Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving Forward

Our virtual job club blog ends this week, but for some of you, the job search continues.  We’d like to end this series with some final suggestions to help in your job search efforts, and an invitation to take advantage of our other resources and services for job seekers.

Top Tips to Maximize your Job Search:
1.       Organize your search.  Treat your job search as a project that you have to plan and manage; break it into manageable tasks or action items.  Make sure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Evaluate your progress regularly; determine what’s not working, and why, and then change your action plan to change your outcome.
2.       Brand yourself.  Determine your personal brand – what sets you apart from your competition – by assessing your skills, values, strengths, and weaknesses.  Once you know your brand, use it consistently throughout all aspects of your search – marketing materials, social media, interviews.
3.       Make sure all your marketing materials and skills are complete, and the best they can be.  Target your resumes to each company, develop cover letters that match your qualifications to the job, have appropriate supporting materials (portfolio, samples), develop a marketing plan to further target your search, have a powerful elevator speech, and polish your interview skills by doing a mock interview.
4.       Be a proactive – not a passive – job seeker.  Don’t just answer want ads, apply to online postings and jobs on company websites, and leave repeated voice messages.  Actively search out hidden jobs, network to gain contacts, target companies that match your skills, target decision makers, and conduct informational interviews.
5.       Manage your references – they can make or break your job search.  Keep your references current, and acquire a wide range – about 10 – who can speak to various aspects of your qualifications; you can then choose the most appropriate for each job.  Make sure you ask if they’re willing to provide a positive reference for you, and update them on your status and new skills.  Let them know when they might be contacted, and by whom.
6.       Follow up appropriately.  Call or email after sending your resume to further promote yourself, send thank you notes after all interviews – including informational interviews, and call or email after interviews, if you haven’t heard by the date specified.  Also keep in touch with informational interview contacts – let them know you’ve done what they’ve suggested, and see how you can help them.
7.       Always present yourself in a positive way; have a good attitude with no negativity towards your situation or former employer.  Be enthusiastic, confident and prepared, and indicate your eagerness to learn and grow.  Keep your skills current, acquiring education or training as needed, and be ready to address questions of overqualification or age.
8.       Get noticed!  Have a strong social media profile, with relevant key words, so you can be found by recruiters.  Demonstrate your expertise through a blog, LinkedIn/Twitter discussions, and professional association articles.  Participate actively in LinkedIn group discussions, and take leadership roles in professional associations and volunteer organizations.
9.       Work with a recruiter.  Many jobs are posted only through third party recruiters, so this should be a resource in your search.  There are recruiters for each industry and field; you can find them through LinkedIn and online directories.
10.   Use LinkedIn fully; have a complete and dynamic profile, request recommendations, participate in groups, apply to posted jobs, and use your contacts to connect with key people at your targeted companies. 
11.   Use other social media sites in your search, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.  All these allow you to make contacts through networking, demonstrate your expertise, and find posted jobs.  See our narrated presentation on Connections (on the alumni programs page) for more specifics on using social media in your job search.
12.   Access the hidden job market – this is the most important step in a job search, as the vast majority of jobs are found through networking.  Create targeted lists of companies, research them and find contacts.  Use the RIT Alumni Online Community Tiger Locator and the Professional Network on Job Zone to find alumni as resources to find key contacts.  CareerSearch (on Job Zone) and professional associations are other helpful resources.  Once you find contacts, connect with them – conduct networking or informational interviews to build relationships that can lead to jobs.  This is often time consuming, but with persistence can lead to positive results.
13.   Use our office; our website has many resources for your job search, there is an advisor who can help with your search strategy and specific resources for your industry/field, you’re welcome to attend our Career Fairs, and our Professional Network can help with contacts.  

We will have a full slate of programs starting in September, for RIT alumni job seekers.  From our monthly Job Club, to success skills workshops and career transition group programs, to webinars, we’re here to help you succeed in your career goals.  Let us know how we can help!

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