The other day, my son and I were shooting the soccer ball at the net. He was loving it, and I was hating it for the mere fact that my feet were numb from the cold. Regardless, I was constantly telling him to shoot with his opposite foot. “Why?”he asked me.
“Because you need to be multi-talented,” I told him. “You need to be able to shoot the ball with whichever foot it comes to. If you have to turn your body so you can shoot with your left, you’ll lose opportunities.” I’ve played some soccer in my day, so my advice was sound, albeit not what he wanted to hear.
While I was “coaching” my 10-year-old kid, I got to thinking about the advice I give jobseekers, most of whom listen and others who don’t. The ones who listen are those who send me e-mails or even stop by the career center to tell me about their upcoming interviews or, best of all, their new jobs. It’s all about the effort they put into their job search that makes the difference. They do the hard work, while I simply provide the theory. Such as:
- Network, network, network. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Be clear as to what you want to do and where you want to do it. Clearly explain your occupation (human resources vs. human services is a big difference), your greatest attributes, and your extensive experience.
- Look for a job where most people aren’t. In other words, penetrate the Hidden Job Market, which, coincidently, has a great deal to do with networking. “Why?” as my son would ask me. Simple, employers gain a lot more from not advertising than they do from advertising their positions. When they advertise, they spend more money, have to read hundreds of résumés, and interview strange people.
- Research, research, research. Always know the requirements for the jobs for which you apply. Know about the companies as well. This will come in handy when you write your résumé and other written marketing material, as well as when you interview for said positions.
- Market yourself with targeted résumés for each job, rich with quantified accomplishments and a strong personal profile that makes the employer want to read on. One of my respected contacts on LinkedIn, Laura Smith-Proulx, wrote a great article called Is Your Resume Summary Boring Employers? In it she advises jobseekers to include a substantial, quantified accomplishment in the professional profile.
- Send a cover letter with each résumé, unless instructed not to. True, some recruiters do not read cover letters, but many do. And if your job will involve writing, you must send a well-written, targeted cover letter that isn’t boring. Refrain from using a pat opening line that reads something like this, “I was pleased to read on Monster.com of an opening for a project manager….”
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Never go to an interview unprepared. You’ve researched the position and company, so you should have an understanding of what questions might be asked. Prepare your answers for a behavioral-based interview using the STAR formula (Situation, Task, Action, Result). If you are asked traditional questions, you’ll be better prepared to answer them because you’ll have examples to share.
- Finally, consider building a LinkedIn, FaceBook, or Twitter networking campaign. Online networking should not replace face-to-face networking; rather it should supplement your networking efforts. LinkedIn is considered the premiere professional networking site, but the other two have garnered results for some people.
I explain some very basic job search methods, yet some jobseekers refuse or don’t understand how to begin and follow through with the basic tenets of the job search. Like my son who shies away from shooting with his opposite foot and, thus, will miss opportunities; these jobseekers will find it more difficult to find a job.
Perfect analogy! I especially like your advice to look where others have neglected to search – because that’s often the key.
Being the only candidate who is approaching an employer with a solution to their problems can be very flattering to the company, and it puts you in a prime spot to be hired based on what you offer (rather than molding yourself and your message to fit a job posting).
Thanks for the mention!
Yes, Laura, we have to present ourselves as problem solvers, thereby showing our knowledge of the position…researching. It’s funny what kids can show us about adult behavior. Taking the easy path, which applies to me at times. Thanks for your kind words.
Very good advice Bob. So many times in my search I find myself focusing so much on one thing, I neglect other, possibly more meaningful areas.
Thanks, Sean. It’s good to realize how you can improve your job search, but I also believe sometimes we can spread ourselves thin.