The vast majority of people who fit the apparent role of “job seekers” find themselves in a transition phase, one that is, by definition, driven by need. Now, granted, there are always the exceptions of those who approach this period intentionally, it being a part of a plan of advancement for which they’ve accorded both a step-by-step strategy as well as the resources necessary to accommodate their search time—point of fact, the people in this category are quite often still comfortably employed while performing their pursuit of advanced opportunities. They have little issue taking the time required to perfect their resumes and tailoring them specifically to the industry or sector of their preferred route.
This article, however, moves to address the far larger segment of the population which finds themselves in the “job seeking” arena. These are the individuals who know all too well the varying degrees of desperation that comes from being “in between” work. As of a 2014 survey, over 70% of the American workforce is seeking a job, or looking to switch their current place of employment.
Tips and Tricks
Job Boards are among the most popular ways professionals of all varieties keep tabs on what the market is doing in their particular area. Name a profession, and odds are there are going to be a half dozen job boards that (at the least) touch upon that sector. At the same time, however, we have a few pointers, because it can be all too easy to grow complacent (or even reliant) on job boards.
- Refine and focus: A good website-based job board will have features that allow you to narrow down the field. Use these. There is no reason for you to waste half an hour browsing through listings that have only the most tangential link to your own interests and industry.
- Make doubly certain you’re keeping tabs on what’s “active” in the listings. For instance, there is almost nothing more guaranteed to waste your time than applying for a job that meets almost every one of your interests, only to notice after a detailed submission that the posting is over a month old. Additionally, many job boards will also indicate (roughly) how many people have applied to said posting—now this may vary widely by industry, so the grain of salt rule applies heavily, but odds are that if a posting already has 20 applicants, yours may well be overlooked simply due to sheer volume. Again, use your time wisely.
As is increasingly the case, your social and professional media presence can make a significant difference, as more and more companies are using these public tools to gain insight into the kind of personnel they want to hire—as well as using them directly for hiring, as with LinkedIn. Beyond that, the rate at which professional connections are made and referred can be rather shocking. Take this infographic by Jobvite, for example.
It almost seems that this should go without saying, but it most certainly does not. We at Stewart Cooper & Coon have spent a great deal of time—and contributed several topical pieces—to the importance of a finely crafted resume. Your resume is your front-line approach to job seeking, and it’s no secret that a poor resume can almost assure a consistent lack of engagement on the part of hiring managers. We do, however, have a slight addendum. It’s a well-known fact that hiring managers tend to spend around 7 seconds maximum reviewing a given resume. What can come through as a game changer is, in fact, your cover letter. Taking a few minutes to write up (and follow-up!) a quality, personal submission for your cover letter can, quite frankly, make all the difference in getting the attention needed for a call back.
Now it may seem somewhat counter-intuitive to push this focus after establishing the demographic we’re addressing—namely those who actively seeking out of immediate need, rather than luxury. However, this is one point we’re sticking to strongly, because the end result is actually a massive time saver. Consider it in this way—what would be the more productive use of your time: constructing and shooting out dozens of cookie-cutter resumes highlighting a wide range of very general (and very common) skills and talents, or putting a bit of thought into the industry (or trade) you actually want to work in, and then crafting a resume (backed by an easily accessible portfolio) that speaks directly to the that industry? In all except the most desperate of circumstances—in which a resume doesn’t really play much of a part beyond an attachment to a general application—it is inarguable that a little time and attention applied strategically is guaranteed to not only save you time and energy in the long run, but will almost certainly render you more profitable returns and a wider range of opportunity.
To sum it all up, the clever professional will always keep their ear to the ground via intelligently applied networking to look for new opportunities. While some of the most important aspects of this effort may seem like common sense, there are always new and developing strategies in which to apply those resources, often allowing you to develop your skills in dynamic and flexible ways.
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