If you’re a recent grad or young professional looking for a job, then you should be aware that, “the game just isn’t the same,” as Eminem would say. Yes, it’s true that we have a plethora of job boards to choose from and new career apps popping up everyday, but the real opportunities, the ones you actually want, won’t be on there. I know this completely goes against what many job seekers start out doing as I was there, multiple times actually. And after quitting three jobs after college, I’ve learned a few things along the way.
So before you start your job search, here are eight things you should absolutely know:
1. Use a recruiter, but use them carefully
Recruiters can be such a nice boost at times. They contact you with decent jobs and go to bat for you when it comes to pumping you up to the hiring manager. But if you try reaching out to them first, they’re usually much less likely to help you. So how do you get in the good graces of a recruiter?: Optimize your LinkedIn profile so they can actually find you—I’ll shed more on this below.
But understand, recruiters are after the candidate that’s going to fill the position so they can get paid their nice commission. If you get a bad vibe from a recruiter, don’t even waste your time. Find one that’s knowledgeable and friendly and keep them as a contact even if you don’t qualify for the position at hand. These are invaluable contacts to have and I frequently check in with the ones I have dealt with in the past.
2. No cover letter, no consideration
I know you’ve probably spent a good amount of time creating that resume of yours and you’re thinking that it’s time to send that bad boy to every job opportunity that peaks your interest. So you start to and you get all the way through the application only to find out they need a cover letter too.
Burned out from writing your resume, you rush right through this part of the application process only to never hear back from anyone. Well, this could be your biggest mistake.
Spend the time crafting cover letters that are specific and keyword rich. And I don’t mean go ahead and stuff your cover letter with any keyword you think the hiring manager may be interested in, I’m referring to using skills and experiences that are directly requested in the job description or ad. By showing that you’ve read their job posting and match their requested experience, you are one step closer to that immediate connection.
3. Your networks really are your best hope
I didn’t believe this one until it actually happened to me and have also seen several friends and family members get ahead using the same tactics. Instead of blasting your social media wall with “Do you know if anyone is hiring? #unemployed,” reach out to your contacts individually.
In your email or message, start out by asking how they are or bring up a shared memory, and always be polite. Your grammar needs to be on point and slang terms should be omitted, even if they are younger and seemingly “hip.”
With your next paragraph, briefly—brevity is key here— explain what you do and what kind of job you would be looking for and ask if they know anyone that could help and, if so, to keep you in mind. Wait for them to reply and send a follow up about a week and a half later (at the earliest) if you don’t hear back. Remember, not everyone is glued to their social media.
4. This is NOT going to be easy
Again, with career apps and job boards the equation of see job posting, send resume equals job offers is so far from reality. Use the job boards, but understand that this is one of many steps you should be taking and do not put all of your eggs in this basket.
The process may seem arduous, but, for the right job, employers want to see that you are willing to put in at least some effort. For the jobs that you don’t have to jump through some virtual hoops for, the pay is directly reflected.
5. Job apps won’t land you that job you want
As you can tell, I’m not a huge fan of job apps. They tend to show high turnover jobs and postings that are over a month old. Some postings have even been re-posted for over five months. Use them if you must, but please don’t rely on them.
6. Create multiple resumes
Yep. Number four is coming to life and this is in addition to crafting unique cover letters each time. If you’re applying to sales positions vs marketing positions, your skills are similar on some levels and completely unique on others. If you’re sending out the same ol’ resume, no matter what the position is, you’re not going to hear that phone ring.
Create resumes that are tailored with the proper skills and change your skills and experience as needed to show that you have what the employer is looking for. How do you know what they want? Check out number seven.
7. Do some keyword research
This may sound scary at first, but I promise it’s ridiculously easy and you’ll wonder why people have not done this sooner.
With each job posting, there is a short description on the skills, experience or preferred qualifications that the employer is looking for. I like to call them keyword gems. Add these to your profile—not exactly word-for-word, but in your own voice—and see how many people reach out to you. I try to include at least 3-5 if I can, but it has to be very natural and look like you actually have those skills. And if you don’t, don’t bother lying.
8. Dust off your LinkedIn cobwebs
LinkedIn is the absolute fastest way to get noticed by hiring managers and recruiters alike. Without a nice, polished profile, don’t expect anyone to find you. So hop on your LinkedIn account and fill out every section they have. Don’t skip anything and add a nice, professional photo.
You can set your profile settings to announce these changes or keep them private.
As a tip, you’ll also want to include those keyword gems from number seven in here too. After all, those skills are going to be similar across different businesses looking for the same type of position.
Just like a Google search, recruiters will type in, “Content writer New York City,” to see who the first potential candidates to show on the results page are. That’s why your profile needs to be complete AND filled with keywords that pertain to the jobs you are actually looking for.
While this may sound like a lot to take in, it’s all completely doable. I wouldn’t waste my time, or yours, on tips that I didn’t personally use and have had great success with.
In the meantime, check out this sweet infographic from CareerMeh.com:
Featured Image Photo Credit: imagebase.net