Energize a Stagnant Job Search – 7 Career Tips for Job Hunting

For those job seeking professionals that have been searching for a job for months or more, the whole job search process may seem a bit stale. Countless hours are often spent on job search websites and job search engines such as CareerBuilder.com, Dice.com, and Monster.com often resulting in minimal feedback. It is frustrating to go months without finding a job. Inevitability you begin to question career choices, your professional skills, experience, qualifications, or even your education. But you’re not alone. In times of high unemployment, a slow moving job market can create the appearance of a job search that becomes stagnated.

In this seven part series we will provide job search strategies and tips to revive your job hunt and reenergize your career confidence.

1) Part Time Job, a Temporary Job, or Volunteering

Seek out short term, part-time, or temporary work in your career field is a good way to get your foot in the door. Even if there does not seem to be any full time jobs opening any time soon, part time work and temp work is a way your employer can get to know you and your work ethic. If a job happens to open up or a new position is created, then you are at a higher advantage then others applicants who may be applying for that same job. You’ll have much more than a resume to show the company.

2) Work on your Personal Brand

If someone were to search for your name online, what, if anything would they see? In all likelihood, hiring you is a big investment to any company or organization. Especially in challenging economic times and an employer driven job market, companies are being more selective about their job applicants.

Take a few minuets and search for yourself online to determine what your digital footprint is. Do you share a name with someone that could create a career opportunity or a problem with your online image?

Use your personal brand to let the employer know your strengths, why they should hire you, and that you are a worthy candidate to investment in. If you remember, the personal brand is your life and professional skills as they appear online. You want your personal brand to be accurate and truthful, but you also want to it to make you look great to an employer. Your brand should reflect your overall qualifications, education, and indicate your career goals.

See what shows up in a Google search and a Yahoo search. Having a LinkedIn profile and profiles on other professional social networking sites can help to create a positive digital footprint. Your profile should be professional and consistent. Keep your information consistent with similar career goals and career objectives in each profile. Avoid blending social media and your online professional image. It is important to keep your private life PRIVATE. That is a mistake many people make with personal branding which may cost them being selected for that next job or opportunity.

3) Changing Careers or Branching Out to New Industries

Diversify you job search and branch out into new job markets you may not have considered in your previous job hunting strategies. Pick a career field, any career field and determine if your skills and qualifications would translate into new job opportunities.

That is not to say that you should just apply for the first job opening that presents itself. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Choose a career field that may benefit from your professional knowledge. Your best option is to look at a small geographic area and determine what employers are within this region. Examine what the area employer’s job positions and the job descriptions they are seeking and compare the qualifications to your resume. A midlife career change into a new industry can appear challenging but rewriting a career change resume and cover letter can quickly expand your employment options.

Examine your strengths. If you are not good with people, do not apply to personnel jobs. If you do not have an aptitude for math, do not apply for engineering or accounting jobs. Choose an industry or career field you know you can succeed in and focus your job search in that field. Perhaps you haven’t found a job yet because you are stretched across too many possible career paths. You may have missed an opportunity while you were wasting your time and applying to jobs that do not suit you. As a job search seems to drag on, it may seem tempting to try to apply for everything, but stay focused on your qualifications and job skills.

Be realistic about the types of jobs you are applying for. Most often when make a career transition into a new job market you will find yourself competing for more junior level positions then you would within your current career field. Changing careers may seem like a step backwards; yet showing potential future employers you are capable of taking on new challenges, have the foresight, and flexibility to expand your skill set across industries can become a strong asset.

4) Use Career Counseling and Career Advice Services

Get some help. If month after month has passed with no job offers or employment prospect you may need some help with your job hunt. You do not want to be put in a position where your financial obligations overtake you focusing on your job search.

Recent college graduates and college alumni can use their college’s career services department. Beyond employment listings and postings, many college career service departments offer interview preparation assistance, resume writing and career advice, and can assist you in choosing a career path. These services are often helpful when you are considering changing careers or at a career transition. Also, many companies seek out students from specific universities, colleges, and specific degree program or departments. A career advisor in the schools career services can connect you with these companies.

Beyond the college or university career services centers, look into what career placement services your local city or county provides. Contact your local chamber of commerce to begin your search for these types of local services. Many of these services are either free of charge or at a minimal fee to local residents.

Depending on your specific situation, consider hiring a professional career advisor or career counselor. A professional career counselor’s job is to help you figure out exactly what you want to do and advise you on how to maximize your resources and qualifications.

Before electing to get a career counselor, do some research on what services the career counseling service provides and what their recent candidate placement success rates are. This way, you will know what to expect as an end result. Will they help you find a career path, provide resume writing advice and interview preparation, placement services, and help you along the way? Do not be afraid to ask for help when the job search seems to be dragging on. Having a career advisor or an independent career service can help you revitalize your job hunt.

5) Is Your Resume Writing Reflective of your Career Objective

Refresh your resume and your professional image. If your job search appears stalled, take this time to review your resume and your overall professional image. This includes your cover letter, professional social media sites such as Linked-In, and your professional references.

If employers have already seen your resume and you have not received any responses back, then this might be your cue to give your resume a second look. Check your resume for spelling mistakes, typos, and poor grammar. Those are a definite turn-off to any potential employer.

Do you think your online resume would pass the 20 second test? Remember that 20 seconds is generally the amount of time an employer will spend looking over your resume. In that time frame, an employer will decide whether or not he or she will call you in for a job interview. If it has been a while since you have been called for any interviews, then this may indicate that your resume does not pass the 20 second test. Some resume writing changes may be necessary. Also, be sure that your resume is aesthetically pleasing and your resume qualifications, education, and experience properly flows together.

6) Using only Top Job Search Engines can Limit Your Career Options

Not all job search websites are created equal. Searching that next job opportunity using online job search engines can distribute your resume to many companies and employment centers. Although, not all job search websites are weighted the same for your professional career field or industry.

Major job websites like Moster.com and CareerBuilder.com are great choices to broadcast your resume skills and qualifications. However, your chances in getting noticed on these online job search sites are low. Thousands of career professionals and job seekers are posting and updating their resumes daily, and in a highly competitive job market, being too general with your career objectives may not result in you landing that job.

Take some time to research what are the best job search sites, specific to your industry or career objectives. If your career field is within the medical industry, look for those web sites that focus specifically on medical jobs or nursing jobs. Expand your career and look for part time job search opportunities to get into a company or organization.

Be focused and specific in your job search and make sure you are looking everywhere. Limiting yourself to just a few major job sites can be disastrous. Many of the jobs you are seeking may not be listed on the common and the most popular job search engines. So, try looking at lesser known job sites, and on industry specific ones. Check your local newspaper daily, especially on Sunday editions. Sometimes a job listing may be printed on only one day in the newspaper.

Keep checking your professional social networking sites and keep your eyes open for mentioning of possible job openings. You might be missing out on great opportunities by limiting your search to one place. If you are unemployed, be sure to tell everyone that you are looking. People talk and word will get around. Your friend’s cousin’s girlfriend may be in the Human Resources department in a company where they are hiring. You could be surprised where you find your next job. Whatever you do, do not stop looking until you find what you are looking for.

7) Revisit your Long Term Career Choices

What long term career planning steps have you considered throughout your professional career. Often times we can become comfortable and somewhat complacent within our chosen occupation after we have met certain education and experience requirements. However, over time we can loose our job security if our skills are not continually up to date or with economic shifts, technology innovations, or company restructuring.

If you find yourself in a position where there does not appear to be any jobs in your career field, they you may consider changing industries. Change can be good, but when you mention changing careers, often people confuse this with more schooling or education, significant changes in their schedule, or starting back at the beginning. While any change may require some retraining or new on the job knowledge, changing careers maybe easier then one would think.

Examine what parallel industries or other careers use your same talents. Seek out career counseling and take several career tests to help you determine what industries you maybe unaware of that use your qualifications. A career counselor can help you with this decision and provide you some inside knowledge on specific career fields. If you do not have a career counselor, then you may want think about who in your local area hire professionals with your skills and list all the things you loved about your old job. Then look for jobs that have those same qualities. You can also look at things you disliked about your old job, and look for jobs that do not have those qualities. Take a reputable personally or career test and consider jobs that work for your personality type.

The worst thing you can do is nothing, especially if you see major changes coming in your career field where your future employment could be effected. A proactive approach can open new doors and provide you with new career opportunities.

Job Search – What Type is Yours?

There are probably as many types of Job Search as there are Job Seekers.

But the global increase in unemployment has brought about a new surge in job applicants, many of whom have not have experienced the task of the Job Search in many years. The result is many dissatisfied job seekers, who feel that their Job Search efforts are not being appreciated by the employment profession, with a resultant increase in long term job seekers.

However, if they knew which type of job search they were undertaking, they would know what type of result they should expect.

Direct Offer: The Insider
The direct approach and offer from a company, is often a surprise to the person, who probably as not an active job seeker. This type of job seeker is already directly known by the organisation, normally through being an existing employee. You could also be presently working for a competitor, supplier or an existing customer of the organisation. If you are approached, you have a 90% chance of being employed using this method.

Networking from: The Virtual Insider
This type of direct approach offer again is a delight to a person who is probably not an active job seeker, but is presently not known to the employing organisation. The result of this approach is a testament to their clear personal elevator pitch and track record of delivery, and the advocation by others often within the employing organisation, or by people within a common mutual network. This is a fast expanding area of recruitment, with companies now paying existing employees for successful introductions of new hires. If approached, you have a 50% chance of being employed using this method

Headhunted: The Star!
Modern headhunting is about direct from client business orientated briefs, which are fulfilled quickly. While the client side of the business has changed little but niched more, the search and find side of the business has been transformed by the boom in social networking. Now, techniques like Boolean search allow headhunters to create larger lists of suitably qualified applicants, and hence offer better candidates who are more researched in a quicker timescale. The result is that these types of job seekers are again often not active job seekers, but can be concluded as stars within their chosen profession or market. You have a greater than 35% chance of being employed if approached using this method

Networking to: the Inside track
We now move from mainly passive job seekers to active job seekers, those who are either employed or presently between positions. This next two types of job search require the job seeker to:

  • Know themselves, and what they offer
  • Know what they want to do
  • Be able to communicate the combination in a personal elevator pitch
  • Be willing to research the desired/targeted organisations

This type of job search requires effort, and hence most job seekers avoid it not because they are more successful – often ten times as successful as other active types of job search; but because other options require less thought and effort.

The inside track approach requires that having decided to job search, that inside your target organisation/s you already have a previously developed contact/s. This inside contact may be as a result of you being a customer, supplier, competitor or business network contacts. Your initial approach is based on person to person conversations often over cups of coffee, making a subtle research based informational interview approach to asses who you should be talking to, and what they are seeking to achieve for the business. If you use this method, then you have a 20% chance of being employed from companies you target

Direct approach: The Navigator
The navigator approach is similar and statistically as successful to the inside track, but as you have no developed contacts inside the target organisations (start with a list of 50, whittle them down to 20 through simple research), you need to develop a contact base. With the development of business orientated social networking, and the increase in the number of companies offering existing employees bonuses for the successful introduction of new hires, this method is a lot easier than it ever was. It requires the same clarity of though on who you are/what you want out of your career as the inside tack, with similar levels of research effort on the target organisations, but development of suitable insider contacts. On average five times more successful than applying via job adverts in newspapers or job boards, with a 15% chance of being employed from companies you target on your researched list. This can easily be improved to virtual insider levels of success of 50% or greater with some more simple research and networking techniques, it just depends on how much you want a job with that company?

Recruiter: The Mountie
The next set of three job search options have differing rates of success, but have two things in common:

  • You will follow a defined HR process to be hired
  • As the positions are openly advertised for, you will have high levels of competition. Expect 5 people to make it to the interview stage for each single position being recruited for, multiplied by three fold back down each stage of the recruitment process (ie: application, CV sift, online testing, telephone interview, etc). This could presently result in 100 original job applications

If you undertake your job search via a recruiter advert, and having checked out the strength of the recruiters relationship and brief to make sure you are not being CV fished, and further have not broken the “three recruiters and out” rule; then your chances of employment via this route are 15% or greater. You can easily improve this to 35% or more if you know the right tactics and questions to ask. The recruiter often works in a competitive environment, against other recruiters and the organisations own HR people, to fulfil a position. If the recruiter successfully fulfils the position and gets their man, then they get paid; if not, then its on to the next opportunity. Good recruiters always get their man, and after introduction to the employer you follow the organisations defined recruitment process

Newspaper or company website job advert: The Jockey
Newspaper adverts and company websites are a good source of real job opportunity. Firstly, they require effort and or cost on behalf of the hiring organisation, which means that the jobs are real and not CV fishing exercises. Secondly, you are direct on to the organisation, although you have to accept that you probably won’t be talking to the hiring manager, but about to ride through a sanitised, wholly locally legal/ethical and HR managed/monitored recruitment process. Don’t expect to be treated like you or a human being, the process is designed to be selective in a non-judgemental way. You hence have little choice in the race you are about to take part in, expect that you chose to enter it, and hence have little ability to affect its outcome. Your chances of being recruited via this method once you hit the apply button or send your application through the post are between 3% and 5%, although this can easily be doubled with some simple effort

Job board: The Donkey
Of all the methods of job search, the job board is the most common and actively used by many present day job seekers. Yet, the statistics show that only 12% of all positions are fulfilled by job boards in any market. If so few jobs are fulfilled by job boards, why do most unsuccessful long term job seekers spend most of their days trawling job boards? Simply, it doesn’t require much effort to find or apply for jobs on a job board, but gives the job seeker the regular internal satisfaction of being able to say at the end of each day “yes honey, I spent the day job seeking!” As a recruiter, I know that some of those jobs “advertised” on job boards do not exist. The job board market is so competitive – with around 50,000 job boards in North America, and 50,000 around the rest of the world – that the cost of advertising a job on a job board can be as little as free. If the cost of doing something was free, and add in that you can repeat the same job advert for ever simply by ticking a repeat button, how often would you do that task? In a recent test, of 126 jobs advertised as available in a large city, an employment organisation found that the actual number of jobs fulfilling the search criteria was 10! When there are so many “false” or repeat job adverts, and when it is so easy to CV fish, is it any wonder that you chances of success via a job board can drop as low as 2%?

Job Search Conclusion
So, what type of job search are you undertaking? Statistics from various parts of the world show that a majority of job seekers focus most of their efforts in responding to job adverts from recruiters, newspapers or spending their time on job boards, where at best their average chance of success if 15% or less. Yet, over three quarter of jobs fulfilled in the past year have never been advertised, of which at least half of them are open for application from job seekers who just have to put in a little effort and know a few simply learnt tactics.

For instance, one job search tactic takes: 1second to understand; 1minute to learn; and within 5minutes applied to take your job search success in responding to job adverts from 15% or less to 35% or greater. Yet most would just prefer to go on proving the well known and proven job search results that they and others have always achieved.

The job search: what type is yours? Good Luck!

Top 25 Tips For Finding a Better Job

Is a job change in order? Peruse the 25 most effective ways to job hunt. If it’s time for new beginnings, and if you’re searching for a job, it’s a good time to make sure your priorities are in check. Begin with some basic soul-searching, move to creative networking, and conclude with the foremost ways to investigate prospective companies. These are all sure strategies for getting a competitive edge in the job market. But finding a job means more than being competitive. In the bewildering new world of technology-online boards, career centers, and growing numbers of complex web sites-it also means knowing your way around. Here are 25 tips to learn how to maximize your time, your effectiveness, and your chances of success in your next career search!

  1. First and foremost-take a personal inventory. Job hunting gives you the opportunity to go back to “square one” and inventory all over again what you are all about, what skills and knowledge you have acquired, and what you want to do. Who are you? What do you want out of life? A job? A career? Where are you going? Do you know how to get there? Have you been happy in your work/career/profession? What would you like to change? An inventory such as this is the best job hunting method ever devised because it focuses your view of your skills and talents as well as your inner desires. You begin your job hunt by first identifying your transferable, functional, skills. In fact, you are identifying the basic building blocks of your work.
  2. Apply directly to an employer. Pick out the employers that interest you the most from any source available (web listings, yellow pages, newspaper ads, etc.), and obtain their address. Appear on their doorstep at your first opportunity with resume in hand. Even if you don’t know anyone there, this job hunting method works almost half the time, if you are diligent and continue your pursuit over several weeks or months.
  3. Ask relatives and friends about jobs where they work. Ask every relative and friend you have now or have ever had about vacancies they may know about where they work, or where anyone else works. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire network to find a new job! If you tell everyone you know or meet that you are job hunting and that you would appreciate their help, you more than quadruple your chances of success.
  4. Search hidden job markets. Networking is the “Hidden Job Market.” Because every time you make contact with a person who is in direct line with your career interest, you set up the possibility that he or she will lead you to more people, or to the job you are seeking. People are connected to one another by an infinite number of pathways. Many of these pathways are available to you, but you must activate them to make them work to your advantage. Most of the available jobs are in the hidden job market. They aren’t listed in the classifieds or placed with a headhunter. Find them through your network of contacts. This is your most valuable resource!
  5. Ask a professor or old teacher for job-leads. No one knows your capabilities, dedication, and discipline better than a teacher or professor who had the opportunity to work with you in school. Since more people find their work through direct referral by other people than by any other way, this is a target audience you don’t want to miss
  6. Spend more hours each week on your job hunt. Finding a job is a job! Treat your job hunting just as you would a normal job and work a normal number of hours per week, at least 35, preferably 40 in the process. This will cut down dramatically on the length of time it takes you to find work. Did you know that the average person in the job market only spends 5 hours or less per week looking for work? With that statistic, it isn’t surprising that it can be a long, tedious process. Improve your chances and demonstrate your discipline and determination. Devote Sundays to answering ads and planning your strategy for the next week. Don’t spend precious weekday hours behind a computer. You need to be out there researching leads, networking, and interviewing. Work smarter for yourself!
  7. Concentrate your job hunt on smaller companies. Most new jobs will come from smaller, growing companies, typically with fewer than 500 employees, not large, restructuring companies. Although larger employers are more visible, well known and aggressive in their search for employees, it is with the smaller companies that you may have the best chance of success in finding work. Pay particular attention to those companies that are expanding and on their way to prosperous growth…they are easier to approach, easier to contact important personnel, and less likely to screen you out.
  8. See more employers each week. If you only visit six or seven employers a month in your job search (which is the average, by the way), you will prolong your search and delay your successful outcome. This is one reason why job hunting takes so long. If you need to see 45 employers to find a job, it only makes sense to see as many employers a week as possible. Determine to see no fewer than two employers per week at a minimum! Do this for as many months as your job-hunt lasts. Keep going until you find the kind of employer who wants to hire you! Looking for a job is a numbers game. The more contacts you make, the more interviews you’ll get. The more interviews you have, the more offers you’ll get.
  9. Be prepared for phone interviews. Would you believe that over 50% of prospective candidates are disqualified after the first phone contact is made with them by an employer? In today’s world, employers don’t have time anymore to interview every possible applicant and are using phone calls as a less expensive, less time consuming way to weed out potentially unqualified candidates. The phone interview catches many people off guard. You might receive more than just one phone interview, and you have to pass them all. The interviewer usually makes up his or her mind within the first five minutes. The remainder of the time is spent just confirming first impressions.
  10. Create a support group. It is easy to get discouraged, depressed and despondent (the three D’s) in the job-hunt process. This can be one of the toughest and loneliest experiences in the world and the rejection you may have to face can be brutal, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is in understanding that you are not alone. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people looking for work, and you can team up with one if you choose. Many job-hunting groups already exist, such as the local Chambers of Commerce and online support groups through the Internet. Find a partner, or a larger group, and support and encourage each other. The path to success is literally a phone call away.
  11. Contact potential employers directly through professional associations. Professional associations provide excellent networks for your benefit. Almost all committed professionals are members of at least one or two professional networks. Usually membership includes a directory, which provides you with a direct networking resource for verbal contact and mail campaigns. Additionally, most professional associations hold regularly scheduled meetings, which provide further opportunities to mingle with your professional peers on an informal basis. Finally, professional associations all have newsletters that are a valuable resource for other trade publications, associations, and help wanted sections.
  12. Post your resume online. In today’s world there are numerous resume databases on the web. Job hunters can now tap into giant online databases when launching a search prior to interviewing. There are three primary ways to job search electronically or online: Joblines, Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), and the Internet. Many employers today have their employment opportunities accessible through a simple phone call. You can also use the advanced Resume Caster feature in ResumeMaker to post your resume to all of the top career centers on the web for thousands of hiring employers to review. You can also use the Job Finder feature to search from among more than 1 million online-listed job openings for a specific job title in the state you specify. The data is all there, waiting for you.
  13. Promote yourself in unique ways. Promotion is creating an audience of potential employers and making them aware of your qualifications. There are many nontraditional ways to accomplish this task. For example, use electronic resume services to broadcast your resume. List yourself in appropriate trade association newsletters. Prepare 3 x 5 Rolodex cards that contain your name, address, and phone number on the front and your objective and skills from your resume on the back. Leave them behind wherever you go and give them to anyone who has reason to contact you later about a job.
  14. Accept a temporary position or volunteer work. Be your own working advertisement by accepting a temporary position. This provides you with valuable experience, contacts, and references. Volunteer for organizations and activities with business sponsors and relationships that increases your visibility and personal contacts. Explore your possibilities and leave all options open. You never know which method may ultimately land you your ideal job.
  15. Make cold-calls. Next to face-to-face meetings, the telephone is the most effective method available to find a job. Every call you make is an opportunity to sell yourself to a prospective employer, to pursue a new job opening, or to obtain a referral. Your technique in the initial telephone call can have a categorical impact on your chances to obtain what you want from the call. Complete at least 15 calls per day. You will be astonished at the results. Always be agreeable, gentle, and positive. Smile when you speak; the listener will hear it. Prepare a brief outline for each call and rehearse it. Create brief statements that outline how you can help your prospective employer accomplish their goals. Always, always, always ask for referrals.
  16. Re-define your job hunt in terms of alternative possibilities. Successful job hunters always have alternative plans ready in the background and implement them at the first sign of difficulty. Prepare alternative ways of describing what you do, alternative avenues of job hunting, alternative leads and contact lists, alternative target organizations and employers to contact, alternative ways to approach prospective companies, and alternative plans to continue your job hunt through its successful completion. The jobs are out there-you just need to be sure you are using the right methods to look for them.
  17. Seek career counseling or job hunting help online. Many service providers, through the Internet, are offering career counseling services, job hunting advice, and reference tools that you can turn to in your job hunt. Some of the best of these services are free, and the number is growing astronomically each year. Your first approach would be to visit the online career centers integrated with ResumeMaker and visit each site to determine what services they have to offer. There is a virtual community just waiting to hear from you.
  18. Consider federal and local government sources. The federal government is a huge resource of potential job search information, available to you at little or no cost. Several Department of Labor publications, for example, can take you through your job search from beginning to end, and help with career counseling and industry research. Call your local employment office and take advantage of the services they offer.
  19. Make sure you can survive financially between jobs. Budget for the time you will be looking for a job. It is always helpful if you can get an overall view of how your money will carry you through any work search or training you may need to take on. You will have enough worries and issues to deal with and do not want to have to be concerned about your finances.
  20. Set and prioritize goals while job-hunting. You need to know what you want, or else you can’t ask for it. There are literally thousands of jobs open around you. Determine what it is that you want, set your goals for achieving this, and prioritize the steps that you will ultimately need to take. The more specific you are about your goal, the better your chances of getting the job you want.
  21. Zero in on a career position and research the market. Before you start meeting people, you need to know something about the industry or field you want to work in. The more you know, the better your conversations with prospective employers will be-and the more impressed they will be with you.
  22. Interview others for information. Interview people whose occupations interest you. You can always find someone who has done something that at least approximates what you want to do. Find the names of such persons, and go see, phone, or write them. You will learn a great deal that is relevant to your dream.
  23. Organize a job search campaign. Organize your job search campaign. Failing to do so is a common flaw in many people’s job search strategy. Make a plan for your job search. This entails: planning and organizing your job strategy, setting up a base or operations center for your job hunt, preparing materials, and carrying out job search tactics.
  24. Update your resume and be prepared. Update that resume! A resume is what nearly everyone you approach in your job search is going to ask for. Get your resume in top shape. Use a professional service or ResumeMaker to prepare a show-stopping resume!
  25. Keep yourself dedicated, strong, positioned, and consistent. Job-hunting can certainly be one of life’s most stressful experiences. You have more power to keep the pressures of job hunting under control, however, than you may think. The key is to focus your job search and stay strong, dedicated and consistent. One of the curious things about the human brain is that it focuses on only one thing at a time. So keep it focused on you-and finding a job!