Job hunting can be an overwhelming process, especially in today’s competitive market. Through our career coaching services, we’ve developed a list of key search strategies to help smooth out the sometimes bumpy application process and give you an edge over the competition.
1. Search and Apply for Relevant Positions
Sometimes you just really need a job… any job. It is never a good idea for a potential employer to pick up on a level of desperation, however. You will have more success when your applications are strategically targeted for your best fit.
When reviewing job postings that interest you, consider the industry, role, seniority, and job requirements. Do these fit with where you are in your career? Also consider the organization size, expertise, and mission and values—these elements can help you determine whether you would fit in with the corporate environment. Direct your energy and attention where the position is a good match with your specific goals and skills.
2. Study the Job Description and Customize Your Application to the Position.
Now that you have identified a few positions that are relevant for you, ensure that you make it through the robot applicant screening system by including language that matches the job positing. Review and revise your resume to highlight your strengths in areas that are important to the role. Once a person lays eyes on your resume, you want to ensure that your soft skills (i.e., character) really shine in a way that fit the personality and leadership traits that the position requires.
Making a career change? Willing to take a step back to take a step forward? Tailor your resume with your transferable skills, and include a cover letter to clarify your goals. Hiring managers will want to see that your goals align with theirs, so that when you walk through the door you can deliver on and exceed their expectations.
3. Follow Application Instructions
When you’re applying to multiple positions, it can be a challenge to keep all of the different instructions in mind. However, companies and small businesses, which may be overwhelmed by the volume of online applicants, frequently use these instructions to weed out applicants. If you can’t follow the directions, it’s easy to discard your application. From their standpoint, it shows that you may not be likely to follow directions in the position, and therefore may not be an ideal candidate.
Don’t give them a reason to weed you out! Take the time to check and double-check the application instructions to ensure that you are providing exactly what the job posting requests.
If you’ve found your absolute dream job, don’t let your work end with the application process. Seek out ways to make connections with people—your potential peers—at your company of interest. Communities sometimes host networking events for local companies who are looking for qualified applicants.
Look for open events that the company may host or sponsor. Perhaps the company is planning to attend a conference or meeting that is open to the public. Come dressed appropriately and be prepared with a short 30-60 second “elevator speech” that captures your interest in the company and how you would fit in through your target position.
LinkedIn is another great place to start for finding individuals to reach out to. Make sure to use a personalized, specific message for the recipient when you request to connect so that your introduction isn’t ignored. Think of your request to connect as a short cover letter and write accordingly.
5. Follow Up and Follow Through
Once you learn the name and contact information of the hiring manager (or other key contact), don’t be afraid to reach out and follow up regularly—but not annoyingly. An interval of a week or two would not be too frequent for follow up emails or calls. The people who will ultimately make the hiring decisions are very busy people, so it can help to show initiative and remind them of your interest.
If you mention in your correspondence that you will follow up again after a certain length of time, make sure to set a calendar reminder to do just that. By following through with your previous statements, you inspire confidence that as an employee, you will also follow through on your responsibilities in a timely manner.
Still stuck? To learn how to apply these strategies to your own job search, contact us to learn more about our career coaching services!
Amanda Y. Hendrix
Expert Consultant, The Wilbanks Consulting Group