Janet Flewelling, managing director at business advisor Insperity, has six essential tips for job seekers hoping to stand out from the crowd. They may seem intuitive, but many a promising candidate has stumbled over one or more of these steps and bungled a potential opportunity.
1. Identify Recent Achievements
This is the foundation of your next several steps. Take stock of your past year of employment and make notes of accomplishments and milestones to highlight in your resume, networking conversations, and interviews.
2. Refresh Your Resume
For every position you’re applying for, created a tailored version of your resume. Make sure there are no extraneous outdated positions, no expired contact information, no irrelevant experience. Add any recent awards or recognition, related volunteer experience, certifications, and current responsibilities that may grab a hiring manager’s attention. Be sure you use industry keywords and specific phrases from the job posting wherever possible, an essential step in online applications. And of course, make sure all of your materials are impeccably proofread.
3. Establish a Network of Allies
The days of a mass email to friends and family describing what you’re looking for may be over, but the internet has plenty of online networking opportunities to offer. Use LinkedIn to ask former managers and colleagues for recommendations, send them messages to alert them to specific positions you hope to interview for–bottom line, get on their radar and stay in touch.
4. Be Smart About Social Media
Make sure your social profiles are new-employer friendly, and make selected posts public so that your profile is searchable. “Like” the pages of companies you’re interested in so you can stay informed of related news items and developments–you can identify potential contacts, as well as come across as knowledgable in the event you get an interview.
5. Practice Interviewing
Ask friends and colleagues for their help preparing you for one-on-one interviews–the more deliberate you are about this step, the better. Make yourself a cheatsheet, like a comedian’s set list, to keep relevant anecdotes in mind. The last thing you want to do in a real interview is go blank or ramble. Decide what stories best highlight your ability, and practice delivering them in a natural, conversational style.
6. Learn New Skills
Possibly the best use of your time while you’re waiting to be called back about an application is in acquiring new skills or updating your old ones. Register for conferences and seminars in your field, take local classes, pursue certifications–figure out what skills the person in your dream job has, and make sure you can say the same about yourself. Plus, these activities give you an opportunity to meet more current or aspiring people in your industry, which makes networking feel less forced and more like a gathering of like-minded individuals in pursuit of the same goals.
6 tips for landing a new job
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