Job Search

If you haven’t been job hunting within the last year, you’ll find things are a bit different. It is going to take more than a resume to land your next job.

Competition is fierce

In many industries and pockets of the world, hiring is on the upswing. That’s good news! As a matter of fact, there has probably not been a better time to look for work in the last three years! But, and this is a huge BUT: Competition is fierce. There are tons of qualified (even over-qualified) candidates applying for every job. Why does this matter to you? It is going to take more effort and planning on your part to land that choice job. Here are three things you can do to better compete:

  1. You must stand out!
  2. You must find an inside connection and follow up on every job you apply for!
  3. You need to be well connected!

1. Stand Out

The resume you submit has to be specifically crafted to match the job and company you are applying for and that old generic cover letter has to get tossed. Develop a customized cover letter unique to every job you apply for and explain how you can fit their specific needs.

You should have a strong personal brand and online presence – that means building a LinkedIn profile that is more than just a regurgitation of your resume. It should convey your personality and tell your story, but don’t stop there! Build a reputation online by creating a personal website, and any of the other social tools out there to spread the word about your deep commitment and passion for the work you do.

If you don’t know about keywords and search engine optimization, take some time and learn about them. This knowledge will help you build the right online presence.

2. Be Assertive

Follow up after you apply for every job and don’t give up when you don’t hear back. And don’t stop there. Find inside connections who can give you the low-down on what is going on in the hiring process and perhaps be a referral source or an ally for you.

The best way to find out about jobs is to network with industry colleagues. If you’ve built these connections already, tap into them. If not, start today by joining professional associations and groups focused on your area of expertise – you’ll need these relationships again, so don’t treat this as a one-time effort.

Finally, be sure about what you are looking for and the value you add and convey this consistently and constantly through your personal branding statement (which should be in your email signature, on business card, and a part of your introduction whenever you meet someone).

3. A Strong Sphere Of Influence

Know key people inside and outside of your industry but don’t stop there! Your personal network of friends, family and past colleagues is equally important. Be sure everyone knows what companies you are interested in working for so they can refer you to the right people.

To maintain and nurture your connections, remember to give as much as you get. Always pay it forward by helping other people inside and outside of your network. Develop a reputation for being a connector or go-to source for your expertise.

Timing is everything

Don’t shut any doors or turn away any opportunities, because you never know where they’ll lead.  While your sense of urgency is quite real, the companies doing the hiring operate under a clock that moves at a much slower pace. Hiring takes longer than anyone expects. There are fires that need to be put out which take precedence over filling an opening. Be patient but never assume no news means they’ve hired someone else.

The bottom line here is that people hire people! Every step of your search needs to incorporate human contact and connections.

About Hannah Morgan

Hannah Morgan provides no-nonsense help for new job seekers. She provides advice and serves as a guide to traverse the treacherous terrain of today's economy by focusing on pro-active strategies for job search and leveraging social networks. Career Sherpa is one of many outlets where Hannah shares her information. Follow Hannah on Twitter @careersherpa!

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