Want to Get Hired? Here Are 10 Things You Need to Do
There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re trying to find a job. Which jobs have you already applied for? Have you updated your resume for each new position? Did you follow up on the applications you submitted? These and other questions can constantly swirl around in your mind, leaving you overwhelmed.
The best way to tackle a job search is to arm yourself with knowledge of the most effective strategies. Your best friend along this journey is a career coach who can gently guide you each step of the way. Here are 10 important ones to work through, either alone or with one of our career coaches.
1. Establish your goals
Before you start looking for jobs, figure out your goals. Be specific: Vague goals are not much better than no goals. Consider your long-term career aspirations and what you should do in the present to achieve them.
As you establish your goals, evaluate your current skills and experience to determine what direction you can take immediately and what you need to improve on to accomplish your objectives. This will help orient you and enable you to decide what your short-term goals should be.
Don’t get discouraged if your long-term goals seem too far away right now. If you’re pursuing a new career, you may have to start at an entry-level position and work your way up. However, it’s important to have a goal to strive for—that keeps you grounded and motivated.
If you’re not sure what career you want to pursue, try taking a career aptitude test or asking your close friends, family members, coworkers, or professors for their input. Obviously, the final decision is yours, but this approach may help you discover fields you’ve never considered before.
2. Strengthen your network
Most people make the mistake of waiting until they embark on a job search to start networking. To build a truly effective network, you should constantly seek to connect with professionals. Even if you don’t need a particular connection right now, it may help get a job further down the line. Building your network in advance is the best thing you can do.
Your network can include family members and friends working in your field—in fact, they can be among your best connections. They might be able to put you in touch with people who can help you land your dream job or might even recommend you to their employer. Companies love to hire people their employees have vouched for.
Another way to strengthen your network is by creating a LinkedIn account and connecting with professionals and potential employers in your field. You can also join professional groups and search for available jobs. Whatever you do on LinkedIn, the key is to build relationships that benefit both parties, so consider how you can help your new friends as well. The stronger your network is, the better your chances of getting a job you truly want.
Finally, after you’ve made some connections, request an informational interview with a potential employer. This allows you to meet with them and get information about the job, giving you more insight into it and, perhaps more importantly, providing the employer with an opportunity to talk to you before you submit a resume. These types of interviews aren’t normally advertised, so you have to request one. If you make a positive impression on the hiring manager, this strategy definitely gives you an edge over other candidates.
3. Grow your skill set
The most successful professionals are constantly learning and improving. While continuing to sharpen your current skills, look for new ones to add to your repertoire. You could take online classes or complete a training course. Depending on the skill, you may be able to practice it at home, too.
If you’re considering changing careers, learning new skills is a must. Add your new skills to your resume as you acquire them and watch it morph into an irresistible list of qualifications. Of course, this can be a long process, so don’t expect to get a great job in your new career immediately—as you expand your skill offering, better opportunities will come.
4. Tune in to certain jobs
In some ways, the job search is all about timing. On certain job sites, you can customize your notifications to alert you when a position that meets your criteria comes up. Instead of endlessly searching for new employment opportunities, let them come to you. This gives you more time to build your network, develop your competencies, tweak your resume for each job, and practice your interview skills.
5. Keep track of your search
When you’re applying for multiple jobs a week, you can easily forget which ones you’ve applied for or which recruiters have responded to you and which have turned you down. Make a spreadsheet to help you manage your search and avoid accidentally applying for the same job twice. You can also keep track of when you have interviews so you don’t double-book yourself. If you’re not used to doing things in this way, it can also teach you organization skills—something employers greatly value.
6. Stay motivated professionally
The best time to look for a job is when you still have one. Ideally, you want to transition smoothly between the two, leaving no gap in employment. It can be challenging to stay motivated at your current job when you know you’ll be leaving it. However, if you start slacking off, you may sour your relationship with your employer and co-workers and risk not getting a good recommendation from them. Even if you hate your current job and are highly tempted to disregard your duties, just grit your teeth and bear it a little longer.
Maintaining professionalism also means taking care of your social media. Potential employers look up candidates online and peruse their social media profiles and any websites that display their accomplishments. Evaluate your social media to make sure it shows your professionalism and passion for your career. Even more importantly, make sure you remove any inappropriate photos or posts from your public profiles. Check photos your friends have tagged you in, too, and delete the tags if necessary. In case you have a website, verify that it projects the image you want.
7. Work on your resume
On average, a hiring manager spends six seconds on a resume before deciding if they should consider the candidate for the position. This means your resume needs to be outstanding and formatted so as to pique the hiring manager’s interest immediately. Regardless of the job you’re applying for, here’s what you should do to help ensure your resume rises above the rest.
- Use keywords from the job description. Your resume should be different for each job you apply for, and it’s essential to incorporate keywords from the job description into it. For one thing, this highlights your most relevant skills, but even more importantly, using the right keywords means the applicant tracking system (ATS)—a computer program used by most modern-day companies to streamline the hiring process—won’t automatically discard your application.
- Rearrange information accordingly. Since you have only six seconds to show the hiring manager you’re the right person for the job, the top one-third of your resume needs to be the most engaging and informational. Rearrange it to highlight the keywords and requirements listed in the job description and to showcase your best qualities and skills. Give the hiring manager what they want to see in the first six seconds and, hopefully, you can convince them to read your entire resume.
- Hire a professional resume writer. The best decision you can make concerning your resume is to hire a professional resume writer to construct a resume that highlights what you can offer an employer. Professional resume writers are up on the latest trends in the job market and know how to craft a resume that maximizes an applicant’s chances of success.
8. Apply for jobs even if you aren’t perfectly qualified
During your search, you may find a job you’re interested in but then realize you don’t meet all the requirements. Don’t just cross that job off the list and move on to something else—you can still apply for it and highlight the skills you do possess. Obviously, you need to have most of the qualifications, and some may be non-negotiable, but if you feel you could do the job well, it’s worth applying.
If you’re confident in your ability to handle the job responsibilities, the hiring manager could see you as a potential candidate despite your shortcomings. Just don’t lie about anything—hiring managers can usually see through lies. If they don’t and you end up getting the job, they’ll find out soon enough whether you truly meet the requirements.
9. Gather your references
You always want to have a list of people willing to recommend and refer you for specific jobs. It’s no longer customary to list your references on your resume—that’s just using up precious real estate. What you can do is have a page of references ready to submit should the hiring manager request one.
Don’t include friends or family members—they’re clearly biased, and hiring managers may not put that much stock into what they say about you. The best references are former employers and co-workers who’ve seen you in action and can be trusted to provide an objective evaluation of your work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a job recommendation. You’ll want to have people lined up to help you out so that you can have all the necessary information to present to the hiring manager.
10. Be ready for an interview
When you apply for a job, start thinking about a potential interview. You may not get one, but you never want to be caught off guard. Here are some ways to get ready for a successful interview:
- Prepare your elevator pitch. You can use your elevator pitch in multiple settings, especially for impromptu job opportunities, but you can really capitalize on it during your interview. An elevator pitch is a 30–45-second pitch that demonstrates why you’re the perfect candidate for the position and how you can add value to the company.
- Be ready to discuss your skills. Be prepared to provide specifics on how you’ve used your skills to improve your work, including previous examples of successes.
- Research the company. Familiarize yourself with the company's mission and consider how you can relate your experiences to it. The more knowledgeable you are about the company, the more passionate you’ll appear.
- Come up with questions to ask. If you ask thoughtful questions during your interview, you’ll demonstrate a genuine interest in the company and the position you’re interviewing for. Think about how you can incorporate these questions naturally into the interview.
- Be personable. Don’t be a robot. You may be nervous, but put on a confident front and be engaging and genuine in your conversation. The hiring manager will get a better impression of you if you appear assured and relaxed.
Looking for a job can be tedious, discouraging, and frustrating. In today’s fiercely competitive labor market, rejection is normal, but with the right strategy, your job search can go much more smoothly. If you’re feeling stuck, contact our career coaches for personalized advice.