An enormous amount of energy, time and exertion goes into job-hunting, whether you’re unemployed or not. Usually you don’t find a job as soon as you expect, which adds to the discouragement.
To help prevent this disappointment, estimate one month of job-hunting per $10,000 of salary. In other words, if you are looking for a job that pays around $50,000, plan on at least five months of searching.
To keep your job-hunt productive, it’s wise to stick to structured and habitual weekly or daily practices. The following tips will help you to stay focused, productive and ultimately, help you land a job.
What to Do and What Not to Do While Job-Hunting
1. Create a Weekly Plan to Follow
A defined task plan can help you stay focused and productive, instead of winging it for months and losing time and opportunities. Your weekly plan can be broken into days, such as:
Monday and Tuesday: Follow up on applications from last week.
Wednesday and Thursday: Network: Build some new contacts and connect with current ones.
Friday: Work on social media networking, job leads and/or applications (such as applications on LinkedIn or Facebook).
Your plan may also have specific weekly goals. For example, by the end of every Friday:
- apply to at least three new jobs
- follow up with jobs applied to the week before
- dedicate a day to networking
- have one day to devote to electronic and social media job applications
2. Create Appropriate Resume Variations and Carry Them With You at All Times
Start with a template. You will probably need resume variations that emphasize your strengths as related to different job openings. For example, a resume for a marketing position should emphasize different things than a resume for an assistant management position. Carry copies of those resumes with you. You never know when you could stumble across an opportunity.
3. Always Research the Company
Applying what you know about company values, goals, products and services, and office atmosphere is one of many reasons to rework your resume appropriately. However, it’s even more important to research a company before an interview, so that you can use that information to make yourself relevant to a particular company’s goals and values.
4. Customize Every Cover Letter
A generic cover letter is more likely to be ignored, forgotten or quickly tossed aside than one that was obviously personalized and written specifically for a particular job opening and/or company. If possible, research the company to find out the name of the hiring manager, and address your cover letter directly to him or her.
5. Use Networking to Discover Jobs Below General Radar
Networking to find a job is emphasized for a reason. Many middle- to senior-level and other professional positions are given only to those who have at least some prior connection – for example, a recommendation of a colleague, former co-worker, employee or friend. The more competitive the position and/or location, the more this tends to be true.
6. Use Specific or Niche Job-Search Sites Over National Ones
Job-search sites like Monster, Indeed or Career Builder are largely scoured by recruiters, not actual hiring managers. A lot of spam gets through as well. Use small, specific or niche sites, such as college alumni job-search sites or sites dedicated to a specific type of work.
7. Use Email Alerts to Notify You of Responses
When you apply to dozens of jobs within a short period of time, responses can get buried in your email or even sent to spam. Set up alerts so you don’t miss opportunities and can reply promptly.
8. Don’t Waste Time on Ineffective Tactics
Tactical job-hunting is typically ineffective, while strategic job-hunting is more productive. Tactics like job fairs, constantly updating your LinkedIn profile and spending time on massive national job-search sites can be a waste of time. Devise and adhere to a personalized job-hunting strategy.
9. Take Advantage of Snail Mail
Electronic job applications often flood into a company’s database in very large numbers, which means that yours can easily be lost or overlooked. Snail mail is a great way to get your resume in front the hiring manager and make your application stand out from the rest.
10. Unless Specifically Directed Not to, Make Personal Appearances
Showing up in person to deliver your application still has its advantages, despite the overwhelmingly popular method of electronic submissions. While it’s true that you may only be able to speak to the secretary, even a message and hand-delivered application to the hiring manager can leave a much more memorable impression – and is more likely to be reviewed with attentiveness – than just another electronic submission among a hundred others.
One of the most important ways to stay motivated, especially when you’ve been job-searching for months, is to reward yourself for your efforts and progress. Even if you haven’t been offered a job, keep your confidence level up by allowing yourself small indulgences. Go out to dinner or on a weekend vacation. After all, looking for a job is a full-time job.
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