I talk a lot about business and entrepreneurship, but sometimes you just need a job. And finding a good one in a “layoff economy” is not always an easy thing. You need strategies that work and you need them now.
To start, you want to keep some essential facts about job hunting and the hiring process in mind:
- 90% of jobs are not advertised. This is huge, and it means newspaper classifieds, Craigslist, and the big career websites are only telling you about 10% of the jobs out there.
- There are 3 gateways to get through. The first is getting your resume looked at, the second is getting an interview, and the third is getting hired. You have to get through all 3 gateways to get the job.
- Companies want solutions to problems. A lot of times, a company will advertise a position but end up not hiring. They end up finding another solution because they don’t just want a warm body; they want a solution to a specific problem.
Just understanding these key points is critical to your job hunting strategy. It tells you where to look for a job, and how to present yourself for maximum results. So put these 5 strategies to work and let me know how your job hunt goes …
1. Get on Top of Your World
Communication has 3 components; body language, voice tonality, and the words you use. Your state of mind affects all these things either positively or negatively, so before you even write your resume or start your job search you need to be in the best frame of mind you can be.
This means sweeping away stress and anxiety, and boosting your confidence, level of happiness, and your go-get-em attitude. Here’s a few ideas to help you pump yourself up:
- Get active. Run, walk, bike, dance, pump some iron … anything to get your blood pumping and the “runner’s high” working in your favor.
- Get procreative. Put together a romantic evening with your significant other and make it a night to remember. Guaranteed to make you forget everything else.
- Have a play-day. Take the family out or go out with friends and just have a blast doing something new and fun.
- Do something selfless. Help someone out and expect nothing in return.
- Look good to feel good. Get a haircut or go to the spa for the afternoon. Then, buy a few new clothes to help you look your best.
2. Walk the Road Less Travelled
We know that only 10% of the jobs out there are ever advertised. We also know that 90% of the people out there are competing for those jobs; these odds are not in your favor. And getting a direct referral from someone pushes you right past gate one (getting your resume read) to gate two (the interview). It can even push you right into gate three (getting hired).
This means network, network, network and it’s how the best jobs are always found:
- Talk to your friends and family. Hit every party and group gathering you can.
- Play catch-up with former employers and colleagues.
- Attend conferences and events related to your field.
- Check out community job fairs.
- Talk to people everywhere; the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Just connect, make conversation, and look for opportunities.
- Research companies you’re interested in and start cold-calling them. Ask for the HR person, turn on the charm, and talk to them about any positions they’re hiring for.
3. It’s Not a Cover Letter, It’s a Sales Pitch
The best cover letters I’ve ever seen come from marketing people. They know how to sell it, and no matter what kind of job you’re applying for, you need to sell yourself with your cover letter.
Remember, companies are looking for a solution to a problem. And many times, if they don’t see the solution in any of the resumes they get, they just put off hiring someone. No interviews, nothing. Your cover letter needs to convey that you’re the solution to their problem.
- Figure out the “real” problem the company needs to solve. They might need specific expertise or experience. They might need better efficiency or higher quality. If you know the job you’re applying for well, you already understand the common pitfalls and challenges that companies are dealing with.
- Highlight yourself as the solution. With a few brief bullet points, talk about what you can bring to the job that will solve their problem. Don’t be arrogant or wishy-washy; be confident, factual, and positive. And describe the real benefits that hiring you brings.
- You’re talking about what you can do, not what you’ve done. Unless you’re name-dropping, simply refer the employer to your resume for more detail on your experience, education, and accomplishments.
- Close your cover letter by asking for an interview to discuss the position, restating your contact number and email address.
4. Your Resume is You
If you can’t get an interview through a direct referral, your resume has to introduce you to the employer. And you’ve got some more sales pitching to do. While your cover letter is selling the benefits of hiring you, your resume is selling the features you come with; education, experience, and key accomplishments.
Putting a resume together is pretty straight forward because it’s simply a record of what you’ve done. But keep these points in mind:
- Keep it neat and easily scannable/readable whether it’s being read onscreen or printed out. Also, stay away from crazy fonts or anything that’s distracting from the content.
- Fill any holes or “lost time” in your history. If you have to do this, rather than stating this year to that year, state the number of years you were employed at each company.
- Fit in with the company’s business culture. For example, a non-union company won’t be impressed if you flaunt your union credentials. It scares them. And the opposite can also be true.
- Tailor your descriptions of duties, accomplishments, and skills to the job you’re applying for. You want to talk about the things you’ve done that are most relevant to what you will be doing.
- Use your references up front if it will help. Generally, it’s good practice to finish your resume with “references available upon request”. But, if there’s a chance a little name dropping will help you make a connection, include your references page as well.
5. Kick-Ass Interviewing
If you’ve gotten to the point of getting an interview, you’re more than half way there. And even if you’re up against other applicants who are better qualified on paper, the interview is about much more than that. It’s about you. It’s about what you can bring to the job. And it’s about making the employer believe in you.
- Sell yourself first. Law 14 of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership teaches us that people have to buy into you before they buy into your ideas. An interview is that kind of feeling-out process. It’s not all business; you have to get to know each other with a little casual conversation too. Be likeable and real. Just leave your funny bone at home; some people don’t like funny.
- Be interested. Look for things you know about when you go in. These might be customers or suppliers you’ve dealt with before, equipment you’ve operated, or a process you have experience with. Ask questions and relate your own helpful and positive experiences to those things. A little “shop talk” goes a long way.
- Be confident. Anything you don’t know that’s part of the job is something you can learn. Anything about the job that doesn’t appeal to you is something you can change later or adapt to. Fear itself is always the only thing you need to fear. If you need a boost before the interview, hit strategy #1 quickly and go in there while you’re on top of the world.
So there you go. A job search is basically marketing. I think you can see that understanding what an employer needs will help you immensely. Looking in places where jobs are best found will also help you immensely. And being at your best throughout the whole process will help you … let’s hear it … immensely.
Now go get ’em.