Posted August 07, 2019 by

Preparation is Key to a Successful Job Search

Who was it that said, “You can never be too prepared?” Actually, a better quote is from Benjamin Franklin, who proclaimed “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This is excellent advice for job seekers, because while a job search is a lot of work, being prepared can reduce your stress levels and increase your chances of success. So, before you start filling out applications and sending off resumes, take the time to do some work upfront.

Start with your Network

Like it or not, many positions are filled without being advertised. Networking is becoming more and more important in today’s tight job market. Think of a busy HR staff sorting through resumes and trying to fill multiple positions, when suddenly someone calls with a referral. If that referral comes from a trusted source, such as a long-time employee or associate, there is a high probability that he or she will rise to the top of the stack and eventually get the position. Statistics show that this type of informal hiring is happening more often these days. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, associates and others during your job search. Most people don’t mind lending a hand and passing along your information. If you don’t have a big network, now is the time to start building one. Join associations, attend events, and treat every interaction as a potential opportunity.

Revamp Your Resume

Everyone seems to have advice on writing the “perfect resume.” The truth is, standards for resumes change all the time. What worked a few years ago may not work in today’s market. If your resume is more than two years old, it’s time for a review and possibly a refresh. In our highly automated world, most positions require online applications, which means computers are sorting through resumes instead of humans. With that being said, content is more important than design. In fact, some of the applicant tracking software (ATS) doesn’t read serif fonts at all! Your resume should still be well-designed and easy to read but keep the format simple.

Understand How ATS Works

Speaking of software, another factor to consider in your job search is the use of keywords. ATS looks for “matches” by searching for keywords in your resume. So, for instance, if the position requires strong communication skills, management experience or certain software expertise, be sure to list those exact words on your resume. It may be more work to customize each resume you send out but being rejected by a robot is a waste of your time.

List Accomplishments First

Here’s another resume tip: Sending a common resume with a generic list of skills isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a graphic designer, there are basic requirements that every applicant must have. So, what makes you the best graphic designer? Your education is important, and so is your experience, but what really differentiates you from other applicants in the job search are your accomplishments. Did any of your designs win an award? Was your design work chosen by a group or client over other submissions? Did you exceed a client’s expectations with your work? In order to highlight your accomplishments, you must take the time to list them and decide which ones apply.

Clean up Your Social Media

I can almost hear you saying, “But that’s none of their business!” Again, like it or not, many companies Google search a candidate before hiring and take note of any red flags on social media. Anything posted on the Internet is fair game and not considered private. Prior to your job search, take some time to review your privacy settings and remove anything you think might be “questionable.” Avoid posts that may be considered overtly political or controversial.

Do your Research

This advice applies to selecting the companies you send your resume to, as well as preparing for interviews. It can be tempting to send out as many resumes as possible, hoping that the sheer quantity will boost your chances of landing a call, but it’s far more effective to apply to positions that you really want and those that fit your skill set, personality, etc. Take the time to research companies before applying and be a bit more discriminate in your job search. Once you land the interview, be sure to do your due diligence by researching the company and preparing notes and questions before the interview. You’ll feel more confident and sound more enthusiastic about the position if you’ve done your homework. That alone can make you stand out. This is especially important if you get called back for a second or even third interview.

Don’t Be Discouraged

Easier said than done, right? For the most part, being rejected for a job is not personal. It’s more often about which candidate is the best fit, which, of course, can be very subjective. Companies typically have very specific criteria in mind just as you’re looking for your dream job, they’re looking for the “perfect” employee. It’s not unusual to send out hundreds of resumes before being invited to an interview, and then attend a multitude of interviews before finding the right job. At times, your job search may seem futile and it’s easy to get discouraged. But, just remember, the right job is out there. Someone is looking for you. Really. While you’re waiting, ask people within the industry to review your resume and make some suggestions or try doing mock interviews with professionals you know to see where you can improve. Sometimes you have to take a day off and do something else entirely and start fresh. Stay positive!

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