Time to get organized for the new year!
If you’re thinking of launching a job search in January, you really need to get things in gear.
The objective is to get the really important things prepped so that way you’re not scrambling at the last minute trying to prep for an interview that appears out of nowhere. I mean, it’s a good problem to have but you want to make sure that you don’t blow it because you weren’t ready.
While you can’t ever be 100% prepared for every scenario, you can definitely get your ducks in a row so that you increase your chances of things going in the right direction.
Determine your target field
The fact is, you will attract more interviews faster if you can zero in on what your target position is. As in, go as “niche” as you can.
For instance, applying to jobs in customer service, sales, and purchasing in the pharmaceutical, retail, and aerospace industries is too much of a shot gun approach. If you’re sending a one-size-fits-all kind of résumé that’s trying to be everything everybody, it will likely deliver 0 results.
A better approach is to pick ONE job function in ONE industry and customize all your career marketing documents to that niche. This will deliver better results.
If you don’t get the interest you want or decide you want to go in another direction, you can always pivot later, but it’s typically better to finely target your search.
Update and improve your documents
Regardless of whether you are actively looking for another job or not, you should have an updated résumé and Linkedin profile standing by for the “what if” scenario.
What if you lose your job all of a sudden? It could be due to down-sizing, right-sizing, something-sizing. Who knows? It doesn’t matter – you’re out of a job.
What if your significant other is relocated to another city/province/country/planet and you are forced to quit your job and find another?
What if your boss is a jerk and you have to quit because you can’t take it anymore?
What if you get fired? I’m not judging here but it happens.
Failure to be prepared when the poop hits the fan means that you could be sideswiped and then be scrambling at the 11th hour trying to get your résumé , cover letter, and Linkedin profile in order while job opportunities are passing you by because – guess what – YOU’RE NOT READY!
Or worse, you slap something together (which is never a good idea) and send out what is more than likely a crappy résumé that doesn’t get selected for the interview. You’ve wasted your time plus didn’t make a great first impression.
What you need is a powerful résumé and Linkedin profile that has been updated with all your contributions, quantifiable accomplishments, education, and experience that are relevant to your target position (remember – you should go “niche”).
You should also create an accomplishment-focused cover letter that complements your résumé and is compelling enough to get the human to actually want to read your résumé .
Create your value message ( elevator “pitch”)
If you are in a networking situation and someone asks you “What do you do?” are you able to come up with an interest-grabbing statement or do you default to the usual, boring “I’m a buyer for ABC Ltd?”.
I totally get why it’s easier to just give people your job title or what you do, but that can often be boring which is the exact opposite of what you should be striving for.
What you need is a short and snappy “elevator speech” (a.k.a. “elevator pitch”). Now, it doesn’t have to sound like a sales pitch, but it should definitely sell your unique value proposition.
Now, if you don’t like the “pitch” concept because it’s too salesy, I’ve got news for you – a job search process is actually a sales process, so it’s perfectly fine.
That being said, you could refer to it as a value statement or value summary. Basically, the “pitch” is your value messaging – who you serve, how you serve them and how they benefit from that.
I recommend you create a short, medium, and long sales pitch – oops, value statement – that you can use for different applications – like your résumé , cover letter, Linkedin profile. Or you could whip one out at a moment’s notice when you’re cornering someone in the elevator.
Get references in order
If there’s somewhere in the job search process where most jobseekers fail miserably, it’s getting their references in order.
They always leave it to the last minute which is a really bad idea. What if you’re going through the interview process for your dream job and now they want to speak to your referees, but you can’t get a hold of them in a timely fashion and you don’t have written references?
You could lose out on a job if you can’t hand over solid references at the drop of a hat.
You need to do 2 things:
Get written references from at least 3 referees.
Make sure you have the correct contact information of your referees and even alternate phone numbers so that you can get a hold of them quickly if you need to.
Ensure that you have primed your referees in case the employer contacts them for a reference check.
Now, written references are really just a band aid solution. They might buy you some time until your referees are available to do a phone reference check. At some point, the employer will want to actually talk to them.
Create a Brag Book
I recommend that you create a professional looking portfolio that itemizes as many of your accomplishments that you can think of.
Some people call this a “brag book”. It’s something that you can take with you to interviews and show to the employer at the appropriate time. It’s effective because everything’s in one place and you are providing specific evidence of your contributions.
It can include samples of your work, outstanding performance reviews, awards, recognition, and anything else you think would matter to the prospective employer.
The other benefit of creating a brag book is that it sends the signal that you are genuinely interested in the position because you’ve gone the extra mile to put something together that most people don’t bother with.
Get active on Linkedin
Just having a Linkedin profile isn’t enough. You need to be active on it in order for it to deliver results.
That means posting updates, articles, sharing others’ posts, commenting on posts, growing your connections and reaching out to them from time to time. More activity means that you’ll also get more profile views.
There’s no point in having a whole bunch of people in your network who you never communicate with.
The idea is to try to nurture them as much as you can so when you need to reach out to them for their help, they will be more responsive.
One way of uncovering job opportunities is through networking. A large percentage of jobs are filled through referrals.
Find suitable in-person networking opportunities you can attend like job fairs, industry events, meet-ups, and even social gatherings. You never know who you’re going to meet who might know someone who knows someone who needs someone like you.
Contact everyone you know in your personal network and let them know that you are looking. This could be friends, family members, acquaintances and even former colleagues and employers.
Another great networking strategy is to reach out directly to hiring managers and “influencers” in your target field to generate informational meetings as part of your career research.
Just applying to jobs online is too passive an approach and won’t return as many results (if any) as the more direct approach.
Practice interview questions
A good strategy to prep for a job search is to get practice answers to tough interview questions that are typically asked during interviews.
“Tell me about yourself?”
“Why do you want to work here?”
“Why should we hire you?”
“What is your greatest weakness and strength?”
“Do you like your mother?”
There are tons of resources on the internet. All you have to do is Google “tough interview questions” and go to town.
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I draw from over 15 years recruitment, career/job search coaching, and sales/marketing experience to help all kinds of jobseekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired for their dream job.
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