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Six Little Known Secrets for a Successful Job Search


How do you get employers to sit up and take notice? What are your plans to market yourself? If you’re accustomed to setting objectives, you’re half way there. Marketing starts with a sense of direction and the ability to communicate to prospective employers that you are a talented and purposeful individual who can get the job done. Your market objective must always be employer-centered, rather than self-centered. And keep in mind that grabbing the attention of a prospective employer requires preparation and persistence. The following secrets for turning your job search into a high powered marketing plan are not all-inclusive, but they will provide you with some strategies for getting started.

Secret #1-Know what you’re looking for, but don’t jump into the job search until you’re ready
Start by assessing your strengths. Consider past accomplishments in terms of what you do well and what you would just as soon not do. Identify the skills, abilities, and specific work experiences that make you an attractive candidate. We live in a skills-based society so it is especially important to recognize the skills that you possess that are relevant to today’s job market. Job seekers are expected to market their skills to employers in exchange for a job. How you go about it could be a deciding factor as to whether or not you get the offer.

Secret #2-Craft a resume that opens doors and gets results
A resume is a marketing tool that can either get you interviews or slam the door in your face. Get help from a professionally trained specialist in resume writing if you’re not confident in your ability to write your own resume. As you prepare your resume, think of yourself as a problem solver. Employers want to know what you can do for them. You will also want to develop accomplishment statements that start with action verbs and that tell the reader not only what you’ve done, but how well you’ve done it. Resumes get interviews. Interviews lead to job offers. Sell “you” by thinking of yourself as the product and begin marketing with your resume.

Secret #3-Use your cover letter; it’s another important marketing tool
A cover letter is the personalized “wrapping” that is sent with an impersonal document. It must be prepared just as carefully as your resume and that means no mistakes. And whether you offer highly specialized skills, or experience that’s easy to get, your approach to preparing a cover letter is the same. Avoid generic, mass-produced cover letters and tailor each for the jobs to which you apply. The first paragraph should state your purpose for writing. The second paragraph should highlight your potential value to the employer and this can include bullet points to support your claim. The third paragraph should mention your confidence in being able to offer the company exactly what they are looking for. Keep the cover letter brief; one page is enough. You don’t want to provide so much information in your cover letter (and resume) that the employers has little incentive to learn more about you. You need this marketing tool to get your foot in the door for a face to face interview.

Secret #4-Define your market
What companies are the most attractive to you? List your first choice, second choice, etc. Consider your interests, strengths, and abilities. Do you see yourself fitting in or would working for a particular company be a force-fit? Gather information about each of the companies on your target list. Start networking. Explore web sites. Learn as much as you can about each company before you start cold calling them, networking, apply for an advertised position, or setting up an informational interview.

Secret #5-Advertise yourself
You don’t have to stand on the street corner with a billboard sign tied around your body, but you will want to let people know that you are seeking employment. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed that you are unemployed or simply looking for a change. However, if you are conducting a job search while you are working, do so with discretion. Even hinting to co-workers, much less the boss that you are starting to look for another job could cost you the one you have. If you are not presently working, there’s no problem. In either case, the more contacts you make, the larger your referral network will become. It’s no secret that jobs don’t necessarily go to the most qualified. In many cases, jobs go to those who are the most skilled at marketing themselves.

Secret #6-Develop a referral network
Make a list of everyone you know who might be of assistance to you. This list should include casual acquaintances as well as business contacts, personal friends and family members. The people on this list are your “primary” contacts. You can anticipate that you will have a minimum of fifty people in this group. You will contact each of them either face to face or by telephone and tell them that you are in the job market and would like to know if they know of anyone who might be interested in talking to you. Your goal is to get at least three networking contacts from each of your primary contacts.

The names and contact information they give you will build your list of “secondary” contacts. You will then contact these people and tell them that you have a mutual friend or acquaintance. You will ask them if they know anyone who might be looking for someone with your background and qualifications. Once again, your goal is to get a minimum of three names from each secondary contact.

The key in developing your network is to never put yourself or the network contact under pressure by saying, “I’m looking for a job and I was wondering if you or the company you work for have a job for me?” Don’t make people who could potentially help you feel uncomfortable. Doing so can ruin a friendship or alienate a contact that doesn’t want to feel bullied into helping you. Don’t overlook job lead clubs and college alumni associations, as well as social and religious organizations; they are all part of your referral network. In addition, make sure that everyone in your referral network has a copy of your resume. Don’t forget that when you network with others, you will find that the people with whom you share your marketing plan are your best referral sources.

Secret #7-Keep a positive attitude
Attitude is everything. If you are depressed or angry due to job loss, your mental state will be evident during the interview. Employers have enough problems without hiring people who bring baggage with them. Every day is a new day that affords you the opportunity to market yourself. Don’t take away from that effort by carrying a negative attitude with you. It’s a lose-lose if you do.

In conclusion, turning your job search into a high powered marketing plan takes planning, commitment, and time. Once you get moving, your job search, fueled by an effective plan, will feel like a snowball rolling down a hill. You will collect many leads and make lots of contacts. And when you get discouraged, because you don’t feel like you’re making much progress, focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. Refer back to your marketing plan and keep pushing yourself until you find what you’re looking for.

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