No one likes doing a job search. Not anyone, ever. Interviewing can be a sport, but the job search? It’s not an enjoyable process, particularly if you’re out of work. There’s an added layer of stress when you have to find a job, not just because you need to grow your career, escape a toxic work environment or find work life balance, but because you need to pay your bills. Throw the complications of a pandemic into that mix and the stress reaches all time highs.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to leverage what you have access to. Think about what you can use to your advantage to have a conversation, score an interview, get an offer.
First and foremost, get your resume right. One of my favorite recent discoveries was when I stumbled across Amy Miller’s YouTube Channel, Recruiting in Yoga Pants (which I found via LinkedIn). If you are doing a job search, you have to watch Why You Need a Master Resume. I have found that job seekers get too caught up in their current work and environment and end up creating resumes that can’t pivot and highlight the work they’ve done. Or worse, they make the mistake I made in my job search, and only speak the language of their current employer, littering their resume with acronyms and references that only a fellow employee off XYZ Corporation can understand. You should be tweaking your resume to highlight the requirements and skills you have that are noted in a job ad. Is this annoying? Yes. But recruiters aren’t supposed to infer you have the skills, you have to show us.
Second, understand what recruiters are looking for. This is actually the first video I viewed on Amy’s channel, How Does A Recruiter Look At A Resume Anyway? It happened to hit my LinkedIn feed just as I had spent a frustrating couple of hours looking at resumes, and a large percentage of them did not meet the basic qualifications of the role I was screening for. Listen to this video to understand what standards recruiters are held to, and why tweaking that Master Resume before you apply is so important.
Third, you have to get on the networking train and be bold. You have to reach out to your network to see who can assist you. I never turn down a conversation with my network. If I can’t help you, I’ll tell you, and if I can connect you with someone who can help you, I will. Paying it forward will never go out of style, and now more than ever, it is incumbent upon us as humans to help everyone land on their feet. Think about your network when you find a job online you’re interested in. See who you know that currently or recently worked there and coordinate a conversation and get background information while you apply. If the company has a formal referral program, ask your contact to submit you. If there’s no formal referral program, make sure you list your contact as your source.
And while we are on the topic of networking, check your LinkedIn messages. You’ve blown them off, haven’t you? Thought they were a nuisance? Now is the time to use them to build bridges and see if you can reinvigorate those conversations.
Fourth, think twice about using an Agency. The job market has flipped, and while candidates like using agencies to get placed in jobs and not having to navigate some of the difficult conversations (like pay), most companies typically don’t like to pay agency fees. And now is the time when an Agency is less in demand than ever because of that classic economics concept…supply and demand.
Finally, give yourself time, even if you feel like you don’t have that luxury. In the best of times, under the best conditions, job searches can take months. Persist, the right job, at the right time, will come.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.