50 Top Job Seeking Tips
Marie Larsen | March 30, 2011 |
Workforce pro gives her Top 50 Job Seeking Tips:
- You have a job. Finding a job is a job. So treat it like one. Devise a plan of action and carry it out. Don’t just spend an hour or two a day and then give up. No business could continue to operate if it were only open a couple of hours a day.
- Take the initiative. Even when people know that you are hoping to find a new job, they aren’t always comfortable stepping in unless asked, so ask. Remember though, not everyone likes to get involved, so if someone turns you down, be polite and try not to take it personally.
- Get involved. The more people you know, the better your chances of making helpful connections. Opportunities are all around you. Your family members and current friends are rich sources of employment referrals, of course, but try to actively seek out other connections. Get to know the people on your block, at your church, at your children’s school and extracurricular activities, and let them know that you are job hunting. No matter whom you meet try to weave it into the conversation that you are looking for a job.
- Research. Before you apply (but especially before you interview), be sure to find out as much as you can about your prospective employer. Be sure to understand what it is that they do, their market is, their competition, and things that they feel are important or exciting about their business. Remain current on any issues or developments in the field. Read trade journals or professional publications, and read the newspaper.
- Target your resume. Make sure your resume is targeted to the employer who will receive it. Try to tailor your resume to each job you are applying for. If you need to have more than one resume.
- Be prepared. You never know who you might meet so keep a copy of your resume with you at all times and have a brief elevator speech about what you can offer to a company prepared.
- One step at a time. Remember that your resume will not get you the job on its own. Its purpose is to get you the interview. Make sure your resume will pique the employers’ interest so that you can get the interview and then that is where you will get the job.
- Subscribe to a trade publication or some type of magazine that specializes in the industry you are seeking employment. This will keep you abreast of any changes in the industry and will also be helpful in the interview to show the prospective employer that you are current on the issues and developments in that industry.
- Proof read. When you are proof reading your resume have one or two other people read it also before you show it to an employer. Sometimes when you work on something a long time your brain automatically makes changes and corrections to what you are reading without you even realizing it. Spell check is not infallible and cannot discern between words like wood and would. Try reading your resume out loud to get rid of sentences that may be awkward or confusing.
- Start your own business. Don’t rule out the possibility of starting your own business. Many great companies have started because the owners could not find a good fit when looking for a job. Talk to other people who have started their own business. Contact the Small Business Association and ask them for advice and information about business loans. Make a business plan.
- Be sure to develop all the materials that you will need in filling out an employment application in advance. Even if you are supplying a resume, it is possible that you will also need to complete a standard application for the human resources department. If you have not seen an application in a long time, some of the standard questions may have changed. You can stop at almost any store and request an employment application for review.
- Write down all of your standard information on a separate sheet of paper, and take it with you when you apply for a position. Such things would include past job contact information, dates of hire, personal references, etc. If you are required to fill out the application in the employer’s office, you will then have all of the information that you need, and can complete it quickly and completely.
- Before you apply for any job, be sure to contact all of your references that you want to list and ask permission to do so. It’s always good taste to do so but it can also prepare the individual for when it happens. In most cases, you will end up with a far better recommendation because the person isn’t taken off guard, and they will have a chance to think of what they will say about you.
- Find out about potential job opportunities through multiple avenues. No job board will carry even a small portion of the possibilities that are out there, and some of your best alternatives may come through networking with friends and past co-workers. Touch base with those that you haven’t talked to in some time. If it is a very casual or distant acquaintance, you may not be able to ask them for many favors. But it won’t hurt to ask and see if they’ve recently heard of something. Old co-workers and people at church are some of your best contact possibilities.
- Before you apply (but especially before you interview), be sure to find out as much as you can about your prospective employer. Be sure to understand what it is that they do, who their market is, their competition, and hopefully things that they feel are important or exciting about their business. This may sound a bit basic, but in the rush to hand out hundreds of resumes, people will often ignore some of the most fundamental tasks. An employer isn’t going to give much credit to your statements about what you can do for them if you don’t know what they do.
- Understand that one of the biggest issues that prospective employers are concerned about with hiring seniors is that their qualifications are far higher than what they are looking for. They are concerned that overly-qualified individuals will be unchallenged and hate their jobs as well concerned that you will not be happy for long with less money than you made in the last job. If you are willing to and will be happy earning less but just cannot get employers to understand this, consider reinventing yourself or applying for a job that is quite different than anything that you have had before. While you can still utilize many of your talents like people management, the employer will be more comfortable with your decision and understanding that you are taking a lower wage position because you are starting something new.
- Check out the current fashions. You shouldn’t try to be a trend-setter but neither should you be pulling out what you wore to your last interview 15 years ago. Be sure that what you have fits properly, has been cleaned and is well-pressed. Do this before you even fill out your first application or send in your first resume. You may not think that you have gained an inch, but this is the ultimate of being safe instead of being sorry.
- Begin with self-assessment. The job search process begins with an identification of your values, interests, skills, accomplishments, experience, and goals. How can you seek a position if you don’t know what you want from a job and what you have to offer prospective employers? Self-assessment, though a time-consuming process, provides invaluable information to facilitate career decisions and to prepare you to market your background effectively.
- Research and explore career options. The next step in the job search process is to explore the “matches” between your identified skills, interests, and values and the demands of career fields and organizations.
- Choose a career field, then target employers. After thoroughly researching possible careers/jobs, several field options will emerge as most realistic and attractive. These options should become your career or job search goals. It is probable that no single career will have the potential to utilize all your skills, allow you to develop all your interests, and incorporate a value system completely compatible with yours. Try to target one that will satisfy some of your high-priority needs.
- Prepare job search materials and develop job search skills. Once your job goals have been targeted, resumes and application letters can be tailored to reflect your qualifications as they relate to the interests of prospective employers.
- Plan and conduct job search campaign. Next, establish a target date for getting a job and decide how much time you can devote to your search. Some individuals believe they cannot afford to take time from their studies or a demanding job. Others procrastinate. Whatever the reasons, the results are the same-your search will languish and you may miss out on industry hiring cycles and job opportunities. So get organized early by setting aside a certain amount of time each week to work on your search. Use a calendar and weekly planner and work backward from your target date.
- Develop a contact network. Once you have targeted a career or specific position, you should acquaint yourself with professionals in that field or organization. These professionals offer you an insider’s view and can constitute your contact network, which can open doors that might otherwise remain closed. Your network can also consist of family members, friends, classmates, professors, and electronic discussion groups.
- Contact employers directly. There are several methods and combinations of methods that can be utilized to contact employers directly.
- Follow-up and record keeping. No matter what job search strategies you choose, follow-up and record keeping are important for success. Maintain a careful record of all interviews, thank-you notes sent, referrals made and follow-up actions. Job seekers who fail to maintain this information often lose valuable contacts as well as credibility with prospective employers.
- Be persistent. Job searching is hard work and there are times when you will get discouraged. But if you keep up with it, you can avoid feeling anxious and will actually have more energy. If your search is not producing the results that you would like, avoid blaming yourself and try a new strategy. Do not be reluctant to submit your credentials on more than one occasion to an organization for which you would like to work. This attitude demonstrates your enthusiasm and interest.
- Obtain offer and continue to develop your career action plan. Congratulations! Your job search campaign has been successful. You have been offered a position you wish to accept. Send a note to all the people who helped you relaying the good news.
- Clarify your career goals. Use this time to evaluate what you want out of your career. What things would you like to be different at your new position? Write down a list of the issues that are important to you in a job, and keep these in mind during your search.
- Research the market. You’ll want to scan Internet job search sites, newspaper ads and trade magazines. Try targeting a few companies in which you are interested (whether they are advertising or not) and calling to see if they are hiring in the near future.
- Network. Have business cards printed and with you at all times. Be thorough and creative in compiling your list of people to contact; fellow alumni and former professors can be especially helpful, but also look to your extended family and former colleagues.
- Be geographically flexible. If you are determined to remain in one particular area, you may be limiting yourself. Explore possibilities in nearby cities; perhaps public transportation or flexible work options can minimize the stress of a commute.
- Brush up on skills. Online or community college courses can help you keep current. You might also use this time to evaluate how your soft skills could be improved; consult friends, former colleagues or even an online career expert for tips.
- Make your case in writing. Ensure that your resume and cover letter are error-free – ask a friend to double-check both for spelling and grammar. Once you’ve had an interview, send a written note to the interviewer thanking him or her for the meeting.
- Identify promising organizations in your career field or industry, then visit their Web sites. Organizations only pay to advertise their hard-to-fill jobs. The rest of their job openings may be posted to their Web site
- Use networking contacts. Networking opens the door to a lot of job openings you would never otherwise know about. In addition, by networking you can learn a lot about breaking into your chosen career field, identify top employers, and meet some great people.
- Personalize your strategy. Only you know what results you need in terms of money, benefits and hours to give a job your all. Formulate a strategy to get what you need.
- Attend career events. If you look online and in the Democrat, you will see there are many opportunities, most of them at no cost to you.
- Selecting target companies. The first step is to compile a list of target companies–firms where you might like to work. The companies on the list may come from many sources. These include: Information obtained by researching the job market. Personal knowledge about a company. Information obtained through networking. As you learn more about these firms the list may change; some firms may be removed and others added. Once you have decided on a small list of target companies upon which to concentrate, you are ready to get to work.
- Research your target companies. Find out as much as you can about each of your target companies. The information you will need includes answers to the following: What are the company’s products or services? What is the company’s status in the industry? Is the company large or small, growing or downsizing? What can you learn about the job you want (the job duties, salary, benefits, work environment)? What is the public image of the firm and what type of person “fits in?” What are some of the firm’s current problems? Which people have the power to hire you?
- Know thyself. Begin your job search by taking a thorough inventory of your interests, skills, accomplishments, experience, goals, and values. Make a detailed list. The key to a successful job search is recognizing what makes you a unique candidate and communicating this effectively to a prospective employer, both verbally and in writing.
- Aim for the right target. Try to match your skills, interests, and values with the right career choice. If one of your goals is to get a larger salary, don’t focus on career paths that traditionally pay low salaries. Do some research. Learn about different companies that interest you and target those that are more likely to have open positions.
- Be assertive and proactive. Don’t wait around for opportunity to come knocking on your door. While cold calling on potential employers can be intimidating, it remains a powerful strategy. It’s important to get through the door first, before your competition.
- Do some sleuthing. One key to breaking in is understanding the “hidden” job market. Many job openings exist only in the minds of directors, vice presidents, and other company bigwigs long before the job is finally advertised in newspapers or on the Internet. If you can present yourself as the perfect candidate at this early stage, an employer may snap you up without looking elsewhere.
- Work the network. Networking should be at the center of your job search strategy. Get the word out to friends, trusted colleagues, and even relatives that you are actively looking for a job, and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open for any opportunities. Expand your network by joining professional organizations, signing up for job search newsletters and e-mail blasts, contacting former professors and classmates, and by participating in Internet discussion boards.
- Get professional help. Employment agencies come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, and they can be an excellent resource for job leads. Some specialize in very specific occupational areas, and many often have exclusive arrangements with large companies. If you’re interested in the services of an agency, investigate it carefully. Determine what the agency will do for you and how much it will cost.
- Be temporarily flexible. Temp jobs are a great way to learn skills, gain experience, and earn money while looking for a permanent position. They are also a way to prove your worth and be first in line when a full-time position does open up. Working as a consultant or independent contractor in a company can also eventually lead to steady, full-time employment.
- Say it clearly. When sending out resumes, catch the prospective employer’s attention with a brief and concise cover letter that spells out clearly how your qualifications match the job requirements. Connect the dots for the reader, making it obvious why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
- Keep careful records. Keeping track of the progress of your job search is important. Maintain a detailed record of all the jobs you have applied to, including communications, interviews, referrals, and follow-up actions. This will help you build a network of valuable contacts both for your current job search and any future ones.
- Follow-up with your contacts. Be sure you follow up in a timely manner with the people who have talked with you. Write a thank you letter after each meeting, expressing gratitude for the specific help you received. Personalize the letter by mentioning something you talked about at the meeting that informed or helped you. Make notes to remind you with whom you talked, date of the meeting, what transpired, and additional contact names gained at the meeting. Keep copies of all correspondence. Mention during the interview that you would like to get back to this person to let him/her know the progress of your exploration.
- Check job vacancy listings. In order to supplement the want ad route, employers often post job openings internally and recruit applicants from within the organization. Many employers send vacancy listings directly to college and university career centers and faculty members. The Internet is also popular source for job listings. In addition, organizations’ websites typically link to career opportunities and outline the procedures for applying.
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By Marie Larsen
Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.