Do’s and Don’ts of Job Hunting (Expert Advice)
Are you looking for a job right now? Are you a fresh college graduate and looking to build a career? Or are you a an experienced professional who wants to leave his current position and go elsewhere to try something new?
Whatever the reason may be, you have come to the right place. I have been around the block a few times; I know a lot about the current trends in job hunting. It has changed so much just in the past decade alone! If you want to stand a chance at landing your next job, then you need to ace the job search phase. This article contains plenty of expert advice on what you should do and what you should never do.
If you are a millennial who has recently graduated, then you may already be familiar with a couple of these points. However, if you are a seasoned veteran, then it has been quite some time since you have used technology to search for jobs. As a result, many of these things may be quite new to you.
Regardless of your age, you will definitely come across points here that you may never have thought of. In the year 2016, the job market has become extremely competitive, with an ever increasing pool of educated and skilled workers looking for jobs. You need to pull out all the stops while hunting for jobs.
And it is a hunt, indeed. Only around two decades ago, applicants would simply apply to their job by normal means and land an interview. In the age of the internet, you need to go the extra mile to stand out amongst the crowd. You need to actively “hunt” for opportunities; nothing will come to you on a silver platter. You need to be very proactive and engaged in the job hunting phase to boost your chances of getting an interview.
We have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts of the job search phase from experts. Many articles only list positive tips and tricks and though that is important, it does not paint the whole picture. We also want to present the things you should definitely avoid doing. Keeping both of these things in mind, you will significantly raise your success while job hunting.
DO’S OF JOB HUNTING
Have a Professional Online Presence
In this day and age, social media and online networks have become the norm in our society. Around 20 years ago, companies would only publish ads in newspapers and only read your paper resume.
Nowadays, the entire game has changed entirely. Employers search for you on Google and see how your online presence is. A paper resume fails to capture every single achievement and quality of a candidate.
As a result, employers refer to Google to find out more about your professional credentials. If you do not have any online presence, it is very difficult to trust the credibility of people these days. So taking steps to create an online presence will help you in securing a job. This is where having a LinkedIn profile comes in very handy.
A Complete LinkedIn Profile
If you do not have a LinkedIn profile as you are reading this, go create one right now! You will be shooting yourself in the foot if you apply for positions online and do not have a professional profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an employer’s go-to source for acquiring inside information on a candidate.
More than 90% of recruiters use this powerful tool to search for candidates. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which are very casual in nature, LinkedIn is a professional network made for professionals – job seekers and jobholders.
Jobholders regularly update their profile to reflect their current status in a given position at a company, and job seekers update their profile to include skills and experiences that will persuade recruiters into hiring them. Let’s go through what it means to have a complete LinkedIn profile that will impress recruiters at first glance.
Resumes typically do not contain any photo whatsoever; it is a page full of text. However, recruiters want to know what you look like, so a quick Google search should result in your LinkedIn profile. The first thing that they will see is your professional photo. The keyword here is professional.
Your Facebook and Twitter accounts are more personal, so you can have more fun with it, especially when it comes to your profile picture. However, LinkedIn is nothing like that. You need to be on your best behavior on Linkedin and a good way to convey that message is to have a clean, professional photo. We suggest a headshot, which includes your entire head and goes down to just below your neck. This is just enough to show recruiters your facial appearance and the clothing you wear.
When it comes to attire, go professional. Wear a suit if you are male and a pantsuit if you are female. Light colors look best on a computer screen, so wear a white dress shirt or button-up shirt. There is nothing particularly wrong with wearing a dark shirt but when you pair it with a jacket or blazer, it looks a bit odd.
Hence, the safest option is to go with a light-colored shirt and wear a dark-colored blazer or jacket. This is the perfect business attire you should wear in your photo that propels you forward on LinkedIn. In addition to what you are wearing, bear in mind the background and foreground. Always take the photo against a very light background and with plenty of light in front of you. With a more vibrant face against a white background, the attention will be solely on your face.
We recommend going to a professional photographer at a photo studio and getting a photo headshot. All photographers these days are quite familiar with the LinkedIn photo style. If you simply ask for a LinkedIn professional photo, they will have you covered.
Follow this tips on shooting a great photo for your resume.
This is arguably the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. The first block of text on your profile page should succinctly capture exactly who are you and what you aspire to accomplish. Several key elements make for a killer LinkedIn profile. If you are able to make your make your personality shine through and be very engaging and authentic, you can convince almost any recruiter to pay attention.
Studies have shown that recruiters do not spend a lot of time on a paper resume, and barely more so on a LinkedIn profile. The most time they do spend happens to be on the summary section.
Recruiters are not looking for robots who are boring and lack personality. Far too many unknowingly present themselves in this manner. They want actual people in their organization, those who are communicative and friendly. Do not write another run-of-the-mill summary that is very forgettable. Of course, keep it professional but play around with it just a bit to get your personality across.
Being authentic is a very strong quality trait that is admired by many recruiters, so be sure to incorporate as much about yourself as you can. Nobody likes a bland person, so make sure to state your personal mission and vision you have for your career. When you are applying to several similar positions, you will notice that there is a common thread linking all of them. Incorporate words into your summary that touch upon all of them. This shows recruiters that you have a wide range of vocabulary, and everybody loves somebody who can write.
Resumes never use the word “I” and “my”; they are always written in third person without the pronoun. On the other hand, your LinkedIn summary should have words like “I” and “my.” You want to write it in a conversational tone to make it engaging for those who are reading it.
This makes it easier for somebody to connect with you when you use such personal pronouns. Don’t go crazy with it, but use it whenever you feel that it suits the sentence. Tie in all of your relevant experiences and education to the position you are hoping to land in your summary. Do not make it too general; try to tailor it to a particular position you are applying to.
For instance, if you are applying to a Development Engineer position, try to write something that incorporates terms of that field. This shows the employer that you know what you are looking for and can take you seriously because you are serious about it, too.
Do not forget to include your contact information at the end of your summary. This gives recruiters the opportunity to follow up and get in touch with you. A sentence as simple as “If you think I am a good fit for your company, please contact me at [insert phone number] and [insert email address] and we can discuss career opportunities” will help you big time. It shows that you are open to people contacting you and establishing professional connections.
You can check out some great examples of amazing LinkedIn summaries online to get inspired to write your own. Never forget to inject some of your personality in there, to come across as authentic as you can.
Experience, Education, and Everything Else
To round out your professional LinkedIn profile, you need to complete every single field available, especially your “Work Experience” and “Education” sections. Mention every relevant profession you ever had in your career, no matter how short or long.
Now what do we mean by relevant? Only include experiences and positions that are relevant to your career. We do not advise to include that one time where you had a summer job as a bartender at the local Hard Rock Café. That does not convey professionalism in any way. There is nothing wrong with working as a bartender or as a waiter; I am sure many of you reading this have done it during college to make ends meet. Even I have done it. However, when trying to establish a career in an industry radically different from the food service industry, it is best to omit it. This is applicable for your resume and your LinkedIn profile.
For example, I recently applied to an electronics engineering position at a semiconductor firm. I had just recently graduated from university with very little experience under my belt. I did not do an internship as a student, so my chances were slim at getting the job. However, I worked as a teaching assistant and a research assistant as a student, improving my research skills and getting exposure to machinery and tools.
I detailed this in my Experiences section. I mentioned my duties and my achievements. Actually, your achievements are more important than your duties. Anybody can be assigned to do a task, but what is really important is how well you did it and resulting outcome. Give figures and numbers to describe your achievements in the position you held. This gives a sense of how much you actually accomplished.
Here is a great summary on how you can become more outcome focused.
When looking for an engineering position, I did not include my stints as a waiter at a restaurant. Yes, I earned money doing it, but it is completely irrelevant to the position I was applying to. Recruiters are only concerned about experiences that are relevant to them. They want to see experiences and skills that you can transfer from your previous position to the next position.
Therefore, cater your experiences and describe them in such a manner that will be fruitful to the recruiters looking to hire the right person for the job. Always order your experiences in reverse chronological order because employers are interested more in your recent experiences rather than the ones you held 10 years ago.
Now that we have cleared up how to properly include experiences, let’s move on to Education. This is more straightforward and less ambiguous, but should still be written with a lot of thought. Like experiences, always present your education in reverse chronological order. Do not forget to include your grades.
If you are a fresh graduate, then also describe your coursework. This indicates to recruiters which subjects you have learned and are good at. Your recent education has a lot of weight to a recruiter. Conversely, if you are an experienced professional, then there is no need to include your coursework in the education section. Your experiences have far more weight and recruiters will spend much more time on that. Having said that, it never hurts to write everything in your education section, to give the entire picture to people looking at your profile.
Besides experiences and educational background, skills are something you should definitely add. LinkedIn allows users to add up to 20 different skills. Know yourself and know your industry very well. Add skills that you know you possess and skills you know your potential employer will be impressed by.
When reading job adverts online, you will notice certain skills that are required for the given position. List some of those skills in your profile, always ensuring that you actually possess those skills. The last thing you want to do is lie in this section, because it will come back to bite you.
Trust us on that one (will be discussed in a later section). Display all of your skills you are proud of and are relevant to the position you are applying to. That will make you stand out from the large pool of candidates.
Facebook and Twitter Accounts
We did mention that LinkedIn is the go-to reference for employers to find out more about you as a potential employee at their organization. However, when performing a Google search on any person, usually their Facebook and Twitter accounts appear on the first page. People have access to your public profile and can see whatever you allow them to see. The emphasis here is on allow.
You can definitely post and tweet whatever you want, but you can also decide if only a select few can see it, or if everyone can view it.
Furthermore, these platforms allow you to boost your online presence. You can follow certain companies or people in the industry to learn more about them. This helps you stay up-to-date on the latest news in your particular field. Only a few years ago, this resource was overlooked but nowadays, you can take full advantage of these platforms to be engaged with companies and people in any industry.
Make Your Accounts Private
You may want to go to your Facebook timeline and hide any posts you made that you think are embarrassing or would hurt your chances of being seen as professional. This can be done very easily by going into your settings and making your timeline private. This means that only your friends can see your posts. Others will see nothing.
Likewise, there is a similar feature in Twitter where users can hide tweets from the outside public. Simply go to your settings and make your account private. This means that nobody, apart from your followers, can see your tweets. Many employers want to see a candidate’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. Although there is nothing particularly wrong with posting or tweeting personal things, it would be in your best interests to keep that stuff hidden to outside people.
Some do’s and don’ts on using your social media accounts for finding a job.
Follow People and Companies
LinkedIn is an amazing professional platform to help create your professional image, but Facebook and Twitter make it so much easier to interact with others to disseminate your image. This is applicable for you, as well as companies and big names in the industry. People like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Sheryl Sandberg (really big names in their respective industry) use both Twitter and Facebook to share their thoughts and spread news about their respective companies.
In addition to industry leaders, many corporations also have accounts on Facebook and Twitter and use them to share company news. Companies such as Siemens and Intel use these platforms to post important news, informing investors and customers alike. They are also informing you, a job seeker.
You should start following the companies you are applying to. For example, if you are applying to Tesla Motors for an engineering position, start following Tesla on these platforms to get the latest news. If any recent developments are made at the company, they will immediately post it online and guess what? – You will be the first to know about it.
Why is that? Because you follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Almost every company uses these networks to share news, especially startups since they are more in-tune with recent trends of social media marketing. If you like a position at some company, search for that company online and see if they have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed. Follow or subscribe immediately.
Besides organizations, start following industry leaders in your given field. Let’s use Space X as an example in this case. If you are applying to a position at this company, then follow Elon Musk (the CEO and Founder of Space X) to show a proactive enthusiasm in his business and ideas. Oftentimes, he will post or tweet things that are not exactly like his company’s posts and tweets.
You could potentially get some inside information from a CEO because they released something that you can leverage in your application, or even in your interview. If you happen to get the opportunity to interview at Space X and Elon Musk shows up for the interview, you can make a good impression on him by mentioning some of online quotes.
It shows that you genuinely care about a leader’s mission and vision. When you are able to align your own values with those of your employer and the organization, then it drastically increases your odds of getting the job.
Craft the Perfect Resume
If there are only two documents that a recruiter needs to analyze and assess you as a potential candidate, then they are your resume and cover letter.
A resume is a document that primarily details your work experience, education background, and skills to help recruiters get an idea of who you are and what you are capable of. It is also known as a curriculum vitae, or CV.
Another document that is just as significant is the cover letter. It is akin to a letter of motivation, describing why you are the perfect fit for the position and, more importantly, the organization. Several companies do not require a cover letter, but there many that still request it. Hence, we will dedicate most of the time discussing the resume and some time on the cover letter.
Structure and Content of the Resume
According to many studies, recruiters spend on average 6 seconds scanning over a resume. We know that sounds extremely short and we cannot verify if this is indeed true.
Assuming that it is true, we advise you to create a resume with no frills, just the key points. Keep the details as brief and direct as possible. The manner in which you structure your resume will make it so much easier for recruiters to read it and extract key information very quickly. We will guide you on the structure and content of your resume.
At the very top of your resume, you must provide your personal information. This includes:
- LinkedIn URL
- Phone Number
- Email Address
Some of these are very obvious, such as your name, address, phone number, and email address. They need to be able to identify and contact you if they are impressed by your resume and want to talk to you. In most cases, they will email you to ask for a phone appointment.
However, there are some instances where companies will bypass the email and just call your directly. Something that we mentioned earlier was the importance of a LinkedIn profile. Please include your LinkedIn URL in your resume to make it easier for the recruiter to find you online. By directing them straight to your professional profile, you want them to have a look and get more information they may not find on the paper resume.
Some really great resume templates for your inspiration.
Next comes your work experience. We described this in detail under an earlier section where we discussed the Experience section in your LinkedIn profile. Very similar points apply to a paper resume. You must list your work experiences in reverse chronological order, so recruiters first see what you have done recently.
Only include experiences that are pertinent to the position. If you are applying as a recent university graduate, it is wise to mention any internships or student job positions you had. On the other hand, experienced professionals do not need to list an internship they completed several years ago. Stick to the recent full-time positions you held. There is no need to write everything; only mention relevant positions and those you are proud of.
“What does it mean to be proud of your job?” – When you have accomplished something that has benefited the company. Always briefly describe your position not by the duties alone but by your achievements, too. Recruiters are more interested in your achievements rather than your responsibilities, and you should be too!
We have all accomplished something great in our position. In order to propel yourself forward and persuade recruiters, you need to convey those accomplishments. It is best to use figures and data to express this. For example, if you were a tech consultant and brought in more clients for your company, mention how many clients you reeled in. Give percentages to show relative data information. This helps recruiters understand how successful you were in your position.
The format you should use to construct your work experience is given below.
- Name of your organization
- Location of your company
- Title of your position
- Employment period
- Description of responsibilities and accomplishments
Recruiters want to see where you studied and what you studied. If you are a young graduate, then you should include your university education in addition to your high school education. This will give recruiters a better picture of who you are, because they know what you studied. Do not forget to include your grades and the duration of your study.
Being a young graduate, you should also include some coursework. However, if you are an experienced professional, then there is no need to include your high school education or your coursework from your university. You will only need to mention your university education, with grades of course.
If you participated in any student clubs while studying, mentioning those will make you stand out. Student clubs give you the opportunity to network and work in teams, something that employers highly value. For example, if you were a member of the IEEE society at your university and organized events, mention this as an activity under your education. Studying is not alone to get good grades. It is also about being proactive and doing things aside from studying. This is what recruiters want to see and if you have indeed done them, present it to them.
The format you should use to construct your education is given below.
- Name of educational institution
- Program studied
- Duration of studies
- Extra-curricular activities
This section is just as important as the work experience section. Here, you can qualitatively describe your strengths. Mention all the relevant skills you possess that you can offer your employer. This is where you can really convince your recruiter that you are indeed the right person for the job, the best fit for the company.
In order to know your skills, you need to first know yourself very well. Look back at all your accomplishments and reflect on them; what made you succeed in those endeavors? Was it your communication skills? Was it your project management skills? Was it your ability to use particular software? You really need to look deep within to know your strengths. When you know your strengths, then you know the skills you possess.
Here you can learn how to improve your communication skills.
There are two types of skills – hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are tangible and quantifiable skills that you learn on the job or through education. E.g., proficiency in languages or ability to use software. On the other hand, soft skills are intangible and are more about perception. E.g., communication and teamwork skills. Recruiters are looking for candidates who possess both sets of skills.
Study the job advertisement very well and tailor your resume to incorporate the skills that the company explicitly desires. Recruiters are looking for skills that are already written in the job advert. If you write the same thing in your resume, it shows them that you actually care. Apart from your experiences, this is where your resume will be very different from others – your competencies. Your skillset defines who you are and makes you unique, especially your soft skills.
We have provided a list of soft skills you can include in your resume that will make you shine. Before you decide to write a skill willy-nilly, actually think about it and determine if you indeed have the skill. The last thing you want to do is make specious claims (we will talk about this in a later section).
- Critical reasoning and thinking
- Time management
- Project management
- Analytical Thinking
- Working independently
This is just a short list of skills to give you an idea of what you can incorporate. There are other extensive lists describing the skills sought after by employers. Reading those will help you gauge what you should write for the position you are applying to and the experiences you have garnered.
Another document that is almost as important as the resume is the cover letter. Though it was quite common in the past, we mentioned earlier that not all recruiters ask for a cover letter these days. However, it is still accepted by many companies so it is best to prepare for writing one. A cover letter describes many things, including how you came across the position, your prior working experiences, and your skillset. Most importantly, you are able to exemplify your skills in your letter, something that you do not do in your resume.
A cover letter has a particular format, very similar to that of a business letter. Always state your address (sender’s address) first, followed by the company’s address (recipient’s address). Then comes the salutation. Never write “To whom it may concern.” Most likely, nobody is going to read your letter beyond that line. Take the effort to know who is going to read it. In most cases, the job advertisement online mentions to whom you should direct your application. You should write “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” followed by the person’s last name. If the name is not mentioned in the advert, then you can always go safe and write “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Human Resources.” In almost all cases, a company’s HR department will screen your application, so they will be reading it first.
Now comes the main text of the letter. In the first paragraph, briefly introduce yourself and state how you came across the position. State in a couple of sentences why you are the best person for the position and the company. In the second paragraph, you will describe your experiences in detail and how they relate to the position you are applying to. Mention your responsibilities in brief, but go into detail about your accomplishments and how you significantly progressed in your career.
Whenever you can, show your results. Quantify them. Recruiters love to see numbers. Your experiences are valuable, so always relate them to the position you are applying to. The third paragraph is all about your competencies. Leverage your skills and highlight the ones you can bring to the table. Give examples of how your skills and strengths worked in your favor. Explain how you can apply those same skills at their company. In the final paragraph, succinctly reiterate your interest in the position and state that you are ready to receive a response.
The closing should be very respectful, so saying “Sincerely” is the best option. It conveys professionalism and that is what recruiters are looking for – a professional. We also suggest checking out this great resource for cover letter formats and examples to get inspired to write your own cover letter.
A cover letter is all about telling a story of your life experiences and skills. When you can create a compelling story, then you have a chance at persuading a recruiter to hire you. If you want to appeal to any company, then you must know the company very well. That is where the next big point comes in.
Research the Company and Position
In the previous section, we talked about the cover letter and how it can be used to convince a recruiter to give you a shot at an interview. We discussed what to write and how to write it, but you need to get information beforehand to be able to do those two things. This is where company research is extremely important.
Always research the company you are applying to. Learn about their current operations and some of the problems they are currently facing. Fortunately, many corporate websites provide enough information on such things to help candidates understand them. Besides using this information for helping you write the cover letter, this information will definitely come in handy in the job interview.
In an interview, it is very typical for recruiters to ask, “What do you know about our company?” Many interviewers stump candidates in this way because far too many candidates fail to research the company. You do not want to be in that boat. We are here to rescue you and tell you that you need to conduct a thorough research on the company you plan to join. Not only the company, but also the industry as a whole, especially if you are joining as a fresh graduate or switching industries.
Some great tips from Ramit Sethi.
Read the Company Website
The best source to research about any company is to read their website. All companies, big and small, have their own website now and contain a ton of information. Some companies even publish annual reports and financial reports, which are very comprehensive and include almost every single information about the company. Knowing the facts and figures of a company will substantially help you in tailoring the resume and cover letter to a given position. In addition, knowing more about the company will surely help you ace the job interview.
Start with the general company information, such as products and services, history of the organization, company mission and vision statements, and structure of the organization, just to name a few. This helps you get a better idea of the organization. You are able to find answers to questions such as, “What does this company produce?”, “When was this company founded?”, “How was the company founded?”, “What are the values and principle of this organization?” and many others.
Knowing more about the company will help you decide if you actually want to work there. Information on employment plays a vital role in whether you apply or not.
Speaking of employment information, that is also something you can find on company websites. Many companies detail the career path of employees as they work there, possible career advancement opportunities, benefits offered besides the salary, and many other things. These will also help you decide if you like the working conditions of the company.
The more you know about such things, the easier it will be for you at the interview. For example, you will be given the chance to ask questions to the interviewer at the end of the interview session. If you ask questions like “How is the career progression for people in this position?”, it may come across negatively, especially when you could have read it online earlier.
Interviewers know exactly what can be found on their company’s website, so make sure to not ask anything that you could have found on your own. The more you know about the company and the position by researching by yourself, the better the impression you can make in your tailored resume and in the interview.
Read the Annual and Financial Reports
A company’s annual report describes all the general information of the company in one comprehensive report. To acquire a lot of various information from a company website can be a tedious process, jumping from one webpage to another to find very specific information.
Instead, you can read the company’s annual report, which summarizes all the necessary and important information in one document, making it easier for you. This comprehensive document includes all of the information about a company that is intended for stakeholders. However, it can also come in very handy for job seekers. You will find organizational structure and history, company mission and vision, and many other relevant information to help you stay informed.
On the other hand, a company’s financial report solely describes its revenue and profits. It details all the revenue streams generated from various products and services in each location. In essence, a financial report describes the sales performance of an organization. If you are applying for a sales position, it is paramount that you read this report.
For example, if you are writing a cover letter for a sales executive position, mention the current sales situation of the company and highlight what can be done to improve it. Moreover, mention this in the interview if you have the chance. People working in sales easily understand financial reports.
If you are a salesperson by profession, explain that you read the report and that you have ideas you want to implement. Being proactive is a highly sought after quality, so be proactive as a salesperson. Other professions may not benefit so much from reading the financial reports. However, it is good to know the market share of the company and provide methods of applying your technical skills to raise their position.
There is so much to learn from these two reports that will go a long way in tailoring your resume and acing your interview.
Continue Building Skills
Just because you have graduated a few months ago does not mean that your education has ended. Far from it in fact. There are always avenues available to learn a thing or two after completing your formal education.
You can enroll in online courses on EdX and Coursera in a variety of subjects, all absolutely free. For a very small fee, you can even acquire a certificate from them. Just a decade ago, you could not imagine doing that, but now you can and almost everyone is doing it.
I myself graduated with an electrical engineering degree but I started to learn about marketing and sales online in my free time. I have made so much progress and it helped me land my current job as a sales engineer.
Strengthen Your Weaknesses
You, too, can have the same success if you continue learning new skills. Never stop learning! Keep this motto in mind and learn new things that will help you in your career.
For example, many students of technical subjects often lack communication and public speaking skills. Attending online courses on these subjects will help you overcome your fear and enhance your skills. Recruiters love to see this. Candidates who are eager to learn to strengthen their weaknesses are prepared to work at a company.
The landscape of working has become much tougher in the year 2016, and candidates need to know the game before they even play it. It is expected to know at least the basics before somebody (in this case, a company) decides to invest time and money on you. So if you are young and looking for a job, never stop learning. There are always new things to learn that will eventually help you in your career.
Lifelong learning is super important. So rather start early.
Not Only for the Youth
The same can be said for experienced professionals. Yes, we understand you have years of experience under your belt and are learning things on the job, but there are also options to learn from the comfort of your own home. There is a misconception that only young people learn things online, but that is just not true.
There are so many older people in their 40s who are also using these massive online open courses (MOOCs) for their benefit. You can learn things such as languages and programming that will definitely come in handy in today’s global economy. You can diversify your skillset and that is something that recruiters are looking for; they want somebody who is still interested to learn things well into their career.
If you are an experienced professional looking to shift industries entirely, then further online education will significantly help you. For instance, you studied marketing and worked at an advertising agency for several years. Now, you want to hop aboard the programming bandwagon, where almost everybody is learning to code.
You see that the salaries in the tech industry are much higher and the work is very rewarding. We suggest you already start learning to code on your own by attending courses online. When you do apply for a tech consultancy job, you can mention that you learned a lot about programming and have years of experience in communicating with people to market products.
Companies like to see how your current set of skills can be used in their company and if you can learn quite a bit of their industry on your own, then you have a chance at landing that job. Skills are transferrable as long as you know a thing or two about the industry you want to join.
New Skills to Show
You may be wondering, “What is the point of learning all of these new skills if I have nothing to prove for it?”
Moreover, you can even earn certificates for completing open online courses. In your resume, include the certificates you earned from EdX or Coursera. Many recruiters nowadays value them and having proof that you are certified confirms that you are constantly learning. This will score you extra points as you hunt for jobs.
While it may be hard to swallow, the most effective method of effectively searching for a job is not actively applying for them online. In fact, the most effective method is through networking, leveraging your contacts to land you a referral and a job interview. Studies have shown that more than 60% of all jobs are secured through a connection at a company.
They could be your friend or family member, or even a professional who you met at some social event. You never know who can pull a few stings for you to get your foot in the door. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool that you should take advantage of.
Networking is about building bonds with people and creating professional contacts that will help you out in the long run. These contacts can lead to work related opportunities by giving a good word in for you as a recommendation. It is one thing to be good on paper; it is an entirely different thing to be good in the eyes of a professional already working at a company.
When you have somebody praising you in the office, then recruiters will take notice and ask to personally meet you to have a chat. It may be easier for seasoned professionals who have years of experience and contacts by virtue of being around the block. However, young graduates can also create contacts using modern technology and attending job fairs and other events.
Friends and Family
Assuming you made a lot of friends during your studies or during your time as a professional, you may need to rely on them to help you out. That is what friends are for after all, right? Some of your friends may know people in certain positions. You can request for an introduction with these people, with your friend acting as a liaison. One of your friends may already work at a company you are currently applying to. You can ask them for a referral.
Since your friend knows you quite well, they can pass your resume to their superior or to the human resources department and put in a good word for you, too. Since your friend is working there, there is a high possibility that the company will trust your friend’s recommendation. Before you know it, you will be hearing from the company.
The same can be said for depending on family members. If one of your close family members happens to be working at a company that you also want to work at, you can ask this relative to help you out. They say nobody knows you better than your own family, and that could not be any truer. Your relatives can have a look at your resume and provide instant feedback to improve it, tailoring it even further for the position and the organization. Assuming your family member is older than you are, they have more influence in bringing potential leads in and can sway the mind of colleagues to give you a chance.
Whether you are asking your friends or family for help to get a job, never be too pushy about it. Remember, they are helping you out, so be respectful and give them time to work their magic. Just because you have an inside contact does not mean that it will result in anything but odds are you will be given an opportunity in due time. Always be grateful to them for helping you out.
University Alumni Association
Every university maintains a network of graduates to help recent graduates in finding jobs. Older graduates work at different companies and help those who just graduated. They are essentially giving back and helping people get their foot in the door. If you have recently graduated, head on over to your college’s alumni association and ask to meet some alumni members who studied what you did.
In a sense, you are asking for an informational interview with an alumni member. All alumni who are part of the association are very receptive and are available to interview. They have been in your shoes before and they want to see you succeed in establishing a career.
An informational interview is a two-way lane – you are extracting information from the alumni about the company and the alumni is getting to know exactly who you are and what you are good at. It is best to bring a complete resume for the alumni, to get a quick glance of your experiences and skills.
By talking with you, the alumni will be able to determine if you are indeed a great fit for the organization and give you tips on how you can improve your chances of getting selected. You can ask the alumni plenty of questions about the company and the positions available. Use this chance wisely, because getting inside information from an ex-student at your university is quite valuable.
Ask questions like “What problems are your company facing?” because this is something that will not be published by any company online. By peering into the mind of an employee who studied exactly what you did, you can determine if you can do the same thing. Alumni generally give honest and straightforward feedback, and this is a very good thing for you.
Social Events and Job Fairs
A tried and trusted method of establishing contacts is meeting professionals of a particular company or an industry at some job fair or social event. At a job fair, you will meet employees of companies representing their firm and giving visitors information of their company. Their job is to convince visitors, who are usually prospective workers, to apply to their company.
Job fairs get your up close and personal with employees of a company, so they have a mental image of you rather than being just another person on a piece of paper. At a professional social event, you may come across people who are very passionate and enthusiastic about an industry you want to be involved in.
This is where you need to show an equal amount of interest and get to know what they do and why they do it. If successful, this professional employee will remember you and wants to keep the discussion going. Whatever the situation may be, these two occasions (job fairs and social events) are great for networking.
Register for the next local job fair you have in your city and research the companies that will be coming. Narrow down which companies in particular you are interested in, based on their products and services, working culture, and career opportunities. Research as much as you can in advance, so that when you do talk to the representatives, they will be very impressed that you did your homework. Employees love it when you can make their jobs easier for them, especially at a job fair.
Have plenty of resumes on hand that are tailored to each company you plan on talking with. Introduce yourself professionally and dress the part, too. We recommend everyone to dress for success. First impressions matter a lot, so act as if you are already a professional, not a novice.
Go beyond your city and search nationwide, too. Some companies only attend job fairs in particular cities. Do not skimp out on attending those job fairs just because it will take place far away. Networking takes time, and you have to dedicate time and give the effort into creating connections.
Always tell a story at these job fairs. It really reels in people into listening to you. If you are an experienced professional, then give your business card, too. It shows serious intent on your part, and employers want those are keen to work for them.
In almost every major city, there are professional associations organizing social events that people of a particular industry attend. They discuss the latest developments and recent trends in their industry. They even share ideas as a group on how things should proceed. Many young professionals and experienced employees attend these events, making it easy to meet someone new who can help you out.
Many jobseekers even go these events because they want to get the inside scoop of some company or industry by listening to the thoughts and ideas of experienced people. Just as with job fairs, we recommend carrying a folder with copies of your resume and, if possible, business cards.
Introduce yourself formally, stating your status and your short-term and long-term goals. This will impress many people there, as you are taking the initiative to learn something away from the computer and directly from people. Getting inside information will help you gauge if you want to request the assistance of anybody there.
These events are designed to get people to interact with each other; even those are not yet working. Many employers know that these social events are a great source for them as well, as they meet many new people looking for contacts. It is a win-win situation for everyone – for you as a jobseeker and for them as employers.
DON’TS OF JOB HUNTING
Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Picture a scenario where you only applied to job postings only on company websites and attending only a couple of interviews and waiting to get a response from the firms. We are not saying that it will be negative, but statistics show that the chances of getting a job with so many limitations are quite slim.
You were banking on one particular job and put all your eggs in one basket. Never put all your eggs in one basket! One of the biggest mistakes that some jobseekers make is relying too much on one particular job interview or one particular search method. They fail to realize that you must always keep your options open.
Doing Nothing While Waiting
Regarding job interviews, never only wait for the response from one company after an interview and do nothing in the meantime. Time is a valuable asset, so use it to always continue searching for other positions. Unless the company has already explicitly stated that they will hire you, you have not yet confirmed any job. Until you receive a phone call from the company stating that you have been hired, you have no confirmed job.
Use the waiting period to continue applying to other positions you are interested in. This will keep you preoccupied but more importantly, this will keep your options open. You never know if you have been hired or not, so continue applying and hope to receive a positive response from these other companies. Do not sit around doing nothing!
Only Using One Method of Applying
If you are only applying via company websites and not with job boards, then you are making a grave mistake. While many companies are posting job advertisements on their own website, there are still many companies that do not. There are still many that post them up on job boards, because it is still easier to post it on another website than maintain your own job portal as a webpage.
In any case, a job board has a large pool of job advertisements that anybody can read. You have much more ads to read, exposing you to more job opportunities. Do not simply go to company websites or their job portals and look for positions. Exhaust every single job board site you can find. We recommend looking for jobs on Cleverism.
Besides, do not forget to count on your network of contacts. We mentioned earlier that more than 60% of all posts were filled by references or internal contacts. Leverage your network and ask for help. Take no shame in asking for a recommendation. Do not be too proud to ask for assistance. Everybody needs a helping hand at some point. We are giving you one right now as you are reading this. If you have contacts at a company you want to work at, ask them to put in a good word for you when you apply.
Just as we said to never put all your eggs in one basket, do not apply to every single position you see online. For example, you want to work for NXP Semiconductors, one of the largest semiconductor companies on the planet, and have a look at their career site. If you are an electrical engineering graduate, you have a good chance of finding something that suits your set of skills and piques your interest.
Do not apply to every single engineering position you see. Actually take the time to read each and every single ad thoroughly and determine if that position suits you. More importantly, you need to determine if you fit the position and the company.
Companies can easily monitor how many times any candidate has applied. For instance, if you come across 5 engineering positions, do not apply to all 5 of them. If a recruiter sees that one applicant has applied multiple times to various positions, it can be a red signal. Employers will take this as uncertainty on your part, because you do not know exactly what you want. Employers want to hire somebody who know their strengths and interests and apply only to those positions that suit them completely.
Even if you took the time to craft a unique resume to each and every single position at any company, the officers at human resources will notice that there is something not right. They will read different resumes from the same person. They will not be inclined to hire you, as you are just shooting blindly but with no target or goal in mind.
Know Your Strengths
To enhance your chances of catching the attention of recruiters, apply to only 1 or 2 positions at a company. Ensure that you have tailored your resume to the position and company. How can you do this? Before you send out applications left, right, and center, make a list of your values that you can offer employers.
Do not send out generic resumes to multiple places but instead, incorporate some keywords mentioned in the job ad in your resume and cover letter. Companies use some buzzwords in their job posts. For instance, a job ad may include words like “teamwork skills” and “communication skills.” Highlight in your resume how you have these two qualities and have used them in your previous positions.
Do not forget to emphasize what you can bring to a company. This is where you need to really assess your values, so that you know exactly what you can offer.
Lie on Your Resume
If you are somebody who is in desperate need of a job, you might resort to a very bad practice of lying on your resume. We are here to tell you something very important – DO NOT LIE ON YOUR RESUME!
You may call it “embellishment” but what you are actually doing is outright lying. It is not worth being caught and suffering the consequences, which will destroy your entire career and follow you wherever you go.
There is no reason at all to falsify your educational results, namely your university GPA, or describe your professional achievements in a manner that does reflect what you actually did. In the 21stcentury, there are so many tools in the hands of recruiters. They will use them to verify all of your claims that you made in your resume.
If you are found to be lying, you will be blacklisted and will never be considered for any other position at that company in the future.
This guy shares an interesting story on a programmer who lied in his job application.
Match Your Resume with Your Online Profile
In the year 2016, you need to have online presence to have a shot at landing a job. We already talked about this earlier in the report. We have noticed that many people slightly tweak their paper resume when they send it, thinking that it will help them. On the contrary, it actually hurts their chances.
When employers will verify your credentials online, they will instantly see that your resume on paper does not correspond with what you wrote on LinkedIn. They may read two different job responsibilities and achievements or they may see two different set of skills. This will put them off and you may never hear from them ever again.
Moreover, some companies will still call you to appear for an interview, knowing full well that you have altered some information on your resume. When you applied, you most likely sent a recommendation letter, too. Recruiters talk to all of your references to confirm the validity of the statements in a resume.
If your referrer is unable to confirm if you are indeed who you say you are, the recruiters will take the courtesy to say it to you, straight to your face. There are several stories where something like this has occurred.
A candidate was called in for an interview and was informed that the company had figured out the candidate lied on their resume. This is extremely embarrassing and word could spread around the industry that you should not be trusted. We are not here to scare you. We are here to state the whole truth. Incidents like this do happen and if you want to save your reputation, do not lie on your resume.
What Should Always be True?
Facts such as your employment history, educational background, and skills (hard and soft) should never be stretched. We understand that it can be very tempting to stretch the truth to get your foot in the door, but it is totally not worth it.
For example, there was once a situation where a promising candidate had listed a bunch of technical skills on their resume. They claimed that they knew how to use some advanced engineering software. The recruiters were impressed and hired this individual. When this person started working, the company realized that this candidate was not delivering as promising.
The individual actually did not know how to use certain software, making it quite evident that this person lied on their resume. Needless to say, the company fired this person immediately. You do not want to fall in this trap.
I know that many young graduates want to hide their “gap year” on their resume with some sort of fake job. However, it is very easy to find out that this actually did not take place. After interviewing you for a long time, recruiters can identify when you are lying.
Rather than trying to cover up your gap year with false work, be very honest about it and express how you did learn a thing or two on your own. So many people attend online courses in their breaks, learning many things they did not learn at school. Saying this will score you major points with the recruiter, but lying will get you the boot.
Young people are not the only ones who try to lie. Many experienced professionals have been found lying on their resume as well. Some seasoned professionals have provided misrepresentative job titles in their resume. A quick call to a reference will clear that up.
Moreover, some professionals lie in the interview when it comes to salary negotiations. They boast about earning a very large sum of money in their previous job due to their prior achievements. This can also be verified with a simple phone call to a reference. Bottom line – do not lie.
As you can clearly see, you have a lot of work to do. Looking for a job is by no means a cakewalk, but it does not have to be very difficult, either. If you follow the steps that we have outlined for you, then you will be fully prepared to search for your next job. In the year 2016, the game has changed; you need to adapt and take advantage of all the technologies and methods available to stand out.
We recommend creating a LinkedIn profile now (in case you don’t have one) and creating an online presence with your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. Read the job descriptions thoroughly to craft the perfect resume tailored to the position and the company. Researching the company will help you immensely in this regard.
Regardless of your age, never stop learning and pick up a new skill or two to boost your chances of getting a job. As important as all of these steps are, perhaps the most effective method is networking. Establishing business connections at job fairs and social events will come in very handy to get your foot in the door.
We recommend not applying to every single position you see. Know your own strengths and values and only apply to those positions that you fit. If you match most of the requirements, then go ahead and send your customized resume and cover letter. Do not resort to lying on your resume. It will definitely come back to haunt you.
Now that you know what you should do and what you should definitely not do, go out there and start hunting for your next job. We promise you that you will get results if you follow this guide.
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