In today’s economy, finding a job is difficult. Many people are settling for entry-level positions even though they have years of experience. In the spirit of making money and being efficient, Taskhire has brought you a list of ways to make your career search successful.
1) Take Advantage of Social Networking Tools
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress – are all great ways to expand your network. If you aren’t on one or more of these networks, then get moving!
LinkedIn – keep an updated profile, join groups, read postings & comment on them! Check to see who’s looking at your profile and take note of the types of people you attract, this will enable you to tweak your profile accordingly.
Twitter – follow people from your area in your industry. Start conversations with them. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to butt-in to conversations and to throw out random questions to people with a ton of followers.You might be ignored, but don’t let it discourage you – Twitter users like to communicate, share, and interact. The more you tweet, the more you’ll find people responding to you – even some of the twitter giants. It helps if you @ them with a relevant question that many of their followers may want to know.
WordPress – starting a blog is one of the best ways to get yourself heard – providing that you create relevant content and get the right people to read it. How do you do this? Well, first of all it’s important to establish your niche: what do people in your industry want to read about? By now you have presumably established who the major players are in your field/area – try to connect with them through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media. Comment on their blogs, @ them with questions. Also, make sure there is a link to your blog on all of your media sites. If a person likes what you are tweeting, or finds your LinkedIn profile intriguing chances are, they’ll click on your blog to find out more about you. One they we wouldn’t recommend is tweeting at targeted people with the line, “Please read my new blog post” or something similar. Some people may be sympathetic and check it out, but chances are the majority will be annoyed and ignore or unfollow you.
Your main goal online in relation to your online job search should be to form or become part of a community of professionals from your industry. Arrange meet-and-greets and connect with those who can point you in the right direction for some great job opportunities. The beauty of online networking is that A) you have a very wide – endless, almost – arena to connect through B) you have the opportunity to tailor exactly how people will perceive you, and C) you have nothing to lose by trying to connect with notable people online. After all, how will they respond if you don’t make the first move?
2) Get Involved in the Community
You may be thinking, “I need to be looking for a job. I don’t have time for anything else.” But the truth is, the more involved you become in your community, the more likely you’ll meet that right someone who can recommend you to another right someone who has a job available in the field you’re looking for. Try volunteering for a local program or library. Join a sports league, a book club, a worship center – anything that will help you meet people.
Putting yourself out there and attempts to make friends with strangers may be a little bit intimidating, but you never know when that person may lead you to a job or internship that will send your career in the right direction. Learn to be friendly. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, check out a book like The Art of Mingling by Jeanne Martinet to give you some tips. When you meet someone new, keep your job goals in mind and see if you can steer your conversation in that direction, but don’t make it all about you. Try and bring something to the table too. Get in the habit of helping people you meet connect with people you know that could help them – even if they can’t help you. Ideally, if you help them out, they will keep you in mind for any opportunities they come across that might interest you in the future.
One other thing to explore is your family’s networks. You never know when Dad’s best friend’s boss has an opening in the field in which you’re looking. Most people are interested in helping someone to whom they are connected – however vaguely. If you discover a helpful connection, send them a kind email inquiring about their work. Again, the worst that can happen is that they don’t respond or say there’s nothing available. You’ll never know unless you try.
3) Keep an updated CV
This one is a no-brainer. One of the last things an employer wants to see is a big gap on your CV. You will almost definitely get a “what happened here?” during the interview. Even if you weren’t employed for a little while, you were certainly doing something, and most employers are looking for a well-rounded employee. So perhaps that volunteer position you held for a little while could add to your credentials. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd. A CV is not just about work experience.
Keep your CV clear and to the point. Only have relevant information included to the job for which you are applying and not more than two pages. Try to use interesting verbs to describe your past work experience – make every point an accomplishment. For instance, if you worked as a Barista, instead of simply listing your duties: “Made coffee drinks, worked register, restocked shelves” etc, show your potential employer how you applied your unique skills to the job: “Operated XYZ Coffee and Espresso Machine, Interacted with customers and Managed ABC Cafe Register System during daily rush-hour line-ups in popular cafe.”
See the difference? The second option is much more interesting, points to specifics, and it’s only half a line longer. Not to mention your potential boss will likely appreciate your attention to detail.
4) Reply Promptly
There is absolutely nothing more important than replying to a job ad as soon as possible. The number of people looking for jobs strongly out-weighs the number of available jobs. Stay alert for new job postings, it is to your advantage to apply within 24 hours of the posting time. Because of the recent economic downturn and subsequent mass lay-offs, many people are applying for jobs for which they are way over-qualified. Because of the number of over-qualified applicants, it is very likely that the employer will find a match for the position quickly – in probably not more than a week or so. So if your name is at the bottom of the interview list, chances are the job will be filled before the employer gets to you.
What can you do about this? If you’re looking for a job, you should be spending almost as much time on that job search as you would have spent at work. So if that means 40hrs/week, then do it. Be diligent. Troll job sites, and respond to ads you’re interested in immediately after you find them. Waiting until you “have time to write an amazing cover letter” may actually hurt you in the long run. Learn to prioritize which potential jobs are most important to you. Focus your writing skills on those jobs, and send more form-like covers to the others.
If you have enough money to sustain yourself for a few months, taking an internship is a great way to break into a new field or a new place. And believe it or not, some internships can be quite competitive to get, even the unpaid ones. But think of it this way: you can spend 6 months trying to find a job through traditional methods (sending your CV, making cold calls, responding to job ads) and still end up with a less-than-ideal job, OR you can spend 3 months working and training for free in an environment that will A) Help you make connections in your industry and B) Possibly lead to a job offer. Just make sure that the internship is relevant to the field in which you plan to work.
Oftentimes, start-up companies will have short-term positions or internships to offer. These positions are a great way to get your foot in the door in a particular industry or to get a feel for building a company from the ground up. Next Montreal has upcoming events that are filled with tech startup entrepreneurs.
6) Show Your Personality and Individuality
In order to get the job you really want, sometimes you have to go in with a “take it or leave it” attitude. Give your application 110% – express your creativity and uniqueness. If you do/say something creative in your cover letter, chances are you’ll get noticed. Sometimes allowing your personality to shine through will help you stand out from the rest, and chances are high that you’ll get at least a few positive reactions. So use your judgment and find ways to stand out from the crowd.
A word to the wise – avoid making jokes – it’s difficult to sense sarcasm or humor through text without clues from your body language and tone of voice. Also, remember that you must be more formal when applying for some jobs over others, for example: a job as a paralegal vs a job as a barista.
A note on cover letters: Try creating a few different cover letters and stay away from cookie cutter templates. Keep them short and sweet. Personalize – avoid to whom it may concern, and remember that using “Dear” is appropriate. In cases where the name is not available, dear hiring manager is acceptable. Invite the reader to want to know what your CV is all about. Outline your expertise and qualifications relevant to the job and/or industry. Include the position you are applying for and avoid repeating info included in your CV.
Got any other great job search tips? Leave a note in the comments!