tew.job.searchIncreased competition for jobs means there is a growing need to stand out to hiring managers and have a Job Search strategy. Generic resumes and cover letters don’t cut it. Each application needs customized application materials that speak to the specific needs of that company.  Researching jobs and companies plays a much bigger role now than in years past. Networking is also the leading way to find your next opportunity. For these reasons combined, job search has become a full time job. If you’re currently seeking employment, the activities involved can seem overwhelming. However, there are many ways to make these tasks more manageable.

Career sites, blogs, career counselors, and American Job Centers nationwide all offer a wide variety of services and advice to help you at any step in your job search.

3 Job Search Strategies for Every Jobseeker

Resume

The very first document you should create is your resume. The resume should be targeted for a specific job and market your most competitive skills and accomplishments in a well-designed, readable format. Focus on your performance from past jobs, and quantify duties and accomplishments to give the hiring manager specific detail.

Provide a copy to your networking contacts, upload the document to job boards and hosting sites, and always edit your resume to match appropriate qualifications to job posting requirements when applying. The goal of a resume is to get you called in for an interview, but to increase your chances for success, start networking.

Networking

Building and maintaining relationships is something you will be doing during job search and throughout your professional career. Start by letting your friends and family know you are looking for work and explain the type of work you are seeking. Even if they don’t know of any opportunities, they could put you in contact with someone who may. Networking is also much more than seeing who can help in your job search; it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Build rapport and offer to help others even when they may not be able to help you.

If there are networking events in your area, show up and meet some new people. Dress appropriately, smile, and strike up friendly conversation with other attendees. Conversations don’t always have to be work-related, just focus on making quality connections and always follow up with any contacts.

Connect with people online or offline. Follow up with a LinkedIn connection request or send an email if you exchange business cards. Online networking can open up possibilities that expand much further than your commuting distance. Search for leaders within your field, engage people in twitter chats or LinkedIn discussion groups, and always personalize your interactions.

 Interviews

After developing a marketable resume, and possibly gaining some referrals from your networking contacts, you will hopefully have a few opportunities to interview. The same research you used to develop your resume should be used to develop your interview answers. Reference the company’s mission statement, recent news, or findings and needs listed in publications. Get lists of common interview questions and develop job-related responses that show your prospective value to the position and company. Your answers should be tailored to meet the company’s needs and show you are a fit within the company culture. Don’t be the first to bring up pay or benefits; save that negotiation for the job offer.  If the employer does question you, use research from median salary information from comparable jobs and provide a suitable range.

Practice all your answers until they are natural for you to say. Avoid using canned interview answers that are predictable and don’t add to your candidacy. Personalize your responses by drawing upon your experience: use specific examples whenever possible. Specific examples of when you used a skill will speak volumes over simply stating you have a skill.

What you wear to the interview is another factor to consider. Try to find out what the dress code is for your target job and dress one step above that. Don’t overdo it, but always look put-together.

Most importantly, always follow up after each interview. Ask what their preferred method of contact is, and what the next steps in the process are. Get business cards of those you have met and send a letter or an email to thank them for their time. Concisely reiterate a few key points from the interview that state why you’re a match for the opening.

Wrap Up

To stand out amongst the competition, target your application materials and interview responses to the job. Remember to research and see what resources are available to you. There will always be more approaches for these fundamental job search strategies, but every job seeker can benefit from a quality resume, networking contacts, and interviewing skills.

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