Reeling It In

We like to think of a job search as a hunt, but-in the era of email, online resumes and telephone interviews-fishing is closer to the truth. Finding a great job is a mixture of patience, persistence and having enough lines in the right part of the stream. Once you’ve baited your hook and landed a fish, all that remains is to reel it in.

We All Fish
If you’re thinking, “But I already have a job,” think again. We all need to know how to fish. See if one of these examples applies to you:job search

– Mary is a new graduate. She wants to find a job as a generalist to get as much experience as possible.
– John is unhappy with his schedule and wants to work in more departments in the laboratory. He would like a chance to expand his resume.
– Sally has worked at the same laboratory for many years, but recent cutbacks and leadership changes have her worried. She wonders if it’s time to look for a new job.
– Tom’s hours were recently cut back, and he wants a job in a different location with more security.
– Jane has worked for several years on the bench and wants to try her hand at management.

Maybe, you’re just hungry for change. The ocean is full of fish. Here are ten tips to help you land your next great job:

1. Know Your Skills
These days, it isn’t enough to work hard, come to work on time or get along with coworkers. To stand above a crowd of applicants, you need to know your skills. Interviewers now ask behavioral-based questions to test your skills such as, “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem and reported it to your supervisor.”

Skills that managers value include: verbal communication, technical writing, computer skills, mechanical troubleshooting, critical thinking, problem solving and customer service.

2. Get Great References
Employers typically give dates of employment and little else. Your professional reputation is enhanced by references who will talk about your work ethic and character. These can be teachers, mentors, office employees or former colleagues who have moved on. You’ll be surprised how many professionals you interact with whom are willing to say great things about you to a potential employer.

TIP 3: Create a Master Application
Online applications are common. You’ll improve your speed and accuracy by creating an electronic “master application” that contains all the information you need about education, previous jobs, addresses, responsibilities, dates and references. This is a great tip that will save oodles of time. Update your master application, along with your cover letter and resume.

SEE ALSO: What Is Your Career IQ?

4. Tweak Your Cover Letter
Online applications aren’t just easier for you-they’re easier for everyone. A great cover letter can make you stand out. A great cover letter is bait on your hook, and it has to contain what an employer is hungry for. It should be specific to each employer, addressing the company values and explaining why you are a good cultural fit.

5. Tweak Your Resume
If a cover letter is the bait, a resume is the hook to land an interview. A good resume is a living document designed to market your best qualities to an employer. It should be functional with a bullet list of skills (see tip 1) that you are prepared to defend in an interview. Pay attention to what employers ask for in interviews to tweak your resume.

For example, if several employers ask you to describe a time when you exceeded a customer’s expectations, consider adding your customer service skills.

6. Approach Recruiters with Caution
It’s easy to think, “I’ll just get a headhunter to find me a job,” but recruiters and headhunters are employed to find the best candidate for an employer-not to find you the best job. They are not career counselors; they do not understand why you are looking for work; and they are not employed to act in your best interest. They can certainly find you a great job, but you can waste time if you rely on recruiters alone.

7. Create Alerts on Job Sites
Job sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and others are an excellent way to get your resume noticed, and you should use them all. Set up a search, save it and sign up for email alerts. Every morning you’ll be able to see what’s new. Chances are your state has job boards with similar alerts. Take advantage of everything and trawl-eventually you’ll catch something worth a look.

8. Use Google Maps
Whether it’s Google, Bing or Yahoo, use online maps to see what you’re applying for. Google Street View allows you to take a virtual tour through a town. This lets you check out shopping, schools, neighborhoods, etc. That’s useful (and really cool).

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