I’ve been looking for a job for 4 months now. In the past, I considered myself to be a “closer,” able to seal the deal with a few interviews. Well, the market is a bit more competitive now, and if you don’t fit employers’ specifications precisely, you are booted out the door in a jiffy.
I have a few tips on how to stay relevant, how to position yourself, and how to rise above the rest when it comes to searching for a position.
Tailor Made Resumes
Make sure you’ve got at least 3 versions of your resume. I work in marketing, specifically marketing for high tech companies, so I have a “High Tech Marketing” version of my resume. However, I’ve also worked for a magazine, a few advertising agencies, and I’ve got a writing portfolio, so I have another version that is geared toward writing. My 3rd is more of a skills resume, with a large summary of experience that utilizes key search words that might be in my next dream job.
Remember when we used to write each other letters?
Polish off your letter writing skills. Now’s the time to talk about yourself in a good way to potential employers. And the best way to do it is in a letter format. Remember, the resume just lists out your skills and achievements. You really have an opportunity to WOW with your cover letter. I’ve been known to spend a few hours tweaking a cover letter so it’s precisely geared at the job I’m applying for….. providing it’s a job I really, really want.
Remember the job you really, really want? Well, you’re going to have to interview for a few jobs that you might not want before you get The Interview With the Dream Job and Company. The “practice interviews” are a great way to get your story smooth, your delivery perfected, and your “self-presentation” skills down pat. I’ve noticed that the first few interviews I’ve had were really, really rough. I’m pitching a new product– myself– and it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my assets. Now that I’ve been at it for awhile, I’m able to articulate fairly well what skills I bring to a job, where I’ve had success, and why the employer should be interested in me. Remember, it’s like dating. You’re trying the company out, just as much as they are evaluating you. I’ve had interviews that have practically made me want to run for the door, believe me. I’ve actually had an interview (this was years ago) where the would-be boss told me he didn’t hire “mouth breathers.” Huh? I suddenly worried that he knew I had a deviated septum, but realized later that he meant that he didn’t hire “dull people.” You will meet all kinds, so it’s best to have these practice sessions, so you can react quickly when faced with an unusual situation.
Write Your Elevator Pitch
In marketing, we deem the “elevator pitch” the story you give the CEO as you ride down 20 flights together in the elevator. You need to be able to articulate, quickly, what you offer and how you can add value as an employee. Come up with your pitch, and it should go something along the lines of this:
Hi, my name is Ineedajob, and I’m a professional kitchen cleaner, with over 10 years of experience in wiping butts, cleaning up the playroom, and mitigating the risks for a group of 3-6 year olds. I excel at creating intense learning situations for misbehaved children, and I relish the opportunity to see how I can help your employees keep their kitchens clean and figure out what solutions fit for your bed linen closet problem.
With an introduction like that resonating in your mind, you’ll be able to give any interviewers a quick view into your skills and attributes.
Network, Network, Network
I’ve met people who worked for my dream company through book club moms, and I keep up with my previous colleagues regularly. Since one never knows when they’ll be thrust into the job market, you need to keep your network going at all times….. even when you’re gainfully employed. I’ve helped out numerous people in my career, and I’ve found that when I “pay it forward”, I will get the same treatment when I’m searching for something, be it a contact, a position, or research on a company. “Paying it forward” is a good general rule in life– not as a means to getting what you want, but as a means of just doing “good things”, creating good energy in your life, and helping others. You will get a lot of satisfaction out of this in many ways.
Rest and Relax
The race that starts out as a sprint could become a marathon, so pace yourself accordingly. Relish the good times with your family, and use the moments you have to really be “present” in your family’s life. I’ve started a few new routines with my children, and we’re closer than ever due to this layoff, and these are moments that I am happy to have. It’s easy to get burned out, and to start feeling rejected, but just know that the right opportunity will present itself at the right time.
Happy hunting, and stay tuned for more job search insights!