12 Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers
The following are strategies that consistently generate strong results for job seekers:
1. Be patient and remain positive.
A lot of job seekers tend to have a short fuse especially when they feel that time is running out. The longer you’re looking for a job, the more frustrated you become. To remain productive, pursue a handful of target companies on your list. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, you’ve still got others to look forward to. Another strategy is to be persistent in calling hiring managers for a follow-up after you’ve submitted your resume or have been to an interview. Let them know that you are interested, but avoid being rude and impatient. Calling them once or twice every day will not get you any favors. Remember that the hiring process is usually extensive, and companies are just being careful in making their decision. Explore a lot of your prospects and always strive to keep an optimistic point of view.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of first impressions.
As you continue applying for positions in various companies, take care of how you interact with others. Attempt to leave a great first impression, whether it’s the secretary, the hiring manager or your fellow applicants. If you wish to differentiate yourself from other candidates, you must appear to be more eager, determined and serious to get the job. You must let them know how much you want to be there: show up early, dress smartly, be alert and be prepared.
3. Let employers know what you have to offer.
In every job interview, you have to convince the employer (or the hiring manager) why they should hire you out of all the other qualified applicants. The best way to do this is to identify the needs of the company and how you can fill them, using your skills and expertise. You must present yourself as an asset, and how being part of the team is a benefit to the organization, given your experience. Specify relevant challenges that you have overcome in the past, problems where you found practical solutions, and ideas that have produced tangible results. Employers always want to know that they are getting value for their money, and so you must convince them that hiring you is a definite advantage to contribute to the growth of the company.
4. Put together a portfolio.
It is never enough just to have a resume these days. As the marketplace becomes more competitive, people are finding new and creative ways on how to present themselves. One of these is by having a career portfolio. How extensive depends on the kind of work you do. Usually it includes the following: a short (one-page) biography about your employment experience, a compilation of inspiring accomplishment stories, covers letters, and professional references. You can also include a list of your target organizations and a short marketing speech about yourself. If you are part of the creative industry, then you can also prepare a digital or printed book of your works (published or unpublished) – be it written articles, design samples.
5. Use the Internet to your advantage.
A lot of companies already have their own career websites and prefer to receive resumes and applications online. Some of them even use LinkedIn Pages or Facebook Fan Pages to engage possible candidates, using video testimonials of their own employees. Use the web to get in touch and engage with your target organizations and to research more about your industry. You can also create a website for yourself, and display your CV and portfolio there. Moreover, you can create a blog where you discuss topics that deal with your skills and experience. Build an audience through the use of social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter , Google Hangouts are a few examples) to add to your credibility. And some even record their own introduction video and upload onto YouTube. By having a significant online presence and by presenting yourself as an expert on certain matters related to the position you are looking for, the right people will eventually find you. To support your networking activities, you can also use e-mail to keep in touch with your colleagues and other contacts.
6. Practice going to a job interview.
This is to improve your speaking and negotiating skills. Anticipate questions that might be asked during the interview, and prepare answers that are firm and direct to the point. Write a short speech (marketing spiel) about yourself, stating your job objectives, your experience and strengths that you can bring to the table, and commit them to memory. Practice negotiating about salary, compensation and benefits, among other things. Be polite, but firm. To gauge your performance, you can do any of the following tips: speak in front of the mirror, converse with a friend and act as if you’re in a real situation, or record yourself and listen to it later.
7. Build a network of reliable contacts.
These are people who have connections to your target organizations and industries. Keep in touch and meet with them regularly, and get to know them in a more personal capacity. Refrain from making your conversations strictly about business – ask about their interests, their families. Discuss ideas. Be sincere in building relationships with them. Don’t hesitate to offer your help where it is needed, even if you don’t get anything in return.
8. Improve your management skills.
As this is not your first walk in the park, there are a lot more things expected from you by future employers. Your capabilities may be something of value, but it is the years in your experience that makes you a target for bigger expectations and responsibilities. You’re no longer rank-and-file; you are a seasoned potential hire looking to secure a position at the executive level. You will be expected to handle teams, start projects, and deliver the big guns. Keep your skills current and relevant by attending seminars on career building and the like. Read up on business and industry trends, as well as organizational and strategic management. Talk to people who are in your field and learn from them constantly.
9. Nurture your brand.
You are your brand. You are what you sell to hiring managers and employers. Find your unique selling proposition, and cultivate that. Your strengths are your best marketing advantage, and you must position yourself as an expert at what you do at all time. Start by writing articles, giving presentations, speaking at events, or even teaching a class. Join professional and business organizations, and make every effort to get a leadership role. Be active in your community and win people over with your ideas and commitment.
10. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Weighing one person’s accomplishments against yours will only derail you from achieving more things. Accept that each life is different, and every person has his own path to take. Don’t waste time thinking of what could have been. Learn from your mistakes and start over again if need be. Many people go through a rough period while unemployed, but after a period of self-assessment, most realize that things happen for a reason. For example, one finds a job better than the last one and views being laid off as a blessing in disguise. Another who was forced to early retirement found more time to be with family and discovered another passion, which led to starting a business. The big lesson is: look at the big picture. Find the positive in your situation. Commit to this change in perspective and turn your adversity into a productive experience.
11. Never stop learning.
Continue developing your abilities by pursuing new things. Take classes, seminars or industry conferences that interest you, not just because it’s related to the work you are looking for right now. Enhance your credentials by getting a new professional certification. Enroll for lessons that are not necessarily related to corporate culture: guitar lessons, swimming lessons, even flower arrangement lessons. Keep your hands and your mind busy! Do all the things you’ve been meaning to do, but never had the time to. Explore the world that is out there, waiting to be discovered.
12. Live healthy, and live well.
Job search requires a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Eat well; get a lot of exercise, but rest when you need to rest. Have hobbies and enjoy doing what interests you. Get together with friends often. Spend time with your family. Don’t eschew routines and relationships at the expense of working hard to get the job that you want. If you take care of yourself, the good things will follow.
Performing a successful job search can bring in a lot of pressure. But end of the day, it’s still just a job. It is important to remember that it does not take precedence over things that really matter: a healthy body, people who love you, and a life to live to the fullest.
About the Author: Ngee Key Chan
Executive Coach | Job Search Strategist | Talent Developer | Keynote Speaker | ★ Author of Unlock Your True Potential