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The Job Hunting Guide
Job hunting would be in most people’s “top 10 most stressful activities”. It often coincides with some of the lowest points of our lives – when we’ve recently lost a job or are working in a job we dislike just to survive.
For the majority of us, earning an income is essential to our quality of life. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make life a lot more comfortable and interesting! More than that, a job gives us purpose and structure, forms part of our identity; and if you enjoy your job, it can be a great source of pride and accomplishment.
1. The Pre Job Hunt Checklist
Set Out Your Goals
Take some time for honest self-reflection:
• What am I good at?
• What do I enjoy doing?
• What skills and knowledge do I have?
• What characteristics of a job are most important to me?
• What kind of hours can I work?
• Can I travel for work?
This will help you refine your job search to specific industries or types of jobs and eliminate any you simply can’t do. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can focus your energy on the most suitable jobs.
Review Your Resume
• Update your qualifications and experience, put your latest and most important achievements first. You can change the order according to the job.
• Every word on your resume needs to work hard. Employers receive a lot of applications so make it easy for them to see the reasons you should have the job over everyone else.
• Keep a copy of each version you create. You can often reuse them for different jobs with only minor edits.
• Spell check your resume! Get someone to proof read it for errors or omissions.
• If you’re submitting resumes digitally, convert them to PDF (unless the employer requests a specific file format). Unlike a Word document, PDFs won’t change formatting or helpfully underline any spelling mistakes you’ve missed with a squiggly red line…
Update Your LinkedIn Profile & Lock Down Your Facebook
Most working age people have one or more social media accounts with services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr or Pinterest. Reports indicate that checking candidates’ online profiles is becoming a common hiring practice. Employers want to see if you present yourself professionally, get a feel for your personality, assess if you are a good fit for the company culture, learn more about your qualifications and find out if you are a well-rounded person.
It’s illegal to discriminate based on things like age, gender or religion but what they see can leave a negative impression and lead to bias against you anyway. If you’re publicly posting about things like illegal drug use then an employer is perfectly entitled to discard your application.
If you think your online profile is going to damage your chances of getting a job, then it’s time to restrict access or close your accounts. Simply changing your profile name is not enough – people can find you through your email address and phone number too. Fortunately, you can lock down many types of accounts (see Facebook privacy settings).
This means you can stay online but prevent employers from browsing your profile but don’t forget employers can still see your profile picture. LinkedIn accounts are generally very professional by default, but leaving an out-of-date profile online can do you more harm than good. Update it!
The Google Test
Indulge your vanity for a few minutes and look yourself up on Google (and Bing, Yahoo, Baidu or any other search engine you like). Have a quick look at the search results to make sure there’s nothing there that would embarrass you or exclude you from getting the job.
All clear? You pass the Google test.
Don’t forget many search engines have multiple tabs which show different results for images, news or videos.
Follow Brands & Recruiters, Sign up to Mailing Lists
Follow the social media profiles and brand pages of potential employers. You’ll not only see job openings and news they post, you’ll also get a feel for their organisational culture. Many larger organisations have a job mailing list. Sign up for those and you’ll get job advertisements sent directly to your inbox every day!
It’s a practical way to develop experience and demonstrate a strong work ethic. If you have a weak job history or no relevant experience for the job you want, volunteering or taking classes can help fill in those gaps. Many employers like to see you have initiative and it can be a talking point in job interviews.
Start Building New Connections
Volunteering also gives you one avenue to develop a personal and professional network! There are many more opportunities you can pursue too. Career fairs, alumni events and conferences can all be used to build on your current network of workmates, classmates, friends and family.
Interviewing well is the art of engaging the interviewer while you continue to self-promote. It actually helps to be a bit narcissistic – or more accurately, emulate the behaviours common to narcissists. Make eye contact, ask the interviewers more questions, joke around and talk about yourself.
If interviewing doesn’t come naturally to you, practice with someone else first. If you have an interview for a specific job coming up, it’s an excellent idea to think up questions the interviewers might ask and prepare your answers in advance so you’re not caught off guard.
2. Job Hunting Techniques
Respond to Online/Newspaper Job Advertisements
Judging by the number of websites dedicated to advertising jobs, it’s an incredibly popular way to find jobs (as a job seeker) or fill job vacancies (as an employer).
The great advantage of applying in response to a job advertisement? You know there is a job available and the employer is actively trying to fill the position.
You have the best chance of being hired if you work in a high demand industry, have lots of highly relevant qualifications and experience and are good a selling yourself through your resume and cover letter. Industries like child care have such a high demand for Diploma-qualified workers they sometimes can’t fill vacancies!
Fill in Online Application Forms
Filling out an online application is the only way to apply for many jobs. A lot of government and private organisations have a formal hiring process which requires you to go through an online application process.
In some cases, they won’t accept applications submitted any other way. You need to be in the candidate pool to have any chance of getting one of those jobs so definitely apply, but make sure you have backup plans too.
Any email marketer will tell how hard it is to reach an audience through email. Spam filters will automatically pick up and trash a lot of emails. Those that do get through are mostly ignored or deleted without being opened.
Occasionally it is possible to get through and start up a conversation with someone in a position to hire you. Unfortunately, many organisations with set hiring procedures can’t accept applications via email, so you end up wasting their time and yours.
It is possible to play the numbers game, sending dozens or hundreds of emails in the hopes of getting a reply, but expect a very low response rate and it’s not the most effective method of job hunting. Target specific organisations with tailored emails and customised resumes to increase your chances.
You can simply turn up to a workplace and ask about work. This is especially effective with small to medium sized businesses. In a smaller organisation you can often talk directly to the owner/hiring manager and informally interview on the spot.
Do your research beforehand, dress appropriately for the context of the job and take a resume and cover letter to leave with the business. “Walk-ins” will be less effective or simply not possible with some organisations, especially if they have a formal hiring process.
Cold calling is essentially telemarketing, except you are the product you’re selling!
Calling is generally more effective than mass emailing – there is an urgency to a ringing phone which is harder to ignore than an email. This technique requires a good script and a lot of persistence but can be effective if you’re a talented communicator. If you’re going for a sales-centric job, then this might actually be a great way to get noticed!
Use an Employment Agency
A good employment agency can be a real asset in your job search. Their knowledge of recruitment practices and employment trends can help you apply for the right jobs and really stand out in the recruitment process.
Employment agencies have often developed relationships with many employers and may even have recruiting contracts which allow them to offer jobs to their clients that aren’t advertised to the public.
Working with an employment agency means there is someone else out there helping you find a job. If you’re lucky, they’ll do a lot of the “heavy lifting” involved in a job hunt and find one for you.
Aka “talking to people”! Start with people you know, you like and people with whom you can’t make a mistake (close friends or family for instance) to see if they know of work opportunities. If they don’t, they might be able to put you in touch with someone who does.
You can plan and direct your networking activities – create a target list of employers you’d like to work for and starting asking your network the right questions. If you have clear goals for your networking, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Combine Multiple Methods
For example, you can:
1. Work out your personal strengths and work preferences.
2. Identify a list of potential employers and jobs.
3. Walk in or cold call the organisations.
4. Follow up with phone calls and/or emails.
5. Reach out to your network and see if anyone has a contact in those organisations (preferably a person with actual hiring power, this is not necessarily the human resources department!).
You must respect their rules and use your common sense. If they specifically tell you not to contact them, don’t make follow up calls and emails.
See this Australian truck driver’s video resume for inspiration. With more than 1,300,000 views hopefully someone offered him a job….
There are many more examples of people employing creative job hunting techniques – making their own websites, putting up billboards, advertising themselves online through social media and other advertising services, going on reality TV shows, even having personalised “resume” t-shirts printed to wear around town…
3. Job Hunting Mistakes
Do Not Put Your Picture on Your Resume
We see a lot of headshots attached to resumes. Unless it is specifically requested or you are an actor or model applying for a gig, you should never, ever, ever put your head shot on a resume! It is not normal in Australia and is a big turn-off for many employers.
There are a few reasons:
1. Australia has equal opportunity employment laws which mean employers should be making hiring decisions based on the qualifications and experience the candidates. A picture reveals information about yourself – age, race and gender – so if the person hiring rejects you, it creates the possibility you’ll file a discrimination claim. Some organisations solve this problem by putting any resume with a picture in the bin.
2. When a hiring manager is dealing with hundreds of resumes a day, they usually don’t have time to stop and read your whole resume. You don’t have long (maybe as little as 6 seconds) to make a good impression and get selected for the next stage of recruitment. The picture simply distracts them from what you actually want them to see; the skills and experience that will get you hired.
3. Attaching a picture shows you lacka basic understanding of Australian hiring laws and practices, making you a less attractive candidate.
If you feel like you have to attach a picture, at least make it well lit, professional and high quality. Blurry bathroom selfies don’t impress anyone…
Do Not Miss Your Interview
It is surprisingly common for people to go through all the trouble of getting a job interview and then not show up. I have to thank those people, since it’s been much easier for me to get a job when I’m the only candidate to turn up!
If you get offered an interview, don’t miss it. Not turning up pretty much guarantees you won’t get the job. If you change your mind about the job, then call and cancel. It is basic courtesy and it might mean someone else gets and opportunity to interview.
Do Not Use Just One Cover Letter and Resume
Tailor your cover letter and resume to each job. When replying to a job advertisement, you should be addressing the job selection criteria in your cover letter and customising your resume to highlight your most relevant experience, qualifications and achievements.
Do Not Stop Looking Because it’s the Holidays
If everyone else has stopped looking just before it’s Christmas, you have an excellent opportunity to get noticed while there’s minimal competition. While organisations shut down over Christmas, many people use this quiet period to catch up on things they’ve been to busy to do – like reviewing budgets and hiring.
Keep up with your job hunt during the holiday season to make sure you’re in the running for the first round of New Year hiring.
Do No Assume There is No Job if There is No Job Advertised
An employer might not even realise they have a problem until you point it out to them. If you’re lucky, you could have the exact skills they don’t know they need (yet). That doesn’t mean you should go out and create problems; but when you see a problem you could fix, point it out and you have a chance to start a conversation about it.
Sometimes employers may have noticed they need someone to fill a role but have been too busy to hire someone – simply turning up at the right time puts you in a great position to be considered for the job. Be open to opportunities and jump on chances when they present themselves to you.
Don’t Apply to Jobs Just for the Sake of Increasing Your “Odds”
Job hunting is a balancing act. On the one hand, you’ll probably need to apply for multiple jobs before you actually get one. On the other hand, mass emailing the same resume and cover letter to 1000 employers may do little to help you find a job.
Be smarter; be targeted.
Select the jobs you’d most like have and the organisations with which you’d most like to work. Start with your top 10 jobs and invest the time to make an application for each one that can’t be ignored. Only then should you widen your net to include more jobs and organisations.
Don’t Focus on Yourself
Good marketing is the art of communicating how a product or service can fulfill the customer’s needs. How does this apply to job hunting? Think of yourself as the product and your employer as the customer.
Show them how you can make their life easier and their organisation more productive. Of course you will need to talk about yourself, but be aware of how you frame the information in your applications. If you can demonstrate why you are the perfect fit for them, they’ll be a lot more interested in you.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Rejection is hard and you’re probably going to face a lot of it during your job hunt. Keep going anyway. Using multiple job hunting techniques will add variety to your search and make your days less tedious.
You might arrange your days so you complete online applications in the morning, volunteer in the afternoon and meet up with friends or join a club in the evenings to network. Get an employment agency working for you in the background and suddenly you’re exposing yourself to a lot of opportunities to find work.
Don’t Refuse to Change Careers
We live in a period of rapid change. There isn’t much demand for telegraph operators anymore… and if you told someone 15 years ago you wanted to be a social media manager, they would have had no idea what you were talking about.
If you are willing to reinvent yourself when you need to and find ways to apply your current experience to new opportunities, you can stay relevant and employed in an evolving job market.
Emerging technologies like 3D printing and drones will no doubt make some current jobs redundant, while creating many new ones at the same time. A lot of those ‘new’ jobs will use old skills and talents applied in new ways.
Don’t Forget to Ask for Feedback
If you were asked to interview but didn’t get the job, don’t be afraid to call up and ask for feedback. Find out what you did wrong this time (or what the other candidate did better) so you know what to work on for the next job.