Are you ready for your job search?
The world of job search has changed dramatically in the last 5 years and you need to be prepared. No more same old, same old! Here is my advice for “before, during, after” the job search process.
What should you do before you send out your résumé?
The top candidates understand that job searching is a process and every step needs to be mastered to progress to the next step, resulting in job offers. Organize your steps like this:
- READY – Anchor in your job goal, research the job descriptions in your market and outline your strengths, skills and passions.
- AIM – Prepare all of your “tools” such as a job tracker,résumé, LinkedIn profile, interview preparation and more.
- FIRE – Now you’re ready to apply, interview, follow up and negotiate offers!
What are the first steps you should take to update your résumé so you get selected to interview?
Step 1: Put it in perspective. Your résumé needs to be great, but don’t make it a crutch. Résumés don’t tell your great story and it is a back-up resource for your great efforts. It won’t win a job and it’s not the reason you didn’t get called for that interview.
Step 2: Re-do your old résumé. Your résumé needs to talk to three decision-makers: the Hiring Manager, the Recruiter, and the “Robot” or the company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Here are some rules:
- A summary section at the top <of your résumé > is a great place to share your next career move and highlight the skills you have that match what they are looking for. These are often called “keywords” or “key phrases.” This is the section you can modify for each application but keep the rest of the résumé the same.
- However, don’t stop there! Repeat those key words in your important experiences section and repeat them wherever you have used those skills.
- For the robot, be sure your header information is in the body of the document and not in the header section in Word. Additionally, don’t use the forward slash (/) anywhere, no underlines, and use bullet points.
- Be sure you include all volunteering, training, certificates or foreign language skills you have.
Step 3: Proof, proof, then proof. Your résumé is a sample of your writing capabilities. A single error can get you fast-tracked to the “NO” pile. Read every word out loud, ask two people to scrub it for errors, and check that the font is consistent.
How can you structure your cover letter for maximum impact?
Even though some hiring teams don’t read cover letters, many do. Do you want to be one of those candidates who don’t? “There is no downside to attaching a great cover letter to your job application. But it has to be great!”
- Do not regurgitate your résumé. Too boring. And they can read!
- Count the number of times you use “I, me or my” and change as many of those as possible to “you, your position, your company.”
- If you don’t know anybody, start it with “Dear Hiring Team”.
- Start with a simple expression of your interest in their position.
- Then, write 3 bullet points that sound like “You are looking for someone with X years’ experience with ________. I have Y years of experience in this field.”
- Finally, close this short cover letter with your request to interview for the position.
Are there “secrets” or keys to success on LinkedIn?
The huge surprise is how many candidates believe they are using LinkedIn simply because they have a profile. Wrong! An even bigger surprise is how many people have poor LinkedIn profiles. I highly recommend every job seeker seek to become fluent in LinkedIn immediately. Some keys to success:
- Your profile needs to be 100% complete. Photo, headline, summary, experiences and more.
- For your photo, be sure you look professional, as you would look on the job. Smiles are nice and any friend can take a good shot for you! This isn’t Facebook so no puppies, kids or sunglasses.
- Be easy to be contacted. While you are a job seeker, put your e-mail address in your summary section so recruiters can call you right away.
- Load up your full résumé into LinkedIn. Copy and paste. Period. Many recruiters expect LinkedIn to be your digital résumé.
- Secure at least two recommendations within LinkedIn. Learn how in their help section!
- Always connect with others using a personal message after you have read their profile. They can be total strangers but explain your purpose in connecting with them and congratulate them on their success.
- Learn how to use LinkedIn job search tools such as finding jobs, finding recruiters’ names, learning about the company and so much more.
Networking doesn’t have to be scary!
Recent research shows that men are more likely than the women to get professional help from their contacts. However, women are better at building high-quality relationships. Good news: for job seekers, you don’t need to go to those huge banquets to exchange business cards. Bad news: you do need to get comfortable with connecting with total strangers via LinkedIn or e-mail.
Let’s simplify the steps:
Step 1: For every position you apply to, always apply online. Get into the system. Now the networking begins.
Step 2: If you know anybody who works at that target company, forward your cover letter and résumé to them, asking them to forward it to the recruiter and hiring manager of the specific job.
Step 3: Now, with your new LinkedIn fluency, use LinkedIn’s “advanced search” feature to find the recruiter and hiring manager for that position. Aim high, too, and search for the Director or Vice President of the department your target position resides in.
Step 4: With maximum professionalism, connect with these wonderful strangers with a professional note. Then, when they connect back you will have their e-mail address.
Step 5: Send them a well-written e-mail, sharing that you applied online for position <title>, and that you are very interested in interviewing. Follow up with them 3 more times, once every week.
Rule: If you don’t ask for specific actions you would like your network to take, you will never know what kind of support is possible!
The best ways to prepare success with your interviews.
Each one of you can become interview MASTERS if you simply prepare. Yes, you will be nervous and, yes, you will get some oddball questions. So what? Remember, if you don’t do well in interviews, you won’t’ make it to the offer stage. Change your game now.
- Every conversation about a job IS an interview. Whether it’s a recruiter’s “phone screen,” a phone interview, a meeting in a coffee shop, or a face-to-face interview, you need to be fully prepared, on time, professional, and focused.
- Research the most commonly-asked interview questions and write out 3 short bullet point answers for each.
- Remember “the law of 3s.” Give no more than 3 short answers to every question then stop talking. Pause, smile, make eye contact. The interviewer will ask you for more information if they want it.
- Bring great questions to ask. Write your questions on a separate piece of paper and take notes of their answers on your document.
- “Situational” interview questions are very common and the latest trend. “Tell me a time when you…” or “Can you describe a time when you had to…” Your story should be told with the following framework.
- S: The situation was…(be brief!)
- A: The actions I took were…(3 actions using “I”)
- R: As a result…(metrics)
A few special times just for women.
- If you meet 70% of the job description requirements, apply for it!
- When networking, aim high! Don’t be daunted by titles like Vice President, Director or even Chief X Officer. They are seeking good talent on all levels.
- When you network, be clear about what you are requesting them to do. “Will you please forward my credentials to the hiring manager?”
- Even if you have gaps on your résumé for raising children or care-giving, be proud of your skills and strengths and BRAG!