The other day I was walking up a hill I used to run up. Riding down the hill were a group of four boys. Only one of the boys was wearing a helmet, so I said to them, “How come only one of you is smart enough to wear a helmet?” They shrugged their shoulders, riding on. I’m sure I embarrassed the hell out of the one smart boy.
As I walked on I thought that the parents of the one boy probably enforce the helmet policy, and they won’t let him leave the house without one on. I further thought that there are some obvious policies jobseekers should follow when they look for work. Here 10 essential policies.
- Have a game plan and establish goals. Having a plan and goals means, first of all, you need to know what job you want to pursue, which can be the most difficult part of the job search for some. Without a plan, you’ll have no direction, which is essential if you don’t want to spin your wheels getting nowhere. Smart jobseekers have a plan for every day of their search, striving to meet the goal of following the plan at least 80% of the time.
- A résumé that to brands you. A very important policy is writing a résumé that is tailored to each job, showing employers you can meet their specific needs. Showing immediate value with Summary that attracts the attention of the reader, having a Core Competency section which shows you have the required skills, and touting quantified accomplishments throughout the résumé; are all necessary to fulfill this policy.
- Creating an online presence, namely LinkedIn, is a policy every jobseeker must abide by. At least 95% of recruiters/employers use LinkedIn to find talent, so if you’re not on LinkedIn you’re definitely hurting your chances of advancing in the job search. Keep in mind that daily engagement is necessary to stay in the minds of LinkedIn members. Only updating your status once a week is not going to do the trick.
- Writing cover letters that stir interest. If you’re writing cover letters that fail to express your personality and are, well, boring; you’re violating an important policy. Worse yet, if you’re sending form cover letters that don’t show you meet the specific requirements of the job, you’re killing your chance of getting an interview. Forget what you’ve been told about recruiters not reading cover letters. I’ve spoken with many who do read cover letters to get a better idea of the canidates’ value.
- Don’t only apply online for positions. I’m not saying not to use job boards, but don’t use them as the foundation of your job search. Networking still is, and will be, the most successful way to find employment. Don’t be fooled into thinking that sending out hundreds of applications will advance your job search. This leads us to the next policy.
- Make Networking part of your vocabulary. If you’re not going to networking events, meet-ups, or connecting with everyone you know, you’re missing the boat. Networking is proactive and a great way to uncover hidden opportunities at companies/organizations that may be hiring. Opportunities can also be uncovered while connecting with people in your community.
- Securing informational meetings. The goal behind information meetings is networking with people who are in your desired industry and selected companies. While you’re not interviewing for an advertised job, impressing the people with whom you speak can create opportunities that might include being recommended for a job developing in the company, or may lead to speaking with other quality connections. This is a policy that can lead to hidden jobs.
- Following up with potential connections is missing from the equation. You’re great at meeting people at networking events or other places to connect. You promise to email or call your connections. But you don’t. This is surely a policy violation. Don’t let all that good work go to waste by not making the phone call or sending the email.
- Prepare for interviews. One of the most important policies is preparing for interviews by researching the position and company. You think you can wing it because you know your business like no one does. You’ve heard of behavioral-based questions but aren’t too concerned. You don’t get the job because of your lack of preparation.
- Send a follow-up note is the final policy. Simply thanking the interviewer/s in the follow-up note isn’t enough; show the interviewers you were listening and engaged by mentioning some points of interest or revisiting a question you didn’t elaborate on. Oh, one more thing; send a unique follow-up note to each interviewer. Now that’s showing the love.
I have deep admiration for the parents of the boy who wore his helmet, despite what his friends may have thought. Having kids of my own, I know how difficult it is to set this policy and enforce it. Similarly I know how difficult it is for jobseekers to follow the policies I’ve mentioned above. They’re all important policies that can lead to a shorter job search.