In the not-too-distant past, the job search required little more than reading the daily newspaper and sending copies of the cover letter and resume by mail. Networking was face-to-face, and employers were generally faster to respond. However, today’s career search is far more complex, necessitating online resumes, employment search boards, and social networking via the internet. Here are some tips for job search success.
The candidate should ensure the resume is well written, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and contains a strong objective (i.e., Summary of Qualifications) that effectively summarizes core skills, accomplishments, and experience. If the person has been out of work for awhile, he or she may want to consider writing a functional resume rather than a traditional (reverse chronological) one. Always keep in mind the question, “Am I effectively marketing my job skills to employers?”
The cover letter is optional, but serves to personalize the candidate’s application. When writing the letter, the person should emphasize relevant accomplishments and experience and how required skill set matches the employer's description. Keep in mind the question, “How can I effectively convince the employer to hire me?” The tone must appear confident and factual, yet not over the top in terms of self-promotion.
Use a Variety of Job Search Engines
Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo! HotJobs, and Dice are four popular online career websites used by millions of job seekers every day. While registering on these sites is worthwhile for added exposure, candidates should also check out metasearch sites such as Flipdog, Juju, SimplyHired, and Indeed that seek out listings across the web and from newspapers and career pages of company websites. Don’t forget about Twitter, which is fast becoming a mecca for career listings and information.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation
Develop a list of references – coworkers, managers, and business associates who would be willing to put in a good word. Then ask a few trusted individuals if they would be interested in writing a letter of recommendation highlighting job skills to show future employers. If the person has lost contact with his or her references, search the name on Linkedin and reconnect. Remember to ask Linkedin contacts for online recommendations as well.
Improve Interview Skills
Interviewing for a new position requires practice and finesse. Remember the basics – dress appropriately (in most cases, “business casual”), maintain good eye contact, have a list of questions to ask the employer, speak clearly and professionally, and remember the do’s and don’ts (e.g., never ask about salary, never gaze out the window). Practice by asking a good friend or family member to play the role of the employer.
Get a Business Fashion Sense
Dated apparel and a bad hair day gives the employer the impression that the candidate is stuck in the past and may have a difficult time adjusting to new job skills. A new personal line of business fashion chic not only adds to the candidate's professionalism, it also boosts the confidence level. Shop at discount outlets such as T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, Kohl’s, and consignment and thrift shops.
Expand the Online and Offline Network
The old saying is true: “It’s who you know.” Get involved – join as many real-world special interest and community networking groups as possible. Join online networking websites including Linkedin and Twitter, build a circle of professional contacts, and get recommended. Share leads and search strategies via discussion boards on career sites such as Monster and CareerBuilder.
A candidate can also take free online classes to brush up on job skills and perhaps even improve his or her appearance by getting a makeover. The labor market may be difficult and employment scarce, but by improving key areas of the job search campaign the person can walk into the interview with a greater sense of confidence.