It’s already a cliche by now that it’s a difficult time to get a job. Every month the unemployment rate is released and although it has declined of late, the gains have been slight to say the least. Needless to say, there hasn't been a worse time to look for work in the past thirty years. And though you can’t change the economy there are some things you can personally do to increase your chances of landing that spot you’re looking for.
1. Hone Your Resume - You don’t just want to a have a resume that blithely lists what you’ve done in your life to deserve to have a job. You need to have a perfectly crafted document that is a statement of your personal mission. Find ways of saying the mundane without being boring.
2. Perfect Your Cover Letter - The cover letter can be one of the trickier elements of getting a job. This is because a cover letter should ultimately read like it has been personalized for each company. In reality you don’t have to draft a 100% original letter every time, but certainly do a little research before writing the cover and include some reasons why you will personally work well in their unique environment.
3. No Mistakes - It should go without saying, but don’t leave any typos on your resume. In another market you might be able to pull this off, but now. With HR departments all over the country inundated with resumes for every opening they offer, they are simply looking for reasons to disqualify people. Why should you even be considered if you can’t proofread your own resume.
4. Multiple Resumes - You don’t need to draft five or six resumes, each catered to a different sector, but you should seriously consider having at least two. Really what you are attempting to do is slant your resume toward the position you are going for. Don’t be afraid to move things around and highlight certain achievements over others to play to certain audiences. This of course means that you will have to be perfect in your proofreading. And since that’s almost impossible, get a proof reader.
6. Informational Interviews - The informational interview is an attempt to expand you professional network beyond your own social constraints. You go about asking for one of these interviews by looking at the top people in your field. Do a little research on the individuals and then send them a respectful email that demonstrates who you are and what you’ve done and what aspect of their career you admire and would like to emulate. Don’t be afraid to send these emails up the food chain, you’d be surprised who will say yes.
7. The Follow Up - After a job interview or after an informational interview make sure to send a follow up email within a few days. It’s also a nice touch to send a hand written note. Since everything is done on computers now a thoughtful handwritten note just might help you into your next job.
8. The Practice Interview - Nailing the interview is a must if you’re going to pull the job of your dreams, but interviewing well doesn't come naturally to everyone. To remedy this just ask one of the professionals you are friends with if they will run a mock interview for you. Send your resume and cover letter in advance and explain the job to them. This way they will be able to come up with a few questions that can help you prepare for the real thing.
Getting a job, especially a first job, is tough in any environment. It’s especially tough in this market, but if you take the task seriously and put together a strong resume and cover letter and can maximize both your personal and professional networks then in time you should land the job you’ve been looking for.