help you need

This could be with your business plan, marketing, tax, or other paperwork.

Seek out support

There are many resources to help you set up and run your own business. The government’s step-by-step guide on self-employment is a good starting point.


Other sources of help include:


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 8th November 2023.