Job searching isn’t what it used to be. The days of sending a generic resume and cover letter to apply for a job are gone. In a competitive job market, it takes effort to stand out from the job hunting crowd.
For 2014, it’s all about customization and promoting your candidacy for a job. It’s taking an extra step and spending some extra time to ensure your job application materials get noticed – and that they (and you) make the best possible impression on the hiring manager.
Of course, wanting to make the best impression hasn’t changed, but how to make that impression has. For cutting edge advice on how to job search in this competitive market, I asked leading career experts, coaches and counselors to share their best tips for job hunting, resume and cover letter writing, networking and growing your career. Here are tips from the experts on how to get hired in 2014.
Top 25 Job Search Tips for 2014
Be Ready for Video Interviews
Six out of 10 recruiters use video interviewing, according to a recent Forbes article and the trend is accelerating. Video presents special challenges in terms of eye contact – a crucial factor in building trust – as well as the overall impression you make. And how you handle the process can demonstrate to the employer that you embrace technology rather than resisting it – an important point, especially for older workers.
Thea Kelley, CPRW, GCDF, OPNS, Certified Resume Writer and Career Coach
Cover Letters Matter
The cover letter is not dead as widely promoted by some career experts. In fact, the cover letter remains the candidate's best opportunity to connect his or her experience, education, strengths, and skills to what the employer is seeking in the job posting. It is also the job searcher's chance to demonstrate her communication style, attention to detail, and understanding of the job and company.
Susan Heathfield, Human Resources Expert, About.com
Create a Cover Letter With Key Qualifications
When applying for a position, prepare a cover letter that picks up 3-4 key qualifications listed in the job description and be very specific with regards to what you can offer pertaining directly to those qualifications. The CV should support the content in the cover letter. What I often see in a cover letter is an introduction on the candidate that goes on and on about why they are so great. This is not what I want to see and it is absolutely not a differentiator when reviewing candidates and deciding who to pursue. One of the best ways to stand out is to tell me what you have relative to what I need - and be specific!
Lori Dermer, Dermer Consulting
Create an Interview Presentation
Job seekers should develop an interview presentation they print, bind and take to their interviews. Interview presentations differentiate the job seeker, impress the interviewer, and win interviews. Also, developing an interview presentation is the best interview preparation a candidate can do.
Eric Kramer M.Ed., President and Chief Innovation Officer, Innovative Career Services
Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter
Customize both resume and cover letter to each type of job you apply to, and even each opportunity. In an age when online applications make it easy to apply to lots of jobs - and increasing mobile integration make it easy to apply anywhere, anytime - take the time to consider each job individually.
Joe Weinlick, Vice President, Beyond.com
Develop a Personal Marketing Plan
Identify your "target market" by developing a list of companies you might want to work for; research these companies and make every effort to talk to people connected with them, gathering intelligence and making your skills known before a job opens up. In todays' very competitive job market, targeted networking and ongoing marketing are more crucial than ever.
Thea Kelley, CPRW, GCDF, OPNS, Certified Resume Writer and Career Coach
Do Freelance Projects
I recommend that you take on freelance projects because they are short term, allow you to practice your skills and give you a measurable outcome that you can leverage to secure full-time employment. It's easier to get a freelance project than to break into a Fortune 500 company these days and companies won't hire you unless you have a track record of success. Freelance projects can be found on sites like oDesk.com.
Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success
Find the Hiring Manager
Find hiring managers using LinkedIn and Google/Bing to locate names, titles, email addresses and phone numbers. Contact hiring managers directly to apply for jobs and to ask for interviews. Create your own opportunity. Don't wait for it to come to you.
Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes
Increase Your Net Worth
Build a network, stay in touch with each person, appropriately; within 10 years your net worth will have a direct relationship with how you've valued your network.
Kay Stout, Principal. P. S. Consulting
Keep a Greatest Hits Log
Keep track of your accomplishments in a journal and add to it at regular intervals. These can be accomplishments at your current job or from an internship/class if you haven't yet had a full time position. Make sure you record not only your notable accomplishments, but also any metrics associated with it. It's easy to forget some of your successes as time goes on, and it's even easier to forget the metrics that help tell the details of the story. Telling a hiring manager that you increased sales by 25% in a quarter and brought in over a 100k in revenue is much more impactful than simply saying you increased overall sales.
Sean Little, VP of Marketing, FirstJob
Keep Your Job Search Confidential
If you are quietly searching for a job while still employed don't use any company materials to look for a job including your company's computer, email, or cell phone. Some companies track usage of all three.
Heather Brebaugh, President, ResumeBear
Listen to your Gut
Too often we stop listening to our gut instinct, or intuition, as we go through the interview process. Instead, we reason our way through situations that some part of us knows is wrong. People talk themselves into going on second interviews or accepting employment offers, even though their intuition senses danger. Disregarding our gut responses is understandable; after all, a job search is crazy stressful, and everyone’s immediate goal is to make that stress end as soon as possible. It can be hard to say “no” to second interviews or offers, yet I guarantee your new-job happiness will be temporary if you ignore an instinct that tells you to run.
Tami Palmer, Founder, greyzone, Job Search Coaching and Career Mentoring
Make a Chart
Prepare a two-column chart. In the left column list the job requirements and in the right column write your accomplishments as they relate to these requirements. This exercise is great for preparing for an interview. My clients tell me that it not only helps them ace the behavioral interview questions but it also takes away some of their nervousness.
Nancy Anderson, author of Job Search for Moms, President of Blackbird Learning Associates
Negotiate a Salary
You don't have to be an executive to negotiate your salary. Employers often prepare for negotiations by throwing out a low ball first offer. If you accept it, you're cheating yourself. Remember, even if a company won't negotiate on salary, they may have some wiggle room on benefits.
Jeri Hird Dutcher, Award-winning Certified Resume Writer, Certified Career and Interview Coach
Own Your Responsibility for Your Career
This year, own your personal responsibility for your career. This means you will network when you don't need to, work on your personal brand, and maintain relationships with people whether they can help you or not. Be genuine, likable, keep your skills up, and always be mentally and financially prepared for the next transition. When that transition happens you will be ready!
Jason Alba, founder of JibberJobber.com and author of 51 Alternatives to a Real Job
As you work to continuously create your “Personal Branding” message and improve your marketability through your resume, consider leading with competencies highlighting:
- Key Strengths and qualifications for your target objective
- A combination of hard and soft skills
- Documented leadership/management skills
Jessie Rosado, USAF Veteran, Career Training Consultant, Military and Veteran Advisor
Our resumes are very personal, and the formats and sentence selections help define a great deal of what we see as ourselves. That being said, we need to remember that our audience not only does not know us yet, but our objective is to give them a reason to. In deciding 'is my resume ready to begin applying' we should do a number of things. First, search on the internet and ask friends for their resumes to see what other people use. Next, review your resume with someone who is not a friend or relative. You do not need a self-confidence boost, you need an objective opinion. Recruiters, HR Executives, resume writers, career coaches can all provide good feedback.
Jay Martin, Chairman, JobSerf, Inc.
Search for Real Jobs
Online job listings can be tricky to decipher, especially if you have to jump through hoops to get to the employers. Use sites, like US.jobs, where you can search for real jobs from verified employers and go directly to the employers' application system to apply for the position you are most interested in.
Jaime Costilow, DirectEmployers Association
Take Action Today
Get moving; take action today. While you assess and plan your job search strategy, also take daily action. Don't get mired in 'only' the strategy and planning. You can, and should do both, concurrently. This may be as simple as calling a connected friend for a 10-minute focused chat. It may mean writing and posting your first 'expert' blog post, publishing your inaugural Tweet or attending an industry association meeting. Do something every day, and include activities that are both inside and outside of your home. You do not have to have all your job search ducks in a row to get a feeling of motion, and traction. Keep moving forward.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, CMRW, CPRW, CEIP, Chief Career Writer and Partner, CareerTrend
The Internet Has Not Changed Everything
People think the Internet has changed everything about job search but it really has not. The best way to find a job is still (1) Build a track record of measurable results; (2) Develop the ability to describe your achievements in a compelling way; and (3) Connect with people in your desired career field. All the Internet has done is give us new ways to accomplish these same things.
Janet Scarborough Civitelli, Ph.D., Career Coach, VocationVillage.com
Think Out of the Box
Don’t be afraid to use out-of-the-box ways to land your next job. For instance, taking on a few internships after graduation not only fine-tunes your skillsets, it also helps you to create the right contacts, gives you access to executives, and boosts the chances that you’ll be hired after completing the program. Plus, with 61% of paid interns receiving at least one job offer, internships are the perfect way to create an ‘in’ with an organization without having to compromise your way of life - or your wallet.
Nathan Parcells, co-founder and CMO, InternMatch
Update Your LinkedIn Headline
Update your LinkedIn headline to state who you are and what you can do for a hiring manager. Your headline should position yourself as a solution or, as I like to mention, the Tylenol for the hiring manager’s headache.
Reneé Zung, Career Transition Coaching
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is robust and updated. Load it with the appropriate key words and detail, including a professional photo. Connect with as many people as you can and begin using LinkedIn as a tool to develop and enhance contacts and find new opportunities.
Karin Lewis, Employment Counsellor/Communications and Marketing Specialist
Watch What You Say on Social
Watch what you say on social media while hunting for a job. It can both help and hurt you. If you are still employed your employer may be watching your social profiles. If you are unemployed it is important to use social media carefully as well. Carefully plan your content shares. Double check your spelling and grammar because you never know who might be scanning your social profiles.
Heather Brebaugh, President, ResumeBear
What to Ask at an Informational Meeting
When students or young professionals schedule portfolio reviews or informational interviews, I advise them to ask three questions at the conclusion of the meeting:
- Now that you’ve seen my work [or met and talked with me], who else do you think I should speak with? [Are you willing to make an introduction?]
- Will you keep me in mind for freelance, part-time, or other opportunities?
- May I stay in touch with you?
Joanie Spain, Career Services Director, Sante Fe University of Art and Design