A good friend of mine recently became unemployed. I wanted to give my friend (yes, I’m intentionally being vague) the best advice I could since I’ve been laid off twice and learned a lot both times. Rather than just send an email I decided to create a blog post so that anyone else who might find this information useful could find it.
As my original post became too big I decided to split it up into what I expect will be three sections of which this is the second. The first post mostly focused on preparations such as creating a resume, a LinkedIn profile and business cards. This post will be focused more on what to do with your resume; how to actually look for work and get interviews.
I hope that you don’t need any of this but if you do then I hope that you find something here that makes your job search a little easier.
These are some tips that I felt were helpful for me personally. Everyone is different and every field is different. Some of the things I did might have been helpful for me but would be harmful for you. Each person needs to evaluate this advice in the appropriate context and use their best judgement. If you read this and have better information please feel free to add any comments or suggestions.
The Road Thus Far and Yet to Come
If you’ve read my previous post then at this point you’ve got a resume (at least version 1.0), some business cards, a LinkedIn profile, and a dream. The point of this post is to bring you to the attention of people who can actually offer you a job, or at least bring you in for an interview.,
Posting Your Resume (version 1.0)
When you first start looking for work it can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many jobs out there and yet so few that seem to be what you’re looking/qualified for.
To get started I recommend posting your resume in as many places as possible. At the very least I suggest Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, Dice.com, and Indeed.com. If you know of any that are more specific to your region, industry or field then post there too. With most sites you can update your resume whenever you like and upload multiple resumes as well. Take advantage of this. Once you have a decent resume, post it. You can then spend a week or two polishing and improving your resume while version 1.0 is already out there.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you put out a sub-par resume. I just don’t want you getting bogged down with word choice, formatting, and phrasing when you should be focused on other things. This will also give you time to send your resume to people for review and give them plenty of time to respond. I’ll get into this more later but you’ll end up tweaking your resume for certain job applications anyway so don’t worry about creating a resume that is perfect for all situations.
Many job postings are now facilitated by recruiters. These are people paid by the company to find appropriate candidates for specific positions that the company needs filled. Examples of recruiting companies include Aerotek and Manpower.
Some of these companies will find you by noticing your posted resume. Usually this happens when they’re looking for a candidate for a specific position and your resume got their interest. If this doesn’t happen immediately, don’t worry. You can also send your resume to these recruiting/staffing companies to get into their database. Once you’ve got a profile in their system they’ll try and match you to available openings. Look for companies that specialize in your industry and contact them.
Sounds wonderful right? You don’t have to do anything and these people will get you a great job! Sorry, not so fast.
Yes, working with recruiting companies can be extremely helpful, HOWEVER it is absolutely not a substitute for putting in the necessary effort on your end! Recruiters get paid by companies to find someone to fill an open position. They don’t necessarily care if that person is you. These people work under incredible pressure because they get paid based on the number of candidates they present that get hired. They need to send likely candidates quickly or someone else might get the job so they’re not as interested in getting you a job as they are getting a position filled.
How do you deal with recruiters? By making yourself a good candidate.
1) Bring the positions to the recruiter. Most of recruiting companies have a database of open positions. Search through it regularly and when you find a potential match bring it to the attention of either your contact person at that company or the person listed as the contact for that position.
2) Be professional. When a recruiter sends you on an interview you are partially representing that recruiter (since their judgement is why you’re there). Make sure that you leave a good impression even if you don’t like the situation (such as realizing that you really don’t want the job). The recruiter is going to call the hiring manager to ask how things went. You want that call to go very well even if they decide that you’re not right for the job. Show up well prepared (more on interview prep later), be polite, and make sure that the recruiter won’t have any qualms about sending you another client later.
3) Stay in contact. Call or email your contacts regularly so that they know that you’re still looking for work. Most recruiters know that you won’t necessarily tell them that you accepted a new job so if they haven’t heard from you in a while they might assume that you’ve stopped looking.
My general rule was that I would call no less than once every two weeks to check in. I’d go through each database about once or twice a week and see if anything new had been listed. If I saw something promising I’d contact the person about it. If I hadn’t seen anything after about two weeks I’d make a quick call just to let my primary contact person know that I hadn’t seen anything listed but I was still looking and interested. Polite but short, the recruiter doesn’t need to chat but you want them to remember who you are when that perfect opportunity crosses their desk.
*Super Important Tip*
I strongly recommend that you keep a log of all your job hunting activities. It should include things like the job title, company (both the recruiting company and actual company), location, date of last communication, contact person and contact information. This is useful for a variety of reasons:
- It will let you keep track of whether you’ve already applied for a position. Many companies have a policy of throwing out duplicate resumes! This prevents people from mass-sending resumes to every open position. A recruiter might ask if you’ve already had a resume sent to company X (either for a specific position or within a certain amount of time), this will let you check and confirm.
- If you are receiving unemployment benefits the state might have requirements such as “apply for at least two jobs per week”. This log will be evidence of your efforts and will allow an auditor to easily confirm your hard work.
- Specifically concerning our discussion of recruiters: It will let you keep track of the last time you spoke to someone from a particular recruiting company so that you stay in touch without being an irritation.
Ok, all that was very passive so let’s take a look at what you can actively do to get some attention.
While many companies use recruiters to find candidates plenty still maintain their own hiring systems. In your industry there are probably a few big names that you’re familiar with. Starting with these go to the company websites and start looking for the “careers” section. Companies often prefer to do their hiring directly since this avoids paying a recruiter. Look through the listed openings and see if anything looks promising. Regardless, there is often a way to send in a resume to the company’s internal Human Resources database. This way if anything comes up that matches your resume they’ll give you a call.
Tailoring Your Resume
Tailor your resume for the job. Look through the job description and if possible the company website (sometimes recruiters won’t tell you who the client is to prevent you from circumventing them).
Look for keywords and phrases, then add them to your resume. Usually this is just a matter of making sure that a skill you have is stated explicitly. Sometimes you have a skill and don’t mention it because everyone in your field knows that you’d have it if you also have some other skill (such as knowing that if you can use Microsoft Word you can also use Notepad). However, the person going through the resumes might not actually understand the details of the position (this is especially common in technical fields). If they were told that a required skill was using Notepad, asked for Notepad skill in the job posting and don’t see it in your resume they might assume you can’t do the job.
If a company website stresses that they are precise then tweak your resume to highlight your precision.
You might also want to reorganize your resume to draw attention to specific areas of skill. For example, if one set of your skills involves photography then make sure that is the first set of skills listed when you apply for a job involving lots of photography (your knowledge of computer graphics might be handy but not the first thing you want that specific employer to see).
Roundup of Part Two
You’ve got a basic resume posted to every major site you can find, you’ve contracted recruiters, you’re starting to tweak your resume to specific positions and you’ve got a log to keep track of it all. Great progress! The next section will focus on interview preparation and technique.
Job Hunting Advice Continued (Part Two - Searching for Positions) by Adam Glickman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.