By Bernard Marr
Job searching can be a tedious, depressing, and long-term project if you don’t know some of the shortcuts that the smartest job seekers take to decrease the number of applications they make and the length of their job search.
Apply these tips to your job hunt and you’re likely to see excellent results:
1. Have a clear, concise “elevator pitch.”
Ever heard the phrase, “it’s not what you know, it’s who”? Networking is especially important when job hunting, but you’ve got to make it easy on the people you’re asking for referrals. Come up with a clear, concise statement of what kind of job you’re looking for and why you’d be a good fit. For example, “I’m thinking I might want to do something in finance. Or maybe accounting,” is not a good way to network — the person has no idea how to help you. On the other hand, saying “I’m looking for an upper-level finance position with a Fortune 500 company where I can put my strong analytical skills to good use,” tells the listenerexactly what you’re looking for so they know whether or not they can help you.
2. Be clear about where you’re headed more than where you’ve been.
Your job search is about your future — not your past. So spend more time talking about the position you want than the positions you’ve had, in your resume, your cover letters, and interviews. For example, don’t list your current position as the headline on your LinkedIn profile, list the position you’re seeking.
3. Pay close attention.
Hiring managers often disqualify people for seemingly small things — missing a question in the application or having a typo in their cover letter — not because they’re being mean, but because they want smart, focused employees who pay attention to details. In fact, it’s not unheard of for companies to make applicants jump through very specific hoops in the application process (like requesting a particular subject line in an email or a particular piece of information in the cover letter) to weed out people who aren’t paying attention. Read job posts and applications thoroughly, provide all the information requested, and triple check anything you send out for spelling and typos to make the best possible first impression.
4. Check job listings in multiple places.
Don’t stop at the big job sites like CareerBuilder and Monster; look for job boards in your particular niche or industry, check out government job boards, and nonprofit job boards. Smaller job boards and sites draw fewer visitors, and you might have less competition for the jobs listed. Use a job board search aggregator to help minimize the time you spend searching.
5. Stay organized.
If you’re applying to many different jobs, become meticulously organized. Write down details you might need to know later, like where you saw the job posted, when you applied, who you contacted, when you should/did follow up, who you spoke with at the company, etc. It will help keep you from duplicating your efforts, ensure you follow up with every lead, and possibly save you from embarrassment later.
6. Stick to a schedule.
Whether you’re unemployed and looking for work, or working full time and looking for a change, make yourself a simple schedule for job hunting activities and stick to it. Give yourself a weekly goal of applying to a certain number of jobs or sending out a certain number of networking emails so that you can see how you’re making progress — even if you haven’t landed the perfect job yet.
7. Do a social media audit.
Pretend you’re a recruiter looking to hire you, and Google yourself. Know what comes up, and take steps to remove anything unprofessional. Look at all of your social media accounts with a discerning eye. Check privacy settings on Facebook so that your private photos and status updates stay locked down. And optimize your LinkedIn profile so that potential employers can easily find you.
8. Be prepared.
When you start job hunting, also start collecting any additional collateral you might need: draft a resume and cover letter “template” that you can easily customize for each job application, collect references in case you are asked for them, etc.
9. Be memorable.
Don’t go so overboard that you make a poor impression, but strive to be memorable. Prepare and ask interesting questions during an interview; tell interesting (and relevant) stories during your interview; show your personal style with a brightly colored accessory; or send a memorable thank you note. One young woman I know was told that the blue streaks in her hair had to go if she wanted to get a job, but she got a second interview and ultimately got the job with a funky local magazine because they remembered her for her hair.
10. Bring something helpful to the table.
If you’re in a position to do so, use the “briefcase technique” at your next job interview. Before the interview, prepare a proposal of how you would fix one of the company’s most pressing problems. During the interview, pull the proposal out of your briefcase (hence the name) and demonstrate your expertise, talents, and preparation for the position. This technique won’t work for all job types, but when it does, it makes a huge positive impression.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn
About the Author: Bernard Marr is a bestselling business author and is globally recognized as an expert in strategy, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data. His new book is ‘Big Data – Using Smart Big Data, Analytics and Metrics To Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance‘. You can read a free sample chapter here . He regularly writes about management, technology as well as the mega-trend that is Big Data for LinkedIn and Forbes. Feel free to connect via Twitter, Facebook and The Advanced Performance Institute.