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There are basically ten avenues job hunters can take to secure their next position. And while one approach may have worked successfully in the past, it may be a very different approach that works for you in the future. Therefore, it makes good sense to use as many of the job search avenues available, as possible, to achieve a productive job search campaign.
Of interesting note: the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 63.4% of all workers use informal job finding methods. Additional research shows that at least 50% of all job openings are never advertised.
Job Advertisements and Job Sites
Job advertisements can be found in many places, including: newspapers, company Websites, industry publications, and job posting sites on the Net. See a list of state-by-state newspapers where you can search job ads in your location of choice, as well as Job Sites by Industry and Job Sites by State.
Typically, a job seeker will identify an advertised position that meets, or closely meets, his or her skills and background. He or she will then submit a cover letter and resume targeting this position.
Because job ads reveal job availability (at least in the recent past – some ads are older than others, so it’s always a good idea to check for posting and closing dates), a job candidate can enjoy a reasonable expectation of opportunity. However, responding to a job ad also promises a high level of competition, as other job candidates vie for the same position.
Job ads offer vital criteria and information about the position and company that can be used to the job candidate’s advantage: areas to highlight in the resume, and items to prepare for the interview. Job ads usually identify at least a few major responsibilities of the position, and will sometimes provide an overview of the type of work environment involved; such as “fast-paced.” But never assume that a job ad is all-inclusive. A job ad simply provides a snapshot picture of what the job may entail. This is why it’s never a good idea to negotiate salary before an interview, before all information about the position is known. The interview situation is your first real opportunity to learn what the position will entail, in detail.
Smart job hunters customize each and every cover letter and resume to the specific position being targeted, highlighting their relevant skills, background and qualifications as these meet the needs and requirements outlined by the ad. Job candidates also use job ad information in preparation for subsequent interviews. Therefore, it a good idea to keep a copy of each ad for which you’ve submitted a resume (including the date of your submission).
It’s extremely important to follow the directions of the ad, explicitly. For example, if an ad requests that a resume be submitted via e-mail as an attached MS Word document, don’t attach a file created in WordPerfect (if your recipient doesn’t have access to this software application, he or she won’t be able to open or read your resume attachment). If an ad requires that the job candidate’s information be contained within an e-mail message (“No file attachments”), don’t attach a file. If the ad requires that salary requirements be included, then you need to recognize and address this request. See Salary History and Salary Requirements for a full explanation, and see free resume examples for all file formats explained.
Follow-up should be planned for approximately two weeks following each resume submission. It’s entirely appropriate to follow-up with a letter or phone call that reiterates your interest and opens the door for continued communication. See "It's been two weeks since I mailed my resume to this company, but I haven't heard anything back from them. Is it okay to call them?"
Networking is an ongoing exchange of in-kind services or information between two or more individuals. If you think that networking is simply someone else helping you get a job, or someone giving you a lead, then you’ve mistaken the power of “networking” for a one-time connection that loses all future potential. Networking is meant to be an ongoing, give-and-take process.
The people who form your network can arrive from many places and situations, including: past and present co-workers, clients, supervisors, professional association members, colleagues, professors, mentors, friends, neighbors, community leaders, local business owners and everyday associates.
A good source for networking is to join a professional association related to your position or industry of choice. You can find a great list of professional associations on Weddles' List.
One form of networking is called “Informational Interviewing.” This is a process where job hunters research companies of interest in order to contact individuals doing the type of work they want to do, or those who hire them - as a way to gain information about a type of position or industry.
While informational interviewing isn’t intended to secure a job offer, the information gained can help job candidates determine a course of action or determine whether or not a particular position or industry is a good choice for them. While securing a job may not be the immediate goal (it has happened), this form of networking can create the building blocks necessary to secure the right networking contacts and stepping-stone positions that will lead to the fulfillment of a dream career.
In exchange for ten minutes of their time, or the offer of a free lunch, the job hunter asks specific questions related to the position, company or industry being targeted. These questions may include: What are the typical responsibilities of this position? What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What personal and professional characteristics do you feel are important to this position or industry? What do you enjoy least about the work you do? What would be the best types of stepping stone positions I could take in order to gain the experience I need to do this job well? What type of courses or education would you recommend? What professional associations have you found useful? Or for hiring managers: What personal and professional characteristics do you look for in the people you hire for this type of position?
Sending a broadcast resume submission is a very proactive form of job search. A broadcast submission is different from a traditional resume or CV submission in that there is no known job opening (again, keep in mind that research shows that at least 50% of all job openings are never advertised).
A job hunter first searches for companies that meet his or her criteria (by location, industry, size, etc.). Then he or she performs a detailed research of each company in order to identify the company’s key players, and to ascertain the company’s goals, missions, products, services, objectives and so forth. Finally, the job hunter crafts and submits a customized cover letter and resume that effectively targets each of these companies, and addresses the ways and means by which the job candidate's unique skills, experience and achievements can meet this company's particular goals and objectives. (See broadcast cover letter.)
One of the greatest advantages to broadcast submissions is the dramatic reduction in competition.
Door-to-door job hunting is one of the most proactive forms of job search, and probably the least utilized. Job candidates visit companies of interest, in person, with resume and cover letter in hand, dressed and ready to interview.
While these visits may fail to result in a meeting with someone who has the power to hire (at least initially), it’s a compelling approach that well illustrates a job candidate’s initiative and motivation to secure a job.
There are many options when it comes to recruiters, head hunters and placement specialists. There are recruiters who focus on specific industries or professions, others who focus on specific geographical areas, and others who focus on specific levels of candidate experience – from the new graduate to the seasoned executive.
You can find placement specialists attached to academic institutions who serve their alumni and graduating body (if you’re a college or university graduate, you would be wise to utilize this resource). You can find placement specialists attached to government agencies (city, county and state) who are there to serve the employment needs of their community (a great example of this is the Arapahoe/Douglas Workforce Center). And you can find independent recruiters who simply work for the job candidates who hire them.
What’s important to know is that most recruiters and headhunters don’t actually work for the job candidate, but work for the companies who employ them. Therefore, while it’s a good idea to utilize this resource in your job search, it may be unwise to use this approach, alone. It’s important to remember that no one will ever be a better “recruiter” of you and your job search efforts than you.
Job and career fairs offer participating candidates an opportunity to learn more about the companies in their community, industry or profession.
Often, participating companies will hold mini-interview sessions with candidates who appear to be qualified for available positions, or will schedule interviews to be held at the company after the fair is over. Therefore, it’s important to come to these events prepared: with multiple hardcopies of your resume, with job hunting business cards, ready to answer questions and dressed in interview attire. Check out Interview Prep, see the Long List of Commonly Asked Tough Interview Questions, or take the Interview Quiz.
At the very least, job and career fairs offer job candidates another opportunity to network and build a valuable list of network contacts. See more on Job and Career Fairs.
There are a variety of reasons why job hunters choose to work with temporary service agencies, including: needing immediate employment (income) while continuing to seek a full-time work; a desire for a variety; an opportunity to explore different job or career options without a full-time commitment; to supplement income while building a new business, working under contract, or freelancing; to meet the needs of a unique schedule due to education or lifestyle; to produce income during a transitory phase, and so on.
Yet, as a professional resume writer, I see hundreds of resumes each year where job candidates have been promoted to full-time positions from temporary contract roles. This shows that utilizing a temporary service agency can be an extremely effective method of getting one’s “foot in the door.”
Temporary service agencies provide job candidates with an opportunity to learn or gain new skills, fill in gaps of unemployment, research major companies in a new location, and much more. The downfall of working via a temporary service agency is that the work may be inconsistent, temporary workers are not qualified for company benefits (the worker technically works for the agency, rather than the company who hires the agency) and temporary workers may not receive the same pay scale or compensation they would receive if hired by the company directly.
While it can be a good idea to utilize Internet resume databases (a job candidate posts his or her resume on an Internet job/resume site, making this information accessible to potential employers), it’s not a good idea to use this avenue alone.
Resume posting is one of the most passive forms of job search (post your resume and then wait for someone to search you out and contact you), and it has some unique problems attached to it. For example, if a potential employer can access your resume on a public database system, so can your current employer.
There are also privacy and confidentiality issues. See Privacy Issues for Online Job Seekers: "Documents Reveal Serious Job Seeker Resume Privacy Violations," by Pam Dixon - Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
And finally, in a database of thousands (to millions) of resumes of competing job candidates, your resume could become just one more document in a virtual slush pile.
When you post a resume online, it’s important to include keywords within your document. These are the terms a potential employer or hiring manager might use in their search of potential candidates. This can be achieved by using keywords within the document text: “Project Manager in charge of…” or by including a keyword list at the end of the document: “Project Manager, Team Leader, Engineer,” etc. If there are terms you used in your search of potential positions, chances are the hiring manager is using similar terminology in his or her search of potential candidates.
Volunteering not only looks great on a resume, but it also offers opportunities to learn new skills, gain applied experience, network with others, and contribute your talents to events or organizations that have meaning for you.
When a job search is going poorly, volunteering can be a great way to recharge your batteries, redirect your focus and energies, and achieve your career goals. Really. It can even lead to a paid, full-time position doing something you love.
It’s a mistake to think that “volunteer experience” doesn’t have value in the job market, or that you have to be paid for applied experience to count.
One of my favorite examples of this is a young woman who wanted to become an Events Director. While she had a college degree, she lacked applied experience. She was frustrated in her job search, finding heavy competition for the few events and program manager positions she could find. She had networked with everyone she knew, and was beginning to feel that her network contacts were tiring of her. She had taken a full-time position in retail to make ends meet and was beginning to think she’d change her career direction to “sales.”
Then she volunteered, and everything changed. At first, she led a couple of small events. These were so successful and so well received that the Board put her in charge of their first major fundraiser, an extremely large and complex event that would rely heavily on the contributions of major area business leaders.
She negotiated contracts with vendors, wowed top business executives, encouraged local artists to participate, teamed with several professional groups, handled all the public relations and marketing, built and directed productive teams, and put together an event that surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic of benefactors.
Not only was the event hailed as the event of the year by the local newspaper (and it continues to be a highly anticipated annual event), but the young woman in charge was offered several high paying jobs with companies in her area, as well as two out of state, for her efforts. She accepted one, and then another a few years later, accumulating a wealth of experience and network contacts in the process, and finally went into business for herself.
That’s the power of volunteering. That, and the joy that comes from giving – which is always a good thing.
You may have heard about the clever tactics used recently by creative job hunters who are trying to overcome a less-than-ideal job economy. Featured on local or national news stations, there’s the gentleman who rented a billboard on a busy highway, another who parked himself and his hand-constructed office on the corner lot of a gas station, and another who walked the streets of New York in a business suit, handing out his resume to anyone who was willing to take a copy.
While these types of self-advertising strategies are clever, and while they may gain attention, they may not achieve the type of attention the job candidate is after.
Other job candidates will try to stand out by using brightly colored stationery, unique fonts, brochure style presentations, and other gimmicks, such as submitting their resume in a PowerPoint presentation. Let me ask you, if you’re a hiring manager in receipt of hundreds of resumes, working under a tight deadline to interview and hire someone for a specific position, AND you have other work responsibilities to attend to, do you have time to load and view a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation? Probably not.
When all is said and done, it’s the job candidate’s job to make the hiring manager’s job easier, and being clever won’t usually achieve this aim.
For some of the same reasons a job candidate might employ a temporary service agency, some job candidates will offer their services through consulting or through a variety of self-employment options, even while continuing to pursue a full-time position.
Consulting and self-employment is not an easy path to take, but it can generate supplementary income (just be certain to follow the rules and regulations of your particular field and location).
Self-employment can become a successful full-time career, as well as leading to permanent job offers from satisfied clients and other companies. As a self-employed individual, I can tell you that I’ve been offered several permanent positions by companies who have utilized my marketing services on a contract basis and wanted to bring me on full-time. But I like being self-employed.
Working as a consultant or a freelance professional can give job candidates the opportunity to build reputations in their areas of specific area expertise, and generate valuable network contacts in their industries and locations of choice. It can give individuals the opportunity to secure references and referrals.
Will self-employment, freelance or consulting work look good on your resume? Only if you can prove that the work and stated results were legitimate. Unfortunately, some job candidates will try to hide gaps in employment by fabricating periods of consulting work, believing that this will be difficult to disprove. Potential hiring managers are savvy to this tactic, and will sometimes look at “consulting work” with suspicion. It’s up to the job candidate to then prove that this work is legitimate and that the accomplishments listed are genuine.
Good luck in your job search! Sue Campbell Jones, 1st-Writer.com - over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career and business goals. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I'll be glad to help!
1st-Writer.com • P.O. Box 1128, Keystone Heights, FL 32656-1128 • (904) 248-2493 • E-mail Sue Campbell Jones
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