In the midst of a job hunt, you can easily become frustrated or off track if you ignore these five tips:
- Organize, organize, organize. You need to remember which jobs you applied for at which companies, which version of your resume you sent (if you have multiple versions), and who you spoke with when. You cannot rely on companies to contact you when they promised—or at all. So if you mentioned in your cover letter that you will be contacting them, be sure to follow up. You also need to track contact information and thank you letters you sent out to helpful people you met while networking or interviewing. A spreadsheet program is excellent for keeping your job hunt organized, one you can quickly call up on your computer or smart phone when recruiters or hiring managers call.
- Do not wait for job postings on the major online job boards. Sometimes companies post jobs only on their website or through social media. Sometimes recruiters have information about jobs that are never posted at all. Occasionally, a company is not even aware that they need someone with your talents until you send them a cover letter and resume explaining how you can solve their problem.
- Step away from the computer. While your online job hunt is important, personal connections are most likely to bloom into job leads, referrals, and interviews. Attend industry meetings, chamber of commerce events, job fairs, and networking events; arrange to meet contacts one-on-one, and never forget that all important thank you note. During personal meetings, you should not be begging for a job, but asking for information. Remember to show an interest in the person you are speaking with: they are more likely to help your job hunt if you hold a conversation rather than a self-absorbed monologue.
- For some jobs, especially retail or smaller companies, it can be best to go in person to the location where you want to work. I wrote a great resume for a person I have known all his life (it later got him the job he really wanted), which I modified to highlight his retail sales and management accomplishments. He arrived at a new city and sent the resume to online listings for retail jobs—and got no response. I told him to go to the stores directly and talk to them, and in less than a day he had 3 job offers.
- Hand your resume and cover letter to a professional resume writer. Even high-level marketing gurus—those experts in branding and writing about companies in all sorts of online and print venues—choose to work with a professional resume writer during their job hunt. Your resume must make its way through computerized applicant tracking systems, Human Resources departments, and hiring managers. It must describe the skills, education, and accomplishments that companies are looking for. It must be concise, focused, well-formatted, and accurate. Professional resume writers know how to deliver all of that and more.