How to Get a Job You Will Love. Top experts teach techniques for stellar resumes, must-read cover letters, savvy networking and more. Learn how to get the job you want!
Year after year, one of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to get a better job. One that has you excited to wake up in the morning. One that doesn’t make you curl up in the fetal position in the shower. But just like that gym pledge, “getting a better job” can be elusive without a solid plan, and unfortunately, some will fail.
The good news is you can beat the old adage that new year’s resolutions never stick. 2012 can be the year you get a better job — as long as you avoid these six mistakes.
1. Your idea of “job searching” is applying online… and only thatJob searching is more than submitting application after application online. I’ve heard many a frustrated job seeker say, “But I’ve applied to over 45 jobs online!” For the most part, relying solely on online applications — and just that — won’t cut it. Sure, it might help, but it can’t be the crux of your strategy.
Instead, your job-search strategy should be a multi-pronged approach of applying online, reaching out to your network, making new connections, doing informational interviews, using social media in your job search, and more. There’s no silver bullet, and you never know which avenue will pay off. Pursue them all, including getting out from behind your computer.
2. No one knows you’re job searchingWhen you’re looking for a job, the majority of your close contacts in your network should know it. Sure, there are times when you might want to keep more of a lid on your hunt if you already have a job and don’t want your employer to find out. But even in that case, there are probably at least 3 to 5 people in your network — former colleagues (or even close current ones), friends, family, mentors, etc. — who should know you’re looking for new opportunities.
Even better, be specific about what you’re looking for. The more specific you can get, the better your contacts will be able to help you. Tell people the types of opportunities that would catch your eye, send them your resume, ask that they keep you in mind if they hear of anything, and keep them updated as your search progresses.
3. You’re looking for the wrong jobIf you’re really struggling to land a job, you might want to question whether you’re looking for the right type of position. Maybe you graduated with a certain major and feel pressure to look for jobs in that field, but they sound, well, boring. It’s hard to be motivated when you’re bored. And while job searching is never easy, it can be even tougher if you’re not looking for a gig you’re really passionate about.
Before investing more time in your job hunt, take a step back and really think about whether you’re looking for the right kinds of opportunities. Making a change here could be what you need to stay motivated.
4. Your resume is boringUpdating your resume means more than adding your most recent job or volunteer position. Shop it around to at least three people you trust and give them several days to get back to you with constructive feedback.
Even more importantly, make sure your resume is more than just a series of job descriptions. Give life to yourself! Quantify whenever and wherever you can, and use bullet points that show you’re creative, proactive, a team player, and can execute on your ideas.
Also, while words are important, so is design. The overall look of your resume speaks a lot to employers and can signal whether or not you’re detail-oriented. Does it look polished?Are your margins or spacings off? Is there something small you could do to stand out? If you’re not design-savvy, check out sites like Elance or Behance for a freelance designer to give you a resume makeover.
5. You have no social media presence or a horrible oneFirst of all, don’t let your social media presence work against you. Nearly 80 percent of all recruiters will scan your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to look for red flags before they hire you, so make sure no offensive pictures, language or comments are associated with your name.
But even more importantly, social media can actually help you find a job or get you recruited. Lots of recruiters scour websites to recruit based on the skills and interests in your profile. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the big three. Make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile with a clear, professional picture and good headline. Create an enticing Twitter bio and reach out to recruiters on Twitter who work for employers you like. Participate in recruiting and job hunt Twitter chats. And if you’re up for it, go above and beyond to use social media to get the attention from employers that you deserve.
6. You don’t know how to use an informational interview to your advantageOne of the best things you can do when you’re job searching is find and connect with people who have a similar job to the one you want, work at a company you want to work for, or simply have great connections in your industry. An effective way to do this is through the informational interview.
How do you find these people? Ask your network (and ask them to make an intro for you), search on LinkedIn (and look for shared connections for the intro) or Facebook or Twitter for a start. Introduce yourself over email and give a quick 4-5 sentence reason why you’re contacting them. Ask for a meeting (ideally, if in the same city) or a phone call. ALWAYS make it convenient for them and put a time limit on the call.
Try saying something like, “I’m sure you’re really busy, but if you have 30 minutes in the next two weeks, I’d be interested in buying you a cup of coffee at a location convenient for you or stop by your office for a quick chat. I’d love to hear how you got started in the field/company X!”
Most people know the purpose of these meetings and many will be open to meeting with you. After all, people usually like to talk about themselves and work they enjoy.
When you’re at the meeting, tell them about yourself and what you’re looking for and then focus mainly on them, asking questions about what they do. The key to these meetings is to follow up; never send your resume up front unless they ask for it, but attach it in your thank you email with a note like, “Great meeting with you and hearing about your experience in the field! I’ve attached my resume to this email in case you do hear of any opportunities.” This person is now part of your network and you should do upkeep with this relationship as you do with any other.
Looking for a job is always a challenge, but maybe you just need a jumpstart or regimen to get you started. 2012 can be the year you get a better job! Here’s to this resolution being one that comes true.
Ashley Hoffman is the director of marketing and communications at Brazen Careerist, and co-host of BrazenU’s online educational bootcamps.
5 Steps to Make a Killer First Impression
Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and co-author Janine Willis, a student researcher who graduated from Princeton in 2005 had people look at a microsecond of video of a political candidate. Amazingly, research subjects could predict with 70-percent accuracy who would win the election just from that microsecond of tape. This tells us that people can make incredibly accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.
How can you ensure people are judging you accurately and also seeing your best side? You never want to give people an inauthentic impression — many people can intuitively feel if someone is being fake immediately. However, any time you meet someone for the first time, you always want to start on the right foot.
Here are a few ways you can make sure people’s first impression of you is a good one:
1. Set an intentionThe most important thing to do for giving a good impression is to set your intention. This is especially important before any kind of big event where you would be meeting a lot of people — i.e. conferences, networking events or friend’s parties.
As you get ready or when you are driving over think about what kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have. This can be an incredibly grounding experience and works very well to focus on what kind of energy you want to have for your event.
2. Think about your ornamentsClothes, make-up, jewelry, watches and shoes are all types of ornamentation and people definitely take these into account when making initial judgments. I highly recommend getting some of your favorite outfits or ornaments together and asking friends you trust what they think of when they see them.
For many men, they do not realize that their watch can say a lot about them. For women, purses and large earrings or jewelry can also indicate a lot to a new person they are meeting. Make sure that what you are wearing and how you do your hair or make-up says what you want it to say to the people you are meeting for the first time.
3. Be conscious of your body languageBody language is a crucial part of first impressions. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body. Often, simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements.
Another way to examine your body language is to look at yourself on a video walking around a room. Subconscious cues to keep in mind include noticing where you point your feet, the position of your shoulders, and the way you shake hands.
4. Avoid bad daysPeople who go to cocktail events or mixers after having had a bad day typically continue to have a bad day. If you are in a depressed or anxious mood, others will pick up on this from your facial expressions, comments and body language.
If you’re having a bad day, stay home! Otherwise, find a way to snap yourself out of your bad mood. I find working out or watching funny YouTube videos before events often gets me in a more social, feel good mood.
5. Be interested and interestingIf you are truly interested in meeting people and are open to learning about who they are, they will get this in a first impression. We have all had the experience of meeting someone and knowing instantly that they were dragged here by a friend and are just waiting to get out the door and head home.
When you are meeting people for the first time approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. This is often contagious and you will have better conversations and lasting connections when you are interested because they become interested.
Vanessa Van Petten specializes in social and emotional intelligence research and development. The focus of her company is to research youth behavior and help adults keep up with young adults.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.