Few things are more stressful than job hunting. You must be constantly watching online job boards and tapering your resume to fit different job descriptions. And then, of course, there’s the added pressure of trying to present yourself as the most stellar candidate once you make it to the interview.
Many job seekers will find themselves applying for positions unsuccessfully for weeks or even months. It can be discouraging and demoralizing, but before you lose heart, incorporate these winning job hunting strategies.
You only have so much time so don’t waste your precious minutes on leads that probably won’t pan out anyway. Consider carefully whether or not you are qualified and if you truly want the job. If the answer to either of these questions is no, then move on to a job that’s a better fit and apply your efforts there.
Complete your application carefully
People can be so rushed to fill out a crush of applications that they get sloppy. You can make yourself standout simply by doing a good job with the application. Before applying, read the job description well. From the requirements advertised, crosscheck with skills you have gained from your past experience and ask yourself if you can do the job. Always make sure that you follow the instructions on the application if they are given, and answer all the questions. Before submitting the application, double-check your responses. And remember to get your application in as promptly as possible.
Make your resume stand out
When writing your resume, make sure it can easily catch the eye of the HR professional who is reviewing it. Remember that applications often pour in by the hundreds, so your resume may only get a few seconds to stand out. Read through the job description in the advertisement, and customize your resume accordingly. Remove information that is not germane to the job opening, and use specifics. Rather than saying you saved a company money, say how much money you saved them. Instead of just saying you were a manager, tell how many locations and employees you managed.
Never forget a cover letter
When possible, include a cover letter. Make it concise—capturing the most important aspects of your qualifications. In your short statement, exude passion for the company and the job that you are applying for.
Do your research
If you qualify for an interview, go to the company website and read their profile well. If they have social media pages, follow them so that you can get a feel for the company’s priorities and “voice.” If you have any contacts at the company, talk to them about what they might ask in the interview and what they value in prospective employees. Be prepared to explain why you are well-positioned to further the company’s mission. Remember that they may ask you if you have any questions, so be prepared with a few things you would genuinely like to know about the company.
Dress up and be on time
As the old saying goes, first appearances are everything. Dress to impress, and make sure that your appearance lines up with company values. If it’s a very conservative accounting firm, for example, a business suit is in order. If it’s a waiter or waitress job at a free-spirited restaurant, you can be a little more creative. You should also leave early, giving yourself a “cushion” in case anything unexpected comes up. The last thing you want to do is speed because you’re in a hurry, get pulled over by a cop, and miss the interview. (Stranger things have happened.)
After applying, communicate with the company so that your resume doesn’t move out of sight, out of mind. A great way to do this is through a thank you note. Send a follow-up card expressing your appreciation for the interview and your desire to work for the company. Thank you notes are classy and a dying art. If you don’t get the job, send an email thanking them for the interview and asking them to consider you if anything changes. You never know when things may shift and they may be calling you again. Keep all doors open.
Build a broad network
People who have a good network of professionals in their field are at a distinct advantage when it comes to getting a job. Join professional organizations and spread the word that you are looking for employment. If you have friends who work for a desirable company, let them know that you are a viable candidate and ask them to keep you posted about any openings. You can even supply them with a copy of your resume that they can walk into the HR department on your behalf. Endorsements from existing staff members can carry a lot of weight. Be active online in your professional community. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, and keep a professional and clean profile.
You should also consider working with a temporary staffing firm. Managers will take notice as they see your work ethic and skills, and this may be your ticket into a full-time position. As you incorporate these strategies, you should notice new avenues opening up in your job search. Don’t get discouraged with the process. Just because the job offers aren’t rolling in as quickly as you had hoped doesn’t mean that they won’t. Be persistent and keep your chin up.
If an interview doesn’t go well, you could even consider calling the company and asking what you could have done better. Be open to constructive criticism—this is a learning process. As you work hard and adjust as needed, good things will come.