Job searching is a competition. It's not just about whether or not your qualifications meet the needs of the employer, it's how well your qualifications compare to everyone else who applied or is under consideration. If you really want the job, gain a competitive advantage wherever you can. Here are 5 things to think about:
1. Hire a professional resume writer who specializes in your field.
Shameless plug, I know, but it's true. Most people don't hire professional resume writers, let alone someone who specializes in their field. For some reason, many people think writing a resume is an easy thing that virtually anyone can do. Yes, most people can write a simple, average resume, but "average" doesn't cut it in today's job market. If you want to make the best possible impression on recruiters and other decision-makers, get a powerful, compelling, achievement-based resume. Most people don't have one.
2. Target companies you would like to work for.
Once I finish a resume for a client, I often get asked, "What job boards are the best for posting my resume?" And I usually reply with, "I don't know. I'm not a big fan of job boards." I don't mean that job boards are useless and you shouldn't waste your time with them. I'm simply saying that if everyone else is posting their resume on job boards, perhaps you should try a different approach. I recommend a 5-step targeted job search strategy because most people prefer to throw their resume at a wall and hope it sticks.
3. Research potential employers ahead of time.
Most job-seekers think researching a potential employer means asking a bunch of questions (that they should already know the answer to) at the interview. That's not research - all that does is show your lack of research. It's important to know as much as you can about the company beforehand so a) you are more likely to know if it's a good fit, and b) you can impress them with your initiative and knowledge when communicating through email, in a cover letter, or at an interview. Most people don't do this.
4. Customize your cover letter for every job.
Further to the above, take the knowledge you have gained and customize your cover letter for each company. I often get asked if I write cover letters, since most other resume writers do. I reply that I don't because generic letters that aren't written for a specific job target are worthless. Recruiters will see that right away. (I provide my clients with a 65-page job search manual instead, which includes cover letters.) So if you want to make a great impression, tailor your cover letter to each company and position that you apply for. Most people don't do this.
5. Send a "thank you" message after the interview.
Sending a thank you letter, card, or email after an interview will help you stand out from the crowd. You will remind them that you exist, which is important if they interviewed a lot of people and you were one of the first. It will give you a chance to reiterate your interest in the position, now that you (probably) know more about it than when you first went in. And it will give you an opportunity to remind them of why you're a top candidate for the position. Most people don't do this.
Remember, all the best qualifications won't get you the job if you aren't also able to grab the recruiter's attention (so they take notice of those impressive qualifications!). Doing all you can to stand out from the rest of the candidates is a must in today's competitive job market.
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