13 Feb Critical first steps for a successful job search
Competition in today’s job market is stiff, which is why positioning yourself as the strongest candidate is imperative in landing the interview – and the job. Candidates must maximize their marketability and implement strong positioning at the start of the job search and carry it through to the post interview follow-up.
Build the Perfect Resume
The importance of a strong resume is inexpressible. It is the first impression a potential employer will have of you and, unless it makes a positive and professional impact, it may be the last.
Your resume should be built with extreme detail and lay out exactly what the employer needs to know. It should be clear and concise, and accurately convey your qualifications for the position at hand.
Start with a brief (one paragraph) summary of your experience, followed by your education and any certifications. Include a separate list of specific proficiencies with applications and/or programming languages.
Next, comprise your professional experience in a way that describes clearly for the reviewer exactly what your responsibilities with each job were, including your contributions to the company and team. Avoid generic job descriptions. Instead, include details such as the technologies used, team size, individual responsibilities and any specific accomplishments.
Additionally, list any professional association or other relevant memberships. These activities demonstrate initiative on your part and will not go unnoticed.
If your resume includes sizeable gaps in employment history, explain them in your cover letter. With competition in the job market at an all-time high, it is best not to leave any doubt in the reviewer’s mind that may cause your resume to be put aside.
Gaps due to factors such as economic recession, school or maternity leave, if explained up front, will be taken with a grain of salt by most employers.
Have References at the Ready
In today’s competitive job market, providing references up front can make all the difference. Doing so will separate you from the masses, and lets the reviewer know that you have a list of professionals willing to speak on your behalf.
Ask contacts for permission before including them as a reference, as well as how they would prefer to be contacted. It is not only polite, but it guarantees that they are willing to provide a positive review of your professionalism and skills.
If possible, go a step further and include two or three letters of recommendation with your resume and cover letter. Ideally, this is a formal signed letter, but emails are a practical substitute. In either case, a letter of recommendation is something that will put you a step ahead of the competition.
It’s best to seek out a letter of reference from your manager or superior before you – or they – leave a position. Keep in mind that, while some prefer to write letters themselves, others may prefer that you write it for their signature. It’s a good idea to ask their preference.
Be Flexible and Proactive
Once your resume is in circulation, keep your schedule flexible (particularly during regular business hours) so that you are available for an interview at any time. Making the interview a top priority demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the job, and lets potential employers know where your professional life falls on your list of priorities.
Too, if you are unavailable when they call, most employers will simply move on to someone who is.
While waiting for an interview, take advantage of all the networking opportunities afforded to you. The phrase â€œit’s not who you know, it’s what you know, doesn’t always ring true when searching for a job.
Attend local association meetings or participate in social or professional networking events to build contacts and find leads on positions for which you are qualified. Always seek to return the favor, and never forget to thank your contacts for any help they provide.
The more ways you can distinguish yourself from your competition, the more successful you will be in the job hunt. Maximize the experience and skills you have. Demonstrate your initiative, and leave nothing to chance. Now is not the time to be modest.