Top Strategies For Improving Your Job Search
Job searching in the current economy is not for the faint of heart. It requires some creativity, flexibility and willingness to consider opportunities that fall outside your immediate professional scope. You do not need to give up a dream job in your area of expertise, however, be open to possibilities and consider other ways of utilizing your skills. Drawing from my past experience on the job market, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind during your search.
Define Your Career Path
We often assume that a college major/course of study serves as a defining factor in choosing a life long career path. This is true for most people, however, deciding on a career path may be a daunting experience for others. This is where creativity comes in. A college degree equips you with the necessary skills to function in the marketplace. The degree holder can decide how to utilize the knowledge gained. The ability to see multiple applications for your course of study is an asset during your search. Don’t let your degree limit your choice of employment.
Reflection is a necessary component of the job search process. Avoid the temptation to apply to every job that looks doable. The ability to aim at every target does not guarantee a bull’s eye. Take the time to look at the job description and match the job requirements with your experience and skills. Ensure you meet the minimum requirements and possess the background necessary for the position.
Most hiring managers may not consider your resume if these factors are not in place. Applying by “doability” rather than fit will not only waste your time, but open you up to a lot of rejection which does nothing for your self-esteem. There are situations where employers are willing to overlook a lack of experience; these situations are rare. When applying to a job solely based on interest, ensure that your cover letter and resume are well crafted and reflect your passion and interest in the company and the position advertised.
Resumes and Cover Letters
Resumes and cover letters serve as the first point of contact between you and the employer (in most cases). A carelessly written and formatted resume and cover letter reflects badly on the applicant. Spelling and grammatical errors must be avoided at all cost. Use a simple layout, uniform spacing and font size, bullet points where necessary, short precise language and paragraphs to divide sections. A resume should be visually pleasing, easy to read and very accessible to the reader. These are simple tips that often times get overlooked and ultimately lead to your resume ending up in the rejection pile.
Knowing someone in companies you are interested in is very vital to your success. Networking allows you to not only tap into readily available resources such as family members, friends, relations, colleagues at previous organizations or parents of classmates, mentors, etc., but also develop new professional relationships. Let people know that you are on the market. Research companies with jobs that pique your interest, look at their team and be strategic about who to contact. The goal is to start a conversation that could possibly lead to an in person meeting.
Social Media and Internet Resources
Job searching in the 21st century requires proficiency in internet technologies and a basic knowledge of social media. The preferred platform for professional networking is LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter, are also great platforms for networking. While Job boards allow you to post your resumes for easy access to employers.
Including social media in your job search strategy is not only smart, it is necessary. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to learn as much as you can about companies, people who work there, news, events, achievements, awards, etc. Use the information to your advantage while crafting your documents, during networking and also at interviews.
Manage Your Expectations
This was a huge step for me. We all expect things to happen quickly. It is important to manage your expectations and adapt to the demands of the marketplace. The average jobs search take about 6 -12 months (Much longer in Nigeria). Be mentally prepared to exercise patience and go with the flow. Talk to family members and friends when facing disappointment. Most importantly, know when to take a break from your search and look for positive distractions.
This is a very necessary component while waiting for your job search to be over. Ideas for keeping busy range from volunteering on a weekly basis with a local agency, taking an internship or jumping on a project that provides experience. You might find the idea of working for free unappealing, but it is more important to show potential employers that you are not an idle professional waiting for a job to come your way.
The continuous growth in technology has made it possible to volunteer and intern virtually. For Instance, United Nations has a virtual volunteer center that offers opportunities to work with various organizations that need help. Volunteering and interning sometimes lead to full time opportunities with companies. Use your down time wisely.
Start Your Own Business
Now, just because this is at the bottom of the list does not mean it is a last resort. For some people, this should be the first step. If your business oriented and have great ideas, you can be self employed even before you graduate from the University. With the current Nigerian economy, this might be the way forward. At the end of the day, know that you have options, and can do more than just wait for a job to fall into your lap.
The job search process varies from person to person; do not engage in social comparison. This is an easy way to put unnecessary pressure on one’s self. Patience is indeed a virtue during your search. Stay on your grind, never get discouraged, and a little bit of prayer can’t hurt either. The tips shared may not be new, however, they were useful to me during my search. I hope they help you in yours.
All the best with your search.