When hunting work, it’s the most obvious facts that many of us miss. For example: Landing a good job is most likely to happen when the job seeker makes a solid plan and follows through. And a solid plan takes much more than writing and updating a resume.
Most of us don’t have the option of being unemployed indefinitely. That’s why you must quickly and thoroughly plan and execute your job search. Start with sizing up your skills; next, decide on what kind of job you really want; next, decide on the labor market where you want to work; identify employers to whom you want to apply; and develop a back-up plan.
Make time to plan
Spend quality time evaluating your skills and charting your course. The more time and planning you invest, the more you increase your chances of finding a job sooner. Careful planning achieves the most desirable results. A successful job search rarely happens accidentally. Plan on spending 30 hours or more a week on job search activities.
Identifying your skills will enable you to better articulate your skills and accomplishments to an employer. It will also allow you to arrange your skills in priority patterns to apply to specific jobs. Identifying your skills also will help you match your skills to your interests and job opportunities and provide information for your resume. What would you say to an employer if you were asked to describe your skills? Keep in mind that an employer evaluates how you answer the question, not just what you say. FYI: Many employers say that most job applicants cannot effectively describe their skills.
Your resume should reflect you — in action
A resume is the closest thing to making an on-the-job impression with a potential employer. It is a short account (1–2 pages) of your experience, qualifications, and achievements. The goal of your resume is to capture the reader’s interest so that he or she wants to speak with you. Most resumes get a 5–15 second scan by the reader. Your resume must have enough impact to grab the attention of the prospective employer. There can be no generic approach to a resume –– always try to tailor every resume to fit the qualifications of a specific job as much as possible.
The employer wants to know: “What can you do for me? How can you improve my operations? Can you make me money? Save me time? Keep my customers happy?” Your resume must not only show the skills you have, it must demonstrate your successes. Know the two types of resumes: Chronological and Functional.
A chronological resume lists the relevant jobs in reverse order, with the most recent first. This format is the most popular, the easiest to prepare, and is generally successful. Meanwhile, a functional resume lists work experiences in terms of one or more specific “functions,” such as “finances, administrative, or support services.”
A good cover letter starts the conversation
A cover letter accompanies a resume. Its purpose is to tell the reader why you are writing or why he or she is receiving your resume. You want to convince the employer you are a qualified candidate for a position and should be considered for an interview. Use the same font style and size as you did on your resume. Address someone in authority by name and title. If you don’t have this information, use a functional title, such as, “Dear Manager of Operations.”
Time for references
References are individuals (personal or professional) who can vouch for your work history, skills, or character. References and a salary history should always be on a separate page. But before you include someone in your list: Ask the person for permission to be on your reference list. Tell your references that employers may contact them concerning your skills and character traits.
This is just a sample of job-hunting basics. For a full-scale look at all you may need to know about planning, preparing and presenting, view the Job Search Tips located on our website, or view our upcoming Job Search Seminars schedule at wrksolutions.com/jobs/jobfairs.asp, for the next local job search seminar close to you.