Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Follow-up Post: Job-Search Tips

As a follow-up to my last post I thought I would share some job-searching tips:

* Always write a cover letter when applying for a job (even if they don't ask for one - and it doesn't have to be long and in-depth, before you start whining)

* In fact, make sure your cover letter is NOT too long - you don't want to be vague, but you don't want to be too verbose either (fit on one page if you can!). And PLEASE GOD people PROOF-READ, or better yet proof yourself then have someone else do a 2nd proof for you! If the spelling and grammar in your cover letter is a mess, you might as well write "please throw this out" at the top, because that is exactly what employers will do with it.

* Make sure your cover letter is personalized to the position you are applying for - pull out specific requirements they mention in the job posting and talk about how your experience lends itself to those things. Sure, using a generic cover letter for every job and just changing out the address/name/date at the top is easy, but it's also boring and lazy. Personalizing your resume can't hurt either - I have a section at the top of the 1st page of my resume that acts as a kind of "intro" or "summary" that outlines the position I am applying for, and my general skill sets. Not saying employers ever notice this, but you should never assume. 

* Make sure your cover letter uses positive tone  and highlight what YOU can do for THEM, don't just talk up your skills or use "I" constantly as you can easily come off as arrogant and self-absorbed. Employers want to know what you would bring to the position, not how awesome you are.

* If you have not heard from anyone about the position 2 weeks after the closing date, follow up. I would recommend calling rather than emailing (email is super easy to ignore or overlook). I would also recommend doing some research to find the name of the actual HR manager at the company/organization before you call, because:
A) if you just call and ask the 1st person who answers the phone about the status of a job, they will most likely not know because they are likely to be a receptionist or some other front-line person, and...
B) even if that person does know what the job status is, the person who counts will likely not hear about your call and therefore will have no discerning information about you when they actually see your resume in the pile.
(This is a tricky one though because you want to show interest, but you don't want to be a pest, so use your judgment. Also, pay attention to the job posting because some companies will ask specifically for candidates NOT to call, and if they do you really should wait for them to get in touch with you. You want to show initiative, but you don't want to piss people off or make them think you don't know how to read or follow instructions).

* Speaking of job postings, always save a copy of the posting for all jobs you apply to. I usually just copy and paste into Word (easy-peasy). This may sound like a no-brainer, but I have forgotten to do this many times, only to be scheduled for an interview then have no way of tracking down the job posting to refresh my memory because it was deleted from the web. This saves a lot of heartache and hair-pulling later, as it is good to be well-versed in the expectations of the position before you go into an interview (don't forget to review the cover letter and resume you sent them so you know what exactly you told them about yourself, too!).

* If a job posting intrigues you, but it is not necessarily in your preferred field or location, has a salary that is a bit lower than you were hoping for, or has some responsibilities listed that you are not sure about, apply anyway. It is nice that you have a "Dream Job" in your head and want to hold out for that, but frankly that is an unrealistic notion. Finding your "Dream Job" is an extremely unlikely scenario and most people who are working in their DJ's are there because they paid their dues at jobs they didn't necessarily like and were open to experiences. You SHOULD want to do something you enjoy and that is suited to your personality and skills, however you never know where something will take you - you may discover a passion for something you didn't even know about, make a great contact or two, or gain some really valuable experience to put on your resume. No job is permanent - you can always leave if you don't like it - and there is no shame in working a job that is less-than-glamorous for a while either because you can't find anything else or just to build your portfolio. I always say that as long as there is a POINT to what you are doing, than you will be fine. Besides, the worse thing that will happen if you apply is that they won't call you, and then you will no worse/better off than you were before, but if you don't apply you will never know if you possibly missed out on a great opportunity.

*Expand your job search methods beyond the traditional job listing websites (CareerBeacon, Monster, Workopolis, etc). Think about what organizations or companies you might like to work for and go directly to their websites - most companies/organizations have Careers sections where you can peruse postings, or if they don't, it can't hurt to email them with your resume and ask about possible opportunities. Chances are you won't hear back, but you might. Many companies will take your resume and put it "on file" for the future or may even be open to meeting with you if they are intrigued by your skills and initiative.
If you are not sure what specific companies or organizations you would like to work with, think about what fields or industries you might be interested in and Google companies/organizations within those fields. Put a notice out on your Twitter or Facebook or Blog about what you are looking for and ask for any leads anyone might have. Go out to networking events and career centres and talk to others about what you are looking for, again you NEVER KNOW (my motto) who you are going to meet and who they might know.
Or consider temping! Temp agencies often have access to job postings that do not necessarily go public and there is always a possibility of being hired on permanently - I found a mat leave job through my agency that ended up being a job I really enjoyed a lot and, even though they couldn't hire me permanently, I gained more than a year's awesome experience to put on my resume. And actually, the boss I had there recently recommended me for a position at another related organization. See? YOU NEVER KNOW.
Sites like CareerBeacon are really great, but there may be postings out there that you are missing by focusing ONLY on those forums, and great companies maybe be missing out on YOU because you are being lost in the shuffle.

Don't be a "sheep". Make yourself stand out. 

Anyway, I could go on and on, but those are just some of the main tips I would recommend. Now, these are tips I would give based on MY experience - you can agree or not, but I think I have enough job-searching experience (8 jobs in 8 years) that I know at least somewhat what I am talking about.

What are your tips for job-searching? What have you found works/doesn't work for you?


Bree said...

Ughh I'm just starting my search now, and it's already annoying. Well, I'm still fixing up my resume and haven't actually applied yet, but I've been looking online to see what's out there. I'm also going to the career office on campus when I get back to the city next week to see if they can be of any help. I'm really not looking forward to this whole thing! It pretty much seems like I'm still not qualified for anything! HA isn't that great.

Kim Humes said...

Ooo career office visit is another good tip! I know it's really annoying esp when you are starting out bc you keep getting the whole "we want someone with more experience" but how are you supposed to get experience if no one will give it to you!! I have encountered that so many times. However, lots of ppl will think your youth is a plus, so don't worry you will find something. Just work hard and hang in there!

Tashablogs said...

Thanks for the tips, it will sure help me out as I'm still job hunting.

Side note: I'm back on twitter (again) & I have a new username: @masctasha. Feel free to follow back :)

have a great weekend!!

Alexis of NorthOnHarper said...

 This is fantastic advice... I will share it with my sis who is job hunting!

Kim Humes said...

Great! I think everyone's experience is different but generally there are some important things to keep in mind.I know from experience that job searching effing sucks so I like to help others in the same situation any way I can lol

maddy said...

Great found your blog! excellent advice and thanks to share this INFO with me.

Aviation Cv

Snag Pad said...

If job seekers approach their job search strategically, they will be more motivated to continue looking for work and be able to find the right job. In today’s world, the job search really never ends. You’re constantly on the lookout for jobs that will eventually lead you to your ultimate dream job. Each opportunity you take should build upon your experiences that lead you down your job search path.

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