Many entrepreneurs wear two hats while they are growing their businesses: the self-employed, and the gainfully employed. And if you’re one of the ones who has made the decision to let your pocketbook breathe by supplementing it with a job, you might be interested in some of my job hunting tips.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve become an expert on looking for jobs . My husband worked in a space where the companies did ‘reorgs’ (code for mass layoffs) almost as often as they changed their underpants. I helped him in his search, from creating cover letters, fine tuning his resume, crafting thank you notes, and even performing the internet job search. For myself, I’ve had occasion to find myself a new role, and have been quite successful at gaining interviews and great jobs.
In today’s connected world, tools for networking like Linkedin and Twitter are very important for job seekers. Having your name submitted by an individual connected to the hiring manager gives you a leg up. But, I’d like to go a bit old school and talk about the basic job seeking elements: your resume and cover letter.
- Make sure your resume is engaging, interesting and relevant. If you’re looking for three different types of roles, then have three versions of your resume, each spotlighting areas of your education, skills and experience.
- In the ideal world, a recruiter or hiring manager would be ready to meet you after they read the introduction section of my resume. First, make it very easy to contact you. Have your important contact information right at the top, including cell phone and email address.You can also put a live Linkedin or personal landing page URL (such as an about.me page) I like to have an eye-catching headline spotlighting my ‘career objectives’ right at the top, avoiding language like like ‘My goal is to obtain…’ Instead, I say, ‘A creative and engaging corporate trainer with experience in retail and insurance environments. To top it off, list some bullets that pull out key competencies and achievements. And, as per point #1, this section should change. Use depending on the role.
- Ensure that there are no typos or inaccuracies in your resume or cover letter (intentional or accidental). If you lie on your resume, you will be found out. ’nuff said. And you wouldn’t want to interview with lipstick on your teeth, so make sure your spelling, formatting, and grammar are impeccable.
- I truly believe a cover letter is key to setting yourself apart from the rest. Your cover letter may be a template, but it should always appear custom to that application. When writing your cover letter, spotlight the important skills and experience that you possess that are mentioned in the job description. In this way, you are indicating to the recruiter that you not only understand what would be required to do the job, you can hit the ground running, but also that you have done similar things before (transferrable skills).
- Research the company. If their values, product, or even location are not a right fit, then you’re wasting both of your time. You can start doing your research when writing the cover letter. Use your introductory paragraph to show that you’ve taken the time to look them up. Instead of opening with ‘I’m responding to your posting..’, personalize the letter by going on the company’s website and writing something about them, such as mentioning their industry or mission statement. Taking the few extra minutes to do this shows that you, as a job seeker, are genuinely interested in what you do, and that they align with your own goals and values.
Some other tips:
- Save a copy of the job description on your computer. Some companies delete them off the web once the job is closed.
- Have a folder in your email that contains all of the emails that you’ve send to potential employers. Its a good way of keeping track.
- Use available resources to continually refine your job seeking communication tools. Here’s a great article on words to avoid in resumes: http://linkd.in/u6LaCo
- Ensure your social presence matches your resume. Many employers do check your Linkedin (and probably your Facebook). If you need to do updates on your skills and experience, do them everywhere.
Next time: You’ve got that interview! Now what?