Searching for your next career move can be nerve wrecking and full of negative emotions. These negative feelings can be compounded if you are currently unemployed, working in a stressful situation, or feel ill equipped to tackle the task at hand. I remember when I was going through a period of unemployment and the uncertainty of how long I would be out of work added a level of stress that can leave you feeling helpless. However, there are a few things that you can do to help you feel prepared and in control of your job search. Below are a few tips I implemented to help me feel prepared and ultimately land my next career opportunity.
- The Search: When searching for jobs, you shouldn’t just search for a single job title. Keep in mind that there are many similar jobs that have different titles than the one you are searching. Spend time online conducting research about available job titles, focusing on different industries that may need your skillset. This will give you a much wider range pool of jobs to sift through.
- Network: It’s important that you network and attend career fairs. This is a great way to get in front of hiring managers. During my stint of unemployment, it was through a career fair that I ultimately landed my next opportunity. When you attend career fairs, make sure your resume is no longer than 1 page, you look professional, you smile, and speak with confidence. Usually, the recruiters will ask that you apply online; however, if you make a great first impression they will often keep your resume to follow up with you after you have applied. Another great way to network is through industry networking events. You can make some fantastic connections this way and often hiring managers are in attendance. The key to attending these events is to form relationships first and then see how you can both add value to each other.
- The Cover Letter: A cover letter is an important feature of a resume, so use this to showcase experience, skills and overall qualifications for the job in a concise way. For example, if the job posting requests someone with great leadership skills, be sure to mention your experience in this area. Look over the job posting thoroughly and pull out specific skills that the job poster is seeking. Use these skills in your cover letter to show how you are best qualified for the position. Don’t load your cover letter with everything you have done. However, use the job posting to highlight key skills mentioned by the employer. Make sure that you have also documented these skills clearly in your resume.
- Your Resume – Show Your Value: The bottom line for companies is to make profits. Polish your resume and remember to include things that show how you can add value to the company and help increase their bottom line. If you have accomplished this in the past, make sure to include your accomplishments on your resume. Highlight any experience where you saved your previous company money, landed a major account, or added value in some other way. This is a great way to showcase that you can deliver real results
- The Application: Always follow the requested format when applying for a job. If the employer is asking for a resume and an application, don’t shortcut the application by stating “see resume”. This reflects poorly on you as an applicant and could you’re your resume in the wrong pile. Instead, create a document with the list of previous jobs you have held including dates, manager’s name, position held, and responsibilities. Having this information in one simple document will make applying for jobs more efficient and ensure you have the correct information readily on hand.
- Interview Questions (have some): I can’t tell you how many interviews I have conducted where the candidate hasn’t prepared one single question to ask during the interview. This comes across at the very least as disinterest; however, some interviewers take it as a sign of laziness. Do some research on the company you are interviewing with and think in advance about some questions to ask during the interview. I always type my questions in advance and leave room for me to write down the interviewer’s responses. This shows engagement and that you are interested in the company and ensuring that the company will be a good fit for you. You can also ask questions regarding the team you are potentially joining, your potential manager’s leadership style, the company’s culture, and how your position fits into the vision/mission of the company. You don’t have to have a laundry list of questions. A maximum of 5 questions will be enough to get some great information about the company and the job you are considering as your next career move. Finally, since interviewers typically ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview, be mindful of time. If you have exceeded the scheduled time for the interview cut your questions down and show that you are being respectful of time.
- Dress the Part: “Dress for success”, may be a cliché; however, it’s true. When you are invited to an interview, this is your opportunity to make a lasting impression. Make sure that you are dressing the part and pay close attention to the details like your nails and hair. Also, this is a great time to leave the cell phone and Bluetooth devices in the car. While this may seem like a given, I’ve interviewed candidates who wore their Bluetooth device during the entire interview. Trust me that does not send a good message or cast you in the best light. Remember, people pass judgment based what they see first; so, don’t take any chances with your image and make a great first impression.
Finding a job is less stressful once you know how to go about it and have the confidence and experience needed to navigate the job market. Utilize the above tips to help you take charge of your career search and begin your quest to locate your dream opportunity. Here’s to your success!