It does not matter if you are seeking your first job after college, a new job after a lay off, or looking to make a career transition, a job search can be stressful, challenging, and downright overwhelming. The good news is that it does not have to be. There are a number of strategies and practices that you can employ to improve your chances of having a successful job hunting experience.
Grow your employment seeker toolbox with these 8 tips for a successful job search and get down to the business of finding the right opportunity for you!
Searching For a Job IS Your Job
You heard that right! Until you have the job that you are looking for, searching for a job IS your job. Therefore, you should treat it like one. Get up at a scheduled time, keep a morning routine, and a daily schedule that will support your job search. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your time management skills. Time block your schedule so that you have time set aside in your weekly calendar to accommodate searching job listings, applying for positions, meeting with recruiters, networking, going on interviews, and follow-up. If you apply yourself as vigorously to your job search as you will to you new position you will find that these practices lead not only to improved results, but you will keep yourself in fine form and a daily rhythm that will make your transition back into a working schedule practically painless.
Quality Over Quantity
A common mistake that some people make is finding a company that they are interested in and applying for every position that they have available (or worse yet, applying for every job with every company posted on the entire job board). Your job search is not a game of craps, nor should shotgunning your resume be considered a legitimate job hunting strategy. That approach comes off as desperate and believe it or not, employers can tell. Look for the positions that fit your skill set and experience with companies that have the type of culture you are looking for in the right industry and apply accordingly.
When you do find positions and companies that are the right fit for you make sure that you customize your cover letter and resume to match. Your cover letter should highlight skills you have that are mentioned in the job posting. The tone of your cover letter should always be professional, but you should tailor the tone to the culture of the company that you are applying to when possible. For example, a job with a technology company that has a youthful and fun image will be looking for a different candidate than a straight laced law firm. Your resume should also emphasize your experience and accomplishments in a way that aligns with the job posting.
Leverage Social Media
First and foremost, clean up your social media profiles to present a professional and personable image to potential employers. No matter how fantastic your resume is, a Facebook profile photo of you doing a keg stand, a Twitter feed espousing your distaste with a particular political group, or your R-rated blog about how much you hated your last boss will quickly disqualify you for most employers. Yes, these are your personal pages and it certainly is your right to post whatever you like on them, however, know that you will be judged in an era when employers plug your name into Google just minutes after they review your resume.
Also, build a strong profile on LinkedIn that is coordinated with your resume and cover letter. LinkedIn is a social media outlet that allows your professional image and resume to work for you 24/7. In addition to making sure that the information on your LinkedIn page is accurate, be sure to choose a professional head shot photo that conveys the right message to employers. Once you have a strong LinkedIn profile built, take the time to join some groups related to the industry that you want to work in and engage other users in discussions on professional topics to increase the visibility of your profile. Many recruiters use LinkedIn on a daily basis to locate new candidates for open positions. Who knows, you may even get a call from one of them because they were impressed with what they saw.
Network, Network, Network
Networking is critical. You can have all of the social media presence in the world, but if you aren't out there actually meeting people face-to-face then you are not effectively networking. There is a great saying, "Get online to get offline." Once you connect with people via social media meet with them for coffee or find out when their next hiring event is and go meet them there.
Make sure that when you are scheduling your time during your job hunt that you are setting aside time to go to job fairs, meet with recruiters face-to-face, and occasionally deliver a copy of your cover letter and resume to the hiring manager in person if it is appropriate. There are also many different types of networking social events that are sponsored by professional organizations in every industry that make excellent opportunities to meet people that may be key in landing your next job. Get out there and network!
Do Your Homework
Research is important in a successful job hunt. It will help you find the right companies and positions that fit your skills, experience, and personality. Just about every company has a website packed full of information about their corporate identity, history, values, and purpose. This is all fantastic information for you to be familiar with when you are looking for positions. It is even better information to be familiar with when you go to interview with them. Hiring Managers like to know it when a candidate has a genuine interest in their organization beyond it being a potential source for a paycheck.
Consider searching companies that you are pursuing on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and follow them there as well. These company pages may give you more candid insight into company culture and projects that they are currently focused on. Many companies post new job opening when they become available which can give you an edge on those job seekers that limit themselves to job boards.
Sharpen & Grow Your Skills
While you are looking for a new position it is also a great time to sharpen your current skills and to pick up some new ones. Pay sites like Lynda.com are a great way to re-familiarize yourself with those Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel skills that you have not used in a long time. While pay sites do offer good information, there is an incredible amount of knowledge and classes available to you completely FREE through Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), OpenCourseWare (OCW), and even YouTube! Take advantage of these sites and use them to be able to add new and relevant skills that are in demand to your resume. Here is a link to a list of free MOOC and OCW websites to get you started.
One of the most important factors in a successful job search is to stay positive. It can be a challenge to keep a positive frame of mind when you face rejection from potential employers or worse yet, no answer at all. A great way to combat this challenge is to inject positivity into your day and your mindset. Start each morning with a talk from Ted.com or your favorite source of motivation and inspiration. Many people also have success using spoken affirmations to get themselves excited and focused for their daily job search activities. Give it a try and enjoy the difference that it makes for you.
You have got the tools. Now you have got some great tips to enhance your job searching strategies. It is time to be the best possible you that you can be and secure the opportunity to be great in the job that you are about to accept!
Share your favorite job searching tips in the comments and be sure to share any success stories using the tips shared in this post.