So, you’ve done some soul searching and decided it’s time to find a new career. You’re ready, but unfortunately you’re finding that there aren’t many current openings that fit what you’re searching for. So, what can you do right now?
This seems obvious, but it’s very important. Do some serious research to figure out what job titles fit your search parameters. Use the job boards to your advantage (Indeed and LinkedIn are the biggest). Look for many different job titles and in other locations or all over the US. While these posts may not fit your exact preferences, you’d be surprised what you can learn by reading a ton of job postings. Take notes – jot down job titles and key search terms. That way when things pick up, you can search quickly for jobs that fit your interests. Remember, when applying for a job, it definitely benefits you to be one of the first applicants!
Get Your Resume Ready
By this, I don’t mean spending days on end trying to craft a one-size-fits-all resume that you can send out to everyone. When applying to a posting, you need to make sure your resume is tailored to the job. Make it easy for the recruiter to see how you fit their criteria in the first 30 seconds of reviewing your resume. What you can do now is use your research to create several different resume templates. Have them ready to go, and then you can quickly tailor to fit each new posting!
There are really two parts here. First, let’s talk about your profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one now. I’d say 95% of recruiters look at your LinkedIn profile if they like your resume. If you don’t have one, sometimes it can be perceived as not being tech savvy or current. Have a picture too; it doesn’t have to be a professionally taken headshot, but get a nice picture of yourself with a clean background and professional attire will do. Just use your cell phone! Forge Buffalo has a great online video hosted by experts at LinkedIn on how to build a great profile.
Second, leverage your LinkedIn profile to make connections. If you are specifically interested in a company, find someone there to connect with. If you do that, make sure your note has substance. Don’t say: Hi, I am really interested in your company. Here is my resume – please let me know if a job might fit my skills. Why? Recruiters don’t have time to do the work for you, and if you send this you probably won’t get a response. Do say: Hi, I saw you have an opening for a marketing associate. I have 3 years of experience doing just that at (your current company), as you will see from my attached resume. I’d be happy to elaborate more if given the chance to speak with you. Now you’ve given the recruiter a reason to open your resume, and it just might land you an interview. Don’t be afraid to make connections – that is what LinkedIn is for! It might even be worth upgrading to a premium subscription when your search really ramps up to get more InMails. Definitely check out their plans in advance.
Get Organized Now
Another great way to get a head start now is to get organized. Start a tracker using a spreadsheet or your favorite list-making tool to organize your prospect companies. Make a huge list, and check those company career pages frequently for new job listings. You could even create a Google Alert to automatically send you search results daily. When you apply, copy the job posting into your tracker. That way, if you get an interview weeks later and the posting is expired, you can still reference it. List the date you applied and which resume you used. All of these tactics will help you be prepared when someone calls you. Also, one last little trick. If you are in the midst of your job hunt and you get a call but don’t recognize the number, let it go to voicemail. This gives you the chance to figure out who is calling you, what job it was, etc. You do not want to answer the phone and have no idea what job the person is calling you about! First impressions really matter.
You might be reading this and asking yourself, why does this all matter? The key in all of this planning and prep is speed. Not many people know this, but when recruiters and hiring teams look through resumes, most of us do not use a comparative approach. We do not go through each resume and pick the top 10. What we do is start from the first person that applied and go through the resumes in date order until we get to a certain number of good applicants, and start interviewing. What this means is that speed is essential. If you are number 5 to apply out of 500 resumes, you are much more likely to get seen than if you are number 497.
Good luck out there and happy hunting!