Thursday, May 15, 2014

Questions to Help You Maximize Your Job Search

Are you in the middle of a job search?  While searching and applying for jobs, take some time to ask yourself these questions, designed to help you focus, re-energize and move your search forward.

·        Is your search organized?  It’s helpful to manage your search as you would any other project; breaking each task into manageable steps with action items, setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals, and regularly evaluating your activity and efforts.

·         Are you branded?  In simple terms, your brand is who you are and what you have to offer.  It’s the perception other people have of you compared with similar people.   Assess your skills, values, strengths and weaknesses, and determine what sets you apart from the competition.  Be sure your brand is consistent throughout all aspects of your search:  marketing materials, social media and interviews.  Research your targeted industry and field, and make sure your brand fits well and matches key positions.

·         Are your marketing materials complete?  Develop an advanced level resume - targeted to your specific field and each position - that accurately reflects your brand.  Include cover letters that match your qualifications to each specific job, provide appropriate supporting materials, including portfolios and samples of your work.  Today marketing materials also include LinkedIn and other social media, so be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and highlights your accomplishments and qualifications – you want it to help sell you as the best candidate.

·         Speaking of social media, are you using LinkedIn fully?  Make sure your profile is 100% complete, with a professional (yes it’s important) photo, a keyword-rich summary, recommendations that support your goals, and regular activity status updates.  Join groups, and be active by starting and joining discussions to demonstrate your expertise.  Find recruiters for your industry, apply to posted jobs, and connect with RIT alumni in your targeted companies.  Check out the new University Alumni feature, which helps you locate alumni easily by location and industry.  Don’t forget Facebook and Twitter as well; Twitter has been described as “the new resume.” 

·         What are you doing to access the hidden job market?  This is the most important, and least utilized, step of the job search process, and provides the most return on investment for your time and energy.    Create a targeted list of companies, based on your self-assessment results and research of the industry.  Use resources to find contacts within those companies with whom you can connect.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding key company contacts, and the RIT Alumni Network will help you connect with RIT alumni in your targeted companies.  Professional associations are also a good resource for meeting people in your field, who can often lead you to company connections.

·         How do you present yourself?  Here’s another opportunity for honest self-assessment.  Have a positive attitude, with no outward negativity towards your situation or former employer.  Be enthusiastic, eager to learn and grow, confident, prepared, polished and professional.  Make sure your relevant skills are current (take classes or get training if needed), and that you’re technologically savvy.  If applicable, be ready to address questions related to your age and/or perceived overqualification – remember, value trumps everything, so know yours and be prepared to present it confidently!

Can we help?  Our office is available to assist with any aspect of your job search; call us at 585-475-2301 to schedule an appointment with your advisor, or email Kris Stehler.  Share your thoughts and suggestions below, and if you have a question you’d like addressed in our blog, let us know.

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