Many people are looking for a new or a better job. It is not an easy task. The job market is highly competitive with many applicants for each vacancy. How can you maximise your chances of getting a job offer? Try this 11 point plan.
1. Identify your transferable skills. List your main areas of expertise. How many of your skills are transferable to other lines of work? This list constitutes much of what you will be selling. Many people struggle to articulate their skills. They might say, 'I worked in local government for 10 years.' This is an experience not a skill. When you probe you find that they managed complex projects. Project management is their transferable skill.
2. Write and practice saying your TMAY - Tell Me About Yourself. Prepare a short sales pitch for the product you are selling - you. In one minute or less you should be able to explain your key skills (see Item 1 above), your main achievements (with the names of some employers or customers) and a description of the sort of work you are looking for. Your TMAY will be invaluable in networking situations and when interviewers say, 'Tell me about yourself.' More guidance here.
3. Set yourself objectives. Getting a job is a job. It takes many hours of hard work. You have to be your own boss and set yourself goals. If you want to get say 3 interviews per month then you might have to apply for 12 positions per week. Set objectives for networking, applications, interviews, skill development, research etc.
4. Polish your CV. Your CV (or résumé) is the critical document that will determine whether or not you are called to interview. Ideally it should be no longer than 2 pages. It should list your key skills, achievements and recent responsibilities. If you are over 50 then do not indicate your age by including very old experiences or dates. Have some experts read your CV and listen carefully to their feedback. More guidance here.
5. Network like crazy. Many of the best jobs are not advertised. How can you possibly hear about them? Your best chance is by networking. Contact everyone you know and tell them about the kinds of opportunities you are looking for. Ask them to let you know if they hear of anything. Go to meetings of local business people or in your specialist field. Meet other people and link to them (see below). Have a business card printed with your name and contact details and give it out to those you meet.
6. Use Linkedin. There are many internet social networking sites that you can use including Twitter and Facebook. However, by the far the most important for job-seekers is Linkedin.com. Register, load your résumé and key skills then link to everyone you can think of - friends, colleagues, customers etc. See if you can get some former bosses, colleagues or customers to recommend you. Join some relevant groups. Use Linkedin extensively for research and job hunting. Read up on how to get the most from it.
7. Apply, apply, apply. You need to kiss a lot of frogs to get one prince. Don't wait for the ideal position to be advertised and invest all your hopes in that. It is better to apply for lots of jobs that you could do. Tailor your covering letter (and if necessary your resume) to suit the position and its stated requirements. Get into the habit of making your target number of applications every week. Search all the jobsites and use RSS feeds and alerts to find out about suitable new vacancies.
8. Do your research. When you get called for interview prepare. Research the company, the position and the interviewer if you can. Use the internet and use contacts to find out all that you can. Anticipate any likely questions and prepare your answers - especially for the tricky questions that point to weaker areas in your application. Prepare some intelligent questions of your own.
9. Sparkle at interview. If you have done your research then you are already in good shape. Remember that the interviewer already thinks you have the necessary skills or they would not have called you so the key thing they are looking for is your attitude. Show your drive and enthusiasm without appearing desperate. Ask some good questions.
10. Stay focussed. Don't let rejection get you down. Be persistent. Keep working your plan even though you hear nothing from many applications and get rejected before or after interview. This is normal. Don't get angry or resentful. Keep going. There is a great job for you out there - you just haven't applied for it yet.
11. Have a plan B. If all else fails you should have a plan B. Consider starting your own business, working as a contractor or moving into a very different field. Many people look back on their change of career as the best thing that ever happened to them - though it seemed terrifying at the time.
Good luck with your job hunt.