By Gerald Walsh ©
There are reasons why some people are more successful than others in their job searches. It is not just luck, or because they have better qualifications or more experience. It is usually about how they manage the job search process, even if they’re not looking for a job at that very moment.
If you are NOT actively looking for a job right now, you should still:
1. Always be on the lookout for opportunities.
The most successful job seekers are ones who always keep their eyes and ears open for good opportunities – at all times. They are known as “passive job seekers.” While they may be satisfied in their current role, they are always aware of the job market, maintain an active network of contacts, know who is hiring, and understand their fair market value compensation.
2. Maintain an active online presence.
Successful job seekers make themselves visible to employers who are increasingly using social media to find and screen candidates. They do this by maintaining a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. But posting a profile and checking news feeds once in a while is not really “being on” social media. You must be an active participant with relevant, accurate and current information about yourself. And while you’re at it, be sure to clean up any “digital dirt” that might be out there. Inappropriate photos, offensive comments, or evidence of excessive drinking can quickly destroy your chance of someone contacting you.
3. Manage your contact network.
Successful job seekers build and maintain a range of personal connections and relationships that includes friends, relatives, former employers, colleagues, business associates, association members, community leaders, former professors – just about everyone they know. But here’s the key: Even though you are not looking for a new job now, you should maintain these relationships by reaching out regularly. Send a holiday or birthday greeting, invite them to lunch, and offer your help if they need it. The more you give now, the greater the chance they will help you at critical stages in your career.
If you are actively seeking another job right now, you should:
4. Customize everything.
When applying for jobs, successful job seekers take the time to customize their cover letter, resume, and interview answers to match the employer’s needs. Unfortunately, most job seekers do the opposite. They send in templated cover letters, use the same resume for every job they apply for, and prepare to give vague, generalized answers to any interview question they might be asked. Don’t be like them. Your cover letter should tell the employer how your background meets their stated requirements. Your resume should highlight your relevant experience clearly. And give detailed examples when answering interview questions. Do this and you will stand out easily.
5. Anticipate the interview questions you might be asked.
When preparing for interviews, successful job seekers review the job description and prepare a list of questions they would ask a candidate if they were in the shoes of the interviewer. This is absolutely the best way to prepare for an interview. You should be able to anticipate almost every possible interview question. Then, prepare your answers to those questions and conduct a practice interview with a friend or family member. Nothing beats good preparation.
6. Make a strong first and lasting impression.
Successful job seekers follow a few simple strategies to make a good impression: Be on time, have a strong handshake and friendly greeting, dress appropriately, maintain eye contact, listen well, be engaging, and smile. Employers prefer to hire people they like and who impress them. In fact, employers will often reject candidates with strong technical skills – but who come across as arrogant or egotistical – in favour of candidates who are likeable with fewer technical skills.
7. Follow up with a thank-you note.
Successful job seekers know that it’s the small things that count. The thank-you note, for example, is one of the most under-utilized tools in the job search process. A well-crafted note gives you the chance to highlight key points about your background and summarize why you are a good candidate. It also gives you the opportunity to point out any things that you forgot to say in the interview. And, finally, it gives you an occasion to say “thank you” and express your gratitude for being given the opportunity to meet with the employer – even if you don’t get the job.
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.