While using online job sites are an important component to a well-rounded search, it’s even more important that those hunting for new positions invest time and energy into professional relationships.
Many job seekers don’t realize that networking is THE critical component to their job search and then fail to do it or do it effectively, says career development expert Dorothy Tannahill-Moran.
“It’s important to understand that you must nurture your network all the time, not just when you need something like a job,” she adds. “The saying that you need to plant a tree 20 years ago and not when you need it applies. If you wait to network when you are looking for a job, it most likely isn’t going to work too well for you.”
As far as where to network, Dorothy recommends seeking people you have something in common with – ideally through a professionally aligned organization, which should help more directly connect you to where you want to work. These people will know what opportunities exist.
“Avoid ‘generic’ networking groups, as they tend to not be a good source for expanding your network. You have nothing in common, and that is key to forming relationships,” she says.
What do you think are the most common mistakes people make when it comes to their careers?
The first mistake is to lack planning and to make huge, sweeping assumptions about careers. It is fairly inaccurate for an outsider to look at a job and think what they see is the job. Usually they only see a small portion of it, much like an iceberg. When they finally get to that career, many people are in for a rude awakening.
Another fairly common mistake is to not realize that the biggest path to career success is how well you interact with others – your boss, management, peers, etc. It’s called emotional intelligence. It can be learned, but a big issue is not mastering, much less realizing you need to. We go to school to learn specific things, but the one thing we’re left to figure out on our own is soft skills. Very little is actually taught to help people with this aspect. Some people figure it out on their own; others sputter along being victimized by their own lack of insight.
What advice do you have on using online job searches to find your next job…what are some best practices?
A job candidate can’t rely solely on posted jobs to find a job. They want to still connect with people inside the companies they want to work in. You have to assume that the posted jobs are only a small representation of what actually exists for available jobs. That means you do want to obtain referrals to people you can connect to and do informational interviews with.
In terms of online job search, you need to ensure your resume has key words specific to the position you are seeking. About 80 percent of most companies use some form of applicant tracking system, which means your resume needs to be “computer friendly” so it can be found in the system. Key words help the computer find your resume when the hiring person is ready.
How do you think online job sites can make the job-hunting process easier for both employers and job seekers?
The job sites don’t just have job descriptions; they are a rich search engine that a job seeker can use to find appropriate jobs. The job seeker should be able to search on all types of variables ranging from location, industry to job requirements. Some job seekers make the mistake of thinking they improve their chances by applying to jobs they really aren’t qualified for. In fact, they are wasting their time, as their resume will never be selected due to lack of qualifications that the computer can search for.
An employer needs to take advantage of communicating all types of information about the job and the company in order to allow candidates to not just find the job but to self-select in or out of the process. It’s important for employers to think not just in terms of the candidate flow in to them but that the flow is of highly qualified candidates. Part of that is providing enough information that some people will not opt to apply.
What other tools or resources do you recommend for people in search of a new job?
There are many good career sites with valuable information for a job seeker. Career Attraction is one of the best sites and offers good content and programs especially for job seekers.
Can you offer some dos and don’ts for effective networking?
You must first think of the other person and what is important to them. That means you need to get to know them. This will allow you to be a good support and resource to the other person. All relationships exist due to reciprocity, and if that isn’t in place, you can’t make any demands on the relationship. Again, there is a time component to relationships. It does take time to meet people and form a relationship, which means you can’t expect to go somewhere and instantly meet people who can help you find a job or new clients.
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