Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My job hunting tips

BE POSITIVE This is alpha and omega, both for the purpose of having a successful job search and for your own personal health. Nobody wants to hire someone who's down, and if you don't think your attitude shines through in an interview you're fooling yourself. Being positive on a daily basis isn't always easy, but it's a hell of a lot easier than trying to dig yourself out of the kind of a hole you might auger yourself into if you let your negative feelings dominate. Fake it if you have to. Science has proved that if you display the outward signs of a positive outlook for long enough you will eventually genuinely get that attitude back, even though your feelings were not authentic at the outset. SMILE ON THE PHONE People can hear the difference even if they can't see your face or your posture. EXERCISE To me this goes hand in hand with a positive outlook. Be strong. Be confident. APPLY, APPLY, APPLY A couple of years ago I applied to over two hundred postings on line and only got two automated receipts in return. These days it's been my experience that more companies are doing a better job of monitoring who's applying to positions, and some are quite prompt in getting back to the candidate. This includes large companies like Chase Paymentech. POST, POST, POST Put your resume out there in as many places as possible. Another recent trend I've noticed is that rather than posting a job a recruiter just goes out to try to find a good resource from online resumes. This is actually how I got the position I'm in now. FEED YOUR EGO While money is obviously a factor when you're out of work, there are still small things you can do to make you feel good about yourself when you're heading into an interview. Get a haircut. Get your nails done. Buy a new tie. Get your shoes polished. Dye your hair. You should know yourself what makes you feel better about yourself. BE PREPARED TO ANSWER THE "SO TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF" QUESTION Early on I would just more or less reiterate what was on my resume; my job experience in reverse chronological order. I found that the conversation went a lot better after I decided to not stick to this "script" as much. I grouped my experience into three areas (IT Compliance, Technical work, and IT Generalist work), and summarized it that way. Then I went on to outline three personal traits that I would bring to the new position (problem solving, customer service, writing). I found that this flowed a lot better and gave me a much greater sense of energy than just starting "Well, in my last job I ...". SHORTEN YOUR RESUME. THEN SHORTEN IT EVEN MORE. Managers just don't read them. Make sure the right keywords are there. I had a recruiter complain that I hadn't highlighted my certifications enough in my resume. They were a standalone bullet in the second paragraph. MAKE YOURSELF BETTER Job-related training is obviously ideal, but there are significant benefits to your attitude even in non-job efforts. Watch the Spanish channel an hour a day and see how much more you can pick up this week compared to last. Sit down at your kids keyboard and see if you can pick out a song from the dusty stacks of sheet music. Work on your golf game. WRITE THANK-YOU NOTES Common courtesies aren't all that common any more. It's another way to make yourself stand out. One of the job offers I got was a direct reply to the thank you note I had written several weeks earlier, after my interview. It may or may not have made a difference, but at a minimum it made it very easy for the hiring manager to contact me. KEEP A JOURNAL I kept a blog on blogspot where I journaled every job I applied for, every email I received or sent, every call I made or received, every time I updated my resume online and every interview. I found this to be very helpful for a number of reasons:
  • At the end of the day I could look at the list and feel like I accomplished something.
  • I sent the link to my wife, and it served as additional motivation to know she may be looking at it any time.
  • It made it very easy to truthfully answer TWC's questions about the number of job search activities I had in a week.
  • It served as a reminder by allowing me to go back in time to see who I hadn't heard from in a while, so fewer opportunities slipped through the cracks.


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  2. The job finder tips you have posted here is going to be a big help to all those who are having a hard time getting a job. Nowadays, when competition is really tough, you should really know the do's and dont's.