Searching for a new job is hard work. In fact, it can be the toughest “job” you’ll ever have.
That’s why the key to job search success is treating the entire process like a business. You are currently in the “job hunting” business. Like any successful business, you need a plan that has goals and career management strategies to guide you. Otherwise, you’re just flapping your wings and getting nowhere.
Jump-start your next job search with these seven job-hunting strategies:
1. Know what you’re selling.
Begin your job search by taking a thorough inventory of your interests, skills, accomplishments, experience, goals, and values. Make a detailed list. The key to a successful job search is recognizing what makes you a unique candidate and communicating this effectively to a prospective employer, both verbally and in writing.
2. Aim for the right target.
Try to match your skills, interests, and values with the right career choice. If one of your goals is to get a larger salary, don’t focus on career paths that traditionally pay low salaries. Do some research. Learn about different companies that interest you and target those that are more likely to have open positions.
3. Be assertive and proactive.
Don’t wait around for an opportunity to come knocking on your door. While cold-calling on potential employers can be intimidating, it remains a powerful strategy. It’s important to get through the door first, before your competition.
4. Do some sleuthing.
One key is understanding the “hidden” job market. Many job openings exist only in the minds of directors, vice presidents, and other company bigwigs long before the job is finally advertised in newspapers or on the Internet. If you can present yourself as the perfect candidate at this early stage, an employer may snap you up without looking elsewhere.
5. Work your network.
Networking should be at the center of your job search strategy. Get the word out to friends, trusted colleagues, and even relatives that you are actively looking for a job, and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open for any opportunities. Expand your network by joining professional organizations, signing up for job search newsletters and e-mail blasts, contacting former professors and classmates, and participating in Internet discussion boards.
6. Get professional help.
Employment agencies come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, and they can be an excellent resource for job leads. Some specialize in very specific occupational areas, and many often have exclusive arrangements with large companies. If you’re interested in the services of an agency, investigate it carefully. Determine what the agency will do for you and how much it will cost.
7. Be temporarily flexible.
Temp jobs are a great way to learn skills, gain experience, and earn money while looking for a permanent position. They are also a way to prove your worth and be first in line when a full-time position does open up. Working as a consultant or independent contractor in a company can also eventually lead to steady, full-time employment.
8. Say it clearly.
When sending out resumes, catch the prospective employer’s attention with a brief and concise cover letter/email that spells out clearly how your qualifications match the job requirements. Connect the dots for the reader, making it obvious why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
9. Keep careful records.
Keeping track of the progress of your job search is important. Maintain a detailed record of all the jobs you have applied to, including communications, interviews, referrals, and follow-up actions. This will help you build a network of valuable contacts both for your current job search and any future ones.
Career Success Tip:
Job search is hard work and there are times when you will become discouraged. Just keep in mind that everyone has been through the same grind at one point. Keep a positive attitude about the whole process and look at your job hunt as a business that you need to invest in. Good luck!
Do you want to develop Career Smarts?
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- Find career and leadership boosters in the Smart Moves Blog.
- Copyright © 2011 Marcia Zidle Career and Leadership coach.