5 Steps to a Successful Job Search
By Charles Hopkins
Published 06/1/2006 | Jobs and Careers
Starting a job search can be an overwhelming and stress-provoking experience for some people. But it doesn't have to be for you... Not if you approach it in the right way. You CAN have a successful job search, using the tips and advice you will find in this article.
Step 1: Know Where to Look for the Great Jobs
When most people begin a job search, they start with the Employment section of their local newspaper. But that is not the best place to find your dream job. Why? Simply because the best jobs are seldom found in the newspaper.
You may not want to hear this, but many times you can find the best jobs by tapping into "who you know." Networking is absolutely the best way to locate a job. When you do a job search, talk to everyone you know about what you're looking for. It's hard to predict who might give you that valuable lead to your next job.
Recruiters or staffing consultants are also a great way to find a job. Many times, employers will outsource recruitment to a staffing firm. So those jobs are never listed in any public venue... only the staffing firm knows about them!
In today's technologically-oriented world, the Internet is another way to conduct a job search. You still won't always find the best jobs listed online, but you can get a much broader exposure by registering with a few online job search websites, such as Yahoo Jobs or CareerBuilder.
Step 2: Know What the Employer Wants
Employers care about more than your skills and experience. They'll also want more intangible qualities, such as the ability to work as part of a team, creativity, and organization, depending on the job. They may also be looking for qualities unique to their corporate culture or employee expectations. Make it your business to find out as much as you can about what each employer is looking for before you begin your job search.
Step 3: Put Together a Powerful Resume and Killer Cover Letter
Once you've located a job you want to go after, you will need a resume and cover letter that will attract enough attention to make the employer want to interview you. You need to think of your resume and cover letter as a sort of "sales tool" that will convince the employer that you are the only one for the job.
There are many resources for writing resumes and cover letters on the Web and at your local bookstore and you are encouraged to learn as much as you can on this topic if you want to succeed in your job search. Or, if you prefer, you can always hire an expert to write them for you.
Here are a couple of quick tips. Your resume should be written clearly, simply, and to the point. Use lots of bullets and action words to highlight your accomplishments, rather than long paragraphs. Focus on quantifiable results, such as "Made a suggestion that streamlined operations and saved company 2500 in the first quarter".
Your cover letter should not be a rehashing of your resume, but it can and should highlight specific points or expand on certain areas. Cover letters should always be customized to the employer and the job you are applying for. That is the single factor most likely to get you an interview.
Step 4: Prepare for Interviews Thoroughly
The interview is your opportunity to make a strong positive impression. It is essential that you prepare for it if you want to succeed in your job search. Take time to research possible interview questions the employer may ask and think carefully about how you plan to answer. Be prepared to discuss what you have to offer the employer.
It is also a great idea to have questions of your own for the recruiter. So take time to research the company before the interview. This is usually easy to do if they have a website. Think of some related questions about the company and about the job that you can ask and that will show your sincere interest, not to mention your thoroughness.
One set of questions you should always ask is what the next steps are after the interview. For example, how many other applicants do they have for the position, when do they expect to make a hiring decision, and will they let you know of their decision, one way or the other?
Step 5: Follow Up!
One of the most effective job search strategies, and one that is sorely underutilized by most job seekers, is following up. When you follow up consistently at different phases during the job search, you demonstrate your professionalism and your interest. As long as you are polite and considerate of the recruiter's time, follow up should not be viewed as "annoying."
After you submit a resume, application, and/or cover letter for a job opening, feel free to follow up within a reasonable time period to check on the status of your job application. As a rule of thumb, a week or two should be plenty of time.
After an interview, always follow up by sending a letter (or at least an email) to the interviewer to thank them for their time and for the opportunity to learn more about the job and the employer. This is also a chance for you to emphasize again what you have to offer the company.
And, if you haven't heard about the employer's decision on the job within a reasonable time frame (depending on what they told you about their recruitment process), it is perfectly permissible to contact them and ask.
Follow these five steps, and you are guaranteed to have a more successful job search.