Your job search is one of the most significant tasks you'll ever have. What job you end up with determines how you'll spend the majority of hours in your day, how much money you'll have, and how satisfied you are with your life. It's worth making the effort to end up where you'll be happy. Whether you're currently employed or not, here's how to put everything you've got into your job search--and it will bring you great results:
1. Create a great elevator pitch.
Summarize what you're bringing to the table. Make it short and sweet, but compelling enough to capture attention. Not only can you use it at networking events or casual meetings, you can use it as a headline statement (in place of a traditional objective statement), and you can use it in your LinkedIn profile.
Tailor your resume so it's relevant to the jobs you're applying for. You shouldn't have to rewrite the whole thing...just tweak it according to the job description. Organize it so that it's clear, with easy-to-read bullet points and white space. Keep it to 1-2 pages, and fill it with keywords that will get it noticed by computerized tracking systems and numbers and other performance statistics that show you've been able to make (or save) money for the company.
3. Create a professional LinkedIn profile.
You MUST utilize social media in your job search. There's just no other way around it. Facebook and Twitter are also useful, but LinkedIn is the most important place to be for business networking. A great profile includes your job history, a business professional picture, and a summary of who you are and what you do. See this LinkedIn profile tutorial for expert guidance.
4. Use your LinkedIn membership.
Don't just create the profile. Participate. One of the things that makes LinkedIn so powerful is the connections you can make and the recommendations you can acquire. You make connections by joining groups, participating in discussions, and getting introductions to people you need to know. Recommendations show that other people think you're great, too, and give another perspective on your talents. But remember to give good recommendations to others as well. LinkedIn is also an amazing resource for information on companies, hiring managers, and industry trends--and you can contact hiring managers directly for jobs.
5. Develop your online brand.
Your online reputation is the sum total of what an employer will find out about you when they Google your name. It's the comments you make on LinkedIn, Facebook, and blog articles. It's your Tweets. If you're really serious, seek out opportunities to guest post on blogs or write articles for online newsletters. Make sure that every time you say something online, it's professional and relevant.
6. Network the old-fashioned way, too.
Get out there and meet people. Attend networking events and tradeshows. Keep up with your contacts with the occasional email (it's more personalized than a Tweet) and give them something: a bit of information, a job lead, a great website, or an article you found. You can absolutely let them know what's going on with you, and ask them to keep an eye out for job leads you'd be interested in. Most people are happy to help.
7. Spend a lot of time and effort prepping for your interview.
I don't think it's possible to over-prepare for a job interview. Research the company. Know what their issues and challenges are in the marketplace. Make an effort to dress properly and project friendliness and enthusiasm with your body language. Have stories ready that demonstrate how you've handled difficult situations or met a challenge. Practice your answers to interview questions, and seriously consider role-playing interview questions with a coach. If pro athletes use coaches to gain a few extra seconds that make the difference between first and second place, you should, too.
8. Bring a 30/60/90-Day Plan.
There's no better way to show how you'll be able to hit the ground running and contribute to the company than by creating a 30/60/90-day plan.
A well-written plan is divided into 3 parts: the first 30 days, you'll focus on training and settling in (the more specific you can be, the better); the 60-day part expands your duties (say, by getting to know all your accounts and orienting yourself); and the last 30 days (the 90-day part) is your plan for bringing in new business (which you'll know because you've researched and analyzed the company's position in the marketplace).
This plan is impressive because it shows the hiring manager your drive, commitment, enthusiasm, and knowledge of what it takes to be successful.
9. Ask questions during the interview.
Here's another sure-fire method to impress your interviewer. Be interested in the job. Asking questions in the interview shows that you can think strategically and it also gets you quite a bit of information you can use while answering questions and in your follow-up. It turns the interview into a conversation and highlights your confidence and appeal.
10. Follow up.
A great follow up plan can cover everything from providing great references to writing a substantial, timely thank you note. The best references are past managers or other high-level people, but they should all be willing to speak to the interviewer. Make sure you prep them for the call by giving them the information they need to speak intelligently about you. Thank you notes should be sent as quickly as possible (within 24 hours, so send it by email) and should refer back to what you discussed in the interview if you have something great to say, or it should add something new to the discussion. It's also a great opportunity to revise your 30/60/90-day plan based on what you talked about, and you can attach it to your thank you note.