Yes, the economy is strong and employers are hiring, but finding a job still isn’t easy. Whether you’re looking for your first career position or are ready for an upgrade, expect the process to take several weeks and to require your daily attention.
On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes, yet only four to six people are called in for an interview. Posting out a blitz of resumes won’t help get you in the door. You will first need to do some homework and customize your applications to show that you’re the best fit for the job.
Landing a great job takes a lot of work, but it’s possible to increase your chances if you know how to work smart. Now that every job posting is available to the masses, it will take some know-how to stand out from the clamoring crowd.
Use these smart tips to stand out in your online job hunt:
Narrow in on targeted sites.
It’s possible to narrow your search for online job listings to websites best suited for your particular industry or career level. This can save you time pouring through generic job-search sites. From Craigslist and WayUp for recent grads, to SimplyHired and CareerBuilder for career changers, to USAJobs for federal jobs and Idealist for nonprofit careers, work to personalize your job hunt.
Key in on keywords.
Find and leverage the keywords that your target employers will look for in an ideal candidate. Research the most current terms describing your line of work and your position in your chosen industry. Update your LinkedIn profile, Twitter bio, resume and other professional materials with the latest terms.
Curate your online presence.
Assume any prospective employer will conduct an online search of top job candidates. This means you need to make sure your social media profiles are spotless. Type in your name with quotation marks around it to tell the search engine you want those words side by side. If you have a common name that brings up pages of people ahead of you, consider adding your middle initial or using a less formal version of your name. Be sure to use it consistently everywhere related to your job search. Set up a Google Alert to notify you when anything new associated with your name appears in Google search results.
Maximize your LinkedIn account.
Consider LinkedIn your online networking resume and gear your profile toward hiring managers. Think of your lead-in paragraph as your elevator pitch and make sure it reflects your skills and the contribution you add to your industry. Importantly, don’t announce that you’re unemployed or seeking employment in your profile. Show employers that you know your stuff by contributing comments to LinkedIn groups where people in your field share information. Follow target companies through the site, and comment on their content as a way to possibly build a relationship with someone inside the company.
Research company culture.
Any job offer should be a win-win for both parties. Be sure you have an idea of the culture of the company you’re pursuing to know if it’s a good fit. A company’s website is just the starting grounds for researching a potential employer. Career review sites, such as Indeedor Glassdoor, can give you candid reviews from current and past employees about company culture. Additionally, Yelp reviews are insightful regarding how the public views the company.
Create a personal website.
Depending on your chosen field, oftentimes a personal website is the best forum to showcase creative works, such as music or visual arts. Think of it as an online portfolio and be selective about what you add. Be sure to digitize with care for an online display. Include any and all accolades, and share the backstory to personalize your work. Be sure to keep the content fresh. A personal website will give you space to display your work and your own brand.
Don’t underestimate the power of networks.
Mine the websites of companies you’re interested in, and search social media networks such as LinkedIn, looking for any mutual friends or professional associations that will give you a foothold for making contact. Email anyone with whom you have a connection. Give a short introduction about who you are and ask the person for help in recommending you. If no jobs are currently posted, but this is one of your top targeted companies, ask for 15-20 minutes of their time for an informational interview. Establishing a connection can help you later if a job does open up.
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Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,” 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse 2010), and Power Sales Words: How to Write It, Say It and Sell It with Sizzle (Sourcebooks 2006). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.