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Job Search Shortcuts You Can't Afford

The job search process is stressful and time-consuming enough as it is.  The last thing anyone wants is for it to last forever.  After all, the whole point is to FIND a job, not create a new hobby.  Why wouldn't someone want to take all the necessary steps to ensure finding the job you love in as little time as possible?  Let's take a look at the steps for finding the job you want and the shortcuts that you don't want to take.

1.  Preparation-  This is the step at which you should be making your resume great.  The common shortcut here is that people don't spend the time to make that happen.  Remember that all of your experience counts whether it is inside or outside of your current job.  Paint a picture with your words of what you have really accomplished.  Use facts and be specific.

As an example, I once helped a friend who was a current graphic designer, but wanting to become the manager over a group of graphic designers at another company.  He had plenty of experience leading people in a variety of ways, but his resume only spoke to what he was currently doing - being a good graphic designer.  There was no way for someone reviewing his resume to realize that he had the full skill set they were looking for, including managing people and projects. He eventually took the time to "paint the picture" for them in a way that helped him stand out and get the interview.

2.  Search-  Now start marketing yourself.  The most common shortcut here is that people don't use a variety of ways to find what they're looking for. Too many people spend hours applying online and waiting to hear back, but most jobs are never posted anywhere!  Also, being part of a resume database does not lend itself to a high success rate, even if you are a great candidate.

I suggest targeting a set number of places you know you would like to work and introduce yourself via cover letter and resume and then follow-up via phone.  Get involved in clubs and organizations that put you in a position to meet people who can help you or even the decision makers themselves. The last place to spend a lot of time is applying online.  It's a waste of time unless you've been asked to do so based on their interest in you from the other steps you've taken!  I'm not saying not to search online, but make this a small percentage of your search efforts.

3.  Close the deal-  You landed the interview you want.  You're so close now....and yet so many people blow it right here. The common shortcut here is that people don't prepare to show why they are better or how they can really make a difference at the company.  Remember that the company is considering investing in you.  They want to hear how you will make that investment pay off.  Focus on their needs, not yours. Do your homework on the accomplishments and struggles of the company and the market they are in and be prepared to show how you can make a difference. Don't be afraid to ask tough questions like "How does the company intend to compete with the changes in.....?"  Doing so will show that you took the extra step to understand the world they compete in.  The best companies are very thorough at this stage, so if you want to work for a great place, you need to do the same

Of course, the common denominator for success at each of these steps is having a great attitude.  It is something that you can't fake for long.  It will catch up to you  A poor attitude is the worst shortcut of them all.  Don't sell yourself short and believe that you can succeed.  See my recommended books for some of the best information I've found on improving your attitude and outlook.

"It's easy to get to the top after you get through the crowd at the bottom." - Zig Ziglar

Get proactive in all your effort and watch it pay off!

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Comment by Jeff Pattison on June 8, 2012 at 1:57pm

Love that analogy Pete!

Comment by Peter A Ferguson on June 8, 2012 at 8:53am

Great summary, Jeff. An analogy I've been using is that a resume should be more like a movie preview than an eulogy. So often when I review resumes, I get more of a sense of "here lies John Doe, he hasn't been very successful, and now he wants you to take a chance on him." 

~Pete

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