Though the economy continues to improve, some job-seekers are still struggling to find work. To make matters worse, myriad employers around the country still receive scads of applications for every job opening they put out. This means that the competition for jobs remains fairly stiff.
Without a doubt, getting a job – let alone the right job – is hard enough. But by heeding the job hunting tips listed below, you’ll not only learn how to make your resumes and cover letters stand out more, but also discover the little things you can do to make a favorable impression during interviews. Whether you are unemployed and have been job hunting for more than 6 months, or gainfully employed and simply longing for better career opportunities, these job search strategies will ultimately put you one step closer to snagging the job you want.
- Determine the type of job you want. Do you have your sights set on an account executive position at a finance company? A tax accountant post at a CPA firm? How about a sales manager position at a car dealership? Whatever your career goals and interests, it’s imperative that you research the salary trends for your target industry, not to mention the specific skills and educational qualifications employers in your field are looking for. Community colleges offer a range of vocational programs designed to enhance the skills of inexperienced job hunters and seasoned professionals alike.
But making loads of money won’t mean much if the desired job is a poor match for your personality. If you’ve never taken a personality test, consider taking well-documented Myers-Briggs test, which classifies you into one of 16 personality types. Once you’ve arrived at your personality type, you’ll have a better sense of which career(s) complement your character, working style and skill set.
- Exploit all possible resources. Now that you know the type of job you want, how do you go about finding it? Most job seekers take to online job boards like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com. Sure, these two job search sites are arguably the most popular ones out there, but that only means you’ll face more competition when applying for jobs through them. I’ll let you in on two of the best-kept secrets in the job search engine world: Indeed.com and Simplyhired.com. They aggregate listings from a wide range of different websites across the internet, with Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com among them. In fact, you’ll notice ads pulled straight from corporate websites like that of IBM, Burger King, and ExxonMobil. But don’t make the mistake of relying solely on job boards. Many positions aren’t even advertised online; instead, they’re either filled internally or given to candidates referred by fellow co-workers or family members. That’s why it’s so important to make your friends and relatives aware that you’re looking for a job. Even if there’s nothing available where they work, they might know a friend of a friend whose employer is looking to hire someone in your very field. Never underestimate the power of networking, for it should be regarded as a critical tool in your job search arsenal. If you’re not already registered with and using Linkedin.com to look for leads and connect with those in your industry and social circle, do it now,
Leave no stone unturned when searching for a job. Consult your alma mater’s Career Services website. Enlist the services of staffing agencies in your area. If you feel your lack of job experience is hindering your job prospects, consider getting an internship – even if unpaid – to get your foot in the door at a company you’d like to work for. Should a position open up later on, you’ll be at the front of the line; employers prefer to give jobs to those they know and trust.
- Keep applying! Finding a job is a numbers game, which is why it’s pivotal to apply to as many jobs as possible. The more jobs you apply for, the better your odds of finding a job. Challenge yourself by aiming to apply for, say, ten different jobs each week. Even if you don’t meet your goal every week, you’ll take pride in the fact that you’re giving the job search your all.
- Tailor your resume and cover letters to each individual listing. I’ve learned from experience that you’ll get much better results tailoring your resume to every job you apply for than simply shooting off a generic version of it en masse. Tweak your resume to include some of the keywords you see listed in the job listing. For example, if the ad is for a copywriter position that expects you to have ample experience editing and proofreading, you’ll want those words sprinkled somewhere in your resume. (Of course, don’t include anything that deviates heavily from your actual work experience, as that can come back to bite you during the interview, or, even worse, while on the job.)
You must also customize your cover letter for every ad. Let’s say you’re applying for an administrative position at a non-profit organization. Don’t just say you’d like to work for them – explain why in the letter. For example, you can mention you’re the right candidate because you espouse the organization’s mission to provide job training services to at-risk youth. It goes without saying that your resume and cover letter should be devoid of misspellings and grammatical errors. Proofread your materials multiple times and make sure they’re impeccable before pressing that send button! It doesn’t hurt to pass them off to a trusty friend or relative who has a way with words. (Or, better yet, you can enlist the services of a professional proofreader.)
Another useful tip: Make your resume results-oriented with strong action verbs. “Prepared quarterly budget and expense reports” won’t have as strong an impact as “implemented marketing strategies that increased revenues by 30%.” Granted, you might have to stretch the truth a smidge here and there, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to say you launched your previous employer’s new clothing line when all you were responsible for was processing supplier invoices.
- Shine during the interview. So you’ve landed a job interview and find yourself inching closer to the finish line. Congratulations! It’s important that you show up to the interview in professional attire and with a firm understanding of the business, including the company’s history and mission. Research the company on the internet and print out pertinent articles that shed light on topics you may want to address in the interview – from quarterly earnings to new corporate initiatives. In addition, come prepared with questions you’d like to ask the interviewer. It demonstrates an active interest in the company and position and shows you did your homework.
Though this may strike you as odd, it pays huge dividends to try to connect with the interviewer on a personal level. As human beings, we’re more drawn to those with which we share common interests. If you find yourself discussing sports, gardening, or cooking with the interviewer, take it as a very promising sign. In fact, at this point, the interviewer likely sees you as the top candidate and may be trying to reel you in by making a favorable impression on you. Try your best to relax and exude confidence. To lessen the chances of being stumped by an interview question thrown your way, practice beforehand by looking up sample job interview questions online.
- Sending thank you letters is critical. After the interview, be sure to send thank you letters to each and every person who interviewed you. I can’t overestimate how critical this step of the process is. Many will tell you that sending a thank you letter will do little to help your cause. But if they can’t decide between you and another candidate (all other things equal), who do you think has the edge – the person who wrote a well-written thank you letter, or the one who failed to take the time to do so? A thank you letter sets you apart from the competition and gives you one final opportunity to sell yourself to the employer. As is the case with cover letters, you must write a unique cover letter for every interviewer. Make each one a little different by varying certain words in the letter that mean the same thing. (A Thesaurus will come in handy here!) For example, you can put “I want to express my deepest thanks for the opportunity to meet you” in one letter and tweak another letter to say “I want to thank you for the chance to meet with you” in the other.
Now that you’re armed with the above job search strategies, use them wisely to snag the job you’ve always dreamed of!
What do you think of the above tips? Do you have any of your own that you would add to the list?
For prior entries, please click here: How to Understand People
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