Job hunting is a tough business — one that requires tenacity, energy, a positive attitude and a lot of work. But it can also be a tremendously rewarding experience that teaches you a lot about yourself and encourages you to think hard about what you really want, and what you bring to the table.
So here are five great ideas to help you find that next job — and to learn something about yourself along the way.
1. Forge your “product profile”
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It’s easy to hop onto an online job board and quickly just fire off applications and resumes. But that is not going to give you the best result. Start your job search with some information-gathering and reflection.
To be most effective, you need to think about yourself as a product — a product for which you will be the only salesperson. To make a sale, you need to understand all the features of the product as well as the needs of your potential customer. What do you have to sell?
To get a more accurate picture of your strong suits, ask for input from friends, former colleagues and any current work colleagues whom you trust to be discreet about your job search. Their views will give you more perspective and may spark ideas you hadn’t even considered.
2. Communicate your measurable impact
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Another key part of this reflection and “product research” is to quantify the impact you’ve had in each of the jobs in your career. That means that when you build your resume, you don’t stop after listing your title, areas of responsibility and the day-to-day tasks for each position. The next stop is — to the greatest extent possible — to offer measurable ways that your ideas and efforts have improved or helped to grow your past employer’s business.
Here are some examples of how a measurable impact might be communicated:
- “Drove a 50 percent reduction in the time to do X”
- “Increased sales of X product by 30 percent through web store redesign”
- “Created X process that allowed company to expand customer base by X percent”
3. Leverage your volunteer work
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Doing volunteer work can be a great way to demonstrate a broader skill set than your “day job” requires. For example, volunteer work may have you organizing fundraising events, managing large groups of volunteers, drawing up contracts with suppliers or handling the marketing, advertising and public relations work for a nonprofit. Those are great skills to highlight if you hope to branch out in your next position. Moreover, doing volunteer work shows that you have capacity and ambition to contribute more.
So don’t forget to include such endeavors in your resume.
4. Spread the net wide and far
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When you’re confident that you’ve got a good resume together and want to start looking for jobs, don’t limit your search to a single job website.
You may be familiar with LinkedIn.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com and a number of other popular job sites — and may even have looked on Craigslist for jobs. But also consider some of the new entries on the job search market, such as the recently announced Google job site — which promises to be proactive in finding opportunities for you.
Remember that job-listing websites aren’t just about showing you what jobs are available where — they’re also a crucial tool in helping potential employers find you (and find out more about you). A detailed profile on a site such as LinkedIn is a fantastic way to offer up more information than you can fit on a standard resume.
If you have any flexibility about where you live and work, consider positions farther afield too. Being willing to relocate to another city will considerably expand your opportunities.
5. Reach out to your network
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This is probably the single most important thing you can do to make your job search successful — reach out to everyone you know who might be able to help.
Not only should you ask for endorsements and recommendations (and feature them on your LinkedIn or other job site profile), but also take the time to have coffee or lunch with as many of your relevant contacts as you can. It will be useful (and fun) to reconnect with friends and former colleagues, but a casual conversation over coffee also can often trigger opportunities that you wouldn’t get if you just do a mass email to everyone you know.
Making those personal connections will give anyone who wants to help you greater insight into what you have to offer, remind them of your talents, experience and abilities — and will take you out of the sometimes isolating experience of sitting in front of a computer and filling out applications.
What are your best tips for job hunting? Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.