If you’ve started looking for a job, you know there is A LOT of information out there – too much, in fact. What’s worse is that most of the information you find on how to successfully search for a job is contradictory at best. There are a number of factors in your job search that can work against you:
- The overall process (how you approach the search) is ineffective.
- Your job search isn’t properly targeted.
- You’re not standing out against the competition (other job seekers).
Looking for a job IS a job
Okay, admittedly it isn’t really a job to find a job, but it can certainly feel that way sometimes. If you’re filling your days with job search and networking activities, it’s time to stop and regroup. Approach the job search with a well-defined strategy and a targeted approach. Most people who are in need of a new job start off by hitting the job boards. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with job boards, that’s not the first place to start.
To keep you out of the habit of falling into the trap of posting your resume on a job board, let’s define the appropriate steps to take.
What is your career target?
If you’ve performed any amount of research on how to write a resume or search for a job, chances are you’ve come across the term Applicant Tracking System or ATS scan. These wonderful programs make hiring manager and recruiter jobs easier but they make things a bit more difficult for job seekers.
The hiring world got tired of having candidates throw their resumes at job openings whether or not they were qualified. So, the ATS scan was born. It requires that your resume be targeted to a job that matches your skills and experience.
This means before you even think about trying to apply for any jobs you have to know what you’re good at, what skills you possess, and what your experience will allow you to do…SPECIFICALLY.
Define the type of company you’d like to find
Some people don’t have a preference as to the type of company. They just want a job and they want a job now. Try your best to put that level of desperation to rest.
Hiring managers and recruiters can smell when a job seeker is desperate and it can affect you in several ways. They might take advantage of you by low balling you on salary. They could even decide they don’t want someone who is desperate for a job. This could be when you’d hear that ever-popular “you’re overqualified” excuse for not offering you the job.
Since you’re doing all of this research, you might as well define the type of company you’d prefer. It could even pop up as an interview question (e.g., “Why do you want to work here?”). Be realistic. Once you’re in the interview, the hiring manager isn’t going to be impressed by your ability to combine creative license with sarcasm. They want to know that you’re a good fit for their company.
Define the company now, before you get started so that you’re in the right place throughout the job search process.
Update your resume
At this point, you’ve defined your target career and ideal company. Now, it’s time to update your resume. You can’t update the resume before you get the first two steps completed because you have to have an idea where you’re going to properly target the resume. You’ll likely use the reverse-chronological style for your resume. However, there are 5 types of accepted formats. The one you use will be dependent upon the job you choose.
Writing a resume is no longer as simple as putting down everything you’ve done in your career. It really is a targeted marketing document. Of course, the biased professional opinion here would be to tell you to hire a resume writing service. Salary.com and a lot of other websites agree with that professional opinion, though. The numbers also speak for themselves. A resume writing professional can help you beat the ATS bots.
Perfect your LinkedIn Profile
In addition to submitting resumes to job openings that you find, it is possible to secure a job by having a recruiter find you on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has done a very good job of allowing job seekers to show they’re looking for a new job. There are specific steps to take to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward on that platform. Read this article to learn how to Perfect your LinkedIn Profile.
Your goal is to have an “All-Star” profile. Here’s how to do that:
- Have an appropriate photo – It’s not important on a resume (in the US) but it’s supremely important for LinkedIn.
- Write an attention-grabbing headline.
- A summary that really tells your career story and identifies who you are professionally.
- The Experience and Education sections with at least your current position and most recent education. Just like with your resume, it’s best to keep experience limited to 10-ish years. If you have no education beyond High School, leave the Education section off your profile.
- Skills – You’re allowed 50. To achieve “All-Star” status, you need at least 5.
- Connections – LinkedIn uses the number of connections you have to judge your professional status. To get that coveted “All-Star” status, you must have at least 50 connections.
Now it’s time to apply to jobs
The great thing about following these steps is that you’re now at the easy part of your job search. All of the hard work is done. It has probably taken you anywhere from a week to a month to get here, but at this point, when you find a job you can hit that APPLY button knowing you have all of your ducks in a row.