JOB SEARCH STRATEGIES IN A CHALLENGING LABOR MARKET
So you are ready to look for a job! Have you just completed a college degree? Or maybe you have been out of the work force for a period of time due to the economic down turn and are anxious to get a job, any job. Maybe you are returning to the workforce after having a baby, or experiencing a family crisis or injury. Do you really know where to begin? Many competent and intelligent people tell themselves this is a simple process that will work itself out. That is not reality. Have you actually sat down and evaluated all your priorities and come up with a plan? Times have changed with social networking sites, blogging, and tweeting. However, the good old fashion way of finding a job combined with understanding the value of social networking can lead you to the successful end of your search. Here are a few tips and reminders that can help you stay motivated, focused and assist you in developing your job search strategy. Lets first confirm that organizations are getting creative, using Craig's List, web searches, LinkedIn and Facebook to both inform potential applicants about job openings, and to research potential applicants. The majority of employers are interested in utilizing the World Wide Web for recruiting but are still confused about how to use the vehicle and understand it's potential value. When it is an employer's market, their goal is to control the overwhelming flow of candidates so they are only looking at the most qualified. This can include using prescreening tools that process resumes and applications electronically for key words. Although this is process is becoming more sophisticated, it is an old technique for identifying qualified applicants.
It is important for applicants to present a "marketing package": resume, cover letter, letters of recommendation, etc., in a way that maximizes key words and phrases in place of typical industry standard nomenclature. A few simple changes can make it much more likely that a resume or electronic application will survive processing for key words and phrases. Remember, it can take up to 100 contacts to have 10 interviews and 10 interviews to get one job offer. Work the numbers. You are marketing yourself. You are the product! Do not get discouraged. Treat your job search like a job.
It is also important to not make the mistake of bypassing standards of etiquette for a quick email contact with an employer. Always error on the side of behavior a step above the formality of the employer you are contacting. If in question, ask them if a phone call or email is the best method for contacting them regarding follow-up, even if you sent the original application to Human Resources in the body of an e-mail or as an e-mail attachment.
In an employer's market, it is especially important to stay flexible and network, network, network. That temporary, part-time or contract worker position may turn into a job offer down the road or lead to a great referral for the great position you find with another company. Employers are avoiding the plethora of resumes and reducing the cost-per-hire by using their own networks to find the best-qualified applicants - existing employees, alumni, and employee referral programs. Everyone knows someone who is unemployed right now. Network, all the time, everywhere: friends, family, previous co-worker's, organizations where you volunteer, your children's friend's parents, current business connections. These connections are still the most valuable sources of potential job opportunities. Remember, be sure your Facebook page is what you want your future conservative boss to see and that it acts like an online resume for you, just like your LinkedIn page.
As previously mentioned, one of the other old standards of a job search strategy includes self-evaluation. Employers are concerned more than ever that the talent hired today, will move onto a better opportunity or one with better pay next year as the economy improves. Make sure you are able to be fully committed to the current opportunity during the recruiting process and the potential employer knows you have evaluated all the pros and cons of accepting the position. Yes, you are a financial professional, perhaps a CPA with Controller or CFO experience or aspirations, but there is more to a job than the work you do and how much you are compensated. Think about the last job you had, did you have the job you wanted, the money you wanted, the benefits you needed, the commute you wanted, and/or the job title you wanted? Are you living where you want to live (City, Beach, Mountains, Small town, etc.)? Is there room to move up? Is this important to you? By prioritizing your goals you evaluate your current needs and commitments and see how they fit into your job search activities. It can be a combination of identifying whether you have a barrier to employment or whether you have an opportunity.
If your goal is to conduct an effective and informed job search, be clear on your goals and determine your needs and wants. This information allows you to make an informed choice about what job to accept and you can feel confident that you won't regret your decision in the future. Evaluate the factors and goals that might affect your job search activities, whether it is a personal or job related issue and be prepared to make it clear during the interview process that you are the right person for the job. This information also allows you to quickly and effectively determine the value of your options and opportunities as they arise. Knowing your goals and priorities is the cornerstone of an effective job search. Give yourself clear direction so you can expend your valuable energy on creating job placement opportunities. The clarity you gain allows you to get out of the way of your own job search.
By identifying the WHY and the WHAT (goals) of your job search, creating an effective marketing package that maximizes its electronic screening value, leveraging your networking opportunities, both on and off the internet, and understanding you are marketing yourself and treat your job search like a job, you can show yourself a clear path to meeting your job search goals in this very challenging labor market.