The Basics: 14 Tips to Improve Your Job Search
Let’s be honest, the process of finding a new job probably isn’t your idea of a good time. With each step you take — be it drafting your resume, submitting an application, or just ferreting out a solid job opportunity — you’re met with more and more questions of what to do next.
While we certainly can’t give you all the answers in a single post, we’ve done our best to boil things down to a short list of job-hunting tips to improve your job search strategy, especially for those who’ve been off the hunt for the last few years.
Without further ado, we suggest you try the following to make the whole job search process a lot less overwhelming:
1. Ask yourself what’s ideal.
You may need a job, but you don’t necessarily want to take any old job. Think long and hard about what would make not just a position a good fit for you but the company as a whole. We like to call these your “non-negotiables.”
Does the position seem interesting or challenging to you? Does the company’s values match your own? Do you think you’ll like your boss or coworkers? What about whether the job will allow for the lifestyle you want?
Make a list of all the things you value most in your professional life, and when that job offer does come in, you’ll know if the opportunity stacks up against what’s ideal for you.
2. Breathe life into your materials.
The application process generally starts with a resume and cover letter. But few of us treat either one as living, breathing documents. We stick to broad descriptions of our skills, experience, and past responsibilities.
Instead, tailor your resume to the role by finding any overlapping skills between the post and your background, and include them in some way. Let’s say you speak both Spanish and English. Highlight this if the job post states something like, “Bilingual a plus.”
With your cover letter, don’t just reiterate what’s found on your resume. This is your chance to go into greater detail about your work habits, personal traits, and specific qualifications related to the role.
Long story short, customize both documents to the job description before submitting your materials to employers, recruiters, and job-hunting sites.
3. Optimize your resume.
Reports suggest that more that 70 percent of resumes don’t make it past applicant tracking systems, as the software is often designed to look for specific keywords and backgrounds based on the advertised job descriptions.
To improve your chances of an interview, optimize your resume by using a resume analyzer like Jobscan, TopResume, or Rezscore. Any one of these online tools can suggest how to improve your resume prior to submission.
4. Focus on more than just job title.Sometimes, we limit ourselves when we search for a job by title alone. But if you also use your skills set to sort through jobs posts, you may just find a position not currently on your radar.
5. Set up automatic job alerts.Most professional networking and job-hunting sites allow you to set up alerts for job titles and keywords. It takes a matter of minutes, and you’ll be one of the first to know about openings that match your selections.
6. Leverage technology.Like life itself, timing is everything with a job search. If you don’t jump on a post soon enough, you could very well miss out on that opportunity. Download at least one job-search app to your phone. Just don’t overestimate technology’s ability to get you an interview. Apps should be just one facet of your job search, and nothing beats a referral from some you know — which leads us to our next tip…
7. Reconnect with old coworkers.
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: It’s not what you know but who. Reconnect with old coworkers over coffee or lunch. You want to be top of mind in case they hear of an opportunity that’s a perfect fit for you.
That said, don’t make the meeting all about you, especially if it’s been a while since the two of you have gotten together. Catch up with what’s going on in the other person’s life. Then, when the topic of work comes up, mention that you’re on the hunt.
8. Clean up your digital footprint.
At last count, 92 percent of employers use social media to screen talent. So, Google your name to see what comes up. If you find something that’s not recruiter-ready, delete it — be it a tweet, picture, or post.
While you’re at it, double-check your privacy settings on Facebook. It’s wise to keep your profile set to “friends only” during a job search. A potential employer doesn’t need to see how much fun you had at the bar.
9. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Of all social media sites, LinkedIn is the most frequented for recruitment efforts — with 87 percent of recruiters using the platform to find talent. Raise your visibility by updating your profile with all your achievements and trainings.
You’ll also want to optimize your profile with the keywords and phrases relevant to your industry. If you’re not sure what terms to use, check job postings in your target market. A number of “buzzwords” will stand out.
10. Ready your references.Most employers will ask for at least three people to speak on your behalf. Just make sure you know what your references will say about your strengths and work habits if contacted.
11. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
We can’t stress the importance of preparation enough. If you want your most confident self to shine through during interviews, familiarize yourself with the company’s actual business.
It’s also important to come in with an understanding of the role’s responsibilities and some background on the people you’ll be interviewing with. That way, you can better speak to why you’re perfect for the role — in a way that resonates with those interviewers.
12. Show interest in the role.
Most interviews will be spent discussing your background. But the interviewer will inevitably give you the floor to ask a few questions of your own. Make sure to have some handy. It’ll reaffirm your interest it the role.
Consider asking about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, most important qualities for someone to excel in the role, or growth opportunities at the company. You can also ask about company culture, challenges facing the company, or favorite aspect of work.
13. Show your gratitude.Just because the interview is over doesn’t mean you can’t keep the conversation going. Send a thank you note to everyone you met with at the company, and share why you’re excited about the opportunity.
14. Vet job offers.
When you’re offered a job, resist the urge to accept it on the spot. You always want to take a little time to review the compensation and benefits package, as well as weigh your impressions of the company, culture, and people after the interview.
After all, what looks good on paper doesn’t always look good in person. Make the right decision by vetting each offer against that list of non-negotiables you put together at the start of your job search.
If you’d like more information on how to best search for a job, additional job-hunting tips, or ready for a partner to help you with your job search, please feel free to contact us today. A member of our team would be more than happy to discuss your options for employment.