Job searching is heart wrenching and sometimes a long haul. It’s a full-time effort when it comes to landing your dream job. However, there are ways to make it less painful. Here are some real world job search strategies that you can employ to kick yours into high gear.
Every little bit of energy you put into your job search is taking you that much closer to finding the one you really want.
JOB SEARCH ISSUE #1 – Getting Noticed
I’m sending out lots of resumes but having no luck getting any response from employers.
Sending out resumes is only the beginning …
It’s no easy task to stand out from the throngs of others who may be just as qualified as you are for that dream job. Still, it does not include printing your resume on pink paper and spraying it with your favorite perfume like Reese Witherspoon in the movie, Legally Blonde.
You know the saying, you get out of it what you put into it? Well, the same holds true for landing that job. It’s a full-time job and the effort you make towards landing it is just as much work as if you already have the job. So if you put only a part-time effort, guess what you get? Yes, not much.
JOB SEARCH ISSUE #2 – Getting Called
I’m responding to jobs that I know I’m a good fit for but am not even getting called for an interview. What am I doing wrong?
If you’re that sure you’re a good fit and you’re not getting called for an interview I might suggest that the position has been filled, or the employer is in the final stages of hiring and can’t take the posting down until the new hire is safely on board.
Recruiters and hiring managers are as human as anyone and you wouldn’t be the first strong candidate to be misplaced or overlooked on a hiring campaign.
That is why it never hurts to send a short courteous follow-up email to a) ask what the status of the role is and, b) in the event that the position is still open, to restate how closely your skills, experience and values fit the role. At the very least you’ll attain a position closer to top of (that recruiter’s) mind than you were before.
JOB SEARCH ISSUE #3 – Getting Experience
Everyone is looking for experience. How do I get that experience?
Let’s start with the experience you DO have. Think about it. What special projects or team initiatives did you manage or have a key role in at university? What summer jobs did you work at? Where have you volunteered? What are the soft skills you learned the importance of while working in these places?
Read between the lines. When you see ads with phrases like “must be self-starter” you can take it to the bank that this is an employer who is looking for someone who shows initiative and drive and can get things done. People who want to work and who show up big every day with a positive attitude.
Also, look for ways to get the experience you need by volunteering – the internet and newspapers are full of non-profits who need expertise – look for the ones who need the skills that you want to get experience in. And don’t overlook the for-profits either. If you show the initiative to work for nothing as a means to get experience.
JOB SEARCH ISSUE #4 – Do I Have to Write a Cover Letter?
If you’re like any other job seeker, you’d probably rather do just about anything than write cover letters for those jobs you’re applying to (that’s when you start to realize that your laundry is piling up or the lawn needs mowing). Regardless, craft a cover letter you must.
A good cover letter is one that answers the number one question – why should you be hired for the job? Then, without writing a new version of War and Peace, answer these other key questions:
- Why do you want this job? What made it stand out from all the others like it?
- What exactly makes you a good fit for this job? If you lack the skills, list the ones the job is asking for, admit you don’t have them but tell them why you’d do such a great job anyways.
- Tell them who you are, with humility. When your attitude is right-minded, backed up by your values being clearly stated, you will get noticed by the employers who matter, the ones that share in your values and appreciate direct, honest responses to their job postings.
JOB SEARCH ISSUE #5 – Which Resume to Use?
I can’t seem to win when it comes to writing a good resume. Some tell me to keep my resume to one page. Others tell me to take out any of my experience that is older than 10 years. And still others want me to include every detail. What’s the best route to take?
Every job entails a custom resume. That’s the bare bones facts in today’s highly competitive job market. If you want to stand out you need to a) find the jobs that you are ideally suited to and then b) tailor your resume to fit not just the skills and experience they’re looking for but also the culture. Look for how the ad is written. Go to their website and see if they run edgy and contemporary or on the reserved conservative side….
Many savvy job seekers are including a cover letter as part of their resume. And here’s why. It’s called key word weighting. The content that you include in your digital resume needs to closely reflect the job posting. By that I don’t mean copying word for word, but certainly do include key words. For example is an ad is calling for a Journeyman Electrician, use those exact words (assuming you are one of course). Don’t abbreviate unless they do. Use the same key word phrases and terms that the employer uses, and keep to as similar a style as possible.
How to Write Your Resume
Here are 10 real world pieces of job search advice that might just get you noticed by that next right employer:
1) Only answer job ads that apply to a) your interest and skills/ experience b) your interest and training, or c) your interest, skills, and training.
Applying to jobs insincerely, i.e., your only motive is because you need a job, one is a dead give-away to savvy recruiters and HR professionals. Trying to fake your interest will force you to resort to glib, cliche hyberbole that, not surprisingly, everyone else is also using. Genuine interest can’t be faked. Neither can confidence.
Tip: If you’re feeling over a barrel with financial and/or career pressures, find a way to relax and get into hero mode first. Don’t laugh, but jumping up and down, raising you arms in the air like a triumphant Rocky Balboa, really does work to get you into a more confident frame of mind.
2) Use key words in your resume and cover letter
Select specific key words from the job you’re applying for, and only if they are relevant to your skills and experience, and you will pop up in a search (also see Job Search Issue # 4 above) This also demonstrates that, even though you may not have all the skills, you’re at least taking the time to read the job posting completely and addressing the areas that you may need to develop. You will get points for that.
3) Keep up with what’s going on in your industry
by reading about it online or in industry newspapers, newsletters or magazines and best of all, attending events related to your industry where you’ll run into valuable contacts. Sitting at home and applying online all day won’t cut it.
4) Attend networking events
Dress for the occasion and don’t just hand your card to the person and walking away before talking to them first. Let them hear you and see you first. The card is merely a point of contact for them should they decide they want to hear more from you. Be open-minded as to who you talk to because you never know who knows who….Therein lies the beauty of networking.
5) Call up the company
Call and ask who you can talk with to learn more about the company, and once you have rapport established ask about a tour or a familiarization interview. This conversation could easily happen on the spot at a networking event so be prepared. This is a great way to get a face to face meeting with the influencers of the company and to find out if you really want to work for them. Since everyone is busy these days, reassure the company influencer that you’ll only take up about 15 or 20 minutes of their time.
6) Follow up, follow up and don’t forget to follow up!
After every meeting, letter or resume you send, you should always follow up by phone, not just by email. Persistence is key in the job search trenches. Even if they say in the job ad, no contact by phone or email, do it anyway. I don’t care what they say, everybody likes to get a hand-written card!
Besides, when should an adult and professional like you take orders from someone who doesn’t know you and better yet, doesn’t even pay you? After all, would you work a nanosecond for a draconian company that doesn’t allow you to send a letter by snail mail or email? Don’t let a few empty words in an ad scare you, just follow up. You’re not hurting anyone but yourself by not giving your job search every effort possible.
7) Get hooked in, tuned in or shall we say, get Linkedin?
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, get on there. You’re reading this so you’re already online, then it’s just a wee step to creating a winning LinkedIn profile. Fill in your profile and start connecting with others. Also, offline you could let everyone you know that you’re looking. You never know who they might know.
9) Volunteer your time.
Giver’s gain can be your mantra here. There’s nothing like giving back to get your mind off the job search momentarily, but it’s also another great way to make contact with people in the community who know each other. The world really is a smaller place than you realize. See Job Seeker Issue #4.
10) Be Prepared. Always.
Have crisp, clean copies of your resume with you at all times. Get a business card printed that contains your basic contact information and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Potential employers want to be ablve to find and view your online presence.
There are inexpensive sites where you can get your business card printed like Moo cards (http://us.moo.com/products/business-cards.html?gclid=COjE9Y29lLsCFcxAMgodjX4Afg) or Vista Print (www.vistaprint.ca).
As mentioned in Job Seeker Issue #1, sending out your resume is only the beginning. Here are some solid steps that’ll help you stand out from the hoards of others who are sending their resumes into the vast HR abyss.
Aside from standing on your head, these are the tested and tried amongst the myriad of ways you can enhance your job search, and sending your resume is only a smidgen of the full-time job search process.
Most important, it’s all about making connections and maintaining them. When you employ these methods, you increase your chances of getting noticed and getting closer to a job that’s a great match for you.
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Barbara Ashton is a leading social recruiter with well over 10,000 LinkedIn followers. She has been finding extraordinary talent for BC’s Employers of Choice since 1980.
Ashton & Associates Recruiting Inc. Placing Powerful People. Offices in Kamloops and Kelowna. Barbara Ashton is the President and Founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting.
Ashton & Associates Recruiting … Helping you hire right. Every time.
This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.
About the Author
Barbara Ashton is the owner and founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting. She is an expert recruiter helping businesses to hire exceptional employees for over 25 years. Business owners and managers hire Ashton & Associates to recruit skilled employees who honor values and accountability, excel at winning new customers, and increase bottom line.
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