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Job Search Skills and Strategies

Need some tips and tricks to help you optimize your job search? We break down job search skills into four parts: traditional search skills, modern search skills, self-improvement skills, and attitude. Job search strategies and skills can be categorized into three parts:

  1. Practical steps that you can take to improve your chances of getting a job

  2. Tools and tricks that a job seeker can use to increase interview chances

  3. Positive psychological attitudes and outlooks that can help to reinforce the process and keep it going

For some people, these come naturally. We all know those people who seem to create extensive networks with others as though it were second nature, right? Others of us need a little bit of help and guidance. That’s what this page is for. We’ve separated job search strategies and skills into four sections: traditional search skills, modern search skills, self-improvement skills, and attitude. Naturally, we begin with tradition.

1. Traditional Job Search Skills The foundation of a successful job search begins with traditional skills. These are the skills that existed before the advent of the Internet, instant communication, and online profiles. They consist of scanning newspapers, using the phone, walking into establishments with your own two legs, and generally having a hard-nosed sense of purpose to find employment. You may be wondering why it’s important that you practice these skills in these modern times. In short: because they still work, and they leave a strong impression on hiring managers. So, for a brief moment, let’s travel back in time to when no telephones were cordless and televisions were fat and heavy. Here’s how someone would start their job search:

Scanning Newspapers Scanning newspaper classified job ads for employment is still a key method for finding a job. Not all establishment owners are web savvy, nor do they need to be. Many are older and more traditional — therefore, the classifieds job section in your local newspaper is still worth looking through. What should be your strategy when looking through newspaper job ads?

  1. Get a pen, and circle jobs that look relevant to you

  2. Choose jobs that are below your pay grade. Don’t be too picky — throw out a broad net, just in case you run into bad luck.

  3. Choose jobs that are above your pay grade. You may surprise yourself and end up in a better position than you could have imagined.

  4. If there is a phone number, give them a call directly. Even if there’s also an email attached.

  5. Send a resume and cover letter via the email address given.

Telephone Cold Calling Cold calling is about as enjoyable as jumping into a cold pool. Nobody really likes it, but it can create too many opportunities to pass up. These are the benefits of cold calling:

  1. You can clarify the application process, if it is unclear

  2. You may be first in line if the company has just decided to hire new employees

  3. You’ll leave a strong impression on the hiring manager, who is likely to be surprised by a confident cold call

  4. You can cold call any company you want — especially the ones that could give you your dream job

Be sure to speak into the phone with confidence. If you sound meek, you may leave a negative impression.

Legs: They’re Made For Walking Walking into an establishment to ask about employment is even more nerve wracking than cold calling, but the potential is even greater. Take these steps to ensure a successful visit.

  1. Dress up to make a smart impression

  2. Bring copies of your resume and cover letter

  3. Do your research, and ask to speak to the hiring manager by their specific name

Make sure you’ve done your research on the company before walking in. There is a possibility that you will get interviewed on the spot, if you’re qualified and lucky enough. You don’t want to stutter and look foolish, having walked into an establishment without knowing its purpose and cause for existence!

Leverage Your Network Did you know that the #1 trait of successful people is that they ask other people for help? Many people have a fear of “troubling” others by asking for assistance. The truth is, people generally like to be helpful, unless you’re asking for a serious time commitment. Fortunately, asking other people if they are aware of employment opportunities does not qualify as a serious time commitment, so you are in the clear. Ask your friends, friends of friends, and family if they are aware of any employment opportunities. With luck, that person will recommend you directly to the hiring manager, which will almost certainly put you on a short list for an interview, given that you are qualified enough. If you don’t have many friends, family, or connections, this may be harder. It’s never too late to start making new friends.

2. Modern Job Search Skills Modern job search skills are quickly becoming an absolute necessity to successfully apply to major corporations, and especially modern types of business like web companies and app developers. By “modern” we are, of course, talking about the Internet and its various jobs search tools and aides. Currently, the defining characteristic of Internet-based job search tools is how rapidly they change. Fortunately, this has largely been for the better — generally there’s been increased ease of use, and less spam, scams, and nonsense. However, the rapid evolution of the Internet means that you’ll need to constantly brush up on your skills in order to keep up with the zeitgeist. Here are the major tools you’ll need to succeed in the current era:

Job Search Engines Although utilizing your personal network is best, sometimes it need to be supplemented. Job search engines are great because many of them now aggregate job postings from other websites, providing a huge collection of postings from around the web. Job search engines are especially useful for international searches, as that is where many recruiters will go first when seeking a particular employee with a unique set of skills. There are several online job search engines you can use to seek out employment. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. You can read an article here explaining the virtues of each site. Don’t rely solely on the search engine to do all of the work though, as it’s best to email the hiring manager directly, and call to follow up on your resume application. When used correctly, search engines are a great boost to any job hunt.

Twitter At first glance, Twitter is a terribly shallow mess of spam and nonsense. Yet, we can sum up our argument for why you should give Twitter a chance in three pictures: As it turns out, there are diamonds in the rough! Use the search function to search for your profession, and you may encounter tweets from companies looking to employ someone like you. It’s worth a shot.

Make a LinkedIn Account This is a must. Set up a LinkedIn account and tailor a well-worded outline of your career. Recruiters are using this network for professionals more and more frequently to find new talent. You can add your resume to LinkedIn, plus your friends and co-workers can endorse your skills and write letters of recommendation for you. Employers can actually find your profile when searching for related keywords, meaning that simply by having a LinkedIn account you’re actually passively accruing job leads. You can’t argue with that kind of efficiency.

3. Self-improvement methods Do you feel like your job search is unsuccessful because you’re lacking marketable skills? The Internet offers a generous range of gifts in the form of websites, that teach you valuable skills you’d normally have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for in structured college courses. Here are a few sites you can use to learn some skills, and beef up your resume:

  • Coursera: This site partners with Universities to offer courses ranging from computer science to biology.

  • Khan Academy: Similar to Coursera, but more centered on self-learning rather than seminar style classes.

  • Code Academy: Learn how to code with this very simple tool.

  • Mozilla Open Badges: Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation are partnering up, and will potentially revolutionize the way we earn and display our skill sets. I’d highly recommend starting early on earning digital badges.

  • Excel Easy: Knowing how to use Excel (PIVOT TABLES!) will often make your office mates think you’re a magician. Some even say knowing Excel can help you rise faster in your job. It’s definitely worth looking in to.

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