We’ve all heard advice from well-meaning family and friends about our job search:
“If you want to work somewhere, show up and ask for work! That’s how I got MY first job.”
“If you’re persistent enough, they’ll be impressed with your initiative and hire you.”
“Offer to work for free on a trial basis, so they can see how great you are.” (Yes, I’ve heard this one!)
Unfortunately, the advice listed above is TERRIBLE for today’s job market. While strategies like these were pretty solid less than a generation ago (except for that last one- yikes!), job-seeking norms have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, no doubt due to the age of the internet. But most companies just don’t hire this way anymore. Showing up without an appointment to ask for a job or an interview is no longer considered professionally assertive- it’s considered annoying. The response will be something like “Thanks for your interest, but you’ll need to apply online.” You might even be flagged as “pushy” when your application is received. Are there exceptions? Sure, but they’re exceedingly rare. The majority of companies will count “cold-calling” as a mark against you. So how do you stand out in a sea of online applications, many of which are not even looked at by humans until the interview stage?
It’s more difficult these days, but certainly not impossible.
Here are a few tips that will strengthen your candidacy in today’s job market:
Check Your Social Media
Employers are free to google your name- and they might see something questionable in the search results. Make sure you know what’s out there by googling your name. Try using an “incognito” mode in your browser to ensure that your browsing habits don’t affect your search results.
Lock down the privacy settings for any sites or posts with unprofessional or controversial content (at the very least while you’re job searching).
Better yet, consider also creating a professional public profile to showcase your strengths. LinkedIn is a great site for this, and it can help you expand your networking opportunities as well.
Focus Your Resume
Gone are the days of submitting a “well-rounded” resume. Having a variety of unrelated experience and/or sections for hobbies & interests only helps if you are fresh out of school or have no work history.
Instead, you’ll need to customize your resume to reflect the skills and experiences that make you the strongest candidate possible for the job. That means removing content that doesn’t contribute to that goal (don’t delete it forever- make sure everything you’ve done is listed on your own personal “master resume” for reference and safekeeping). Try to keep the resume to 1-page, since hiring managers rarely (if ever) make it to the second page when making a decision. Don’t try to “cheat” the system either by shortening your margins too much or shrinking your font size below 10 pts. Strong resumes never fill the page from end to end with blocks of text- it’s much better to utilize font effects and white space to draw the eye to the most important content on the page.
If you would like assistance in focusing your resume, we recommend emailing your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a one-on-one review.
Attend Job Fairs
Some people rely on selling themselves face to face. If your in-person presence is your strongest asset, the best opportunity to demonstrate this to employers is at a job fair or other professional networking event. They’ll be expecting a “pitch” from job-seekers, and you can wow them without making presumptions on their time.
The Job Help Center is here to support you in your job search. For more advice, guidance, or practice, don’t forget to check out our free career development classes at a branch near you! www.cmlibray.org/calendar