Job Hunting Tips for your New Years Resolutions - Reactive Search

The end of December is a great time to integrate new job hunting tips into your current job search strategies.  Indeed, according to the Manpower Global Outlook survey issued on December 7, 2010, hiring will be up in most industrialized countries during the first quarter of 2011 (Q1 2011).  Most notably, stable or increased hiring in Q1 2011 as compared to Q4 2010 were anticipated in all G7 countries (i.e. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States).  This is the first time this happened since the third quarter of 2008.  Therefore, whether you are employed or not, now is a great time to review job hunting tips that will give you an edge on this tough job market.

In my next few posts, I will be providing job hunting tips that will enable you to go beyond the traditional job search tactics of sending your resume and cover letter for jobs you find online or in the paper and will increase your chances to get hired in 2011.  We will review three types of job hunting strategies, which I will name reactive search, proactive search, and on-campus recruiting respectively.  In your reactive search, your starting point is to identify a job posting online or advertised in a publication.  In contrast, you would launch a proactive job search when you combine networking and applications to increase your chances to get hired by organizations you admire and want to work for (whether they currently have job openings or not).  Finally, the on-campus recruiting search will focus on services offered to students by their career services centers.

In this first post, I will start with a few job hunting tips for reactive searches.  These searches are the most typical searches.  For example, you browse the internet, find a job you like and submit your resume online following the instructions provided.  That is a good start, but unfortunately, in this economy, this is unlikely to lead to an interview.  Despite being the type of searches most commonly used, I recommend that you only use a reactive search strategy for 20-30% of your job searching time.  Here are 3 job hunting tips for your reactive job search that will help you stand out as a candidate and and increase your chances to convert your applications into interviews:

Reactive Search Job Hunting Tip #1 - Know what you want and where to look.  Before starting to look, do a good assessment of your preferences and priorities.  Know what you are looking for and where you won't go.  It is better to start by identifying your bull's eye job and expand from there than to apply for anything and everything you find online.  If you know you and your significant other have no intention to move to Iowa, don't start applying for jobs there.  If you know that you would prefer to work in marketing or PR, don't start applying for jobs in logistics.  More times than not, you might get these jobs, only to be left having to launch another job search after you confirm what you already knew (i.e. you don't like to live in Iowa or like working in logistics).  Being able to articulate your preferences will also be invaluable to keep your supporters and network updated about what you like and how they can help you.  Also, know that hiring managers are busy and want to make sure that they get the most bang for their buck.  Therefore, they will avoid big job boards and instead will advertise their jobs on industry-specific job boards.  For more information about responsible job boards, see my previous post on where to find job postings in Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Enterprises, and Non-Profit Management.

Reactive Search Job Hunting Tip #2 - Focus on quality over quantity.  Hiring managers are too busy to parse out what on your resume is most relevant to the job you are applying for.  Furthermore, many times, your application will not be reviewed by a hiring manager right away.  Instead, it will be scanned by a software programmed to assess whether 60-80% match in words appear between your resume and the job posting.  If you do not meet that requirement, your resume will be discarded even before any human being has a chance to evaluate your credentials.  Therefore, when applying for jobs, make sure that your tailor your resume (and cover letter) to highlight your most relevant qualifications and education using when possible the same terms as those provided in the job description.  Of course, you need to remain truthful and accurate about your experience and education.  The more you can highlight how close your profile is to the ideal candidate described in the job posting, the higher your chances to get the interview.

Reactive Search Job Hunting Tip #3 - Be pleasantly persistent.  Applying for the job online is only the first step in converting your application into an interview.   Within 10 days of your application, I would recommend that you conduct informational interviews with people who work at the organization to learn more about the organization's culture.  Learn as much as you can online, and then connect with friends of friends, friends of mentors, or alumni from your alma mater who work in the organization.  Tell them about what you have learned online that make you interested about the organization, and ask them about their experiences at the organization.  If they ask if you are interested in a job, you can say yes, but focus the conversation about their experiences at the organization, taking notes about how these conversations further strengthen your interest in the organization.  About 10 days to 2 weeks after you apply, send a follow up email or call the hiring manager to ensure that s/he received your application, and to reiterate your interest.  Then include 2-3 additional points from your conversations with people from within (provide their name and their title as well) that make you even more interested in the opportunity.  Then follow up with them every 10 days to two weeks if you don't hear from them.  Always remain pleasant in your conversation, reiterating your interest, asking if the person has any insights regarding the hiring time line for the position, or needs any additional information regarding your application.  As compared to the vast majority of other candidates who might not have followed up or taken the time to learn more about the organization, this step might become your differentiating factor.  Most importantly though, this step will also enable you to find out whether this organization is the right environment for you.

In this tough economy, knowing what your priorities are, where to identify opportunities, and using a combination of tailored applications and persistent follow ups might have a significant impact on your ability to secure interviews.  In my next post, we will review how you can make yourself more visible to organizations that you want to work for, whether or not they are currently advertising the types of positions you might be interested in.  As always, I look forward to reading your questions and comments on responsible job hunting tips!

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