"I'll wait till after the holidays to start my job search." Well, the holidays are over; no more excuses. It's time to look for that job.
Here are the 13 job search strategies that work best.
1. Narrow your job search.
You can reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed by targeting only your dream employer or your top two or three dream employers. Use Google, LinkedIn and human sources to educate yourself about the organization's priorities and where you might fit. Then answer ads, of course, but also pitch yourself to appropriate hiring managers that haven't placed an ad. If you're impressive, you'll become an inside candidate when a job gets posted. And the hirer might even create a job for you.
2. Reframe your pitch.
Instead of, 'I'm desperate to find something, anything," frame your search in positive terms. "Finally, I've decided to look for a job I'll really like rather than just take what falls in my lap. I'd like to find a job doing (insert your goal)." You'll feel better about your search -- and others will respect you for it.
A 30-second spiel risks your appearing self-absorbed or desperate. You can say plenty in just five seconds. For example, "I'm an accountant and always got good evaluations, but the company sent all our jobs to India." If a person wants to know more, s/he'll ask. The less you say upfront, the more room for questions. And with each question, s/he's more engaged and thus more invested in you.
4. Cast a wide net.
It's unlikely that your close friends and family will be able to help you land a job. So you need to expand your list to more distant ties: old friends and colleagues, your hair-cutter, cleric and neighbor down the block. Distant ties are surprisingly often willing to help, as long as you give that brief pitch that reassures that you'll be a good employee. And because you have many more distant ties than close ones, the odds are greater than one of them will give you a good lead.
5. Think coffee, not cloud.
Yeah, the Internet cloud is hot, but nothing replaces human connection. Make your goal to have two coffees, lunches, whatevers a week with people who could offer good career advice, hire you or know someone who could.
Your LinkedIn profile is the modern-day resume. Of course, complete it, including at least three strong recommendations. And don't forget the photo. People want to see a face connected to the resume. (Your photo should be a relatively recent headshot, so people don't feel misled when they meet you face-to-face.) Job listings on LinkedIn allow you to see how you're connected to them. And LinkedIn''s JobInsider toolbar, an add-in for Firefox and Internet Explorer, enables you to see your LinkedIn connections to jobs that are listed on Monster, Simply Hired and CareerBuilder. You can then request an introduction to the hiring manager.
LinkedIn's company profiles enable you to conveniently learn about a company -- for example, what other positions they're trying to fill -- that's helpful in crafting your cover letter and preparing for interviews.
7. In answering ads, use the point-by-point cover letter.
Make sure that your letter spells out exactly how you meet every requirement detailed in the ad. That makes clear that you're qualified for the job. If you're not, don't waste your time applying. If an employer goes through the trouble of placing an ad and wading through oodles of applicants, you won't be selected unless you meet at least most of the requirements. If the employer wanted to hire someone unqualified, s/he would have hired challenged cousin Gomer.
8. Practice, practice, practice.
Practice telling your story in 10-, 30- and 60-second versions. Also practice answers for the questions that you're most afraid of, like, "Why have you been out of the job market for so long?" When you're ready, phone a dozen people with the power to hire you for a job you'd crave. That tactic is low-risk and I've seen it pay off many times.
Add success stories to your cover letter, interviews and resume -- yes resume. As I wrote in this AOL article, resumes filled with jobseeker-speak tend to make employers roll their eyes and turn your resume into a paper airplane. Adding two or three brief anecdotes describing a problem you faced, the impressive way you approached it, and the positive result, makes your resume more likely to sail to the top of the pile.
When employers are desperate, they're more willing to give you a shot. Give an employer a sample of you and s/he might want to buy the whole enchilada.
11. Think of a job interview as a first date.
You're both checking each other out. If you sprinkle a few questions throughout the interview and even offer to demonstrate something -- for example, if you're a salesperson or trainer, explain or sell something -- you'll appear confident, not desperate. Also, you may get information that can help you decide whether you want to work there. My favorite question: "What would you want to see me accomplish in the first 30 days that would make you say, "Wow, I'm glad I hired this person?"
12. Follow up.
After you've responded to an ad, asked a friend for a lead, or requested a meeting with a hirer who hasn't placed an ad, make a follow-up phone call. Keep it brief and positive and you'll more likely be perceived as pleasantly persistent than as a pest. Example: "Joe, I appreciate your having offered to keep your ears open for me. I can't expect you to keep me top-of-mind so I figured that now, after a month, I'd call to follow up. Have you heard of anything?"
13. Be more resilient.
Recognize that job seeking is that rare game in which, if you fail 99 of 100 times, you win -- but not if you quit early. Wallowing after some failures tends to lead to more wallowing. Keep at it and you'll likely land a job and thus not have to read any more of these job-search articles.