It’s critical that you know the “rules of the game” when it comes to your Job Search Strategy. Test your knowledge by answering “True” or “False” to the following questions.
- There is a huge “hidden market” which you have the power to reveal. This “hidden market” may be your best target. T or F ?
- Linked In may be much more effective than Job Boards for finding your next job. T or F ?
- Mass mailing your resume to potential employers is still the best way to find a job. T or F ?
- It’s best to keep your resume general vs. specific, thus casting a wide net. T or F ?
- Asking questions during the interview is a red flag that you may lack confidence. T or F ?
- The dreaded salary requirement question is best answered by ” I’m open”. T or F ?
- For job seekers new to the scene, avoid part time positions or volunteer work. T or F ?
- Companies generally use one standard method to interview candidates. T or F ?
- For new grads, without a work history, friends and family make the best references. T or F ?
- Best resumes focus on a steady progression of more responsible jobs. T or F ?
[How did you do? You may be surprised but only questions 1 and 2 are true. The others are false.]
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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
There is a ton of information on the internet and hundreds of books which claim to have the key to securing your dream job. Authors have made millions of dollars writing books on the secrets of the perfect resume and job winning interviews. Can they all have “the answer”?
Based on my years of experience selecting and developing talent, I offer you the following recommendations to consider as you make your next career move:
- Use Multiple Strategies – Most job seekers put their efforts into one method; however, those who use multiple strategies are most successful. For example, only 10-15% of people will find their job via a job board like Monster or CareerBuilder so utilize many resources to cast your net as widely as possible.
- Network Online & Offline – Social networking is an important part of our lives and effective in your job search but turn off the computer and network on the telephone or face to face in order to build a real network of people and make a lasting impression. Remember to contribute to your network, too, in order to impact others’ lives. You would be amazed to know how many people landed a great job through contacts they made while volunteering for their favorite cause.
- Surprise – Your Resume is NOT the Key to your next Job – Some people become a bit perfectionistic because they are convinced their resume is the ticket to that dream career. While it is important to have a well constructed and professional resume highlighting your accomplishments and transferrable knowledge/skills, few people have been hired solely on their resume alone.
- Research Your Targeted Companies – This is a very important step and is often overlooked but the time you spend to do your homework will pay off in the interview. What’s more, it is expected that you will have done this since so much information is available online. You can even earn a little “extra credit” from the hiring manager by researching the company’s competition. This shows that you want to know the interviewing company’s challenges and gives you a prime opportunity to present your thoughts of what you would do if hired. Regardless of your level or role in a company, you are able to make an impact. Imagine what a positive impression you would make if you showed up to an interview knowing the top three problems facing the company and had suggestions or solutions to them. That makes you memorable to the recruiter and separates you from the rest of the candidates.
- Prepare your References – If it is likely that the prospective company may call your references, don’t let them be blind sighted. Give them a heads up and coach them about what you would like them to say on your behalf. This is not to say that you are telling them what to say about you but reminding them of the value you provided based on their experience working with you. While preparing your references, they may appreciate you reminding them of your top three achievements to which they could attest and provide further information.