While it’s good to take note of the best practices out there, we recommend you take your own approach, tweak and customize what you find out there.
Why is it important, you ask? Because that’s what’s going to help you filter through the hundreds of job openings. Here are our recommendations:
- Don’t apply for all and any jobs, better apply for a select few with fierce attention to quality than to submit your stock resume to hundreds of job applications. When searching for a job, start with the end in mind: “I’m searching for a/this job because….” Why are you looking for a job? What’s your number one motivator? Is it career advancement? Better pay? Exciting new challenges? Now, once you have that pictured, keep it on top of everything else in your mind because that’s your number one driver!
- Know what you want. Think about your ideal job, what’s really important to you and what’s negotiable. That will help you navigate what jobs you apply to, how you differentiate companies if you’re willing to take a pay cut to help you switch industries or career, or where you see yourself fulfilled.
- If you wonder what a company looks like “on the inside”, check Glassdoor, or just try to connect with people who already work there (mutual connections or via social media). Don’t just apply for a job, apply for a job at a company you would like to work for, that cares for employees and treats them like they’re a key factor in its success.
- Write your resume as if it would be for your dream job. Spend time to make your resume concise, and state what’s really critical to the job and company you are applying to, quantify and provide specific details – don’t use words like “some”, “a few” or “more” but rather mention x% increase in productivity/sales, managed Y number of people, and reduced costs by Z% in T months, etc.
- Write with the reader in mind. It’s better for your resume to be shorter rather than longer – expect recruiters and managers to have limited time. Thus, it’s really important that your resume can easily be measured by the person who reads it. How do your facts and numbers correlate with what the job description is requiring? Have you used the same keywords? Can you switch some of your vocabularies with the wording that’s been used in the job description?
- Use a resume template. There are plenty of templates out there, and also tools to help you out (like MS Word’s new Resume Assistant from Linkedin). Don’t shy away from using a design-oriented/more creative resume as long as it doesn’t hinder readability.
- Always be ready to provide references – talk to the people who can be a reference for you – ideally supervisors or clients representatives who can speak to your abilities. Ask them what’s the best way they wish to be contacted for a reference check (i.e. via Phone or email first?). Let them know what kind of job(s) you’re applying to and what they can expect as questions, contexts, etc.
- Be humble. Strike the right balance between facts that show the level of your abilities and desire to develop or improve other skills. May it is via a letter of interest or during your interview, the natural tendency is to highlight every and all great aspects of yourself. However, making it clear you have personal development goals and aspirations, and long terms goals says a lot about you (i.e. hit-and-run, or vision driven, non-complacent, etc.).
- Go prepared for an interview. Read ahead about the company’s reason for existence (vision, mission, what they sell or do) as well as their principles, who their customers are, and especially what attracted your attention about them. Have questions prepared ahead of an interview, questions that relate to the job or to confirm your understanding of the company. You don’t have a second chance to make the first impression, so make it count.
- Be confident. When you get at an interview, by that point, you already know why you are there, why you have been called to interview, what drives you and who you are talking to. Don’t use words like “I guess”, “perhaps” or “maybe.” Rather use statements “It’s my understanding that…”, “I know based on … ”, “I recommend” or “I strongly believe”. This will let the interviewer know that you have created your own perceptions, and opinions and that you’re not doubting yourself, or that you’ll change your view based on what you hear. In other words “Own who you are!”
This isn’t a comprehensive list. However, you can see a dotted line between all 10 points about: do your homework, do the research, be disciplined. Until you find a job, you need to be the best at finding one!
And finally: although there are thousands of applicants out there, you are unique based on your upbringing, personality, experiences, values, goals or vision. So act like it when searching, applying or interviewing for a job!