In this competitive job market, you must be strategic to get the job you want. Hundreds of people are applying for the same positions, and employers have their pick of job applicants. You have to stand out from the crowd to get hired.
Managing your career is an ongoing process, but I do have a few tips to share with you to help you in your job search.
If you are looking for your first full-time job after college, it is essential that you are able to communicate the value you bring. Make sure you have perfected your “elevator speech” about who you are what your strengths are.
Employers want to know how you can add value to their organizations. Most employers are more interested in what you did than what degree you received, so make sure your resume highlights internship experience, summer employment, and any volunteer or leadership roles.
Be strategic about what type of job you are looking for and what companies you want to work for. Don’t just apply to everything in sight – this is a waste of time, and can actually reflect poorly on you.
Also, make sure to use all of the resources available to you. For example, visit your college’s Career Center. They provide help with resume and cover letter writing and preparing for your job interview. Many Career Centers also serve alumni, so even if you have graduated it is not too late.
Tip: When you go to your college’s Career Center, look for ways to get connected to your college’s alumni network and specifically to local alumni in your field of choice.
Which brings me to my next point –
Network, network, network!
Whether you are established in your career and looking for a new job or currently jobless and looking for work, it is essential that you get out in the community and build relationships with people who can recommend you. Make good use of your free time in ways that will make you more appealing to employers and help you meet new people. For example, join a professional development group, volunteer in the community, and intern at a company in your chosen career field. This will help you expand your network while gaining valuable professional experience that employers will respect.
Tip: Create a list of companies where you might want to work and use your network to find an “in” at each. Increasingly, companies are looking for referrals from current employees when hiring for open positions. Your chances of landing an interview are much greater if someone within the company refers you.
If you are looking to change careers, develop a plan and take your time. You don’t need to accept the first job offer that comes along, as tempting as that might be. You also don’t need to quit your current job right away. Make sure you identify what your needs are and what will make you happy. Conduct research about different types of careers you might be interested in and use the data available to inform your decision.
Don’t be afraid to take a job at a different pay scale or title than what you have now. I love the description made popular by Sheryl Sandberg of career progression being a jungle gym, not a ladder. Don’t be afraid to explore new possibilities – just be strategic about what you want to accomplish.
Tip: Find a mentor in your desired career field who can help you learn more about the types of jobs available and connect you with other people in this field.
Finally, no matter what stage you are in your career, if you are going to be job searching at any point, make sure your social media presence reflects how you want to be known. Change your FB setting to private and get rid of any pictures or comments that might be inappropriate. Set up a LinkedIn profile to highlight your skills and interests, and actively use it to connect with other professionals in your chosen career field.
Tip: Conduct an online search of yourself and see what comes up. What you see is what prospective employers see when they search for you!
Tips for a Successful Job Search
- Develop an “elevator speech” that highlights your skills and experiences
- Update your resume to reflect any transferrable experiences
- Create a list of target companies and use your network to find an “in” at each
- Continue to develop your skills by joining a professional development group
- Expand your network by volunteering in the community
- Present yourself professionally online (e.g., use LinkedIn to connect with others in your chosen career field; remove inappropriate pictures and posts from your Facebook page)
Common Mistakes People Make
- Errors (typos, misspelling, poor grammar) on your job application, cover letter, or resume – this practically guarantees that you will not get an interview
- Failing to prepare for the job interview – like anything else, practice makes perfect
- Showing up late or disheveled to an interview – you only have one chance to make a first impression and you want it to be a good one
- Using social media inappropriately – make sure your online presence reflects how you want to be seen by employers
Need help with your job search? Contact Jene at email@example.com.