If you race dragsters, you don’t wait for the green light to accelerate. Your left foot is on the brake while your right foot is giving gas. You watch the starting lights of the “Christmas tree” count down the yellows while applying more gas. As soon as the light turns green, you release the brake and stomp further on the accelerator. This head start is not only legal but gives you an advantage over those who wait for the green.
The same principle applies to your job search.
Businesses are slowly emerging from the pandemic’s shutdown. Some organizations are staying remote — since there are fewer expenses involved in letting people work from home — while others are returning to their offices. Retailers want customers in their stores but have also adapted to selling online. In the hospitality and services industries, companies don’t really have a choice: People must be on site, or the company will go out of business.
Sadly, a lot of businesses are no more; a lot of people are unemployed. You might be one of them. But this is not the time to be a victim. This is the time to be opportunistic. Take control of yourself since this is all that you can control. Conduct an assessment of your skills, qualifications, and desires to determine how you will move forward now.
Review Your Job Search So Far
Job hunting is essentially a numbers game. Have you applied for enough jobs? Have you gotten any feedback about your application and adjusted to that feedback?
Have you done enough networking? Aha, trick question! You can never do enough networking. The most reliable way to obtain a job is through someone you know who either has inside information or knows someone else who does. If you see a job being advertised, it’s often too late already.
Perfect Your Resume
There are lots of books, videos, and tutorials you can use to help you create an effective resume. Remember: An effective resume is not just a list of job descriptions. It should quantify your achievements. It should include all the requisite sections: education, work experience, skills/competencies, volunteer work, awards, and certifications. It should have no mistakes, misspellings, or grammatical errors.
Perfect Your Cover Letter
Start by searching online for sample formats you like. Whatever cover letter format you choose, it should be short and should include the following key details:
• Title of the job for which you’re applying
• Explanation of how you heard about the role
• A key accomplishment related to the new job
• A demonstration of your knowledge about the company
• Your enthusiasm for the opportunity
• A request for an interview
That’s it. The company knows you want the job. That’s why you’re applying — just like the other 200 people vying for this role. What the company wants to see is your personality and writing ability.
Perfect Your References
Don’t scramble to make a list when a potential employer asks for one. Think ahead. Make a list of diverse people in your life — a professor, coach, clergyman, former boss, person you hired, person you supervised, project teammate, colleague from another company, etc. Pick the five who are most appropriate for the job you’re seeking. Get their permission to use them as references, and be sure to ask for their latest contact information as well.
Perfect Your LinkedIn Profile
Most companies use LinkedIn to find candidates. Most candidates use LinkedIn to find jobs. It only makes sense that this would be the strongest tool in your job search today.
Do not simply copy and paste your resume into your profile. Instead, make use of LinkedIn’s different format. There are plenty of guides to help you craft a strong LinkedIn profile.
Putting Perfection Into Practice
Now, what do you do with all that perfection? You start by making a plan. As the legendary Yankee Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Begin with strategy (what you want to accomplish), and then move to tactics (how you’re going to do it).
Next, do your homework. You can learn everything about a company and the people making its hiring decisions with a little Internet research. Get to know who those people are; this is your key to reaching them and convincing them you’re not just another body looking for a paycheck. You want to work for them because you like them and want to make the company better.
Stay organized as you carry out your search. Track what and when you send to whom; track the companies’ responses. Use whatever method works best for you: a spreadsheet, file, binder, notepad, etc.
Finally, follow up. Your continued interest shows enthusiasm.
Keep your foot on the gas, and you’ll be ready for the green light!
Ferris Kaplan is a college professor of sales and marketing and founder of Best of You Resumes.
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