Jacquie's Job Search Tips

Here's something I've never blogged about before, but I get asked about all the time. I don't know why I'm asked about this topic often, but it seems people think I have good advice to give. And to toot my own horn a bit, I have helped a lot of people along the way with how to improve their resume, how they should handle their social media lives during job searches, and have given loads of interview tips. I even was the ghost-writer of a resume for someone who had been jobless for many months who shortly after landed a great job. I don't know, I don't have any hard evidence it was my re-draft of her resume...but she was very pleased. So it seems I know a bit about the topic.

I was giving advice again recently and typing out a long-winded email to a former intern on the hunt for a job, when I decided that maybe I should post this to my blog, so that the next time someone asked, I could just give them the link.

This is geared towards people looking for their first "adult" job after university, or people looking to change careers.

1. When searching for work, I would suggest being persistent and following up your dropped off resume, and if you get an interview, send a thank you card afterwards no matter how it went. Don't burn any bridges and say thank you often. You never know when you'll need those contacts down the road. And people LOVE getting hand written notes.

2. Always write a resume customized to the job post. Take key words from the job post and include them on your resume, in case they digitally review them, but it also helps for old fashioned review styles. Make sure you take the job post point by point and reference all items between your cover letter and your resume. I can't stress this enough...be very specific to the job you are applying for, a general resume will rarely work.

3. Don't write a novel. Ideally, a resume should be 1 page, 2 pages if you have loads of relevant work experience or you need to include published articles and so on. Don't list every task at every job you've ever had. A resume is an advertisement that gets them hooked -- leave things to be discussed in an interview. Just include interesting and the most relevant experience you have.

4. Write a custom cover letter for each job. Don't tell them what they are going to read in your resume, instead let your personality shine through, and tell them why you want that job in particular. Be honest and be fun to read.

5. Never say you are "responsible, reliable, punctual, hard-working" or any of those other general words on a resume or cover letter. If you are applying for the job, it's assumed you can handle it if you are applying. Talk about your skills. Managing multiple projects and deadlines is a skill; being a hard worker is not a skill.

6. Before the interview research the heck out of the job and the employer. Read their entire website. Google them and read articles about their industry. Then if they ask you if you have questions you will have questions to ask specific to the company, and it will show you have done your research. It's ok to ask questions you already know the answer to. The point is to show them you know what you are applying for.

7. On the day of the interview, dress conservatively, even if that isn't your style day-to-day. I never wear nude nail polish....except for job interviews and sales meetings with new clients. Once they love you, you can get away with wearing more crazy stuff. The exception to this is if the job is at a fashion company or somewhere else where dressing with flair is encouraged.

8. Know the answer to standard questions and practice them. What is your weakness, what is a challenge  you've overcome in a workplace, how do you handle stress, how do you organize your time, where do you see yourself in 5 years....your answers can be only vaguely true (especially the 5 years one) but practice them and know the answers in advance so you don't have to sit there thinking about it.

9. In the interview don't be afraid to ask them to repeat the question mid-answer (to make sure you are on track) and don't be afraid to tell them you are nervous-if you are. This is an interview, not a contest at being perfect. At the end of the interview, try to find a way to ask for the job. Either ask if they will be doing second interviews, or what their timeline is for hiring. This gives them the impression you're hungry for it, and gives you a chance to tell them you're really interested and can't wait to hear from them.

10. Bring things to the interview. If the job is creative, bring a portfolio of some kind. Don't email them a link to a website, or ask them to download a pdf, or to read your blog. Print stuff out and bring it, or bring an ipad loaded with samples. Always take a copy of your resume and cover letter to an interview in a folder. For one, it's good if the person doesn't have it handy, and two, it gives you something to do with your hands so you don't fidget.

11. Be early. Sit in the waitiing room, or use the washroom, or walk around. Eat a healthy meal with protein beforehand. (This tip in particular is one I've mucked up before and it was a disaster. I was so hungry I got blubbery in the interview...not good).

12. Be aware that the employer may have googled you. Especially if you work in any social field (communications, social media, pr, design) you need to know what your google results say about you. If you don't like what they say, get working on fixing your google results so you do like them (sidebar, should I do a post on how to do that too?) so that you are proud of what the results say. If they google you and there are no results...that is bad, possibly worse than embarrassing results. Put up a LinkedIn page at the very least.

13. On the topic of social media, do NOT say you have "social media" as a job skill if you only use it for personal reasons. Having a facebook or twitter account is not a job skill, unless you have done it for an employer in the past, or to promote something specific other than yourself. Instead, focus on the software you use, for example you might say that you are comfortable in both a Mac or PC environment, and are skilled in using a wide range of software including...

14. Lastly, in my view, little white lies are ok, so long as you will do the work needed afterwards to make it a truth. For example, I was once asked in an interview if I had used Excel before. I hadn't. I had used Lotus 123 (a very old spreadsheet program on my parent's computer as a child) and I understood Excel was a spreadsheet program in the Windows suite. I said yes. In the meantime, I learned how to use Excel and taught myself to write formulas and other basic skills. When the time came to use it I was ready to go, because I'd worked hard to get there.

Let me know in the comments what you think, are my job search tips useful?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this tips, I really need to know this because I was looking for a stable job in other country. I preferred this jobs in Australia because I know that there was a lot of job vacancies there.

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