Guide to effective job hunting

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For most of us, job searching is never easy. However, if you approach it systematically, the process will be significantly more manageable, and you will have much more success in getting the offer you think you deserve. Follow these steps for a crash course on how to find a job.

Strategize Your Transition

When it comes to finding a job, everyone starts somewhere. Whether you’ve just finished school, you’re planning to resign for a better opportunity or career change, you’ve been fired, or you’ve been laid off.

Many people rush at a job search and apply for roles that they have little interest in or are unlikely to be shortlisted for. Not only will this pretty much guarantee rejection, it will also dampen your confidence. Similarly, if you approach agencies with a poor sense of your target job, you are likely to be sidelined. Regardless of your circumstances, plan your approach, and make sure to mention any potential obstacles upfront.


Take stock

Before you start looking for a job, you must first figure out what position you are looking for. Have a specific job title in mind, and then do some research to determine the keywords you’ll use once you start looking for jobs. Do you know what you’re looking for? What job titles are relevant to you? Can you list your main skills? Do you have evidence of achievements? Which employers appeal to you and why? Don’t go near busy decision-makers until you have answers to all these questions. Although it is acceptable to apply to several “reach” positions, don’t waste your time searching for or applying to jobs that you are clearly unqualified for. Figure out in advance how you’re going to decide which jobs to apply to, then actively keep these parameters in mind when you’re job hunting.

Plan for rejection

Even in a buoyant market, rejection is common; in today’s economy, you will hear no a lot more than you hear yes. To maintain your confidence and avoid becoming a job beggar desperate to accept anything, cultivate resistance. But don’t squander it by applying for jobs far outside your skill range when you’re unlikely to get any response.


Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter

You should always keep a “master” version of your resume finalized, formatted, and proofread before you start job searching. You will be able to tweak it as you job search to highlight and emphasize different experiences or qualifications based on the specifics of the different positions you are applying for. Although a cover letter is harder to prepare, as it should be personalized for each job you apply to, review what to include in a cover letter and figure out what you can write in advance and what you will need to customize once you start applying for jobs.


Decide on your three main messages

Anyone who recommends you is likely to pass on only three or four items of information about you – your experience, ability, and personality. You have more control over this process than you think. Scrutinize the first few sentences of your CV. Make sure they are positive, memorable, and that they clearly outline what you want to achieve.


Market test your CV

It’s far better to talk to people about your career ideas and gather information than to send out a poorly drafted document, which will close more doors than it opens. You may be secretly pleased with your CV but it’s vital to show it so someone with hiring experience. Ask for a summary rather than an opinion. For example, don’t ask, “what do you think of my CV?” ask, “what does my CV tell you about what I can do next?” If the answer is brief and makes sense, your CV is most likely working.


Get interview feedback outside the process

Many jobseekers waste real job interviews as practice sessions. Interviews are hard enough to get; don’t waste them by making basic errors. Find someone who has interviewing experience who will give honest feedback on first impressions, how you link your experience to the job on offer, and how well you handle tricky questions. Practice short, upbeat answers to tricky questions about gaps in your CV or why you’re job seeking right now.


List and research target organizations

People will need examples of the kind of organization’s you’re interested in to help you. This matters even more if you’re trying to make a career change; you’ll be a much more credible candidate if you’ve researched the sector in-depth and can say something about the main players. It’s also smart to identify employers in your locality. Build up a list of six or so target organizations and spend time every week learning more about them, trying to get closer to them through mutual connections, exploring job boards and generally doing everything you can to pitch yourself as a potential employee.


Use a multi-channel approach

Make direct approaches to organizations who are not currently advertising, build relationships with the right recruitment agencies, talk to people in interesting roles and sectors, and research like mad. Above all else, don’t kid yourself that spending all day in front of a computer screen is the best use of your time; get in front of people too. At least once a week put on smart clothes, find someone to meet so you can practice talking about yourself and what you’re looking for. It maintains your confidence levels and ensures you’re remembered.


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