30 HELPFUL JOB SEARCH TIPS
1. Be kind to everyone: Badmouthing former employers, colleagues, or clients in an application or during a job interview is always a dangerous thing to do. Remember - it's a small world, and for all you know, the former boss you don’t like might be an acquaintance of the hiring manager you are trying to impress. Being negative or critical will surely make you seem bitter or petty, so it is much better to demonstrate tact and diplomacy when describing past workplace challenges. In addition, you need to be respectful, friendly, and polite to everybody you encounter during the course of your job search. When visiting a company for a job interview, be sure to be nice to all employees who approach you, from the department head to the mail clerk or office temp. Hiring managers paying close attention to how you treat underlings as well as the higher-ups. Being dismissive or curt to a receptionist will surely hurt your chances of interview success; you never know who may get to weigh in on hiring decisions.
2. Dress the part: You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, and research has shown that employers make their decisions regarding your potential for hire within ten minutes of meeting you. This means that non-verbal communications and your personal appearance have a tremendous impact on your interviewing success, so be sure to dress your best for a job interview. Even though dress codes have become more relaxed in many workplaces, a job interview is not the appropriate venue to showcase your casual sense of style. Wear clean and neatly pressed business attire, don't go overboard with distracting jewelry, and take it easy on the perfume or cologne. If you are unsure of the corporate dress standards, discreetly visit the company prior to the interview and watch the employees coming in and out of the building. This trick will also better prepare your commute to the interview.
3. Plan your time wisely: It is important that you carefully plan and prepare for your next great project – finding and landing the job of your dreams. Be sure to develop a calendar and set goals for how many resumes you need to send out per week, and leave enough time to focus on your job search at least a few hours a day. Stick to a regular schedule so that your job search never loses momentum. Make sure you have a private phone number and block a regular time frame to speak with employers during normal business hours if needed.
4. Learn about potential employers: The more you know about the employer you are applying to, the more successful you will be in your application and interviewing processes. Find out everything you can. Visit the employers’ website, visit http://www.hoovers.com, conduct research at your local library, and talk to any company employees you already know. By doing this, you’ll be better prepared to understand and address the employer’s needs. You’ll also learn the financial viability of the company as well as other details that will help you determine whether or not you’d like to work for them.
5. Practice your gestures: Interviewers size up job applicants even when words aren't being spoken. Nonverbal clues can indicate fear, a lack of interest, or failure to properly prepare for the meeting. Therefore, it is crucial that you pay close attention to your body language. Maintain good posture, avoid crossing your arms, get rid of your gum, and practice your body language in a mirror. Avoid all negative gestures, such as fidgeting, checking your watch on the sly, tilting your chair, or playing with your hair. It's understandable to be nervous, but you can lessen your nerves with practice. Try to relax. Focus on maintaining eye contact and a pleasant smile.
6. Explain your work gaps: When asked what you have been doing while unemployed, avoid saying something like “staying home and watching TV.'" How you spend your time when you're unemployed speaks to your work ethic. During your career gaps, you should continue your development and find opportunities to build your professional skills. You can take courses at the local college, volunteer at various organizations, or become more involved with an industry association. Demonstrate to prospective employers that you always work hard to increase your skills and keep up-to-date in your industry.
7. Use effective follow-up strategies: Failing to follow up after a job interview is a big mistake. However, it is just as harmful to your job search to constantly call up afterwards to see if you’ve got the job. Do not follow up more than twice, unless you have been asked to do so by the employer. Do not send a poorly written email or a rambling phone message. The best method is to send a considerate, well-worded, and handwritten thank you note that reasserts your interest in the job. For help with this, you can always order our “Post Interview Thank You Letter Guide” for only $5. This comprehensive guide offers 11 copy/paste thank you letter templates that will make the best impression possible. Visit any order form at www.AspirationsResume.com to obtain this helpful tool.
8. Google yourself: Conduct an search engine query of your name and see what comes up -- and what potential employers will see if they do the same. If you don't like what you find, then you’ll need to do some damage control. For the best search results put your first and last name in quotes, such as “John Smith.” If you have a common name, you may not have to worry. If you have an uncommon name, you will definitely want to conduct your own online investigation.
9. Role play: Practice your answers to interview questions with friends to build your confidence. Work out tricky answers in advance so you can get comfortable with your answers. Confidence is key. You may need to explain difficult situations in a way that is authentic and sincere without sounding bitter or defeated. Try to stay positive and share what you've learned from bad experiences. Employers love to hire folks with good attitudes and the ability to handle adversity.
10. Be realistic during hard times: Get real about the time it will take to find a new job. During a recession, you can expect it to take at least three months to find a job that pays $40,000. Add one month for every $10,000 more you want in salary. In other words, if you are looking for $80,000 a year, it can take at least seven months to find and land the job you want.
11. Make finding a job your full-time job: Sending out a handful of resumes a week is a lot like tossing a single resume off a roof into a busy intersection and hoping an employer responds to it. To find a job, you must cast a wide net. To a large degree, your job search is a numbers game. The more inquiries you make, resumes you send, and job interviews you go on, the better your chances of success. All of these activities will require a significant input of time and effort, so set aside at least a few hours each day to focus solely on your job search.
12. Maintain confidentiality: If you want to keep your job search a secret, don't talk about it. Period. If you share your secret with co-workers, it may get back to your boss. Any activity related to your job search, including scheduling interviews, should be completed on your own time. In addition to focusing on your job hunt at night and on weekends, you can use your lunch break to scour the want ads or conduct phone interviews on your cell phone. Avoid using company resources, no matter how convenient they may be. Don't use office stationery, stamps, company e-mail, fax machines, copiers, or the Internet. If you are very worried, then be careful where you post your resume and only post on job sites where you can keep your employer and contact information confidential.
13. Expand your horizons: Of course your job search should be focused. After all, applying to every job posting that comes your way is a waste of time and ineffective in finding the job you want. However, if you approach your job hunt unwilling to accept anything less than the precise job title, pay, benefits, vacation time, and hours you want, you're setting yourself up for huge disappointment. Be flexible, as the jobs that fall short of your initial standards may be incredibly fulfilling in other ways.
14. Never mention salary first: Don’t ever bring up the subject of pay. Let the hiring manager do it first. Whoever mentions a number first will generally lose the salary negotiation. It is up to the employer to make you an offer. Employers are aware that you want to know about the salary, so they will bring it up when the time is right. Appearing too concerned with money suggests you aren't passionate about the position or the company. Of course, you should never, ever supply a salary history, as that information has nothing to do with what you are worth or what you may require for future pay.
15. Learn from your mistakes: Okay, so your last interview didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. Don’t beat yourself up if you flubbed an answer or two. But do take the time to review each interview you go on, and practice your answers again to perfection. Otherwise, you’ll most likely repeat the same mistakes again and again.
16. Don’t forget where you've applied and interviewed: After a couple of weeks, you will have likely applied to more than a few dozen places and even interviewed with some companies. Eventually, it becomes hard to recall where you've sent a resume or interviewed. Keep a list handy of all the employers you have contacted, including the most recent date and method of contact. Be sure to update this list on a daily basis. Applying to the same place over and over makes you look like an applicant who applies to any posting that pops up, which is not the best impression to make.
17. Don’t stop until you get the job: Stopping your job search while you wait for a response will cause you to miss countless opportunities. Even if the interview for your dream job went extremely well, don't pause your job hunt while you wait to hear back. Unfortunately, there could be a variety of reasons why you might not get the job. As long as you don’t lose your job search momentum, you could stumble upon an even better opportunity. Momentum is a great emotional boost for helping you get over disappointment, and you don't have anything to lose by continuing the hunt.
18. Work the job fairs: Career fairs are great places to get your foot in the door. These events can provide you with important face time with dozens of companies that are actively looking for candidates in one convenient place. Get a hold of the guest list and find out which companies will be participating. Once you have the list, highlight several companies that are of interest to you. Research those companies; look at their Web sites, read their press releases, and search your local newspaper for stories. Wear a conservative business suit, make sure you look well groomed, and carry your materials in a professional folder or portfolio. Practice your answers for interview questions. Be confident and proactive. A career fair is no place to be shy and demure. The best way to make a lasting impression is by being aggressive. Approach the companies that interest you, make eye contact and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Collect their business cards and tell them why you are interested in their company. Afterwards, you’ll need to close the deal. Just like a job interview, it is important to follow up after a career fair.
19. Don’t fall for scams: When you conduct an online job search, you’re bound to run into a few ads that sound too good to be true. They often contain phrases such as: “Make $3,000 a week from home -- no sales,” or “no experience necessary,” or “earn $40,000 - $60,000 a year working part-time!” From envelope-stuffing jobs to pyramid schemes and mystery shopper promotions, you may be inundated with work-at-home advertisements. The problem is that many of these opportunities require much of the worker’s own money or time to see little success. Other situations that claim to be "easy money with no sales" often do involve a great deal of sales work in extremely challenging environments. While there are some credible work-at-home opportunities out there, many of these ads are not the real thing. Don’t respond to ads that do not say specifically what the work will be, don’t give away personal information, and be sure to check any company you are considering though the Better Business Bureau.
20. Maintain a good online persona: With MySpace.com, Facebook.com, and LinkedIn.com becoming more and more popular every day, you’ll need to carefully manage your profiles. Don't post anything on your site or your friends’ sites that you would not want a prospective employer to see. Derogatory comments, revealing photographs, foul language, or lewd jokes can be viewed as a reflection of your character. If your networks/web sites offer the option, consider setting your profile to "private," so that only your friends can view it. Since you can't control what other people say on your site, employ the "block comments" feature. Remember, everything on the Internet is archived! Check your various online profiles regularly to see what comments have been posted.
21. Stay happy: Listen to motivational CDs to keep yourself "up" as you listen to ideas from the pros about how to market yourself, emanate positivity, and interview with employers. Hang out with optimistic, positive people. Count your blessings and try not to obsess over disappointments. Find things within your budget that make you feel good. Maybe it is reading a good book, playing with your pet, or getting a massage. Whatever will cheer you up can be worth it. You're going through a difficult and frustrating time, so occasionally treat yourself to some extra special self-care.
22. Stay productive: Sleeping late, watching tv, relaxing all day in your PJs and otherwise taking it easy will not help you find a job. Nor will it help boost your self confidence once you’ve realized how much time you've wasted in NOT looking for a job. Finding a job is real work. Set up a schedule for yourself on week days and then follow it. Disappointments in your job search can best be overcome by maintaining productivity.
23. Surf the net: It's helpful to visit large job sites such as Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com because of the sheer number of listings offered. Employers of all sizes, in every industry and niche, can be found in at these massive sites. Large job sites offer more than just listings. They can lead you to recruiters and staffing firms and can also serve as a launching pad for other opportunities. For instance, you may find an appealing job posting for which you are overqualified. Though you're not right for this role, you now know the company is hiring. Visit the prospective employer's website to see if there are any additional openings. Send a resume and cover letter to the company expressing your desire to be considered for future jobs.
24. Visit recruiter sites: Be sure to visit the Web sites of recruiting firms that specialize in your field. These comprehensive sites maintain their own job postings and many even offer detailed career information and good job search advice. Not only will this enable you to conduct a highly targeted job search, it will also help you connect with a recruiter who can work on your behalf.
25. Use social networking: Networking is nearly always the most effective way of finding new opportunities, and the Internet makes it easier than ever to expand your contact list. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn.com provide good opportunities to connect with other professionals in your field. Participating in chat rooms and discussion forums, such as those hosted by professional associations in your industry, is also an excellent method for locating open positions.
26. Watch your spelling: Completing employment applications online can be convenient, but it can also be costly if you are not careful or do not proofread your work. Be mindful of your spelling and grammar when typing information directly onto online forms. Typos are no less problematic on screen than on paper, and often, there are no “spell check” functions to help you clean up your errors. Typos and grammatical errors are the most common mistakes job seekers make on their resumes, and can cause your application to be quickly screened out. To avoid this fate, try copying (select text, Ctrl+C) and pasting (Ctrl+V) your information into a word processing or email application that can conduct a spelling and grammar check. Once you do this, you can easily identify and correct any errors before completing your online application.
27. Be mindful of your current employer: Be extremely careful about when and where you do your online job hunting. Using your company's computer and Internet connection to look for a new position is a very bad idea. Employers have the right to monitor the sites you visit and the e-mails you send. Resist every temptation to hunt for a new job at the office if you still need to keep the one you have. Don’t give your current office phone number and/or email address to potential new employers. It will increase your chances of getting caught at your current job and it will be a turn-off to new employers if they fear you will do the same at your new job.
28. Follow up: It is CRITICAL that you follow up with the prospective employer after applying for a position. Don't worry about annoying the employer. The vast majority of executives believe that job seekers should contact hiring managers within two weeks of submitting application materials. And remember, it's just as important to follow up with online applications as it is with mailed resumes. Resumes often get lost in cyberspace, so if you've submitted your application and haven't heard back from the company, send an e-mail or make a call to verify that the resume was received. This will be an excellent opportunity to reassert your interest in the position.
29. Answer older ads: Don’t limit your job site search to positions posted only in the last few days. A job listing posted one month ago may still be open, especially if it requires rare skills. Since most job seekers focus on recent postings, you’ll likely compete with fewer candidates.
30. Mix it up: While the Internet has revolutionized the way job seekers connect with prospective employers, an online job hunt should not be the only strategy you use to find a new position. To maximize the effectiveness of your job search, you should combine a variety of approaches. You should explore the services offered by recruiting / staffing firms, touch base with members of your personal and professional network, and participate in industry events where you can meet hiring managers.