Finding a job can be as time-consuming as actually having a job! It can take days, weeks, even months, to land that dream job. So it’s no surprise how easy it is to get discouraged, distracted, and depressed. There are two important things to remember &mdash you’re not alone and we’re here to help! HRPeople comes to your rescue with the best tips and tricks for getting your job search back on track.
Reenergize Your Job Search
by Roberta Chinsky Matuson | Monster Contributing Writer
During the summer it’s the call of the beach, and in the winter you’re beckoned by the mountains. Regardless of the time of year, something will lure you away from the pavement you should be pounding.
There’s not much you can do about the past, but you have control over your future. It’s time to get serious and get your job search back into full gear.
Reevaluate Your Situation
When you decided to seek other employment opportunities, were you reacting to job burnout? Is the boss who was making your life miserable now gone? Vacations and changes in management can have a huge impact on how you feel about your job. If you’ve had a chance to recharge your battery, or if your new supervisor is providing you with an enjoyable work environment, then perhaps you should sit tight. Your situation has changed for the better.
If things really haven’t changed much, then it’s time to reenergize your job search.
Develop a Plan and Then Work It
Looking for a job is a full-time job itself. If you are employed while job-hunting, you are working the equivalent of two jobs. No wonder it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
To really pull it off, you need to be organized. That’s why it’s important to establish a plan and then work the plan. Set goals with appropriate deadlines for yourself at the beginning of each week. Monitor your performance throughout the week to ensure you are staying with the plan.
Reconnect with Your Network
You may have already contacted everyone on your networking list, but it’s time to do it again. Call your contacts and find out how they’re doing. Gently remind them that you are still seeking a new opportunity. Don’t forget to ask if they know of anyone else with whom you might speak regarding your search. Thank them for their time, and let them know that you will check in with them periodically.
Put a note on your calendar to call them again in another six weeks. In the meantime, if you come across any articles that might be of interest to them, be sure to forward them.
Contact Your Headhunters
Many people think that once they have registered with a headhunter, their work is done. Actually, your work has just started. You should be in touch with your recruiters at least once every two weeks just to remind them you are still out there. If you happen to follow-up with them right after they’ve received a job order, you might be the first one on their list to be sent out for the interview. Top of mind is very important when there are lots of qualified candidates on the market.
Look into HR Associations
Programs and networking meetings generally come to a halt during the summer. But as the leaves fall, it’s back to business. Join your local HR association and start attending meetings. Get involved in the organization. Join a committee. The more involved you become, the more likely you are to meet people who might be able to help you in your job search.
Organize Your Job Search
by Wendy S. Enelow | Monster Contributing Writer
Managing your job search is just like managing any other project. You must create an administrative infrastructure that will allow you to operate efficiently, productively and with some order. Here are some strategies to consider as you craft a system to manage the flow of contacts, resumes, follow-ups and interviews throughout your search campaign:
Use Technology Wisely
Conducting a job search without technology is nearly impossible in today’s virtual market. However, technology is not always the best tool to be organized.
One of my techie buddies teases me about the Rolodex that sits proudly on my desk. I love it. It takes me two seconds to find a phone number. But he wants me to use an electronic address book, so every time I need to look up a number I have to go to my PC, open a program, type in the name and get the phone number — minutes later. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem too efficient to me.
Create Two Work Spaces
I use two desks – one is my PC desk where I do all my writing, email and research. The other is where I talk on the phone, write notes, keep important files and do administrative tasks. Each desk has a priority pile of items. The desks are side-by-side, so I can easily reach from one to the other, but they are separate and distinct workstations. It allows me to keep PC work separate from the things I need at my desk.
Establish a Schedule
In the morning, I write and handle priority projects. I save afternoons for phone calls and administrative tasks. I know other people who prefer the opposite schedule. It is difficult to sit at your computer and write a cover letter and email a resume in response to a job posting when you promised three people you’d follow up first thing in the morning or scheduled an appointment with your career coach for 9 a.m.
Set aside quiet times each day to attend to your writing tasks. I guarantee your productivity will increase. However, remember that flexibility is vital. If you’ve established 3 to 5 p.m. as your designated writing time, and you’re invited for an interview at 4 p.m., accept the invitation.
Categorize Your Email
I probably receive an average of 75 emails a day. In going through email, I immediately delete all unsolicited messages. I then respond to the messages I can answer quickly, and then work my way through the others that require more than a quick thought. I figure for every 25 messages I receive, I handle more than 70 percent within 10 minutes.
Touch It Only Once
Whether it’s each day’s snail mail, your email or the papers on your desk, do something with it now and be done with it. When the mail arrives, I immediately sort it by throwing useless information into the recycling bin, putting bills in the “to pay” folder and putting everything else into their respective places. The less frequently you touch each piece of paper, the more efficiently you’ll manage your entire campaign.
You probably have already developed some job-search-management strategies that work best for you. If you integrate some of the above into what you’ve already created, you’ll find that your search campaign will proceed even more efficiently. The faster you move forward, the more quickly and easily you’ll find your next opportunity.
The 5 P’s of Job Search Progress
by Debra Feldman | Monster Contributing Writer
Job hunting can be similar to a marketing project, only this time the P words are positioning, process, and persistence, followed closely by performance and personality. The product, you, is comprised of all of the above. Only if you execute your search skillfully will there be a chance to sell to prospective employers.
Let’s take a look at how this translates into designing and executing a project for an effective outcome.
1. Positioning: The first step is to identify what makes you a unique candidate. This can be hard to do for yourself, but it’s also the most essential piece. Seek outside help from a trusted mentor or career management professional.
2. Process: Identify your target employers and then assess their needs in terms of how you can address them better than anyone else. The better the match, the greater the likelihood of the employer showing an interest in you. If you understand employer needs first and then promote your skills against these requirements, your chances of making a connection are much greater than if you concentrate only on your abilities without customizing them for an individual situation.
3. Persistence: Especially in this economy, it is imperative that a candidate be focused and be vigilant. Concentrate your efforts on activities with the largest potential return on your investment. Keep track of your contacts and refresh them periodically. Use different methods to stay in touch varying phone, email, snail mail, an article or clipping, invitations, face to face, etc. according to the recipient’s preferences. Remember that in networking, maintaining contact is key to results. Ask your contacts for advice, introductions and information, but don’t ask directly for a job. Recommendations carry tremendous weight over cold calls and unsolicited inquiries. If you can get a colleague to make a direct referral to a prospective employer, your chances of being given serious consideration are much higher.
4. Performance and Presentation: Your resume speaks to your strengths, talents and skills but nothing beats actual performance to prove to an employer that you can deliver for them. If you can provide proof of your competency through a specially prepared presentation, you have demonstrated initiative and creativity as well as knowledge. Rather than using words alone, show the prospective employer what you are made of!! Do a report which demonstrates your grasp of the concepts and your ability to use the material effectively. Does this effort rate the preparation time? Yes, because it is more likely to gain attention and lead to further discussions of your mutual interests and ways you might fit into the organization. Don’t waste a chance to show hiring managers your capabilities. That’s what it takes to acquire a competitive advantage in a job market like this one.
5. Personality: No one hires on the basis of credentials alone. If you are fortunate enough to make direct contact with a prospective employer, concentrate on letting them get to know you. This is critical to encouraging the employer to be comfortable in choosing you to join their business. Gaining credibility might be even more important to your selection than whether your skills and background are desirable. Focus on generating a dialogue, getting to know each other, sharing experiences and thoughts. If there is good chemistry, the rest will follow. Just passing your credentials around is less likely to motivate people than if you can get them to like you and care about your future.
Only after a candidate has successfully connected with a prospective employer one on one is there any serious hope of developing the kind of trust that can lead to in-depth discussions about an employment agreement. Getting to this point requires correctly marketing yourself. To accomplish this, a candidate must create the right positioning. Putting together a unique value proposition that distinguishes you from others is key, as is selecting prospective employers who will appreciate what you bring to their organization. Just remember that if you do this right, it will still take time for things to click, for your network to generate leads and for employers to decide to commit to your ideas. So keep up your campaign until you sign the deal.
A Winning Job Search Strategy
by Peter Vogt | MonsterTRAK Career Coach
You’ve posted your resume online and even applied for a few of the positions you’ve seen listed here. You’re also scouring the newspaper classifieds like crazy, sending off cover letters and resumes for all the job openings that seem to fit you.
Is there anything else you can do to look for a job? Absolutely! In fact, the more diverse your job-hunting strategy, the more effective it’s likely to be.
Here are eight tactics you can use to track down job opportunities:
Contact Professional Organizations in Your Field
National, regional and local professional organizations exist in great part to help their members with career development. Many organizations include field-specific job listings on their Web sites or in their printed publications.
Visit Company and Organization Web Sites
Many companies and organizations post their job openings right on their own Web sites (usually under an Employment or Career Opportunities link).
Apply Directly to Organizations That Interest You
Do you know you want to work specifically for Company X or Organization Y? If so, send a well-written cover letter and your resume directly to the company, either to its human resources office or, often more effective, to the person who would likely make hiring decisions for the part of the organization that interests you. It isn’t always easy to find the right person to get in touch with; typically, you’ll have to do some digging.
Network, Network, Network
Generally the most effective job-hunting approach, networking is simply talking to people to either track down helpful personal contacts or learn about job openings that may not necessarily be widely advertised or advertised at all. Start by talking to your own family, friends and acquaintances. Let everyone in your life know you’re looking for a job, and give them an idea of what type of job you want.
Join Professional Associations
If there’s a professional organization in your field, join it and start participating in its meetings and other events so you can get to know people in your area of interest. Work with a career counselor at your school to both tap his contacts and learn of alumni from your school who might be able and willing to lend you a hand in your search. Finally, don’t forget to tap your professors’ connections as well.
Participate in Job Fairs
Many cities, particularly large ones, host job fairs at various locations throughout the year. Most colleges and universities hold their own job fairs as well, either individually or in collaboration with other institutions. A job fair is a rare opportunity to have employers come to you, so make sure you attend whenever possible.
Use a Placement Agency or Recruiter/Headhunter
There are companies out there that specialize in helping people find jobs. Some of them even focus on working with college students and recent college grads. Maybe one of them can help you. A word of caution, however: While most organizations receive their fees from employers (and not you, the job seeker), some will seek money from you. So be careful, and make sure you know who’s paying the bill.
Often, by working briefly as a temp for a company, you can position yourself to be hired for a full-time, permanent position that opens up later on. Even if that doesn’t happen, however, temping can help you see various companies from the inside, meet people in your field of interest and earn some pretty good money.
The more diverse your job-hunting methods are, the more opportunities you’ll uncover and the greater the chance is that you’ll find, and land, the job you really want.
Build Your Job Search Network
by Linda Wiener | Monster Age Issues Expert
Networking is about making contacts and building relationships that can lead to jobs or other work-related opportunities. Thoughtful networking provides a focused way to talk to people about your job search. Done right, it can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information and support. It is an essential component of any successful job search, but it requires calculated planning.
The good news for older job seekers is that by virtue of more years and more experiences, you generally have an edge over your younger counterparts in the scope of your networks. But older workers may be less experienced in identifying and using those contacts, however. Here are some pointers on how to build and sustain your employment networks.
Know How to Make Your Pitch
A key part of effective networking is being clear about your employment goals. A careful self-assessment can provide pertinent information about who you are and what you want when communicating with contacts. Prepare talking points and practice delivering them, whether you have 10 seconds for an elevator pitch, 60 seconds for a commercial or 10 minutes for an informational interview.
Keep Track of Your Contacts
When a contact gives you leads or referrals, be sure to ask for permission to use the contact’s name. Keep detailed records of your networking activity: to whom did you talk, about what, when, and what were the results? For each contact, identify next steps and develop a reliable follow-up system. A collection of index cards will work; so will a notebook or computer application. The key is to be persistent and actually follow up.
Expand Your Horizons
Your network will include people you know well, acquaintances and referrals. Be creative. Here’s a partial list of common sources for networking contacts:
• Alumni organizations.
• Children’s contacts: PTA, Little League, Scouts, parents of their friends.
• Classmates (any grade or school).
• Community job clubs.
• Former employers, including supervisors and coworkers.
• Friends: local and out-of-town.
• Hobby groups: bridge clubs, gardening, model trains, quilting, etc.
• Members of clubs: health club, softball team, hiking club.
• Members of your church, temple, synagogue or mosque (some religious organizations also sponsor job search groups).
• Military chums
. • Neighbors: current and past.
• Participants in trade shows, seminars or workshops you’ve attended.
• Political groups.
• Professional associations.
• Professionals: attorneys, accountants, doctors, dentists, insurance agents, pharmacists, veterinarians.
• Relatives: local and out-of-town.
• Service or fraternal organizations and groups: Rotary, Kiwanis, Soroptimists, Elks.
• Services: travel agents, stockbrokers, Realtors.
• Volunteer associations: past and present
Build Your “Net Worth”
Your network is your “net worth.” To get the most from your investment, thank everyone who helps you (in person and with a written follow-up), and keep those who are interested posted on the progress of your search or career change.
And remember: Make yourself available as a resource for other job seekers, and treat them as you would like to be treated by those with whom you network.
The One-Week Job Search
by Marty Nemko | Monster Contributing Writer
Want to find your next job in just one week? If you’re willing to plow through the most unpleasant job search tasks in that time, you’ll be more likely to. What’s more, you’ll maximize your chances of getting multiple offers at once, so you’ll be able to pick the job that offers the best combination of interesting work, sound learning opportunities, reasonable compensation and a good manager.
Here’s the schedule:
• Write Your Resume: Incorporate two or three brief PAR stories: A Problem you faced, the intelligent way you Approached it and its positive Resolution. Get feedback on the draft from people you know in your target field.
• Craft Your Elevator Pitches: Each one must explain why you’re looking for a job, what you’re looking for and prove that you’re good. Here’s an example of a 10-second pitch: “The company downsized, so I’m looking for another CPA position. I never thought I’d be looking for a job — I’ve always gotten great evaluations, but that’s the way it goes.” In the 30 and 60-second pitches, say more about the kind of job you want and provide credible evidence of your competence.
• Identify 25 Employers You’d Like to Work For: Focus on small, growing companies in your target industry within a reasonable commuting distance. Look on major employment sites like Monster for companies you’ve never heard of with multiple job listings. These are usually small companies in growth mode.
• Email or Phone the 25 People in Your Network Most Likely to Help You Get a Job: Give your 10 or 30-second pitch and ask, “Do you know someone at any of these 25 companies, or elsewhere for that matter?” If appropriate, ask if your contact would review your resume and cover letter or do a mock interview with you.
• Follow Up on the Leads from Your Networking That Are Not Among the 25 Employers You’ve Targeted: Deliver your 30-second pitch enthusiastically. After that, listen more than talk. Ask questions about the employer’s needs. If you have an idea, propose it tactfully. For example, “Listening to you, it would seem that I could help you by doing X. What do you think?” If it would impress the interviewer, tell one or two of your PAR stories.
• Visit Each of the 25 Employers’ Web Sites: Apply for any on-target jobs. Start your cover letter by mentioning your referrer, if any. Then explain, point by point, how you meet the requirements in the listing. Your goal is to apply for 10 openly advertised on-target jobs by the end of the week.
Thursday, Friday and (If Needed) Saturday
• If There Are No Jobs to Apply for on Those 25 Employers’ Web Sites, Send the CEO a Brief Email: Here’s an example:
“I’m a good operations manager who’s just been part of a downsizing at BigWhup Widget. I’m attracted to your company because I have experience in your industry, liked what I saw on your Web site (insert a specific) and, I must admit, because I live just 10 minutes away. I’m attaching my resume. I’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you or a designee to see if and how I might be of help to you.
If, within a week, you haven’t heard from the people you’ve contacted, follow up. Leave voice mail if necessary, saying, “I’m the manager from BigWhup Widget who was just part of a downsizing and phoned you. I’m assuming that, not having heard from you, you’re too busy to respond. I can understand. But I know that sometimes things can fall between the cracks, so I’m taking the liberty of calling to follow up. If you or one of your managers is interested in talking with me or can offer advice as to where I should turn, I’d appreciate a call. My phone number is (repeat the number twice). Thank you.”
You won’t hear back from most people you contact, but you’ll get at least one bite, most likely from an employer who has been thinking about hiring but hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Sometimes, an employer will find it easier to vet you, make you an offer and be done with it. If that’s the case, the time and effort you will have invested in your one-week job search will have paid big dividends.
Stop Procrastinating About Your Job Search
by Michelle Tullier | Monster Contributing Writer
When you’re a freshman, graduation seems light-years away, so you figure there’s no need to start worrying about career plans yet. As a sophomore trying to decide on a major, you might get some inkling that you’re going to have to make a career choice in the not-too-distant future, but it still doesn’t seem like you really need to do anything about career planning or job hunting just yet. By junior year, reality starts to creep in, and you know you’ll have to start thinking about your career fairly soon. But you decide to define “fairly soon” as at least a year away. Before you know it, senior year arrives, and you find yourself adrift in a sea of denial about the need to start your job search. At that point, you have two choices: Let panic set in and do nothing, or use those twinges of panic to motivate yourself to take action.
What’s Wrong with Me?
How did you become a job-hunt procrastinator, and what can you do about it? The following are four typical excuses students give for putting off their job searches, along with a reality check for each excuse:
Excuse 1: Basically, I don’t feel a sense of urgency. Graduation seems far away, and I have a roof over my head and food on my plate, so the need to earn a living doesn’t seem so critical. I don’t want to worry about job hunting yet.
Reality: The time will pass much more quickly than you expect it to! It’s never too early to start making your career plans and laying the groundwork for a job hunt. The earlier you start, the easier the actual search will be.
Excuse 2: I don’t know how to look for a job. The process is so overwhelming and confusing, to be honest, I’m a bit intimidated. Since I don’t know where to begin, I’m going to opt to not begin at all.
Reality: It’s normal to be somewhat overwhelmed by the thought of looking for a job, especially if you don’t know how the process works. The reality, however, is that job-hunting methods aren’t rocket science. Your campus career counselors as well as the many job-hunting guidebooks and online advice at your disposal can demystify the process for you in no time. Career counselors can also help boost your confidence, enabling you to see that you are employable.
Excuse 3: I just don’t have time to look for a job. Between classes, homework, studying for exams, extracurriculars, socializing and maybe a part-time job or internship, I can’t find the time to put together a resume, go on an informational interview or take any steps toward making some career plans. I’m just way too busy.
Reality: It’s understandable that all those other activities have to take precedence over job hunting, especially before senior year when you really aren’t urgently in need of a job. It’s worth it, though, to carve out some time on a weekly or monthly basis to do your career planning and job hunting gradually. Doing so will help you avoid a last-minute crunch senior year and will actually make the search easier overall. Your campus career counselors can help you set some objectives for career-development activities you can take on little by little — a kind of four-year plan regardless of which year you’re starting it. You can begin tackling your career planning without making a huge dent in your already busy schedule.
Excuse 4: I don’t have a clear job target. I don’t know what kind of job to look for, so I don’t do any looking at all.
Reality: It’s true that you do need to know what you’re looking for before you can embark on an actual job search, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing anything. Sitting back and waiting for some sort of revelation about your perfect career direction is not the right approach.
Instead, you need to realize that the process of choosing a future career field is actually a part of your job search. The same self-evaluation (of skills, abilities, interests and priorities) that goes into deciding on a career direction can help you prepare to market yourself to prospective employers. And the research you might do on what’s out there in the world of work (researching professions and companies) to target a career direction serves a dual purpose of targeting potential employers and developing a network of contacts.
Whether you’re a freshman or a final-semester senior, it’s never too early or too late to get moving on your career planning and job search. You can overcome procrastination.