Finding a new job requires more than just scanning the job boards. In fact, knowing how to look for a position can be as important as having the right qualifications. Following are some tips and strategies that can help you make the most of your job search efforts, and increase the probability of finding a rewarding position.
Before you blanket the market with CVs, spend some time thinking about what you want from your next position. Make a list of the five most important criteria for you, whether it's not-for-profit based work, extra time with family or a management role. Consider your current skills and relevant background experience. As you review job opportunities, look for those that match your priorities, talent and experience. This will help you zero in on a position that will not only pay the bills, but also make you happy to go to work each day.
In addition, if you have taken the time to understand the kind of position your skills are most suited to, it will be evident in your application and may result in a higher chance of being shortlisted.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a good way to get job listings before they are listed elsewhere. Plus, you can promote your candidacy using the social media tools that are readily available for free for job seekers. Companies are increasingly using social media for recruiting but be warned, you need a professional profile if you want a serious chance of being shortlisted! Photos of you and your friends on an all-night bender are not going to appeal to a prospective employer! If you are serious about using social media, consider setting up a secondary profile which showcases your professional side. It should still be personal and 'real', but will not contain questionable images or dialogues intended for personal circles only.
Internet job boards, company websites, recruitment firms and classified ads are all good places to conduct your search. Universities are also usually well-prepared to provide assistance to alumni seeking employment. Take full advantage of these services and build strong networks as these can be excellent tools to help you secure a new role. Set yourself up for alerts so you are notified of jobs that fit your criteria, and allocate time each week to reviewing new opportunities being promoted through your network.
Your CV is a representation of you, so make it a good one! Tailor your CV and cover letter to fit the most important criteria in the job description and make sure it is laid out professionally. Proof-read it carefully and choose a legible font and point size. Ensure there are no missing dates or unexplained gaps. Avoid the temptation to misrepresent yourself - if you only know the basics in PowerPoint, don't say you're an expert. Quantify your achievements. For example, if you completed a project under budget, state what the projected numbers were and how much you actually spent. This will demonstrate your value to potential employers.
The biggest no-no is turning up to an interview under-prepared on the organisation. Make a good impression at an interview by showing that you've done your research on the company. Before the appointed time, request company literature and locate industry-related articles at your local library or on the Internet. Ask yourself questions such as, "What are the company's strengths and weaknesses?" Make a list of what you could contribute if hired for the position. Research basic interview questions and prepare your answers. Just be careful not to over-rehearse as you want to appear natural. If you are likely to succumb to nerves, ask a friend to role play with you to help build confidence in answering questions. Note down some questions you would like to ask the interview panel - remember, the interview is just as much about you ascertaining if YOU want the job, as much as if the company wants to hire you.
You can tap the hidden job market by developing a list of contacts through friends, family, former co-workers or alumni. Make it your goal to speak with five or six people each week for advice, helpful information and job leads. Always be polite and courteous, and be prepared to return the favour. Try and contain your frustration if your job search is not moving at the speed you would like it to and avoid desperation at all costs. No-one needs to hear your sob story on how you can't find a job.
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