Most Americans today say they would change their jobs if they could. They also say that they are too afraid to do so. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck so they rely deeply on that steady paycheck. But that does not keep them from wondering what's really out there.
The problem is that in today’s uncertain job market your job could be gone tomorrow morning. And what’s worse; employers have put the brakes on hiring (even though this is supposed to not be a recession). Job creation fell by 17,000 in January, the first month of decline in more than four years. For the hardest-hit industries like banking and real estate layoffs and hiring freezes have dominated the media as of late, which means there will be more qualified applicants are chasing fewer job spots.
Given this outlook, job seekers must do some sweet and savvy selling of their talents. Now more than ever the quality of your job search skills becomes more critical. Bottom line your skills need to be better. You need to utilize career branding. You must learn the new rules of networking and how to approach an employer.
Here are five tips to land a job in this today’s market:
1. Don't Rely on Job Boards. As popular as they are and how they market themselves as being able to connect job seekers with the employers of their dreams; online search engines and resume banks are essentially "resume black holes.” Many companies pre-screen resumes using software that only hunts for keywords. The keywords are related to the skills, training, degrees, and experience associated with a particular job. Even if you are a perfect match for the job, your resume may never get to someone who could decipher your potential value.
A second item that happens with job boards is the unnecessary deluge of “dead-end” recruiters (also using the same keyword searching software) pulling your resume from an online search engine based on a keyword showing up in your resume (no matter how irrelevant they are to the job at hand; it’s just that the word showed up on your resume in some capacity) and calling you offering a position that they have no connection with. Their sales ‘pitches’ sound good; but just wait and you’ll suddenly notice you’ve got two or three recruiters all from different companies; all offering you the same job for the same company; all claiming to be the only true representative for that company.
While both of those are reasons are valid enough on their own; the biggest issue is that the majority of jobs are never advertised—online or anywhere. This is where your networking skills come into play. You should spend at lease 85% of your job search energy on networking and 15% submitting resumes online.
2. Tap Your Network. Networking is how things get done. You are probably already keeping in touch with former colleagues and industry peers. Why not put the feelers out and have them notify you about job leads before they go public? If you remember the old cliché it’s not what you know; but whom you know. When it comes to looking for a job truer words were never spoken. But let’s take it one further it’s not only who knows you; but who knows what you know and what you can do. Make sure you're on the radar of people who have access to the kind of job leads you want.
If you're looking to work for a specific company, the key is to connect with a current employee. If you’re wondering how you do that; think Monster.com/Network. This is a useful tool on job boards; they offer networking circles in all manner of industries for you to join into. You can also ask your regular contacts in your network to leverage their network. Another great site for connecting with your friend’s friends is Linked In where you can essentially connect with your friends' friends.
To use this type of “networking” you must apply rules of “Netiquette” (social etiquette for using the Internet). First, ask for an introduction. Then, if you're at an entry level politely say you would like an informational interview. If you're at a higher level it is proper to “talk about the market and where the industry is going.”
3. Harness the Power of the Blog. Locate blogs that are relevant to your industry that are written by professionals at the top of their career and become a regular commenter. The best thing about blogging is that it let’s you show your stuff and thus you’re not solely being judged based on your resume. Once you've developed rapport with a blogger, ask about career advice and job leads.
4. Offer to Assist Others. Stay in regular contact with your network so it doesn’t look like you're asking for favors every couple of years, From time to time pass along a tip or an article that may help your contact. It keeps things mutual and you both are benefiting from the union. You will also be keeping abreast of the current trends while keeping your lines of communication open.
Try to avoid contacting someone out of the blue. Some may be flattered; but most will just figure you're using them. That's not what you're trying to convey (even if essentially that's what you are doing). Always be professional and courteous. If you must contact someone out of the blue, offer something in return, such as an invitation to a lecture or a link to a website that might be of interest, This may not always work; but on those rare times that it does keep that line of networking open; no mater what. Don’t forget them once you’re “in” and working on a new job.
5. Market Your “Brand”. Let your modesty fly out of the window. Marketing a brand (the name of an entity) is how all the big companies get ahead. Think about why you eat at your favorite burger place or can sing you favorite jingle at a moments notice. It’s because of the marketing of that brand.
Well you are going to become your own “Brand”. Market your name. Establish yourself as an expert in your industry. This is easier than you’d believe. It’s as simple as volunteering your skills for a community project (don’t forget to solicit references and referrals), participating in an online forum, creating a website, or—blog. You could also try writing for an industry trade journal or an alumni newsletter. If all else fails (and it won’t) become a published author. Today self-publishing is the norm; and it’s reasonably inexpensive.
The idea is to build credibility in your field and set yourself apart from the competition. You can even advertise your book on your blog or add a blurb about it in your writing or on the website you maintain.
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