The 10 Steps That Got Me The Job, and Much More….
Losing a job for any reason can be a jarring experience. It raises life-size questions about yourself, such as the way you spend your days and your contribution to your own community. However, it can also mean a breath of fresh air and a timely opportunity to reassess your career path with a new perspective.
I dedicated the last 2 months to plan and take my next step on the career ladder. Thanks to some hard work and a stroke of luck, I landed the job wanted, despite the high unemployment rate. I turned my personal experience into this guide to help other job seekers improve their chances of getting invited to interviews during these challenging times.
1. Write Down Your Objective
Are you thinking of a career change? / Pursuing the same position in a different industry? / Looking to continue your previous job in a new place? Whatever your goal is, write it down and commit to it. Take time to reflect and research, but once you set your objective, charge! It is okay if you are not confident in your decision yet, things will fall into place as you go.
Objectives come in different shapes and sizes, but they should all be time-bound. It will help you stay motivated and build an action plan leading up to your goal date. For example, my objective was: “Getting a manager position as a marketer in a fast-paced technology company by mid-August.”
2. Define Your Target Audience
After you have identified your goal position, industry, and type of company, think of at least 2–3 personas you would like to be noticed by. They can be HR recruiters, Directors of Marketing or R&D, CEOs, CFOs, etc. Then ask yourself, what would they look for in a candidate? What does their day-to-day look like? What are their interests, and how do they align with mine? Use your insights to guide you in the process.
3. Present Yourself Effectively
You are going to present yourself to many people, and you need to make sure the right messages come across as clearly as possible. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your self-description to help people understand what is the value you bring, and to whom.
- What interests you?
- What are you good at?
- What makes you stand out?
- If applicable, choose your niche — avoid being “a jack of all trades”
Your description will not be perfect on your first try, but as long as you keep challenging the message, it will improve and become easier to disseminate to and by your connections.
4. Use Multiple Channels
Finding relevant opportunities requires active and daily work through different channels, here are the best ones to consider:
- Interpersonal relationships — let people know you are looking for new opportunities by changing your LinkedIn status, posting an update, and reaching out to people. Talk to family, friends, friends of friends, colleagues, recruiters, and even people you don’t know but find interesting. This might be harder for some people, but it is worth your passionate efforts as it is one of the best ways to increase your chance to get that job.
- Job search engines — some job marketplaces work better in some industries and positions than others, but the big ones like LinkedIn Jobs and Glassdoor are relevant for almost everyone. Ask for recommendations about other industry-specific websites. After you find an interesting opening, look for the company via LinkedIn, and check if you have any connections working there. If you do, kindly ask them to submit the CV for you, personal references have better acceptance rates than online submissions by unknown candidates.
- Headhunters and placement agencies — sign up for sites like Ethosia and GotFriends and wait to be contacted when opportunities arise. I find that fostering relationships with agency reps will make you stand out and allow you to be considered for more roles. Agency networks vary greatly between roles and industries. For Sales and Marketing positions, I recommend getting in touch with Beth Katzman.
- Company websites — visit career pages of companies that interest you and check out their open positions.
5. Tailor Resumes to Job Posting
Show recruiters why YOU are the right person for THIS job. Ideally, you will have a version of your CV for each job you apply to. Consider these steps:
- Research — the company, the role, and the value you can add
- Use their keywords in your CV — personally, I believe honesty serves both sides the best so bring out certain strengths but avoid lying.
- Scan your CVs through automatic resume review tools like Top Resume and Skillroads — while not sophisticated enough to make you a perfect resume, they help in two ways:
- Providing insights on how to improve your CV, like using brevity when writing, use of bullets and numbers, writing in active tense, etc.
- Making your CV more “ATS-friendly”. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is popular software used by recruiters to collect, sort, scan, and rank the job applications they receive. Non-ATS-friendly CVs might never reach recruiters. You will learn it is best to avoid graphics, photos, certain font families and sizes, hyperlinks, etc. Plus, making your CV easily read by computers saves you time in application processes that require you to re-enter your information after you upload your resume.
6. Apply Like the Wind
The currency of job hunters is not money, but time. Finding positions, researching companies, and customizing your CV can be a full-time job in and of itself. Save your energy — not all jobs should get the same prep work; the more interested you are in an opportunity, the more time you should spend on it. Short on time? Skip the customization — it is better to apply with your standard CV than not at all.
Include cover letters. While writing cover letters can be very time consuming, they are important and read by recruiters. The absence of a cover letter might be regarded as a sign of disinterest and even disrespect. Combine custom information from steps 1–5 together with general guides or templates to write killer cover letters.
7. Get on LinkedIn
Coronavirus supercharged social media, and for job hunters, LinkedIn is the place to be. Do the following to make the most of LinkedIn:
- Craft an all-star profile — recruiters may want to learn more about you, and your LinkedIn profile is a good place to start, so make sure your profile matches your CV and communicates effectively. A good profile takes time: use guides, look at profiles of people you value in your industry, write & rewrite, and ask for reviews.
- Get active — LinkedIn’s algorithm makes active people get noticed. Like others’ posts, make meaningful comments (8+ words), create genuine posts, connect with others, and start reaping the rewards.
- Follow thought leaders in your industry to learn about current trends. Follow career gurus for tips for your job search, I highly recommend Kirsty Bonner.
8. Make the Most of Your Free Time
Without working 40 something hours a week, you are going to have quite a lot of free time. Use it to become better at your next job and more confident during interviews.
- Acquire new skills — I recommend exploring courses in Udemy and LinkedIn Learning although it may take some time to find the right course for you.
- Try demos — check out free trials of tools relevant to your industry (for marketers, I recommend trying out SEMrush), and explore how they can benefit you in your next job. You can also use them to learn about popular practices in your industry.
- Work out, socialize, and mediate — all three are incredibly important for our well-being regardless of our job situation. You have the time, start practicing.
- Read books, write anything.
- Rest — it is perfectly okay to take some time off, don’t feel guilty about resting, it beats the purpose. Work hard, rest hard!
9. Stick to a Schedule
Landing a job is a process, and does not happen overnight. Create micro-goals for the big win. Take a look at this example of a daily routine and create one that fits you:
- Read 40 pages from a book
- Watch 2 hours of an online course
- Apply to 3 job openings
- Reach out to a colleague
- Like 2 LinkedIn posts and write 1 comment
10. Stay Positive
This is a challenging time and staying positive is as important as it is vague. When it comes to talking to people (and with yourself), it is the most important action you can take. People like being around positive people, if you are kind and smiling, people will relate to that.
Give yourself a break — you weren’t put here to look for a job, you are here to leave your mark through your contribution. And no matter how amazing your CV is, it is still one page of hundreds of others HR is receiving for the role. Statistically, most of your applications will go unnoticed, but as long as you keep challenging yourself and your message, consistently move to achieve your objective, and remain patient, good things will come.