Especially with the challenging job market and stiffer competition, you would be well advised to approach your search as though it were a full time job itself, spending about 30 – 40 hours a week on it. Even if you are currently working, an effective search will consume at least 10 hours per week. Schedule and structure your days as though this was a job. It will prove a more effective search and you will feel productive and inspired by your progress.
Consider the following seven principles – One for every day of the week:
- Use multiple job search methods and focus on those that will help you be most efficient. Consider the following resources: online job boards, social media (LinkedIn is for everyone), Facebook and Twitter as well as your personal contacts, employment or temporary agencies, local state and social service agencies, professional organizations, Chambers of Commerce, colleges and university job boards or alumni offices. As a rule, simultaneously use at least a handful of different job search methods.
- Be organized! It goes without saying that, if you are working at this like a full time job and utilizing multiple strategies, you will need to document who you talked to and when, what you discussed and any next steps or follow up. I recommend, at the least, a log or journal which you can refer to or files based on your job search resources.
- Be professional and persistent when contacting or following up with potential employers. Don’t assume they will return calls or send you status updates. Remember the number of job seekers has escalated and company resources have not kept pace; most companies do not acknowledge receipt of resumes nor will you be informed if the job is filled. More than any other trait, persistency is a key to your job search success. This may mean that you will need to be more assertive than you normally are. The key: don’t take it personally when you don’t hear from companies or if you are turned down for a job. Learn from each encounter.
- Don’t limit your search to large companies. In my city, there are many small to medium sized companies and organizations and that’s where most of the new job growth is. A smaller company may be more flexible, also, and be willing to forgo some of the formalities of the hiring process.
- Know your signature strengths and transferrable skills. Read that sentence again and highlight it if you need to; however, so many people in the job market are applying for jobs and going to interviews but can’t articulate their top five strengths and/or skills. Additionally, you must know and be able to differentiate yourself from the competition by knowing what is unique about your skillset. Consider a hiring manager who is interviewing 50 people for one job. What will you do to ensure that you stand out from the others?
- Once you can identify your strengths and skills, use examples of them when answering the interview questions. Think “skills” vs. the “job” you held. Don’t answer the question with a memorization of your prior job description. What did you achieve and how did you use your knowledge or skills? For example, an event planner has exceptional organizational, relationship building and creative skills.
- Develop and maintain a strong support system. Even though many of your friends may be employed, don’t let that discourage. Keep in contact with them and consider asking one or more to be an accountability partner, to whom you report weekly on your job search activity