January 22, 2018
Whether your current job is lacking luster, you're looking to switch careers or you are gearing up for your first job search ever, you might be asking yourself, "How do I get a good job?" We all envision finding an organization where we can positively contribute towards a shared goal, where our skills and abilities are valued and where we are generously compensated for our efforts. But how do we get there?
Ultimately, when you are looking to find a job, you are looking for more than just a paycheck. You are looking for a way of life. Your motivation and perseverance will be more sustaining if you feel more deeply rooted in the type of work you are doing, who works alongside you and who employs you. Contemplate what your dream job would be and how you would feel once you've achieved these milestones and it will help you begin to manifest the reality you are striving to achieve.
Before you create a strategy for moving forward, it's beneficial to review your past work and academic experience. What's most important about this step is that you are honest with yourself. What you've done doesn't have to be related to where you want to go for it to bring value to your job search. Ideally, what you want to do is think of specific roles, what you liked and disliked about each, and see if any themes or connections arise between the experiences. Write down the keywords, reflections or musings that you have about the answers to these questions and see if any trends emerge as you explore each one in turn.
Once you've reflected on your likes and dislikes from your past work experience, you can look for these ideas in the culture of the organizations that you're applying to.
Once you've done the necessary preparatory work, it is essential to make sure that you are displaying the best version of yourself on paper. Your cover letter and resume are an employer's first impression of you, so you want to make sure that you align your skills and experiences with their wants and needs.
In today's hiring market, this equates to everything being accomplishment-driven (as opposed to task-oriented). Employers are less interested in what the day-to-day functions of your role entailed and more curious to learn how you positively contributed to the team, clients and bottom line. Whenever you can quantify information, highlight a success or showcase an accomplishment, be sure to do it!
After you've completed the concise focus of your resume, you'll want to move on to your cover letter. It should elaborate on what's included on your resume. In addition to listing the name of the organization and how you discovered the job posting, you will want to highlight some aspect of your academic experience and how it has better prepared you for the work you want to do, a specific example from your professional roles that is relevant to the position that you are applying, as well as how the mission of the organization resonates with you. By creating a paragraph for each of these areas, you'll showcase just enough to entice the employer to want to know more.
Have you ever felt like you've submitted your application online and it's been swallowed up by a black hole? Unfortunately, it probably has. Due to the high volume of applications being submitted for every position, employers frequently use a computer system to help them screen underqualified candidates. To beat the tracking systems, you need to include all the keywords and phrases from the job posting into your cover letter and resume. If you don't incorporate a minimum of 80% of these words and phrases, your application will be "successfully submitted," but won't be read by an actual hiring manager. What's important to remember is qualified- and even over-qualified candidates can slip through the cracks if they don't tailor every application they submit. Check out this video to learn more.
Two major misnomers are floating around the career advice world that can do more harm than good. First, your job search should not be your full-time job. Time blocking can be a helpful tool here to make sure that you balance out your school work, personal life and job search.
Second, do not adhere to the idea that the more applications you submit, the better. Quality is much better than quantity in your job search. Due to automated tracking systems, you'll want to spend more time on fewer applications to ensure your strengths are outlined properly in your application.
Lastly, let your favorite job searching sites do some of the dirty work for you. Most aggregate job searching sites (like Indeed.com or Monster.com), have options where you can set up email notifications for new job postings that meet your preset search criteria. This will help you apply to the most recent postings while spending less time search and more time tailoring your cover letter and resume.
As the old adage says "it's all about who you know." In a recent survey from LinkedIn Influencer, Lou Adler, 85% of all employees who were interviewed indicated that they found their current role through someone that they know. The better connected you are, the more likely you are to be exposed to- and thought of- as new opportunities arise in line with your skills.
If networking is not your strong suit, you can still get connected and promote your brand through social media platforms, blogs and personal branding websites. Engage with the influencers and recruiters in your field on Twitter, publish your expertise through articles on LinkedIn and showcase your portfolio of work on a personal website. The more people who engage with you on these platforms, the more people can help you find your next job.
You've reached the interview and you're excited to connect with the employer face-to-face. Now what? It's recommended that, whether or not the interviewer asks for an example, that you provide one in your answers. Your credibility increases the moment you indicate that you have experience with something by showcasing an example of how you have successfully done this work in the past.
To do this, enlist the help of the S.T.A.R technique. To do this, explain the situation (at what job, at what company), the task (what you were responsible for completing, or what problem you were trying to solve), followed by the action (what you did knowing what you had to do), and most importantly, the result, or success, from your efforts.
Here's an example of this technique when showcasing a specialized skill set:
For instance, (S) as a Real Estate Agent, (T) I was responsible for creating my own marketing and promotional materials. (A) I wanted to ensure that my personality and customer service experience shined through in my marketing content, so I developed my storytelling abilities to guarantee that my perspective clients understood how I would build a relationship with them throughout the process. (R) Through this tactic, I was able to generate more referral business and repeat clients.
After you've had your interview, and sent your follow-up thank you, you'll be waiting to hear back. Once you have the offer in writing, it's time for the salary negotiation. Research what the industry standard is for pay with your education and professional background (check out glassdoor.com for help). It's worth asking for what is important to you- an increase in salary, sign-on bonus, time-off, benefits, etc. Make sure that you don't put the employer on defense; thus, word selection is critical.
Positivity and a willingness to make the process mutually beneficial will pay huge dividends, literally and metaphorically, in your search to get a good job.
Lindsey Levesque '14 is a SNHU Career Advisor and SNHU alumna. Lindsey uses a holistic approach to her work as she strives to incorporate industry knowledge and trends with the personal interests and needs of each student to help them achieve what success means to them.
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