1) Career Center.
Especially if you’re a student, take advantage of visiting the career center on your campus; it’s actually quite helpful. All career centers offer resume review services, and assist with position targeting. Some offer classes and study guides for state exams; and options to test for certifications; all of which can help you standout as a candidate. Don’t know where to look? Try google-ing “career center near me” and a few options should pop up in your local area.
2) Network. Network. Network.
Networking is crucial. Get out there and get to know people. You’ll never know who you will meet and how a brief interaction can lead to a great professional connection. If going and meeting people is too much; start out online using apps/sites such as LinkedIn or Handshake. Also, try joining some professional groups on Facebook. Either way you choose, just get yourself out there.
3) Job Search Sites
Job search websites and apps can be our best friends or our worst enemies. My top three sites are: Indeed.com; Handshake.com; and CareerShift.com. All three are accessible with university affiliation; both Indeed.com and CareerShift.com are accessible without university affiliation. I, personally, have found all three of these helpful. Even with the “advanced search” sometimes you have to sift through opportunities but that is to be expected, especially with certain keywords. If you’re still on the hunt, give one or all three of these a try.
4) Pay Attention to Key Words.
Speaking of keywords, something new I’ve learned is to use the same terms used in the job ad in my resume. I know, that might seem obvious to you but that escaped me. Apparently, most companies use a software program that scans through your resume and cover letter ensuring if you, the candidate, are a good match for the posted position. Much like anything else this software isn’t fool proof. The goal is to get your resume in front of an actual person. Sometimes taking specific soft and hard skills right from the job description and adding it to your resume increases your chances of having your resume land on a hiring manger’s desk. A pretty cool site that helps with this is JobScan.co. JobScan allows you to copy and paste the job description into one section, and upload or paste your resume or cover letter into another section. Once both fields are filled out the site scans your resume against the description and tells you how much of a match you are for the position based on what is on your resume or cover letter. It also gives you feedback; it might tell you what words are completely obsolete from your documents. The only downside is you get only five entries per month without signing up for a monthly subscription; so use your entries wisely.
5) Tailor your cover letter AND resume.
Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each position you’re applying for can be extremely tedious but it’s a necessary evil. Often times we just make changes to our cover letters but as evidenced in tip #4, the computer programs companies use are not the most forgiving. Make sure your cover letters are always directly addressing the company/hiring manager instead of having a generic greeting (To Whom It May Concern,). Switching around your previous employment can be quite helpful too; putting a “Relevant Experience” section in the beginning followed by an “Additional Experience” section will highlight your experience that’s most pertinent to the position you are applying for. Needless to say you wouldn’t pay full price for a suit that still needed adjustments, think of your potential employer as a customer for which you’ve sized and hemmed a suit (your resume and cover letter) for. Before you send them the final product make sure all necessary customizations have been made.
6) Mock Interviews.
I don’t care how confident you may feel when it comes to interviews, it is never a bad idea to practice and refresh those skills. Doing a mock interview with a friend or colleague can be quite beneficial. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Take the time to practice to smooth out any kinks you may not even know you have.