Job Seekers — Prepare

Are you looking for a new job…whether you have one now or don’t?

When you are looking for a new job, the act of looking for a new job should be your full time job. If you are already working, then that means you’re now working two jobs.

Just firing off your resume to position openings on Monster isn’t looking for a job. You need to take time to research, investigate, prepare, and repond.

Research. Monster, Indeed, Career Builder, etc., are great for leads, but they don’t show you everything. I personally find Indeed.com as one of the best sites, but you literally need to start your research in finding out all the job boards and then setting up your daily search engines. Then research the market and look for all the major employers that you might be interested in working with for a new job. Many times they will list positions on their own websites and if they don’t get sufficient interest, then they release them to the search engines. So, you need to make a list of them and set up profiles and search engines for them too. As you can imagine, this is a lot of up front work. Just filling out Monster.com can be a chore. A couple other things to think about at this point would be your social presence. How up to date is your Linkedin profile, is your Facebook profile private, if you have any personal websites or blogs, are they up-to-date? You don’t want to be looking for that perfect job and not have your best social brand showing.

Investigate. Using the job boards through companies and search engines, look at the type of jobs that you are interested in. Check out the minimum and preferred requirements for these positions. If they typically have a requirement that you don’t have, then you need to get that requirement. If you want to move into a Project Management position, you better get a PMP certification, if the positions you are interested in required an advanced degree, then you have work to do. If you are currently in a position, then you have time to work on your background. I’m not saying that you can’t apply to these positions, but there is a good chance that your resume won’t be looked at. Build your skill set to meet at least the minimum requirements and if possible the preferred requirements.

Prepare. Aside from building your skills, now you need to build your resume and what I will call your portfolio. You need to write your basic resume…the one you post on profiles and take to job fairs. This resume needs to respond to the majority of posts you have researched and investigated, but needs to be no more than two pages. This way you can easily hand them out at events and job fairs. But, you also need to develop a resume bank of talent areas that allow you to respond to different job requests with the specific skill areas they are looking for and little more. You also should have a basic cover letter already written so that you can adjust and send it for every position.

Respond. All to often, we simply fire off the same resume to 10 to 15 new position openings every day through Monster or the like. Someone once told us that cover letters don’t matter so we don’t take the time to write one. Good luck with that. Every job must have a specific resume and cover letter that speaks to the position requirements and qualifications. Right below your name, there should be a block on your resume that lists the exact qualifications, word for word, that the position request asks for. Companies, especially big ones, use Boolean search engines to look for key words–words they require. If you can’t get past the engine, your resume will never get looked at. The next section should be built off your talent bank. You provide specific examples of how you have already done what they are looking for with this position–the job requirements. Again, the key words are critical, so be prepared to adjust your resume to their request. Additionally, adjust your cover letter the same way. Now you are ready to send in this resume that you hope will get you an interview.

Coming out of the Air Force, I put my resume in the Booz Allen Hamilton system (actually I had a friend put it in the system as a referral, which is always better. They were looking for someone with a very specific background and HR ran a key word search on their resume database first before posting the position. My resume came up with a 100% hit on the key words. They contacted me and my job interview pretty much was an hour of them telling me what I would be doing and asking me when I would like to start.

If you aren’t treating your job search as a full time job, then you aren’t doing it right. You might still get a job, but it will be more luck then effort that made that happen. Give yourself every leg up possible. There are other things you can do that I will talk about next week, but these are the key items that set you up on the right foot.

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About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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