As a job seeker, finding the right position can be frustrating. But there are ways to make your search a little bit easier.
Here are 10 tips from career experts to simplify your job search:
1 Learn how to get past the generic HR inbox
Typically, e-mailing your résumé to human resources or filling out an online application means it will get short shrifted once opened on the other end. Most of the time, they are screened by a software program for keywords that correspond with the job requirements. “People need to understand what an applicant tracking system is, what it looks for and how to maximize the odds that your résumé will pass through the system, and move on to human eyeballs,” says Jenny Foss, founder of Ladder Recruiting Group, who blogs at jobjenny.com.
2 Don’t stress over the résumé
If you have a limited amount of time, don’t spend it all at your computer crafting a cover letter or preparing your résumé. “Cover letters and résumés come a distant third or fourth (as the most important part of) your job search – never rely solely on them,” says Rich Gee, an executive coach. Instead, Gee suggests using the time to make connections at your dream company even if there are no openings. “Target a company because you would kill to work there – not because it has open positions,” he says.
3 Create a job-search plan
Just because you’re looking for a job doesn’t mean you need to apply to every position that comes your way. Instead, take the time to think through a specific plan for how you’re going to land your next gig, Foss says. “Create an overall strategy, and then break it down into tactical efforts. Schedule your week, your days, your hours and know what you are going to do every day, before you get in front of the computer and surf aimlessly for eight hours,” she says.
4 Conduct research before each interview
Even if you’ve had a dozen interviews in the past three months, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the next one. Always take the time to understand the company – beyond just looking at the web site. Also, meet with people who have held similar roles or who work at the company. Knowing about the company and the position can help you be calmer during the interview.
5 Accept tea or water
Ward off nervousness by using this interview trick: “At the beginning of the interview, if the interviewer asks if you want water, tea, etc., always say yes,” says Alesia Benedict, chief executive of GetInterviews.com. “It serves as a great prop if you need to stall a moment and gather your thoughts before responding to a question.” Use it when the interviewer presents tricky questions that you’d like to take a few seconds to think about.
6 Pay attention to the details
Anything from misspelling the interviewer’s name in a post-interview thank-you note to coming in a few minutes late for an interview can cost you a job. To avoid mishaps, pay extra attention to all of your dealings with potential employers.
7 Tap into your alumni network
Many universities have well-maintained alumni networks; contact your alumni club for an up-to-date directory. Use the directory to find people who can help you land your next job. Many of them are eager to help fellow alums because of loyalty to the school.
8 Keep e-mails formal
Even if you’re simply confirming the meeting time to your interview, it’s important to put your best foot forward, Benedict says. Skip terms written in shorthand like “thanx” or “2morrow,” which come off as unprofessional. “Your e-mail messages should be as clean and polished as a cover letter would be,” she says.
9 Include a ZIP code on your résumé
If you’re looking for a job in your area, it’s a good idea to leave your ZIP code in your address, even if it doesn’t seem necessary at the time. “Recruiters often give preference to candidates who are local and will do a search on ZIP codes in the résumé databases to find candidates,” Benedict says.
10 Be truthful
It can be tempting to appear as if you have far more expertise than you do, especially if you’re just starting out, but exaggerating your experience will likely backfire. Employers are looking for trustworthy individuals and are unlikely to hire someone who they have a hunch isn’t being totally truthful.
Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com.
Copyright 2011 Careerbuilder.com.