21 Tips to Jumpstart Your New Year Job Search

TweaksWhether you’re a recent grad entering your first real job search, or a young professional looking to upgrade, finding your way to “you’re hired” can be tough. We often find ourselves navigating through the process alone; figuring out what works and what doesn’t by trial and error.

I’d like to take away some of the anxiety you may be feeling.

Here are 21 quick tips that will help increase your job search success, while also keeping frustration from setting in.

1. Don’t Address Cover Letters to Dear Sir/Madam, or Whom It May Concern

It’s a turnoff to many screeners because it looks lazy, and can land you in the reject pile. Do some research and find the hiring manager’s name, or at the very least, title. How? Pick up the phone, call the organization, and ask, “Can you tell me the name of the hiring manager for XYZ job. I’d like to be sure my cover letter is personalized for him or her.”

2. Remember: Screeners Don’t Read Your Resume and Ask, “Is He the One?”

They read your resume to see if they can put you in the reject pile. More job search math: Resume = Sorting Hat.

3. Avoid Sending the Same Cover Letter to Multiple Companies

They can tell you didn’t take the time to customize it, and it looks lazy. It makes it easy to, again, toss you in the reject pile.

4. Remove Anything on Your Resume That Predates College

Unless you cured cancer, landed on the moon or started your own business as a tween, and have some kind of results/impact to show for it.

5. Your Resume Does Not Have to Look Like Something from the 50’s

Put your own personality and voice into it. I use color in many (yes, even though every one says not to do that… what can I say?) Make them want to meet you!

6. Stop Procrastinating on Building a LinkedIn Profile

Every day you wait on connecting with others, you lose 7 days of job search mojo (it’s like dog years). It’s not that scary, really! I built one client’s profile and he had a job interview the next week because they found him on LinkedIn!

7. Before Applying to Jobs You Must Research the Organization

How do you know if you even want to work for them?

8. Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail: Design a Job Search Strategy

Target desired employers, do your research, put together a plan and work it every day. Reward yourself when you get a win, or reach a milestone.

9. Most Hiring Growth Is Happening in Small and Medium Sized Companies

Most of these companies you’ve probably never heard of. Research them, because they are a treasure trove of opportunity. I’ve seen clients network with and get offers from good companies that I’d never heard of. Many have tons to offer a young employee!

10. Stop Spraying and Praying on Line Applications

This tactic just leads to frustration because nothing happens. Spend 20% of your time on line, 80% of your time off line. Try networking, cold calling, targeting employers, and conducting informational interviews. Mix it up.

11. Avoid Saying, “I Need a Job” in a Networking Conversation

It scares people and it’s too much responsibility for them, if they feel like they have to help you get a job.

12. Stop Using the Phrase “I Need a Job”

Start using the phrase “I’m developing my job search strategy, targeting employers and will find the job that’s’ a perfect match for me, and the employer.” It’s a mindset shift.

13. Stop Talking About Yourself

Get people to talk about themselves. They love that. Take notes, learn, and thank them profusely.

14. Don’t Put Your Education At the Top of Your Resume

Follow this tip unless it’s absolutely essential to the job you’re going after, the industry (like Wall Street) expects it, or your GPA and test scores are so stellar they’re worth bragging about. Oh, or if your degree is from an elite school and the people you are interviewing with went there.

15. Pick Up the Phone

Even if you think it weighs 3,000 pounds. I’ve heard numerous recruiters say, “No one calls.” So call. At the very least they’ll remember you. Maybe even give you brownie points!

16. Don’t Use Paragraphs on Your Resume

You have 20-ish seconds to get the reader’s attention. Let’s go with bullets, whitespace and a lovely format. Bolding here and there can help lead the eye down the page.

17. Remember: Your Internship Is a Long-term Job Interview

Even if it’s not the job of your dreams, at least get a really great reference and some good interview stories out of it.

18. Learn To Use Numbers On Your Resume

Numbers are visual landing images that grab the eye when readers are scanning your resume. They tell your story better and make you look more impressive. Describe accomplishments and the scope of your work in numbers.

19. If You Don’t Know How To Interview Well, Get Coaching

Interviews get offers, and a live interview should never be used for target practice. Ever.

20. Take Care of You In the Job Search Process

Eat right, work out, get enough sleep, and connect with warm, positive people. Work on having a positive manner and visualize taking all the right actions you need to get the offer you want. In this effort, your attitude can be your biggest asset.
And a bonus tweak just for you:

21. Stop Trying To Do It Yourself if You Need Help

Sending out resumes and getting nothing? Get a job search mentor, consultant or counselor to help you. Really. Why people wait 6 or 9 months to decide they need help, I don’t understand. It’s very hard to tell your own story sometimes, this is a whole new skill set and process for you, and it’s perfectly natural that you might need help along the way. If you do, get some!

Which of these items enable you to take action now… and improve your job search? What questions do you have? What are you struggling with?





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!



Lea McLeodAbout the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. Follow her on Twitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.


Image courtesy of shaswatpatel.com … thank you!



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