Job Searching Starts with a Strategy

by Ryan Stene

12 June, 2013

Although I am fortunate to not have been a job seeker for many years, I have many colleagues, friends and family that were affected by one our country’s most difficult economic tragedies. I have had the opportunity to help some of them in their job searches. The most important thing that I have stressed is building the foundation, which is the strategy. I believe that the strategy sets the tone and will make you or break you in your success—which is ultimately getting hired.

Throughout my travels, I have narrowed it down to six key points.

  1. Prep Work: Is your resume updated, clean and well-done? Do you have an online presence?
  2. Research, Research, Research
  3. Stay Focused—track your progress; go offline for at least 90 minutes of the day.
  4. Build Your Network. Are you online or building your network? Are you being social on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?
  5. Practice: Work on interview questions, your body language and be prepared for last- minute changes.
  6. Follow Up

Prep Work: When it comes to prep work it can be in various levels and context. The first place I would start is “are you online?” We live in a digital “Web 2.0” world and recruiters live fully submerged in this world. They are going to Google you. Don’t think they won’t. When you Google yourself, what comes up? Is there something that you don’t want your mom to see? If nothing comes up with your name, then you have some work to do … get on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Be intentional online. When I Google myself, Friendfeed.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Plaxo all appear in the top seven search results. If you need some help revamping your online image, check out this article. Create an email address that you can take home to mom.

If you need help your with resume, research resume writing services, blogs and career development classes. See if a friend will share it with his or her human resources department and get feedback—they will know a good resume from a bad one; they look at millions of them a year. As your resume is your first impression, it is key to your job search. Go to Monster.com or a CareerBuilder.com for assistance; they have tons of content. Monster.com Cover Letter & Resume Articles

Research, Research, Research and Then Research Some More: Research is very important to the job search; it tells you what the market is like and who is hiring. So when you begin to go to a Monster.com or another job board to look for opportunities, take advantage of tools like job agents to push opportunities to you. Before applying, Google the company and review your connections on LinkedIn and Facebook to see if any know someone at your company of interest. Look at their careers page and gather as much information on them so that you can make a sound decision but also have knowledge for when you apply. Tailor your cover letter and resume to the ideal requirements of the job. It also will help you come interview time. Create a saved search on Indeed; it will help you save time and become efficient.

Stay Focused: It is crucial in a search that you stay focused and positive. Track your progress, where you’ve applied and the responses you’ve received. Work your job search like you would a job. Take breaks, go to lunch and most definitely get offline for at 90 minutes (workout, gardening, cleaning)—this will help you clear your head and remain refreshed.

Are You Online or Building a Network?: Recruiters are spending a large amount of their time online—if they tell you differently, they are lying! So, if they are online, then you need to be. There are so many thought leaders and perspectives on what is a good online presence, so it is all about what you can manage or handle. I personally spend my time on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. When it comes to social networking, I consult my dear friend Paul DeBettignies. He has some great webinars and content. Just have fun with it and experiment!

Practice: Just like when you were growing up and were playing a sport, the only way you got good at it is with lots of practice. The same applies to interviewing. Practice in front of the mirror with your 30-second elevator pitch about you and your particular skills that will make you asset at “x-company.” Go out and get some frequently used interview questions or ones that will make or break your interview and practice with your spouse, neighbor or even your dog. Create a “last minute” interview kit for one at home and one in your car. There may be a case where you are out running errands and they want you in today to interview. This could give you a leg up being prepared and not having to tailor an interview to your schedule.

Follow-Up: Follow up can be the last deciding factor in a selection process. Invest in some thank you cards; follow up with an email not just thanking them for their time, but restate why you are good fit for the role and the company. Also, ask them if they are any unanswered questions that they want answered. Connect with them on LinkedIn—they may not hire you now, but you may want to connect with them in the future.  Ask for feedback.

STAY POSITIVE, there are going to ups and downs, good times and bad, but if you get defeated it is going to show. Good Luck!