Job Hunting // March 25, 2013
If you’re searching for a job, here’s something you already know: it sucks. There’s nothing fun about going through hundreds of job listings, tailoring your resume to each one and firing it off into the abyss, not knowing if it’s ever even going to be viewed by a recruiter. Looking for employment is a job in itself, and it sucks up time, energy, patience, and probably a lot of your sanity.
I was just like you. Applying to every job that even remotely related to my skillset and going months without so much as a “you’re useless” email in response. I had basically the same framework for a resume my entire time job hunting, but I only started getting hits for interviews in the past few months. So what changed? After a lot of trial and error, and rewriting my resume every single time I sent it out, I finally got it to a good place…started getting calls for interviews — a victory in itself in the overcrowded job market — and just recently accepted a job offer (hurray!). I spent a year tirelessly searching for a new opportunity, and if there’s some sort of instant, miracle advice to land the perfect job, I certainly don’t know it. But what I can tell you is that there definitely are some ways to get yourself noticed. Here’s how I got there:
1. Fix that resume… over and over.
Do NOT just make up one standard resume and send it out for every job. A generic resume that can apply to all sorts of jobs is not going to convince anyone that you’re a good fit for the job in question. You need to put in that time to read the job description and illustrate how your skills apply to it. Be specific. You should go so far as taking keywords in the description and literally putting them in your resume. Recruiters get hundreds upon hundreds of applicants for each job listing. Their eyes are going to skim over each application and look for the most critical skills. Anything that doesn’t have them? Trash!
2. Think about changing the layout/format of your resume.
I added a line at the very top of my resume that specifically mentioned the job I was applying to, and then listed several sentences underneath it about how I am that person. It doesn’t matter that my current job is something different; I can be that person you’re looking for and here are x, y, z reasons why. Your first sentence should be compelling and confident. For example, mine is: “Driven, efficient and customer service-oriented marketing professional with experience managing the social media presence of an online magazine.” I was mostly applying for jobs in marketing or social media related fields. This opening sentence flat out states exactly who I am and what I do. When I changed this sentence from what it was before, suddenly I started getting calls.
3. Network your face off.
There’s a reason networking gets mentioned all the time. The more people that you talk to and let know that you’re looking for new opportunities, the more likely someone might actually refer you somewhere. Bring it up to everyone you talk to. Seriously! If you work in a big company, take advantage of it and try to set up informational interviews with people in fields you are interested in. Most execs are more than happy to talk about what they do and how they got there. You’ll get valuable insight, and they might also keep you in mind should something open up in their department. It’s good to have friends in high places, y’all.
4. Google yourself and change things that need changing.
Google is a beautiful thing: it makes finding things ridiculously easy. This can also come back to bite you in the arse. I Googled myself not long ago and was shocked to see that an essay I wrote in 6TH GRADE is actually online somewhere. When an employer Googles me, they get to read “What The American Flag Means To Me” by a 12 year old version of myself. Lucky them. My point is, you need to know what is out there about yourself. If you have a public Facebook or Twitter page, you’d better believe that you’re going to be judged by it. Either protect your accounts, or make sure that you don’t have anything up that might raise eyebrows.
5. Promote yourself!
You have talents and skills — show them off! Buy your own website under your full name and think about starting a blog. You don’t need to be considered an “expert” to do this. You can write or tweet about your thoughts on things relevant to your field. It will make you appear more credible and competent. If writing really isn’t your thing, you can also just buy some webspace and post your bio/resume on it. That way if people Google you (and they will), it will be one of the first things they see. It’s worth the investment of your time, and it’s really not as hard as you may think.
And there you have it! None of these are magic keys to a new job, but if you utilize all of them, you’re definitely going to increase your chances of meeting your goals.
Let me know if I missed any great tips that have helped you. And happy hunting!