Job hunting these days involves a lot more than stumbling upon an open position and handing employers your resume. You also need to make sure you're an excellent fit for the job, have an online presence, catch the hiring manager's attention and be well prepared to answer interview questions with ease.
How do you cut through the noise? We met with job search expert Jack Litchfield, CEO and co-founder of JobJunxion, for some advice. Here are nine tips that you can use to improve your chances of finding the right job.
1. Know your career goals and plan ahead
To help narrow your search, first, figure out what type of career you want. What are you looking for in a role? What job titles are relevant to you? Can you list your primary skills? Do you have evidence of your achievements?
"Too many job seekers enter virtual job fairs and networking events to connect with as many recruiters as possible, but fail to do any research first," said Litchfield. "This is a common mistake that will set you back when job searching."
Think about what you're selling as a candidate before you start marketing yourself. This way, you don't risk approaching busy decision-makers like recruiters and future employers without knowing answers to these questions first.
2. Expand your skills
Are you just entering the workforce? Are you worried about gaps in your resume? This shouldn't set you back as long as you spin the right narrative, Litchfield advises.
"All work experiences are relevant, it's up to you to market yourself effectively to translate to most industries," he said. "Only ever worked service jobs? Highlight your ability to multitask, your great interpersonal and your organizational skills. Laid off? Highlight how you spent your time updating your resume, learning something new, or volunteering with an organization in your desired industry while applying for jobs. It all comes down to how you tell your story."
Use these opportunities to expand your network of contacts or advance to a full-time position and update your resume as you gain more experience or accomplishments.
3. Customize your resume
To make yourself stand out:
- Adapt your resume to each job you apply for.
- Study the job description and mirror the words.
- Showcase your strengths in the areas that seem to be of paramount importance to the role.
It's also important to remember that your resume and social media are not permanent. If they don't position you as a direct match for a particular role that you're gunning for, don't be afraid to modify wording, switch around key terms, and swap bullet points in and out. Treat your resume and LinkedIn profile as living, breathing documents throughout your job search (and career).
4. Supplement your resume with social media
Online job searching can feel like you're flinging resumes and cover letters into a black hole. Maybe you've heard that computerized resume scanners reject applications before they even make it into human hands. And yes – at many companies that receive a high volume of applications, that's true.
To get your resume into human hands, "create a great one-pager, and use LinkedIn to go into greater detail," said Litchfield. "Your LinkedIn profile shouldn't just regurgitate your resume, it should give recruiters extra insight into what makes you special as a candidate for the role you're applying for."
5. Be purposeful online
Speaking of having an active online presence, the reality is that you need to be on LinkedIn. More than 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool.
If you're a professional, you need to not only be on LinkedIn – you need to be using it to your full advantage. "You need to be doing more than the bare minimum," said Litchfield. "Start with social media and expand from there."
6. Network regularly
We all know the saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." While it's not entirely true, having a connection at a company certainly doesn't hurt. If you have an "in" at a specific company you're interested in working for, it can make all the difference in getting your foot in the door for a job that you want.
"Anything you can do to put a name to a face will maximize your chances," said Litchfield. Put the word out that you're looking for a new job, search within your network for possible connections, ask your network to get you an introduction, and make new connections by reaching out for informational interviews. Relationship building is critical here.
7. Apply with confidence
Don't let the job description scare you off from applying. We've all been there, reading job descriptions that look like the perfect fit – until we start going down a massive laundry list of responsibilities and required skills. Many companies list so many responsibilities into one bloated job description that reads more like a unicorn hunt than a job description.
In reality, there is no plug-in-and-play candidate that will match up to work the equivalent of three jobs in one, so apply for jobs you are interested in even if you only meet some of their requirements. Depending on the position, employers might hire motivated individuals who learn quickly and provide them with skills training on the job. If you meet a portion of a job's qualifications but believe you can still succeed in that role, apply. Include examples of your work ethic and ability to learn new skills in your resume. Emphasize how your goals align with those of the company.
8. Be persistent
You've done the research, made the connections, applied, and are prepared for the interview. "Immediately after a job interview, send the hiring manager a thank-you note," said Litchfield. If you have not heard back from them after a week, follow up with a phone call or an email. When doing so, show your excitement and interest in the job.
"The way you say thank you matters – recruiters and hiring managers hear enough generic thank you notes in a day, so make yours thoughtful and personal to leave a lasting impression," said Litchfield. While you wait for a response, continue searching for and applying to jobs that interest you.
9. Be brave and get out there
Even in a buoyant market, rejection is common. To maintain your confidence and avoid becoming a job beggar desperate to take anything, cultivate resilience.
Stick to a routine, prioritize self-care, focus on the wins and let go of past failures to start fresh. Lean on your social support system who you can meet with regularly to remind you what you're good at, broaden your thinking and help pick you up when you receive inevitable knock-backs.
Job hunting can test your reserves. Be kind to yourself, start with small positive actions, and use the tools you have to become more successful during your job search.
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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash