No one teaches us how to job hunt. Most of us are left to fend for ourselves when it comes to writing a resume, interviewing or where to search for jobs. A lot of advice we get is word of mouth.
So we at CareerCloud set out to ask experts (recruiters, career coaches and other business leaders) about what the basics are that EVERY job seeker should know. We received dozens of responses for this post and have removed any duplicates, so each answer is unique. Here they are, unfettered and unedited…...this is by far the biggest ever blog post we’ve ever assembled so it may take you a while to read it all :-)
From iCIMS: might be helpful while you're building out the story. Here is a link to the newest eBook from iCIMS called Start a Successful Job Hunt & Set Yourself Apart. Key findings include:
* Who You Know Matters - The number one source of hire is referrals (34 percent of respondents)
* Prioritize extending your professional network through new organizations, networking events and/or social media channels
* How You Apply Matters - 59 percent of recruiters found cover letters useful sometimes; 11 percent shared that cover letters are extremely valuable, whereas 10 percent shared cover letters are a waste of time
* Consider a video cover letter that showcases personality beyond the tried-and-true (and often times boring) cover letter
* Digital Presence Matters - 76 percent of recruiters perform a Google search on candidates and 40 percent shared that finding online information disqualified a candidate from consideration
* Project the right image and digital presence across social media channels to attract the potential employers
From David Bakke, Money Crashers: Instead of applying to hundreds of companies, write out a list of the top ten companies you'd prefer to work at. Start there (you can always broaden this out later). Have your resume professionally written – it's worth the investment.
Be sure to thoroughly research a company when you land an interview and mention what you learned during your conversation. Start the interview off with a firm handshake. Dress conservatively – you want the focus of the interview to be on you and not what you have on. Be confident yet not arrogant in what you have to say about yourself. Never make disparaging remarks about a previous employer.
When given the opportunity to ask questions at the end, always do so. Clear up anything you didn't understand during the interview, ask what qualities the interviewer is looking for in the position (and reinforce that you possess them if applicable) and inquire about how the process will move along going forward. Clean up your social media profiles before you begin your search – plenty of employers will review them as part of the hiring process.
From Kay Pyatt, employment manager at The Houstonian Hotel with nearly 800 employees, offers these tried and true tips that never get old and still create a good first impression;
* Arrive 10 minutes early - no more, no less. Arriving earlier is demanding attention before you should have the floor. If you think you might be late...CALL!
* Dress professionally no matter the position. For example, are you interviewing for a position as an exercise instructor? Workout gear is never appropriate in an interview unless you were asked to do so.
* Answer the questions. If you are a little stumped by a question, ask for a moment to think about it and/or say "that is a good question" (We love that!). Refrain from saying "I can't think of anything" or avoiding an answer. Also, make it a professional response. Deeply personal responses can be awkward for everyone.
From Jennifer van Amerom, Founding Partner of Culture & Company: Job seekers should have the following:
* A well written resume with proper grammar and no spelling errors
* Do not lie on your resume! References and word of mouth are easy to do
* Keep it focused on the type of role you're hoping to obtain
* Update your LinkedIn profile so it matches your resume with the same dates, position summary, etc.
* Make sure you have references that are ready to go - have their permission, their correct contact details and their availability to receive inquiries
* Have your "elevator pitch" ready - it's a 10 second introduction of who you are
* This is helpful when making introductions at networking events
* Have interview wardrobe picked out - have several outfits picked out for several rounds if you're successful
* Consult a career/interview coach
* Identify what you are qualified to do and what you'd like to do
* Identify your strengths and weaknesses for interviewing skills
* Consider submitting your resume to recruitment firms
* Identify which networking events you can attend
From Deanna Arnold, The Peoples HR: Deanna is a Human Resources professional with 15 years in the field as well as the Founder of The People's HR. Job Seeking can be an overwhelming time for anyone, whether they are just starting out, or are back in the game after a period of time. Here are some of the basics to remember when going through the job seeking process:
Recordkeeping - Keep a running list of the places that you apply and the job that you applied for so that you are prepared when you get a call from a company. If you are applying at multiple companies or for multiple jobs, it can be easy to forget but you don't want the potential employer to know that.
Email Address/Voicemail Message - Have an email address that is neutral (email@example.com for example) and not a nickname or personal interest of some kind. Be sure that your voicemail message for incoming calls is communicated clearly and professional.
Phone Interviews/Pre-Screens - When you get a call from a potential employer, treat the call just as if it were an in-person interview. Be somewhere that is quiet, speak clearly and be attentive to what they are saying.
Timeliness - When going to an interview, it is very important to be on time and to not be late, or too early. It is best to get to the company about 5-10 minutes prior to the interview time. The day before your interview, drive to where you will be interviewing so that you are sure as to the location as well as how long it will take you to get there.
Appearance - First impressions mean the most so a professional and appropriate appearance is essential when going for a job interview. Clothes should be fitted, clean and appropriate for your body type, not baggy or too tight. Wear something that makes you feel confident and that you are comfortable wearing or the business or business casual nature, depending on the company. Jewelry and makeup should be simple and not too bold.
Body Language - Body language speaks for you when you don't. Handshakes should be firm, but not crushing and look the interviewer(s) in the eye when speaking to them and answering their questions. Sit up straight and have your arms and hands in a comfortable position, whether in your lap or on the table.
Do your research - Read about the company, note any news articles, research the people that you are interviewing with and know their roles in the company and the hiring/interviewing process.
Be prepared - Come to the interview prepared with the points that you want to make and the skills that you want highlight that you have and that are applicable to the role that you are interviewing for. Be sure to run through your work history and be prepared to talk about specific examples of different work experiences. Also be prepared with questions to ask the people that are interviewing you. Remember, you are determining if you want to work at that company just as much as they are determining if they want you to work there so be sure to ask good questions.
Stay positive and don't give up - Job seeking can be difficult to manage but it is really important to stay positive, focused on your goals and to not give up!
From Katy Imhof, CEO of Camden Kelly, an IT recruiting firm in Dallas: When you're interviewed by multiple people there is often one dominant interviewer who asks the majority of the questions. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in this scenario is to direct all of your responses and eye contact to the dominant person. Make sure to make sufficient eye contact with everyone in the room. They're in the interview for a reason and often have some influence over the hiring decision. If you don't establish eye contact, it could be considered offensive and ruin your chances of getting the job.
From talent manager and head recruiter, Brittani Boice: A few things I look for when screening candidates:
- Clean, properly formatted resume that includes all contact information.
- If the candidate has a website or portfolio, the link should always be included on the resume. (I will not even consider a graphic designer who does not include a portfolio link or provide examples).
- Updated LinkedIn account with a professional photo.
What a candidate should do before starting their job search:
- Update their resume and LinkedIn.
- Tailor your resume for each position you are applying for to highlight your skills that are most relevant to the position.
- Read the job description, the responsibilities and qualifications for the job. Do not apply for jobs in which you do not meet 90% of the qualifications, it will look like you did not read the description.
- Make sure you follow any instructions given for how to apply for the job. If you are on a job site for example and the posting says to apply through the company website, make sure you apply through the company website and not the job site. If the posting says no phone calls, do not call.. If you are a good fit, someone will reach out to you.
- Research the company to become familiar with who they are and what they do. I always ask the candidate what their understanding of the organization is to see if they have done this.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer(s) relating to the company and/or the position.
- Invest in a padfolio/organizer to keep a notepad, pens, business cards and resumes. Bring this with you to the interview.
- Always have at least 5 copies of your resume with you. Every person in the interview room should have a copy in their hands.
- Always ask for business cards at the end of the interview to send follow up thank you emails.
- A hand-written thank you note will always get you bonus points but at the very least, send a thank you email.
- Dress professionally. Don't be afraid to incorporate your personal style into your interview outfit but keep the company's culture/environment in mind. If you are unsure of what would be appropriate, stick with neutral colors, closed toe shoes and minimal jewelry. Men should always wear a jacket and tie. Women should make sure that shoulders are covered and that skirts/dresses are an appropriate length. Hair should be neat and clean.
- Do not fidget or swing/rock in your chair during the interview.
- Smile and laugh :) Show your personality and be yourself, it comes across as more genuine.
From Ryan Naylor, founder of LocalWork.com: Some basics of job seeking include
(1) Always include a cover letter and make your resume concise and easy to read: you don't have to include every job you've had, just include what makes you relevant to the job you're applying for or what makes you stand out.
(2) Show your value: highlight your achievements but make sure not to sound too confident. It can be difficult to find a right balance but practice makes perfect.
(3) Apply only to jobs that are right for you, that doesn't mean wait around for a dream job but limit yourself to ones that can help guide you to achieve your future career goals.
(4) Quality vs. Quantity: instead of applying to as many jobs as you can find, try spending more time applying to jobs that are right for you by focusing on personalizing your cover letter and resume to show a good match.
(5) Personalizing: avoid "To whom it may concern," and do some research to find out who you are actually trying to reach and address them directly.
(6) Which brings me to the next point; research! Research the company before going into an interview so you can make yourself relevant and show that you are familiar with the company and really know what to do. (It also shows you really care about the position).
(7) Interview Points: Come up with three key points ahead of time that are relevant to the company and the job involved, and make sure to address them in the interview.
(8) "Cyber Cleanse": make sure all social media is appropriate as well as update your LinkedIn and Google Plus accounts.
From Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call: "Google Thyself”... It may sound a bit narcissistic, but if a potential employer is going to do it, you should too. It can be surprising to find entries tied to your name at such a young age, but as data is cataloged and stored these days just about everyone has a few entries. Whether it’s the time Jane got her name in the paper for winning the town spelling bee, or the time she was involved in a DUI, nothing dies on the Internet. If knowledge is power, make sure you know what anyone with a WiFi connection can find out about you in a few clicks. Better yet, sign up for Google Alerts so that you’re notified when something new about you hits the web.
Build Your Own Buzz: If there’s not a lot of noteworthy news about you on the web, or worse, there’s something you wish was hidden a bit further down in the search results, consider establishing a positive online profile. Sign up for LinkedIn, a professional networking site, and complete your profile with as much detail as you can muster. Potential employers utilizing advanced search to screen potential candidates want to know if you can make magic in Photoshop. It won’t take that long to create a free profile and it will allow your online resume to join the rest of the information swimming about the Web. This is one search result you can manage, so make it glow.
Present Yourself Professionally: Social Media can be so much more than just a forum to post your picks for the next American Idol. If there’s a field you’re looking to get a foothold in, join online communities. Post thoughtful commentary. And for goodness sake, use proper grammar. Just about any job hunter is going to want you to be capable of writing to a client, customer or co-worker at some point. If your posts are rife with incorrect word use and punctuation errors, it will be hard for them to see you as a solid representative of their company.
Network… Socially: Many companies maintain a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, even Twitter. Find the fan pages for the companies that you’d like to work for one day, “like” the page and contribute to discussions. Glean what you can about the people in key positions to hire into the job you covet. Before you check your newsfeed for the photos from last night’s party, check out the job finding resources available through Facebook.
From Michelle Comer Practice Area Leader, The Messina Group: One of the most overlooked basics that we see as a national staffing and consulting firm is professional contact information. Every job seeker should establish a name-based email and Skype address. Many initial interviews are taking place over Skype and having a less-than-professional address can work against candidates. Also, job seekers should listen to their voice mail greeting to make sure that the recording is free of background noise such as other people talking, music or traffic.
From Lynne Sarikas, Director of the MBA Career Center at the D'Amore McKim School of Business at Northeastern University says the single most important thing you can do to be successful in your job search is Network!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics nearly 80% of all jobs are filled through networking. Online postings often receive responses of hundreds of resumes. To stand out and be noticed you need an internal contact to pass your resume to the hiring manager. Networking helps you build and identify those internal contacts. Networking is NOT asking for a job. It is meeting someone at the company to learn about the company, the industry, the types of roles they offer, the skills they value etc. Networking involves a significant amount of listening.
Start with friends and family and explore who they know at target companies. Do your neighbors or your friends’ parents have any connections to those companies? What about former co-workers or classmates? Sign up for the alumni network at your school and leverage the alumni database to identify contacts. Most people will give a fellow alum a few minutes if asked. Sign up for linked in and identify contacts there as well. Consider preparing a networking profile to help contacts see what you have to offer and the companies that interest you. Ask each networking contact for at least three other contacts.
Always thank the contact and keep track so you can follow up when you see an opportunity at that company. Challenge yourself to make at least five networking connections each week. It does make a difference.
Also...Create a plan – You need to define your goals and a specific plan of how you plan to achieve them. You can’t get there if you don’t know where you are going. Assess your skills, strengths and interests. Think about the type of work you enjoyed on internships, part-time jobs or even on campus. Document your plan and measure your progress against it. Set weekly goals and hold yourself accountable. Reward yourself by doing something you enjoy once you’ve accomplished your goals for the week.
Prepare your tools – If you are planning a trip, you pack your bags. As you embark on your job search journey you also need to make sure you have the appropriate tools. Do you have your resume up to date and ready to go? Have someone else proof it for you just to be sure there are no typos or errors. Practice writing customized cover letters and ask for feedback. Consider developing a networking profile to share during networking meetings. Think about who you could use for references and collect their current contact information. Ask their permission to use them as references and tell them you will notify them when you share their information with a hiring manager so you can brief them on the job. Having the right tools won’t get you a job but it can get your foot in the door so you have the opportunity to sell yourself for the job.
Develop a Target list – What companies are you most interested in working for? What industries are of greatest interest to you? Start your list with your current preferences and then begin your research to identify other companies or industries that are similar and need your skill sets. With a variety of online tools you can do significant research into these companies to prepare you for networking meetings and interviews. Your target list will help guide your job search efforts.
From Ben Landers, President of Blue Corona: As the president of Blue Corona, a digital marketing and analytics company with about 50 employees I've done a fair bit of hiring. I also started my career with HotJobs.com. Landing your dream job goes beyond dressing well (and conservatively--unless the role/company you're interviewing with is edgy), being neat/well-groomed, etc. In my experience, the place where most job seekers--especially those straight out of college--go wrong is with respect to preparation.
Most job seekers are under prepared. They don't know enough about the company--culture, values, services, competitors, history, the person interviewing them, etc. They skim the surface--glance at the company's website, maybe checkout the CEO on LinkedIn--but that's about it--and that's not nearly enough. Job seekers should pretend that they're investigative journalists and learn everything they can about a company and its competitors.
They should also focus on showing whenever possible--vs. telling. For example, if I were interviewing for an online marketing role with a company, I would do a full-blown competitor analysis. I'd bind it up and create a PowerPoint to go with it. I'd walk my interviewer through it and talk about it--sharing my perspective and recommendations along the way.
From Chris Russell, founder of CareerCloud: Maximize your job hunt by finding every related job board or company in your target industry & location. Google things like industry name plus the word jobs to find them or use this directory. Check their sites frequently. Get their email alerts. Try to be one the first 10 people to apply to the newest jobs first. Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisrussell