Are you looking for a job? Then get ready: job hunting is a full-time job of its own. Going through the job openings, revising your resume, writing cover letters, preparing for interviews – all of this requires constant attention and work.
If you have already filled several applications or attended a few interviews and are still not getting far in your job hunt, it is time to make some changes. Here are a few tips to help you present yourself as the best candidate for the job!
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Networks
You may have heard a proverb that says “it’s not what you know but who you know”. This is not to say that your knowledge and experiences do not matter. However, in a competitive work environment, the people you know and the first impressions you make can play a big role in your job search. Here are the three factors that you should consider when it comes to job hunting.
1. Social Networks
With the popularity of the Internet and the growth of social media, your social media image is very important in job hunting. For some positions, a good social media presence can become one of the hiring factors, as employers want to make sure that you have an understanding of online branding or have experience with social media marketing. Hiring managers may also want to make sure that your personal brand is in accordance with the image that the organization is trying to promote. If you have not done so yet, you should definitely prioritize removing some digital footprints that you would not want your employers to see.
Furthermore, certain social media websites, such as LinkedIn, have been drastically changing the way job searches are conducted. If you have a good LinkedIn profile, you can be noticed by human resources managers and even land an interview. Be intentional with the way you position yourself on LinkedIn: post a professional photograph and spend time polishing your profile. You may also want to ask your previous employers for reviews or ask your connections to rate your skill sets. It is also important to list the skill sets that are relevant to the positions you are applying for.
Did you know that you may benefit from simply asking your friends and connections about potential job openings? Many organizations have a referral program in place, and you could get an upper hand in your job hunt by getting a recommendation before you even apply for the role. Just ask around! Reach out to old friends or ask your old connections on LinkedIn for help. You may be able to find that job you were looking for.
3. Networking Opportunities
Making connections and communicating with the people who already have work experience in your field can also help you out tremendously. If you are looking for a job, make sure you start participating in networking events and attending job fairs: this could be a great chance to make an impression on a potential employer or colleague.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask someone for an informational interview. If you are excited to work for a specific organization, send a quick email to one of the hiring managers and ask for an informational interview to help you find out more about working for that organization. It is a great tactic for people who are starting out in their job searches, such as recent graduates or Canadian newcomers. Not only can it help you better understand what to focus on during your application process, it can also leave a lasting impression on the person you talk to. Take advantage of that!
Prepare and Personalize
You’ve heard it all before: you need to personalize your resume and your cover letters to the job that you are applying for, and you need to be well-prepared for your interview. This still holds true today. Human Resources and hiring managers have seen a lot of template-looking resumes and cover letters, and you don’t want to be one of them. Here are a few tips on how to avoid that.
1. Read the Job Description Carefully
Whether your application is read by a hiring manager right away or is screened by software first, you want to make sure that your application is strong and tailored for the specific job you are applying for. This is a task that requires practice: you don’t want to simply copy the characteristics in the job description, or fill your application with buzzwords. Instead, think of specific examples that would back up your skill sets and include them in the cover letter.
Make sure you go beyond describing your job duties in your resume: list your achievements and accomplishments, your contributions to the organizations, the changes you were able to implement, etc. This will make your application stand out among other candidates.
2. Know the Organization Well
This is an important step for the cover letter, and even more so for the interview. If you have a good understanding of the organization’s mission and goals and can demonstrate how you can contribute to them, you will definitely be closer to landing the job. Take it one step further: find something on the organization’s website that you resonate with, or have a further question about, and make sure you mention it during the interview.
3. Practice for the Interviews
If you are not used to formal job interviews, then practising is essential. You can find interview workshops in your city, or ask a friend to do mock interviews with you. The thought of doing that may make you feel uncomfortable, but it is a great exercise to help you learn to think on your feet and grow your confidence.
Remember: the interview is your ticket to the job. If you are stressing about what to say next or how to present yourself, you won’t focus on connecting with the interviewer or making a lasting impression on them.
4. Be Extra Prepared
Preparation starts with small things such as making sure your email address and voicemail sound professional, proofreading your application several times before submission, coming to the interview early. It is very important to leave a good first impression, so remember your dress code, make sure you smile and give a firm handshake to your interviewer, and bring your CV, references and work samples (if it is applicable for the position you are applying for) with you to the interview.
At the end of the interview, thank the HR manager for their time. Small steps like these will go a long way.