Does it seem like landing a new job is about as likely as winning the lottery? While navigating the job search maze is difficult, there are strategic steps you can take to give yourself a better chance to win a new position.
Hiring managers from top Michigan technology and healthcare companies offer the following advice to help you get hired now.
The 2012 CareerXRoads employer study reports that nearly half of all companies make at least one hire for every five referrals they get. But how can you tap into a referral network?
Paul Czarnik, Chief Technology Officer for Compuware, suggests job seekers in the technology field attend local Meetups. “If someone impresses me at an in-person event, it almost guarantees a follow up. We’ve met great people in person who may not have come up via traditional recruiting,” Czarnik says.
Social media tools can help augment your networking efforts and expand the number of people who know about you. Consider joining some industry-focused LinkedIn groups and be generous with your advice. Linda Kruso, Director of Workforce Planning for Beaumont Health System, advises job seekers to use LinkedIn to connect and get to know people online.
“Try asking for informational calls or meetings,” she suggests. “Make a good impression and they might offer advice on other companies you might contact or even forward your resume to a colleague.”
Don’t stop with LinkedIn. If people in your industry use Google+ or Twitter to share information and resources, join them there. Your goal is to identify and engage with people who may be willing to pass along your resume or introduce you to decision makers at your target companies.
Research target organizations
Instead of applying for any job you see advertised, identify 10 to 15 companies to target. Learn everything you can about those organizations to make yourself more competitive for jobs there.
“Researching potential employers is critical. Failing to do so can be seen as an indicator of how a person will perform on the job,” says Ryan Hoyle, Director of Global Recruiting at GalaxE.Solutions.
Target positions that are well suited to your skills. Kruso advises job seekers to make the best use of their time by only applying for jobs they are well qualified to do.
Your goal? Identify what your employer wants.
“Employers look for candidates with the skills, experience and competencies outlined in the job description. They also look for candidates that will fit within their corporate culture and display the soft skills associated with positive attributes, such as good communication and a strong work ethic,” Hoyle says.
Kruso agrees that soft skills, including interpersonal and communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving, the ability to work with others and service orientation are essential. “In health care, the mission is to serve the needs of families in the community,” she exlains. “Looking for these characteristics helps us to ensure that patients receive high quality, competent and compassionate care and helps to create a great environment to work in, too.”
Where can you learn information that helps you know what to emphasize in your application materials? Czarnik says job seekers in technical fields should study posted job openings to learn what future plans and projects companies have in mind. He suggests joining technical online forums and connecting with people who work in companies that interest you. Ultimately, these contacts may result in referrals, which Czarnik acknowledges make a big difference in helping reach decision makers.
Target your application materials
No employer wants to read a form note originally intended for a different position, and recruiters expect resumes to specifically explain why candidates are well suited for the jobs.
“Don’t forget to take the time to fill out the application completely and accurately and pay attention to spelling,” Kruso says. “If the recruiter can’t see your qualifications, you won’t be considered.”
Adds Hoyle: “A well-written resume will highlight key accomplishments, specifically those that led to measureable results.”
It’s difficult to overstate how important it is to create a targeted resume. Says Scott Miller, Supervisor-Recruiting at DTE Energy: “Tailor your resume so your language matches the targeted industry and function.” If you’ve done your research, you’ll know how to get the recruiter’s attention.
“It’s important for you to be able to clearly articulate your scope of work,” Miller says. “Be specific. Describe your accomplishments. If you saved a company money, improved processes, or reduced costs, be sure to note it on your resume.”
Always follow up
Many job seekers miss potential opportunities because they don’t follow up. After applying for a job, Hoyle suggests, “Candidates should be persistent, but not desperate. A candidate should follow up by phone and email to confirm an employer has received their application and establish a time frame for next steps. If that time frame passes without any update then the candidate should feel free to follow up again for an update.”
In-person meetings or conversations offer great opportunities to learn how to follow up later. “Ask people the best way to follow up with them when you speak,” Czarnik says. Many people have a glut of emails or voice mails, so it’s best to inquire how to effectively reach them. Don’t rely on persistence when you have an opportunity to ask how to get in touch when you’re face-to-face or speaking on the phone.
Miller suggests making sure to ask people you meet if you can connect on LinkedIn – and be sure to let the contact know how you met and why you want to connect when you request the link.
Miller prefers that follow up be substantive and include useful additional information. For example, he says, “Feel free to write to let me know you’re still interested in the job and optimistic about the possibilities. Keep recruiters up-to-date about your search. This helps them help you.”