If you have spent any time job searching in the recent past, you know that it isn’t easy! Whether you have been at it for some time and need to revive a search that has stalled, or if you are just starting out and want your search to come to a successful conclusion as fast as possible, these can’t fail techniques will help.
Always have a goal to work toward. Ideally you’ll want to set manageable and motivating weekly goals for your job search. While you want these goals to be attainable, they should also provide a challenge. To be most effective, write your goals down, have a way to measure your progress, and make sure to set yourself a deadline.
Know where you are going. If you need a job, it is sometimes tempting to just go after any opening you see. This is a mistake. If you are clear on what it is you want as the next step of your career and clear about the qualifications and value you have to offer for that target, you will be miles ahead of the vast majority of job seekers. This will allow you to conduct a very focused search, and the returns on the time you spend job seeking will be far higher.
Refamiliarize yourself with your accomplishments. Think back to each position you have held throughout your career. What challenges did you face? What problems did you have to solve? What was going on in the company at the time and how did that impact your position? What did you do to meet these challenges and solve these problems? What were the results? Can you quantify those results? Fill your resume with these stories of success, use them in cover letters, and use them to answer interview questions.
Don’t gamble with a less-than-perfect resume. Similar to marketing any product or service, your resume is an advertisement of you and what you have to offer of value to an employer. It must be absolutely professional and should be written and designed to stand out in a sea of qualified candidates while clearly conveying the benefits you offer the employer and exactly how hiring you will produce greater returns on their investment than hiring the next candidate. This is not the place to cut corners. If you have any doubt, engage a professional resume writer to assist you.
Get organized and create a system for managing your job search. Everything that you must do and all of the contacts that you have to keep track of during a job search can be overwhelming. Systems that you use consistently to keep track of your schedule, follow-up tasks, contacts, and information will help you avoid overwhelm and keep you moving forward efficiently.
Gather a team of people to support you. Job searching can be stressful and staying motivated difficult. A group of friends and relatives, along with professionals such as career coaches and resume writers will help you stay on track and motivated, provide you with different perspectives, and help you stay accountable to your goals.
Be clear about your unique value proposition and personal brand. This will help you to stand out and get attention even in a job market that is overflowing with qualified candidates. What is it that makes you and your contribution unique and special in the workplace? What do you do better or differently than your peers. Know the answer to that question and promote it in your resume, your letters, and all your communications and interactions in regards to your job search.
Use a variety of job search techniques. The most effective job search campaigns use a diversity of job search approaches that are put into practice in a strategic, planned, and methodical way. Think about your options — answering ads on the internet, contacting recruiters, conducting informational interviews, networking, targeting specific companies — then put them together in a multi-pronged job search plan.
Spend time every day nurturing and building your network. It has been said that only 15% of jobs are ever advertised. The rest are filled through sources other than advertising, usually networking. Networking is simply about developing mutually beneficial relationships with people. Try setting a goal to make a list each day of XX number of people, then reach out in various ways to each one of them. Don’t nag them for job openings. It is rare that someone will know if a specific job opening. Just keep them updated on your search and ask if they know of someone in their network that it might be helpful for you to talk with. Make it your goal to come away from each contact with a referral or introduction to someone else you can reach out to.
Don’t just look for openings, look for companies that you want to work for. Spend time researching and identifying companies that you believe are a good fit for your career goals. Conduct some research and learn everything you can about these companies. What problems and challenges are they facing? What are their short and long term goals? How can you add value in relation to these? Once you are clear on these questions, try reaching out to people in your network to see if you can get an introduction into the companies.
Start going out on informational interviews.Informational interviewing is not just for new graduates and career changers. Every job seeker can benefit from them as they help you to expand your network within your industry or profession of choice. Of course, they are also a great source of leads on openings that are never advertised. Make sure you go to the interview prepared with questions that you want to ask, to help the conversation move along.
Don’t just surf the net, spend your online time building a presence for yourself. You can establish yourself as an authority in your field by writing and publishing articles or a blog on your industry or profession. Establish profiles and learn to use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to cultivate and broaden your network. Participate in online discussion groups regarding your profession or industry. These activities will often result in job leads, but they are also a way to strengthen your credibility and become known to recruiters who will then seek you out for positions they are trying to fill.
Reach out to the recruiting firms that specialize in your industry or profession. Make sure they are aware of you and that they have an updated copy of your resume in their files. Don’t just broadcast your resume to an unfocused list of recruiters. This is a waste of everyone’s time. Do the research to learn which firms work in your field and focus on this shorter list.
Have and use a consistent method of following up on every job lead and every contact you make. This is absolutely essential and can make all the difference in the speed and success of your search. If you say you are going to call, do so. If someone helps you in any way, send a thank you note. If you email a resume, also send a printed one, then pick up the phone and make a call a few days later to confirm receipt.
Stay positive, stay active, and don’t give up. Job searching is a process and takes time. Your persistence and consistent effort will pay off. In the meantime, work your plan and reward yourself for the effort. This will help you remain focused and motivated. Before you know it, you may be choosing from multiple job offers.
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About the author: Michelle Dumas is a multiply-certified, national-award-winning professional resume writer and career marketing expert widely recognized as pioneering thought-leader and trend-setter in the employment services industry. With 20 years of experience, Michelle has helped 10,000+ job seekers in all 50 U.S. states and across the world land rewarding jobs and build fulfilling careers.
Contributor to more than a dozen resume writing and job search books from publishers such as McGraw Hill, Jist, and impact Publications.
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