July 15, 2018

Have a Clearly Defined Direction, Effective Networking, and Two Other Ways to Jump-Start Your Job Search

As a co-founder of CareerLight, LLC, a company that provides customized career training to international students to help them prepare for job opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, I share articles that may be of interest to our clients. An article that our clients found of particular value was written by Hallie Crawford entitled "4 Ways to Jump-Start Your Job Search."

Ms. Crawford, a certified career coach, speaker, author and freelance blogger for U.S. News & World Report, accurately notes that the reason job seekers give up on job searching, or feel overwhelmed before they begin the search, is because of "a lack of a defined strategy." She adds: "It's important to have a plan, a weekly schedule and to set realistic goals to have a successful search."

Below are Ms. Crawford's four ways a job seeker can jump-start their job search strategy:

"Have a clearly defined direction. Before you can start your job search, it's essential to know what your ideal next job is and what positions you want to apply for. During your search, all of your steps should take you toward that final goal. Otherwise, you won't get anywhere quickly in your job search."

Furthermore, according to Ms. Crawford, "Part of defining your direction is discovering or refining your personal brand. This includes things such as:
  • Your strengths
  • Your experience
  • Your personality type
  • Your values
"Not only will this help you search for the right kind of job, but it will also help you do better in job interviews. You will know yourself better and be able to represent yourself better to a hiring manager."

As an employer, I have a particular appreciation for those job candidates whom understand their strengths (and weaknesses), personality type, and values. The process of creating a personal brand is having a strong sense of self-awareness.

"Once you have identified what kinds of jobs you want to search and apply for, you will want to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. These items, as well as your cover letter, should represent you and communicate your brand. However, the formatting of your resume can detract from your brand, so make sure you are consistent in the font and format you use for your documents. Make sure to include keywords and marketable results in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Finally, ask a friend to proofread your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile."

A compelling cover letter should address your desire of wanting to work at the company you are seeking to be hired by (an employer or hiring manager will ask, "Why do you want to work for my company?"), an understanding of the position you are applying for ("Does the candidate understand the job requirements or responsibilities?"), and a summary of your skills and experience on why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

A resume that contains impeccable qualifications and an impressive work history will get lost if the document's format is poor. The ideal resume is one that starts with a strong list of qualifications and followed by experience demonstrating proof of the candidate's qualifications. Providing specific milestones or measurements of success are an added bonus!!

As someone who values technology, I prefer to view a candidate's LinkedIn profile over reading their resume. Therefore, a job seeker should spend time in developing a compelling LinkedIn profile. It is important to note that a resume and LinkedIn have distinctive purposes and should not be identical. I will publish a future post on this blog detailing those differences.

And yes, have a friend proofread everything. Failure to be attentive to details reflects poorly on your brand and hiring you poses a risk a company may not want to undertake. (I will NEVER hire a candidate that had a misspelling on their cover letter, resume or LinkedIn profile despite their impressive credentials.)

"Once your documents are updated, you must start networking, effectively. Networking is a critical element to your search, since 60 to 70 percent of jobs are found through the hidden job market. Try sites such as Twitter, Meetup, Facebook and LinkedIn. It's also helpful to reach out to your alumni or industry associations. Schedule two hours each week to keep in touch with your connections by emailing them an update on your search or an article, setting up a phone or coffee meeting and attending a networking event."

I strongly agree with Ms. Crawford's third point on jump-starting your job search. Networking and better yet, relationship-building, is essential to not just seeking out those hidden jobs, but advancing your career in the future.

"An underutilized tool that is helpful in your job search is the informational interview. This is a meeting or call with someone who works in the specific position or company you are interested in. Informational interviews are great for learning more about what it's actually like to have that job and networking into the organization you are interested in."

While my daily schedule is incredibly busy, I will make time to meet, either in-person or via a telephone call, with just about any job seeker who is interested in learning more about a particular company where I have an active role in its operations.

And Ms. Crawford is correct to explain that "[a]n informational interview is not a job interview, but bring a copy of your resume and business card just in case. Always follow up after an informational interview, thanking the person for their time."

What ideas do you have that will help job seekers jump-start their job search?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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