I got an email today from Scott MacFarlane, a reporter, Charlotte’s WSOC-TV’s Washington correspondent. He’s doing a story tonight about employment in NC, happened upon my blog, and wanted to interview me about my job search experience here in Charlotte. We Skyped this afternoon and one of the things he asked was “What advice do you have for job seekers?” Which got me thinking, what have I been told about job hunting that’s been helpful and what have I experienced that could be helpful to others?
Keep in mind I’m not a job search expert, this is just what I’ve learned from my personal experience, some of what I’ve done that’s helped me land two interviews this week.
1. Before you start applying – Know what you’re looking for
You know what basic industry you’re pursuing but would you be willing and financially able to take a part-time or internship position? How much have you thought about the specific type of position you want? Knowing what to look for saves you time and energy otherwise wasted applying to jobs that you wouldn’t want anyways. Being strategic and focused in your search doesn’t mean being so set on a specific job title that you’re not willing to pursue specific positions with different names.
2. Be remarkable- Interesting but not outrageous
Every interaction you have with a potential employer should leave them with a positive lasting impression of you and what you can bring to their organization. Keep this in mind when tailoring your resume, writing cover letters, during an interview (of course), writing a thank you note after the interview, and even when you record your voicemail message. Just like retail brands, you want to be top-of-mind. When they think of their open position, your name and face should come to mind first. Be memorable- present an interesting but consistent image of yourself. Don’t let them forget you!
3. Use Social Media as a tool- Don’t let it be a strike against you
My mother loves to remind me of this one, lock down your privacy settings on Facebook. Twitter too if you don’t have any professionally relevant Tweets. Do more than just being on LinkedIn, be active and engaged on LinkedIn. Use both Twitter and LinkedIn as platforms for you to present your industry knowledge by sharing relevant blogs or news articles. Google yourself to see if your privacy settings are tight enough and to be prepared to answer for whatever interviewers may find.
4. Talk to Everyone- Yes, I mean everyone
I did almost an entire post on this topic but I’ll summarize here. Friends and family can provide valuable contacts for networking opportunities and talking to them about your job search adds to the list of people on the lookout for job openings that you’d be a great fit for. They also provide encouragement as your personal cheerleaders. Find people working at companies where you’d like to be employed either through friends of friends or reaching out to them on LinkedIn, ask them if you can take them out for coffee for half an hour and just learn about their job and companies. This has been huge in opening doors in my current job search. The time I spend meeting and talking with people is incredibly worthwhile.
5. Be Knowledgeable- Show that you’re tuned into the world around you
Pay attention to world news and be aware of new developments in your industry. This comes in handy to make conversation with a potential contact at Starbucks or to break the ice during an interview. When filling out an application and writing a cover letter, research the company you’re applying for and incorporate something you learn about the company into your cover letter. This shows initiative, research skills, and genuine interest in the position. Showing you’ve done your research on the company is even more crucial during interview so do not walk into an interview without a thorough understanding of at least the company’s background.
So there’s the 5 bits of advice I would give to job-seekers, I have so much more to say on the subject but will save the rest for another post. What would you add to the list?
Also, if you’re in Charlotte and near a TV watch Channel 9 (WSOC-TV) at 5:00 today and tell me what you think of Scott’s story.