Job Search Secrets
Secrets of a Sophisticated Job Seeker
31 January 2011
By Angela Hockabout for LiveCareer
Getting an interview is a big hurdle for many
job seekers, and flooding hiring managers with
cookie-cutter resumes is not an effective
tactic. In this competitive job market, you are
required to become a "sophisticated job seeker"
who knows how to take advantage of timing,
deliver a compelling resume, and target jobs in
Tips that will make your more
savvy about career trends for 2011 and make you
a "sophisticated job seeker:"
1. Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring
manager. Hiring managers are receiving
more resumes than they can possibly read, many
of them from unqualified individuals. They are
looking for specific keywords, so make it easier
for them- and increase your chances of reaching
the "yes" pile- by
customizing every resume you
submit and make sure it closely matches the job
description for the specific job you are
2. Have a portfolio of resumes. Write
a series of resumes for positions
you and keep them on hand. It will make
customizing your resume for a position easier,
and will allow you to be among the first to
submit a resume when a job is posted.
3. Follow the golden rules. Don't
give the hiring manager any reason to skip your
resume. Be sure to follow the golden rules:
avoid typos and spelling errors, be concise, use
clear formatting, be specific about your
accomplishments and be sure to follow any
specific instructions the hiring manager has
listed in the job posting.
a compelling cover letter. A great cover
letter is an elegant juggling act. You have to
briefly highlight your skills, connect them to
the requirements of the position and follow the
instructions listed in the job posting- all
while encouraging the hiring manager to read
your resume. And you have to
do this in a
well-written way without seeming desperate.
5. Consider temporary and contract work.
Many employers are easing their way back into
hiring through temp agencies and contract gigs.
Department of Labor statistics from November
2010 show that temporary jobs made up 40,000 net
private sector jobs for the month, comprising
most of the job growth in that month.
may not be ideal compared to a permanent,
full-time job, temporary work will pay the
bills, polish off your skills, and prepare you
for your next career move.
6. Consider telecommuting. For some
employers, it's difficult to find qualified
employees locally, especially in tech positions.
Often it's easier for these companies to hire
employees that can telecommute over the
Internet. 12% of American employees have the
option of working from home.
7. Use your social networks.
jobs are found through networking, so take
advantage of your personal network. Don't just
use your business connections on LinkedIn;
optimize your job search with other tools such
as Facebook. Use
the SU Mentor Network. Keep your friends informed with
what type of job you are looking for and they
may know of a position that's perfect for you.
the most of your time off. While there
are some positive signs that the job market is
recovering, it's still going to be a challenge
to land an interview in 2011. Be confident in
your abilities and skills and try to fill the
time with meaningful activities that enhance
your resume. Volunteerism, community
participation and classes can provide additional
experience that would normally be provided by a
full time job. Combine that experience with a
great resume and "sophisticated job seeker"
techniques and you may just land a new job in
1. Know what it takes. Different
fields have different application requirements,
and you need to know what those are for the
field you are interested in.
Do you need a résumé, a
cover letter, a writing sample, a portfolio,
etc.? You also need to know what these materials
look like in your field and which skills and
experiences you need to emphasize. A
legal résumé is different, both in form and
content, from a management résumé, which is
different from a marketing résumé. Don't have a
clue? Try to arrange an informational interview
with a professional in the field to which you
aspire to learn what it takes.
2. Perfect your application materials.
Always have your
application materials reviewed by someone who is
a better editor than you are. After
polishing and massaging your résumé 100 times,
you are probably too close to see the nits that
need to be picked. Have your materials reviewed
again whenever you make revisions or add
updates. Don't know any good editors? If you are
in school, try your career services office.
3. Activate your network. Tell
everyone you know what type of job you are
looking for. There is no sin in looking for
employment, so you need to
get everyone in your network working for you.
While your hair stylist is not a lawyer or a
management consultant, he or she may know one.
Follow up every lead you are given; you never
know who knows the person who can get you the
job you want.
Star Tip. If you
have a professor who has worked in industry or
does extra work in the field you're considering,
make sure to invite him or her to use their
contacts on your behalf. Often, even an
informal recommendation from a professor can
Extra-Pointer. If a parent, family
friend, older brother or sister, or employer of
yours works in the field you want to go into,
enlist their help, too. You never know who has
the contacts that count.
4. Join a professional organization.
Most occupations, from restaurant professionals
to engineers, have
professional associations. Join one.
(Many have student rates.) Attend meetings, go
to seminars, and read the materials. Like an
anthropologist, learn the language and customs
of your field, the issues of the day, and
identify the key players, so that when you land
an interview, you will "speak the language" like
5. Be patient and persistent.
Set aside time every week
to check for job postings, to do research on
employers in your field, and to send out a
manageable number of applications. It is
probably not realistic to try to send out 20,
letter-perfect, individually tailored
applications in a weekend, so pace yourself. It
is better to send five high-quality applications
than 20 generic ones.
Treat the job search as a marathon rather than a
sprint. When you work on the job search
regularly, rather than in fits and starts, it is
easier to stay focused and to control the stress
that inevitably accompanies the job search.
Star Tip. www.job-hunt.org,
www.wetfeet.com, and www.careerjournal.com are
three of the many websites that will help you in
your job search. They
provide job search tips, career research
information, company profiles, and many other
6. Don't treat an interview as an
interrogation. If you are fortunate
enough to land an interview,
treat it as an opportunity
to establish a professional relationship
with the interviewer. Know the employer, and be
prepared to ask intelligent questions. Engage
with the interviewer, and do not be shy in
letting the interviewer know how much you know
about the employer and how much you want to work
there. Be enthusiastic, not desperate.
Extra-Pointer. It's always a good idea to
do a little Web research before the interview on
the company—and, when possible, on the
individuals—that will be interviewing you.
You'll make a much better impression when you
know what the company is doing and how you might
7. Practice out loud. Try to
anticipate the types of questions you will be
asked, and practice your
responses. If you lack experience or feel
uncomfortable in interviews, find someone to do
a mock interview with. Like any other skills,
communication skills get better with practice.
And though you may think you have a perfect
answer in your head, you won't know it until you
actually articulate it. In an interview, there
is the answer you plan to give, the one you do
give, and the one you wished you'd given. With
practice, those three answers come together.
8. Be "on" from the start. In this
age of security cameras,
you may be recorded from the moment you hit the
employer's parking lot. Act as if the
employer is watching you from the outset. Dress
the part. Be friendly and respectful to everyone
you meet. Stay focused. Even if you are left
cooling your heels in the reception area, do not
be tempted to check your phone. If you cannot
resist the temptation, leave your phone in the
9. Make that first impression count.
With everyone you meet at the employer, but
especially with the interviewer, you want to
make your first impression count.
Stand up straight. Look
the interviewer in the eye. Smile, and extend
your hand for a firm, but not knuckle-crushing,
handshake. (Again, these introductory
behaviors can be practiced with your friends and
family to polish your behavior and enhance your
10. Be positive. Stay upbeat
throughout the interview.
Smile—it will register in your voice. Do
not let the interviewer's facial expressions or
tone of voice throw you off your game. Do not
assume that a particular answer is "wrong" or
that you have "blown it." Stay confident. If
asked about a perceived negative, do not make
excuses or provide elaborate explanations. Give
it one sentence, and move on. Remember that
there is no "perfect" candidate; just be the
best you can be.
Job Search Resources:
SU Mentor Network
SU Career Services Website