9 Keys to Job Search & Career Success

In recent months, the job market has become increasingly competitive. But even as the economy slows, and there are increasing numbers of job seekers in the job market, there are many professionals who have been incredibly successful in conducting fast, effective job searches. These former job seekers have achieved new jobs that are personally, professionally, and financially rewarding. What do they have in common? How are they doing it? Here are nine tips to speed your own job search and drive it to a fast, successful conclusion.

Know what you want and go after it. Starting a job search without knowing what you want will almost certainly end in frustration. Think about it: If you don’t know what you want and what your job target is, how will you know who to contact and how to conduct your search? If you are uncertain about your career goals, it is critical that you spend some time and energy now – before launching your search – on self-introspection and analysis. Knowing what YOU want, what YOU are passionate about, and what YOU bring to the table will provide you with a confidence that simply can’t and won’t be matched by many of your competitors in the job market. This is the crucial first step to any job search and is essential for long-term career success as well.

Know and sell your personal brand. When you think about your next career move, how would things be different for you if employers and recruiters actually sought you out? Personal branding (the process of clarifying and communicating what makes you and your unique value proposition different and special) allows you to make a name for yourself. It differentiates you from your peers and helps to position you as a leader in your field – as a specialist and an authority who knows how to do a job and fill a particular niche in the workplace better than anyone else. Once you are clear on your personal brand, you can use it to project a cohesive brand image and value proposition throughout all your job search activities, and do so in a way that addresses the specific concerns of your target audience. By knowing and promoting your brand, you achieve instant, precision-like focus that positions you as the ideal candidate for the specific type of opportunity that interests you. You gain immediate competitive advantage.

Be able to clearly articulate who you are and what you have to offer. While this may feel uncomfortable to you, the simple truth is that a job search is a sales and marketing campaign: a sales and marketing campaign in which YOU are the product. Through the process of personal branding (recommended above), you must identify what differentiates you and paint a compelling portrait of your unique value proposition. But, don’t stop with just promoting this in your resume and then become tongue-tied when someone asks about you and your candidacy. You will hear the “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” questions over and over, both during your job search and throughout your entire career. Don’t wing it! Preparation is the key to confidence and the key to making a lasting, positive, and memorable first impression. Be ready with a 30-60 second pitch that immediately and confidently conveys to the listener who you are as a professional and what it is that you offer.

Make their first impression your best impression. Take a hard look at your resume. Like it or not, your resume is your first introduction to most employers, and your only chance to make a good first impression. Effective resumes are highly focused marketing pieces that are strategically written and designed to sell YOU as THE best solution to a potential employer’s needs and problems. Your resume should be written to convey and illustrate your unique value proposition, with succinct “stories” that differentiate you from your competitors in the job market. Does your resume accomplish these goals? Is it focused effectively? Does it accurately present you in the way that you wish to be presented? If not, it is time to rewrite.

Network, network, network…and then network some more. The statistics are very clear, and while they vary slightly from survey to survey, they are also remarkably consistent. It is safe to say that at least 80% of all the jobs are found through the “hidden” job market, also known as the “unpublished” job market. These are jobs typically landed through word of mouth and referrals as opposed to the hit-or-miss method of answering ads, posting your resume to internet databases, or other techniques meant to target the remaining 20% of all jobs in the published market. It stands to reason that if the vast majority of the jobs are to be found in this hidden market, that you should spend the majority of your job search time working to crack it. There is no more effective job search technique than networking. So, even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first, just get out there and do it. Make networking a part of your daily routine and plan to spend the majority of your job search time on networking activities (approximately three-fourths of your time is a good estimate). The more you network, the faster your current job search will come to a successful conclusion and the faster and more successful any future job searches will be.

Plan and execute a multi-pronged job search campaign. Yes, networking is essential, but other job search techniques are also important. An effective job search campaign is a multi-pronged one that includes the strategic, planned, methodical use of a variety of job search approaches. Answering ads alone is almost never enough. Neither is working with headhunters, using internet job search sources, or researching and targeting specific employers. But, when you combine all these approaches with networking, carefully evaluate and prioritize the approaches based on relative effectiveness, and then launch an integrated, multi-pronged job search campaign, you will always come out ahead. The best job search is one in which the job seeker approaches it as if it was a job itself.

Build a support team. While your preparation will certainly ease the whole process, job searching can be a grueling and very stressful experience. So, I want to remind you that you don’t have to go through it alone. You should build a support team around you of people who can help you stay motivated and on track while giving you honest feedback and helping you stay accountable to the goals you set for yourself. Family and friends, past and present managers, your peers and colleagues, financial advisors, and professionals in the careers industry such as career counselors, coaches, and resume writers all make excellent people to add to your team. By assembling a good mix of people to support you, from a diversity of backgrounds and professions, you will receive a variety of different perspectives, ideas, and insights that can be very helpful. You should consider joining a job search support club or group – a local one if one is available or an online one. If you have been provided with outplacement services by your former employer, by all means take advantage of the office space and resources offered. The point is that you don’t have to and shouldn’t conduct your search in isolation. Surround yourself with a team that will help and support you. Above all, recognize when you need support and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and guidance.

Always follow up. Following up on all of your contacts and your activities can do more to influence your success in achieving your job target than anything else. A hand-written thank you note or a more formal, typed thank you letter after speaking with a networking contact, attending an informational interview, or after attending an actual job interview can make a lasting positive impression that gives you a distinct competitive advantage. A follow-up phone call on every resume you send, whether it is a resume sent cold, in response to an ad, or based on a referral from one of your networking contacts can make all the difference in whether your resume is actually read and considered or not. A consistent method of follow up is key and you must make the time in your schedule to do so. Follow up will positively influence decision-makers, it will help key the process moving along, it will show your interest and your professionalism, and it will position you above the competition.

Adopt a “failure is not an option” attitude and make finding a job a job itself. Celebrate your accomplishments daily and weekly, but recognize that a successful job search requires persistence and consistent effort. The more “feelers” you put out, the more contacts you make, the more resumes you put into the hands of hiring authorities, and the more face-to-face interviews you go on, the faster you will achieve your job target. It can be difficult to remain motivated when you don’t immediately see results but remind yourself that job searching is a process and that it takes time. Reward yourself not just for the results, but for the effort.

Want to Use this Article in Your Ezine or Website? You are welcome to as long as you use the following text with it:

Nationally certified resume writer, career marketing expert, and personal branding strategist, Michelle Dumas is the founder and executive director of Distinctive Career Services LLC. Through Distinctive Documents http://www.distinctiveweb.com and her Executive VIP Services delivered through http://www.100kcareermarketing.com Michelle has empowered thousands of executives, professionals, and managers all across the U.S. and worldwide with all the tools and resources necessary to conduct a fast, effective job search. Michelle is also the author of the popular e-book 101 Before-and-After Resume Examples.

To learn more about her job search products, resume writing services, and career marketing programs, and to sign up for many other free resources, visit her websites.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Author: Michelle Dumas
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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The 5 P’s Of A Job Search

5psStep One – Plan:

Most people spend more time planning a one to two week vacation than they do planning their lifetime career. When planning for a vacation, you look at where you want to go, what your reason is for wanting to go to that particular place, how long it will take to get there, whether or not you want to take any side trips, what type of budget you will need, and what type of clothes you will need to take. You may also speak with people who have been there to find out a little more about the destination and activities or do some research on the internet or at the library or a travel agency.

It is important to do the same type of planning for a career. You need to take a look at where you want to go and how you are going to get there. You will need to look at: whether or not you need post-secondary education or some type of training. How long will it take you to get the skills you need? What is the best way to get these skills? What kind of money do you require for the life style you want? Think about whether or not you know anyone who is currently working in this field or if you know anyone who knows anyone working in this field. Where else can you go to find out more information?

If you are still in school, speak to a guidance counsellor and ask for information. You can also do informational interviews with people working in the field you are interested in. Another option is speaking with a career counsellor or doing some career tests.

If you are out of school, contact an employment agency to speak with a counsellor or do some personal research at the library as well as networking and making good use of your contacts.

Step Two – Prepare:

Preparing for your job search involves doing a thorough personal inventory to determine your transferable and adaptive skills. Learning more about your skills prepares you so that you will be able to tell an employer the skills you have that match the job that you would like to have. This takes time. It may involve completing a questionnaire or sitting and writing down all the things you have done over the years. This is not simply listing your job description, as most people do more than what is listed on the job description, it also involves activities that you do at home.

Most of us take our skills for granted. We are so used to doing certain tasks that we do not recognize that not everyone can do what we are doing. We also do not always recognize the skills we are using in our daily activities problem solving, decision making, driving, fixing appliances, preparing food, personal counseling. People may express amazement or be impressed by something that we take for granted. Listen to what they are saying. This is a strong skill for you and may be developed into a career goal.

Once you have reviewed your skills, you can work on developing a 30-second summary of these skills, also known as an elevator speech, which can be used during a telephone contact, in your cover letter, in an interview, or when talking to friends about your job search.

Preparing also means doing research on companies you might like to work for. This research may be done at the library, through personal contact, informational interviews, reading newspaper articles, or an informal visit or tour.

The development of a targeted resume is another crucial step. A targeted resume is one which highlights specific skills to demonstrate your suitability to an employer. It provides details of your work experiences which match the skills they might require. A cover letter should also be prepared for a targeted employer.

Another part of preparation is reviewing potential interview questions and determining the type of information you want to provide or you may be expected to provide to an employer. Following this, you need to practice speaking about yourself in order to be comfortable in presenting yourself to an employer.

People often think about getting a resume prepared, and maybe a cover letter in response to a job ad, but then they forget about preparing for the interview. Although a good resume and cover letter can get you in the door, the interview is what gets you the job.

Step Three – Practice:

Practice!! How many people would step on the ice in an NHL game without having practiced? How many people would step on stage to sing or act without several rehearsals? How many Olympic athletes would compete without any preparation? Very few, if any – and yet, when we fail to practice our interview techniques, it is comparable to doing one of the above.

Practicing can take place with a friend, family member or a counsellor. There are many books available that provide sample questions and sample answers. Feedback on your interview skills may involve peers, general comments, and/or videotape. Here are some sample questions for you to use:

Tell me about yourself.

What do you look for in a job?

How long would it take for you to make a meaningful contribution?

Why are you looking for a new career?

How would your boss describe you?

How would your colleagues describe you?

What were the five most significant accomplishments in your last position?

What are your strong points?

What are your weak points?

A videotape is an excellent way for you to see yourself as an employer would see you. You can dress as you would for an interview and have someone you know act as the interviewer. You will then be able to notice how you handle yourself, how you sit, and how you respond to questions. For instance, did you give enough information or too much information. You can also note if you have any habits you are unaware of. This will help you become comfortable in presenting your skills to an employer.

When you think of the years of training it takes a hockey player to reach the skill level of an NHL player, or the years a ballerina spends in practicing before she performs at the NAC, a few hours of practicing your interview/presentation techniques isnt asking too much.

Step Four – Perform:

Think of your interview as a performance. You must prepare for it (research the employer, practice interview questions), dress appropriately (dress for the job you are applying for), and have the proper equipment (copy of resume, references, portfolio, and pen) to show that you are ready to do the job.

The first two to three minutes of your interview are the most important. An employer usually makes a decision based on your appearance and your opening presentation. It is important that you make the most of these precious minutes.

A smile is a big part of your wardrobe. If smiling doesnt come naturally to you, practice in front of a mirror until it feels comfortable. Ensure that your body language doesnt send the wrong message. Dont cross your arms across your chest, or keep checking the clock. Check your appearance, both standing and seated, in a mirror. It is important to try to relax, but do not slouch in your chair. Dont chew gum during your interview, and if you are a smoker, try to have your last cigarette at least 10 minutes before your interview and freshen your breath with a breath mint.

Another important point is to never say anything negative about your previous employer. It may make the employer wonder what you would say about them, and you never know who is related to whom.

Make sure that you have some questions to ask the employer. Not how much money will I make and how long do I get for vacation?, but questions that show you have researched the employer and have some knowledge of their company. Make a list of potential questions to ask. If the interviewer has been very thorough and you cant think of any questions, at least find out when they will be making a decision and ask if it is ok to follow up.

Here are some sample questions you can ask.

Why is this position open?

What are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this position?

What significant changes do you forsee in the near future?

What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?

What are some of the long-term objectives you would like to see completed?

How is one evaluated in this position?

What accounts for success within the company?

Step Five – Post-Mortem:

Once your interview is over, review it in your mind. Was there anything you should have said that you didnt, or anything that you said that you shouldnt have? Make a mental note, or write down how you felt about the interview. By reviewing your interview, you can prepare for the next one.

Once you get home, its time to prepare a thank you letter. In this letter you thank the interviewer(s) for their time and the opportunity to find out more about the company. Express appreciation for the way they handled the interview, the information provided, etc., as well as expressing your desire to work for the company. If there was anything you forgot to tell them about your skills during the interview, or any information you said you would provide them with, now is your opportunity to do so.

Dont forget to follow up one to two weeks after your interview to indicate that you are still interested in being considered for the position and to check on whether or not a decision has been made. If they have hired, and you are not the successful candidate, ask permission to call back in case there are any other openings in the future and let them know that you would like to be considered.

Remember that you usually have to go through about 200 “no’s” before you get to a “yes”. Try to keep positive about your job search by sticking with a routine and talking with as many people as possible about looking for work. Let everyone know that you are currently unemployed and tell them the type of work you are looking for. Attend workshops on Job Search or consider joining a Job Finding Club for extra support during your job search.

Author: Fran Watson
Article Source: EzineArticles.com


Job Search Techniques: Smashing The Gray Ceiling

APJobInterviewFor decades, women have chaffed at the invisible glass ceiling which prevents their moving into the high executive brackets that their competence, knowledge and skills have earned. The same amorphous barrier confronts older workers both in terms of advancement within a company and, most especially, when a job change is required. There is an adage in the military that if a rank above major has not been obtained within twenty years, it never will be. The ranks of early military retirees are sprinkled with majors who knew that ten or fifteen more years would never bring a Colonel’s cluster.

How can such “unwritten rules” be fought? No lawsuit can prove that you were the best individual for the job. No employer is unintelligent enough to state that your age is the stumbling block. You sense the discrimination, you become aware of the sideways glances and the emotional response of an interviewer, but you feel powerless to change their perspective and their bias.

Sitting across an interviewing desk, often facing an individual the same age as your son, your esteem erodes and your confidence self-destructs. Impotent, humiliated, and angry, you accept that nothing you can say is going to change anything. You continue job hunting with a mounting sense of frustration and an indisputable anticipation of failure.

If you have nothing to lose, why not attack the problem head-on? Prejudice and discrimination survive only in the silence of unexamined judgments and, often unconscious, illogic. Confront the situation and at least you create the opportunity for the white light of reason to enter the fray.

Try these approaches to prompt more honest interaction and possibly more rational conclusions.

1. You need to be the one to put the age issue on the table. Offer it gently, as one area of needed exploration regarding why you fit the employer’s needs. Bring it up objectively, as something that can be discussed unemotionally, without triggering lethal interviewer defensiveness.

2. Acknowledge your age as a basis for emphasizing the experience of a lifetime and the value that such experience can provide to any employer. Concentrate on describing how business has changed over the course of years and how deftly you have adapted to those changes and incorporated new ideas and technical advancements into your work performance.

3. Acknowledge common misperceptions about the weaknesses of age: hard-to-break habits, lack of flexibility, technological ignorance, and distrust of authority, especially if young. Then use your sales ability to eliminate those misperceptions, probably already resonating in the interviewer’s head.

Habits: Remind your host of the ability to adapt and reshape yourself which has kept your thinking young. Stress your relish for new challenges and innovative approaches. Cite some examples from your past about how smoothly you have been able to change to new workflows and procedures.

Flexibility: Discuss your dislike of unproductive routine and your preference for trying new methods of approaching tasks. Stress those times in the past when you were able to develop creative solutions to long-term problems and how your resourcefulness helped your previous employers.

Technology: Identify new technical advances within your field and address how you have internalized those changes. If you have successfully transitioned from dictating to a secretary to email and instant messaging, if you have moved from a manual adding machine to competent computer literacy, then small changes like learning new software or novel production systems should be a snap.

Authority issues: You have attained authority in the past and you have also worked under a variety of supervisors in your long career life. Clarify your relationship with power: the respect you extend to those who are knowledgeable, the loyalty and support you offer any leader of your team, the self-respect you enjoy which allows you to participate in group goals enthusiastically without feeling that you need to be in charge or command the top title.

4. Once you have demolished the myths of age, emphasize its strengths: reliability, mature judgment, lack of impulsivity, timeliness, a strong work ethic, and the ability to perform without outside distractions such as personal relationship problems, child commitments, and social responsibilities.

Undoubtedly, there are individuals out there who have their own issues with hiring someone who reminds them of their father or who have had problems in the past with an underperforming older worker who was difficult to terminate. There will always be those you cannot reach, no matter how convincing your logic and your presentation.

There are many more who are open-minded and seek not to make rash judgments. Address their semi-conscious fears face to face and the interview may end successfully – for both you and your lucky new employer.

Author: Virginia Bola, PsyD
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Provided by: Digital Camera News


Rebounding After a 2009 Layoff – Getting Back to Work

Rebound4Taking some time off to re-energize the batteries and re-acquaint yourself to your spouse and children after a 2009 layoff may be a good idea. Remember that the situation of unemployment affects everyone in the family, not just you. Children are very sensitive to the changes in the household and it is important to be open and honest with them. The support you gain from them will help you keep focused on your end goals.

Household Review

Now that the dust has settled, the goodbyes have been extended and the ceremonial exchange of e-mail address and cell phone numbers have been completed, it’s time to get down to business.

Family Time

Taking some time off to re-energize the batteries and re-acquaint yourself to your spouse and children may be a good idea. Remember that the situation of unemployment affects everyone in the family, not just you. Children are very sensitive to the changes in the household and it is important to be open and honest with them. The support you gain from them will help you keep focused on your end goals.

Since you are no longer out the door every morning, it may be a chance to take your child to school or see them in sports events that were always held during your normal work day.

Financial

If you are like many people, you have not saved much for a rainy day like today. If you have a month or two of salary in the bank, you are probably better off than most in your position. It is time to survey your personal/family balance sheet to identify your financial position.

Just like your previous company, you now need to list the current monthly expenses to see what can be cut from “The Budget”. If you have not done this exercise in awhile or at all, the data will be much more meaningful now that the income line (steady paycheck) is severed.

Income Streams – Your ability to survive financially will partially depend upon the amount of income you will have access to during the job search process. Accounting for severance, savings and unemployment compensation, knowing the overall amount of money coming in will be paramount to your sustainability.

Of course, if you are married, your spouse’s income may provide much needed financial support and health benefits during this time.

Expenses – No more morning $4.00 lattes and $10.00 lunches at the Deli… Eliminating the waste and trimming the fat is where you will have the most control over your financial position. Listing the monthly bills; mortgage, utilities, food and other essential expenditures will help map out the discretionary spending that may be able to be reduced or totally removed.

Self Evaluation

Now that you have a clear mind, know where you stand financially and have the support of family and friends, it is time to “Go Deep”. Have an open mind, clear thought, take a deep breath and look at yourself from the ground up.

Many find being let go from a job can be a time of reflection, a re-evaluation period to determine if the path you were traveling is still the one you want to continue on. Depending on your situation, you may elect to look at other industries, job descriptions or organizations that may interest you. The skills and talents you posses may be applicable and marketable in other sectors or industries that you may or may not have thought of before.

If you have an interest that has been hobby or side interest, you may elect to expand into that area. It is widely known that if you can earn a living doing what you love, you are truly a successful person. What better way to make a living, whether it be starting a business or landing a job that deals in that interest or area.

Take a look at the pros and cons of your previous role, the responsibilities you had and categorize them into what you enjoyed, and what you tolerated because it was part of the job. Search for the characteristics that define your likes and dislikes and list them out as a way to keep you focused on new opportunities that drive you in the direction you want to move toward.

Obviously, it is a personal decision whether or not the job you had is the type of job you want. Even though many people do not take the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone to toward their dream, but those that do, see their job loss as a launchpad for a new happier life direction they may not have taken if not for the downsizing they experienced.

Surviving alayoff in 2009 is not easy but, in this day and age, you do have a technology and tools to help you get back to work if you stay focused and organized.

Author: Oliver Stewart
Article Source: EzineArticles.com


How To Get More Interviews In Your Job Search

army-soldier-airforceRichard Bolles, job search guru and author of What Color Is Your Parachute? predicts that you can expect to search for work 1-2 months for every $10,000 you hope to earn. So, if youre looking for a $40,000 a year position, you may search for 4-8 months to land it. Back when the economy sizzled, that job search length would have seemed outrageous, but now, many people would be thrilled to only search for 4-8 months.

Read more


Career Search Informational Interviews

By Graham Hart

Need to find out more about a career area and develop some useful contacts at the same time you might be thinking of a career change?

Then consider undertaking a series of Career Search Informational interviews.

Career Search Informational interviews are appointments where you discuss a particular topic. No reference would be made to the fact that you are looking for a job. Informational Interviews are great ways of developing your own career descriptions and knowledge, building your networks and getting your self into potential one on one selling situations. Read more


Baby Boomers – Resumes and Cover Letters For Ages 50 and Older

selling-to-babyboomersIf you are a Baby Boomer, you are a part of a generation that is headed toward retirement. However, due to our slumping economy, there is a chance that even if you are able to retire, you could be making a u-turn right back into the workforce to supplement your retirement savings.

With competition being so stiff, it may seem that the odds are against you for getting hired, especially having to compete with younger talent. In some cases this is true, but there are also employers out there looking for the skills and expertise mature workers can bring to the table. So if you’re a Baby Boomer looking for employment, it is not too late to secure a great job. You just need the right resume and cover letter to get you in the door.

Updating Your Resume

If you’ve been out of the job market for a decade or more, updating your resume may be more challenging than you remember, especially when you factor in the Internet and possibly having to apply online. But that’s not all you have to think about. As a mature worker, you also have the challenge of creating a resume that showcases your years of experience without shining a spotlight on your age.

So how can you get this done? One way is by using a functional resume format that highlights specific skills rather than chronological timelines. When writing your skills, try going into detail regarding projects you’ve completed that have benefited your previous companies. You can also create a section that focuses on the computer technologies you’ve mastered or any training you’ve completed. All of these things can help employers focus more on your skills and talents, and less on your age.

Using Your Cover Letter to Reveal Who You Really Are

Being a mature worker, you may have to contend with a few stereotypes during your job search. Some include you being less productive than your younger counterparts, more resistant to newer technologies, and set in your ways. Of course, none of those descriptions define who you really are. But it is up to you to help prospective employers understand this.

One way to do this is by explaining how important it is for you to expand the landscape of your career. You’re not in it for the money, you simply want to grow. If you’ve recently received any advanced degrees or additional education, don’t hesitate to mention it. And most importantly, let employers know you have no intentions of leaving the industry any time soon – you’re still getting your feet wet.

Confidence is Key

You may be feeling uncertain about your ability to compete in an already competitive job search. But don’t let that deter you. You have years of experience under your belt and the skill level to match. So make sure you maintain your confidence throughout your job search process. It will shine through in your resume, cover letter, and face-to-face interview.

Getting back into the workforce as a Baby Boomer isn’t an impossible task if you believe in your capabilities and make a strong effort to excel. The more proactive you are about putting yourself out there, the more success you will have in locating opportunities that can take your career to the next level.

Author: Heather Eagar
Article Source: EzineArticles.com