Dreaming of a new job? Check out these eight tips that will help prepare you for a productive job search and get you an offer sooner rather than later.
1. Review that resume
Your resume is the employer’s first impression of you. Candidates are quickly weeded out if they don’t have relevant experience, are too wordy or have typos or grammar mistakes. Some people try to stand out by being humorous or gimmicky, but beware that this can backfire, even if you are seeking a creative position. Make sure your resume uses key words from the job ad or description. And have someone proofread it after each revision. Hiring a professional proofreader won’t break the bank and can save you embarrassment and rejections.
2. Elevate your skills, experience
While you are working on your resume, consider whether any courses, certifications or experience would be a boon. Even if you can’t complete it before looking for a job, the fact that you are pursuing a degree or certificate, or that you volunteer in a related area, could make a difference. It shows initiative, ambition and that you are serious about your profession and your desire to keep learning and improving.
3. Use your network
It’s human nature to prefer hiring someone known or recommended by someone they trust. Tap into your networks through family, friends, schools, previous jobs, organizations, religious institutions and community connections. Tell everyone you know that you are looking.
4. Search everywhere
Be sure to check job boards, company specific listings, job-search-engine sites and networking sites. Consider hiring a recruiter to help you, especially if you need a job as fast as possible, you’ve been searching for a while, you’re an executive or you’re in a specialized industry.
5. Practice interviewing
Friendliness and confidence go a long way in an interview setting. Make eye contact, and don’t mumble. Be on time, whether online or in person. Make sure you have researched your potential employer so you can ask relevant questions. Listen when the interviewer talks. Many people find it helpful to practice answering common interview questions and plan how to answer ahead of time. Make sure you can succinctly explain what you’ve done and highlight what you can do for their company. Don’t make it about what they can do for you.
6. Be professional
Now is not the time to showcase your standup routine unless that is what you’ve applied for. Generally, it is better to be professional than too casual. But follow the lead of your interviewer and match their tone. Be deliberate with your appearance. Choose clothing that is tasteful and not too relaxed or too distracting. Hair should be combed and neat — don’t look like you just got out of bed! Also, use your manners. Be polite, greet the interviewer by name and engage in a bit of small talk if the interviewer seems receptive. If you are interviewing in person, be polite to everyone you encounter, such as the receptionist.
Also make sure your online presence is professional. Look through your social presence and evaluate whether that party photo of you drinking a bucket of margaritas is what you want prospective employers to see. Political posts can be problematic if the interviewer has a different opinion.
7. Show interest
Do you want this job? At the end of the interview, make sure you convey your interest in what you’ve heard. Bonus points for referring back to specific things the interviewer said and addressing how you can solve that problem or help the team. You can ask the interviewer if you have the qualifications they are looking for, which might provide an opportunity to explain or spin any negatives and reassure the interviewer that you are either experienced or have great potential and will do what is necessary. Be direct and tell the interviewer that you want this job, if you do, and that you would make a valuable contribution.
8. Follow up
You might be surprised how many people forget this step. Interviewers appreciate when candidates send them a thank you note or email that reminds them of your particular interview (they might have seen quite a few people), thanks them for their time and reiterates what you would bring to the job.