Find out what people are doing to increase their chances of snagging the job they want.
We live in a society in which most people fear being different, fear making waves and thus fail to exhibit their unique qualities. In this jobless era, however, the few and the bold (to paraphrase a military slogan) are the ones who will get the good positions available. For let’s not forget a very important fact: Companies are hiring, albeit not as much as usual. For every open job, there are 250 people (OK, I exaggerate; it’s more like 4 per opening) asking for an interview and/or plopping their resumes in the company’s inbox at a job fair. So how can one differentiate oneself from all the other applicants?
How To Get A Job: Think Outside of the Box!
Creativity and being different are two important qualities in today’s difficult job market. I read somewhere about the example of a young graduate who had a very creative (as in “I like Alice in Wonderland”) resume that mirrored her interests and priorities. I wouldn’t recommend that approach to everybody, of course. Some jobs require sticking to conservative mores, and a resume formatted to look like a movie ad may not go well in some circles (banking industry, anyone?). However, the concepts of clarity and courage are essential to impress would be recruiters, simply because these very qualities are going to benefit the company’s bottom line. You must however find creative ways to convince them that you’re the ideal employee for them.
When trying to secure a job, you may want to go “above and beyond” what’s expected in order to get the attention of a prospective employer. What are some things you can do to make yourself stand out and pass the test? Show just how different you are and make yourself stand out. If you’re applying for a job, let them know what you can do for them and what kind of value you’ll add to their enterprise.
Here are some great tips to help you land a job:
1. Build something online to promote yourself.
Don’t be shy: put yourself out there. You can create an online portfolio which talks about who you are and what you’ve done and accomplished. In the past, a resume and a cover letter may have granted you a coveted job interview. But if you’d like to stand out, think about building a really great website that’s dedicated to your work and achievements. Some ideas for your online professional profile: you can include relevant research, your commentary on the company, business or industry you’re interested in working in and your resume (or CV). Impress your would-be employers before you set up your interview with them!
2. Participate in networks.
If building a website or creating a blog is a bit more work than you’d like to do, you can also use sites like LinkedIn.com that can help you to network professionally. If you haven’t done so already, join LinkedIn and participate in the forums related to your area of expertise. Social networks are an excellent way to get noticed when you make thoughtful comments. You can also ask the group members if they know who is hiring.
Employers love to Google the candidates they are considering for a job. That’s true — who doesn’t? But make sure you are putting your best foot forward rather than giving the wrong signals to a recruiter or employer. Some things to watch out for: be careful how you use social media to get your name out there: remember that your online profile and footprint will probably be on the web forever and anything that you reveal online may be used in your favor or against you. Be careful how you use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to make sure that whatever you say does not come back and bite you later.
3. Make sure you have a healthy credit score.
Get a credit check. Why? Because 35% of employers check your credit score as a way to gauge how responsible you are. A credit score can reflect well or poorly on you. It’s actually legal for employers to do this if they let you know about it in advance.
In the past, we benefited from a very strong job market and an era when workers were in high demand for almost any position under the sun. During such times, your credit score may not be scrutinized so closely. During a slower job market, employers will be more discriminating, so make sure to take a look at your credit information to find out how you may come across to hiring managers.
4. Have relevant references.
Make sure that you have at least one reference who comes from the industry of your focus. Connections who can help you with your job hunt include former professors and people from professional organizations that you may want to join. These industry organizations may actually allow you to join at student rates. Go ahead and sharpen your networking skills!
5. Prepare for your first contact with the hiring company.
If you were lucky enough to be invited for an interview, prepare as you have never prepared before (maybe check out our job interview techniques!). Find out all you can about the company’s products and strategies and if you are an experienced manager or technical person, try to find something specific you can do to improve their products and or bottom line. Case in point: a software designer looking for work sent a list of 3 mistakes he found in his potential employer’s software product and was hired on the spot.
6. Dust off your rolodex.
During your 20 years at Company X, you should have made a list of clients, providers and colleagues. Contact them one by one and don’t be ashamed to ask for help in finding a job. They can provide you with valuable leads.
7. Focus on those employers you’d really like to work for.
Do not shoot out a thousand resumes, hoping that one will bite. This is not fishing or gambling. Concentrate instead on 10 companies you know you’d like to work for and in which you can make a difference. By the way, a cover letter may not be very effective, unless you find a way to truly focus your achievements in such a way that the HR manager can get an instant picture of your worth. A P.S. might also be a good idea, as people are usually curious about that section.
8. Join highly visible social, professional and/or community groups.
Join social and professional groups where you are likely to meet people in positions of power. The local Chamber of Commerce may be a good start. At least you are meeting people face-to-face, not online. Drop a few hints in the conversation that you are looking for a job without sounding too desperate. Be ready to give them a personal card if they ask for your information. Look sharp and smart!
9. Get a job, any job!
Employers want to see that you are employable and that you are working. This demonstrates that you have desirable traits such as accountability and reliability, as well as a go-getter attitude. Many people may shrink away from taking jobs that they feel are beneath them, but if you truly want to stand out, you’ll be willing to do any kind of job to see if this could be a stepping stone to other opportunities.
Volunteering is another creative way to find a job. You may become so valuable that they’ll want to keep you. Think Red Cross, mentoring kids in schools or clubs, teaching immigrants English, and so forth. Quite a few important people work in these areas and may be able to help you.
11. Go back to school?
College is a good place to find a job, of course. Aside from the school’s job board, the university may need help themselves in all kinds of areas. That is a good place to start if you are a recent graduate who doesn’t have to worry about mortgage and kids. You may also want to contact your favorite teachers; they often have leads from friends in the private sector who are looking for that special graduate student.
12. Check out government slots.
Our government is the largest employer in the nation with the best benefits. If you have joined the service or the Peace Corps or Teachers For America, you have a better chance of landing a good job. A friend of mine from TFA finished her 2-year teaching commitment and immediately obtained a position for a government agency that specializes in rescuing at-risk students.
Find A Job Instead of Waiting For A Career! Video From A Money Coach
We were fortunate to have a video here that was created by Christine Hassler, a financial coach who’s worked with American Express before. She addresses the topic of finding a job in this piece:
Thanks to Christine (and AmEx) for offering some fantastic ideas to help job hunters become proactive.
Why Not Take A Risk?
Don’t be afraid of being different, which means taking different routes to the coveted position. Just make sure you don’t take a job just because there is nothing else (unless you have 5 hungry kids). Go out there and show how unique you are. Somebody is bound to notice!
Created July 19, 2009. Updated May 1, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.