How to Conduct a Successful Job Search in the New Economy

Oreste J. D’Aversa, President
Metropolitan Executive Search and Outplacement Services

Introduction

We all, at one time or another, have had to look for a job. Looking for a job is indeed a job in itself. This paper is meant to be a primer for seeking employment. It by all means is not inclusive of the multitude of job search techniques that are currently available. All have merit but which is right for you? That will come with trial and error. Though some things have changed in the job search many still remain the same. Just because a job search technique may be different does not mean it is not worth investigating. As with any new skill, one has to learn, practice and master that skill and so it is with job search skills. To see results in your job search you should “plan your work and work your plan”. There’s a job out there waiting for you – it’s your task to go find it!

Self Assessment

The job search begins with identification of your marketable skills. This is such an important part of your job search yet most of the time it is rushed or just over looked. You need to communicate to your future employer, through your Resume, what marketable skills you possess. You need to complete a full skills inventory for yourself, which will be the foundation of your Resume. Marketable skills that you possess usually come from your past and current work environment. You should look further and deeper, all of us possess more skills than our job descriptions. A skill can be anything that you do well usually in a work environment but also in a non-work environment. So take your time and list what you have done in your jobs and in a non-work environment. These will become your skill sets that employers are interested in learning about you and the marketable skills you can bring to them.

Changing Careers

Being in between jobs is also a good time to explore other career options. How do you learn about other careers? One way is to network with other people in different jobs and learn what they do and how they do it and see if it is of interest to you. Do you require further education, additional training or are your skills transferable, and so on? It’s a good time to explore these options, network and make some new contacts, which may help you land your next job. Another way is to take Career Assessment tests. These tests can help point you in the direction of your next career. They work on the premise that someone with certain likes and dislikes would be suited for a certain career or job. Their results are by no means written in stone but they do offer some guidance on your next career move.

The Resume and References

The Resume, the foundation of your job search. The basic marketing tool for those seeking employment. Your Resume is your brochure featuring you as the product and separating you apart from others!

Did you know that most Resumes are only reviewed for about 10 to 14 seconds by hiring authorities? That's why it's so important that your Resume be clear, concise, and demonstrating your achievements as to get the readers attention as soon as possible! What is the real purpose of a Resume? You may think the purpose of a Resume is to get you a job. In truth a well prepared resume gets you an interview and an interview gets you a job. People hire people not resumes! What should be on your Resume? The content of your resume is important to help you get that phone call for that all important interview.

The components of the Resume should include:
• Heading
• Professional Summary
• Work History with Achievements
• Professional Development/Additional Skills
• Education

You should also be prepared to provide references to go with your Resume. Your future employer will be interested in your professional references so he or she can get a better understanding about your work habits. You should have between three (3) to six (6) professional references that your future employer can call. A word about reference, make sure you call them and tell them that you are using their name as a reference and verify that their contact information is still valid. The last you thing you want to happen is your future employer goes to contact your reference and that reference cannot be found!

Job Search Methods and Strategies

“Plan your work and work your plan”. As with starting any venture you should plan on what you want to accomplish so you can track it against your goals. The job search is no different. Job search methods come in two (2) types, an active job search and a passive job search. An active job search is when you are taking a “active” role in your search. By this I mean you are making networking calls to schedule meetings, attending job fairs and trying to create some activity relative to making things happen on your behalf. By “passive” job search we mean that you are answering help wanted ads, posting your Resume and waiting for things to happen. Did you know that about 80% of jobs are never posted or advertised? Studies have shown that the active job search produces more results but both techniques should be used in a balanced manner. These are just a few methods and strategies for your job search. Though you may not be comfortable with some of these techniques, I strongly urge you to try them as they have produced favorable results for those who used them. The best job to apply for is the job that you are not competing against anyone else but yourself! These may be new skills to you or skills you have not used in awhile. Remember with any skill – learn, practice, master and you’ll be on the road to finding a new job in less time!
Targeting and Researching Companies
Say you worked in a retail environment for example. Targeting will help you focus your job search to companies in your industry. Just think if you were to target five (5) companies a day, times five (5) days a week, times four (4) weeks in the month, that’s 125 companies a month!

Nothing is more impressive to an employer than a candidate who has researched their company and comes in for an interview and is ready to make a contribution to the company as quickly as possible. So few people research companies and it shows in the interview process. This is one reason why candidates are screened out. They know nothing about the company.

These two areas are extremely helpful in your job search and will separate you from other candidates by demonstrating to your future employer how well prepared you are and that you are the right candidate for the job!

Oral and Written Communications

Communicating with others be it in writing, on the phone, or in person is a critical part of your job search. Every form of communication has a reason and a purpose and you must understand and master them so you become the candidate selected for an interview and ultimately the job.

Oral communication deals with speaking skills while written communication obviously deals with writing. While this may sound like a minor point it is an important point nonetheless. When communicating either in person or on the phone (oral communication) you need to be clear, concise and to the point as to not waste the time of other people and your time as well. An example would be if someone were to ask you, “Tell me about yourself”. You are not to deliver a 20 minute monologue about your life but rather a 90 second introduction about your background, your current situation and ask a question of the person that can help you in your career search.

Similarly with written communication, it should be short, concise and to the point. Take for example the cover letter. Below is a template of what should be included in your cover letter. No rambling page after page about why you are seeking employment but three short paragraphs, no more than 5 to 6 lines each.

Paragraph 1
• Mention who you are and why you are contacting their organization.

Paragraph 2
• Mention what you have accomplished for other companies and/or what you can do for their company. Based on research you performed about their company.

Paragraph 3
• Call to Action! Here is where you want some action to happen! You will call them, you want them to call you etc.

Communication with others, be it in an oral or written format, is critical to your job search success. If you need to brush up on these skills, invest the time, the rewards are waiting for you in the form of more interviews.

Networking

As was stated earlier about 80% of jobs are never advertised or posted. This is called the “hidden job market”. How do you find out about these jobs? One way is through networking. You network in your personal life all of the time. Why not do it in the professional life as well? When you need a doctor, an accountant or a plumber you would contact people in your immediate circle of friends and contact them for a referral. The same holds true in the business world. Because you never know who knows someone who knows someone else that has a job that you fit perfectly. Networking can be with former co-workers, vendors, civic associations, your spiritual group, your doctor, lawyer, etc. Think you don’t know anyone? Think again or join networking groups or create your own networking group. The possibilities are endless. Networking, it’s an important skill in the new economy.

Interviewing

The interview, this is it, the make or break meeting that determines whether you get the job you are seeking. Interviewing also is a skill that you can learn, practice and master. You need to be prepared for your interviews. How do you prepare for an interview? Do company research on the internet, at the library, through networking. Your job is to find out as much as you can about the company and demonstrate to your future employer how you can be a problem solver, an asset to the company. Show them how you can save them time, money and increase their productivity.

Remember too that an interview is a dialogue and not a monologue, meaning you should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You should prepare questions about the company, your position and when appropriate; compensation.

The Interview process is where the decision is made to hire or not to hire a candidate. Do your research and be prepared so you can become the candidate of choice and are offered the job.

Salary Negotiation

Salary is only one part of the total compensation package an employer offers a candidate. Sometime an employer is limited by budget constraints on how much salary can be offered to a candidate. This is where you need to get creative and help your future employer craft a compensation package for you. Maybe the employer cannot give you the salary you are requesting but maybe they can move up your salary review whereby, based on measurable goals, you get a raise before your scheduled review. Maybe you can get an extra week of vacation or a one time sign-on bonus. So view your relationship with your future employer as a partnership and see if you can negotiate your compensation package. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Self-Employment

Running your own business may also be an option for employment. There is a wealth of information on running your own business at your public library and on the internet. There are also government agencies like SCORE (Service Corp Of Retired Executives). You can find their phone number in the white pages of your phone book.

A word about self-employment it’s not for everyone. Being good at what you do is only one part of running a business. You will also need to understand sales, marketing, accounting, computer technology, customer service and other disciples depending on your business.

If self-employment is for you, strap yourself in and be prepared for the ride of your professional life!

Conclusion

Planning your job search is the most productive way to see results in the shortest amount of time. There are still work opportunities available in the new economy but there are also more candidates applying for fewer positions. That’s why your job search skills must be practiced so when the right opportunity presents itself you are the right candidate for the position. As with any new skill you must learn, practice and master them to become effective. Should you need help with your job search there are career service companies to help you every step of the way. Sometimes it does make sense to work with a job search professional who can offer you feedback and new insight into your job search. Now go out there and get the job of your dreams!

Author's Bio: 

Oreste “Rusty” D’Aversa has over twenty years experience in various aspects of corporate work in a host of different industries. In his current role as a author, speaker, outplacement/career consultant and executive recruiter, Mr. D’Aversa worked with such corporations as: IBM, American Express, TyCom and other medium and small companies, as well as individuals in all phases of the outplacement and recruiting function. From transitioning separated employees from their current employer, to training and consulting of various facets of the job search, entrepreneurship (Self – Employment) and Personal Coaching, so individuals can reach their goals.