Now, however, even for the mosg entry-level positions, the average job hunt these days is up to 4 months – and over one million have been unemployed for one year or more.
To dramatically shorten your job search, incorporate these nine tips into your job search:
1. Have a VERY Good Answer To: “What Are You Looking For?”
This question rarely comes up unless an employer is seriously considering you for a position – and giving an unfocused or unclear response squanders a valuable opportunity. Say, very clearly:
“I’m looking for a job as a [list one or two job titles] working for [name a couple of employers or the class of employer]. I’ve been working toward doing [that kind of work] for [however long you’ve been working], and I’m good at it. For instance, I [list a major accomplishment or two].”
For a more specific example, someone in the Boston area looking for a job as a career-focused writer might say:
“I’m looking to be a contributor at a top local media company like The Boston Globe or HubSpot. I’ve been writing and editing web content since 1998, and both of my websites have won several awards over the years, including the 2013 Forbes 100 Best Websites for Your Career.”
This may take some time and effort to figure out what you want, but it will be very well worth the time investment!
2. Don’t Job Hunt Alone
The old saying “More heads are better than one” is a cliche… because it is so true.
A job hunt is a tough, discouraging, hard-on-the-ego slog through seemingly endless weeks of rejection. Find a buddy, or join job search support group (sometimes known as a “job club”). Members help each other with resumes and profiles, exchange job leads, and expand networks. Often group members become life-long friends.
Look for notices about them in local places of worship, public libraries, the local CareerOneStop centers, MeetUp.com, and elsewhere.
3. Do One Face-to-Face Networking Meeting Each Week
Sitting at your computer for hours every day can feel very productive, but the best networking is face-to-face. You can:
- Follow up on a LinkedIn introduction or other social media connection
- Meet a former colleague for coffee or a drink after work
- Attend a meeting associated with your kid’s school or some other community group
- Attend an organized “event” with a speaker and official networking
Whatever you find, at least one a week, get out of the house and connect with people face to face, being sure that you have number one, above, nailed so you can turn those introductions into useful networking opportunities (when asked).
4. Pay Daily Attention to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the happy hunting ground for recruiters looking for qualified applicants. It also serves as “social proof” of who you are and what you’ve done when recruiters and employers look for validation of the facts on your resume or job application.
Complete your LinkedIn Profile so the facts are there for validation, and be active in several LinkedIn Groups to demonstrate your knowledge, grasp of social media for business, and communications skills. To start, connect with “Open Link” or “LION” recruiters. And, of course, follow your target companies.
5. Don’t Waste Time Applying for Jobs that Aren’t a Good Fit
Applying for every job you see is a waste of time, can damage your reputation with employers, and is very discouraging because most employers have several qualified candidates to choose from.
For more information on this important topic, read Before You Apply, Ask 4 Important Questions.
6. Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter
Applicant tracking systems are merciless screeners. If your resume doesn’t contain the “right keywords” – the ones used in the job description – it won’t be seen by a human being, regardless of how perfectly-qualified you might be. This is not something to skip. Read 5 Resume Rules You MUST Ignore for the details.
7. Have a List of Target Employers
Build your target list of the employers you want to work for most, then learn as much as you can about them and their competitors. Next, look for personal connections or LinkedIn connections at those companies.
In addition, join LinkedIn Groups where recruiters from those employers hang out. Look for activities by current employees, topics that seem to be important to them, and contribute to the conversations. If and when appropriate, reach out via “Reply privately” to comments.
8. Meticulously Prepare for Every Interview
Don’t walk into an interview without knowing what the employer does (products and services), who their competitors are (also good prospects for you, maybe), where they are located, and how well they are doing. Most important, have a clear understanding of why – beyond just making profits – they do what they do. What are the primary motivations of the founders, executives, managers and team members.
Also, once you know the names of the people who will be interviewing you, check out their profiles on LinkedIn to see if you have anything in common or any connections you might be able to leverage.
9. Focus On Learning New Skills and Staying Up-To-Date
Learning may mean volunteering, taking MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) classes or other courses to fill any gaps you have in your skill set, do contracting or temporary work, even starting your own side business.
If you can afford it and the school shows graduates have high employment at a decent salary, a certification or other advanced training may be appropriate. Look for solid help for graduates from the school’s career center or find another school.
No matter what it takes… remain relevant!
Beat the averages. Accelerate your job search. And be sure to come back here and let us know which tips helped you the most, or offer your own.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com; Susan has been editor and publisher since. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.