Mixed Bag Monday: Job Hunting Basics

It’s one of those inevitable moments in just about everyone’s life: you’re looking for a job.  Yes, except for those rare few who inherit so much family money that the very idea of needing any more sounds strange to them, we all have to find our own jobs, and that means job hunting.  Perhaps you’re a recent graduate, perhaps you found yourself on the wrong end of a downsizing, and maybe you simply want to go in a different direction with you life and need a new job to help fund your new direction; in any event, there’s plenty of reasons to need a new job, and thus, it’s good to know how to job hunt, when you find yourself needing to do so.

There’s a lot of information about job hunting out there, even more being published on a regular basis thanks to the current financial and job atmosphere.  With many people competing for just about every position, it’s more important than perhaps ever before to make sure that your job hunting approach is the best possible and that you have success with your hunt.  In order to do so, here are some answers to some common job hunt questions that might be going through your head?

Q: What Can I Do Before I Start Job Hunting To Speed Up The Process?

A: There are quite a few things you can do even before you officially start job hunting to make the task easier and quicker.  First, make sure you write out a quality resume and know how to create a good cover letter; the better you do with this, the easier it will be to find employment.  Learn the skills that are in high demand in your field of interest, and try to gain them (through classes or other training).  Lastly, be sure to start networking, connecting with others in your field to be the first to learn about future job opportunities.

Q: Where Should I Begin My Job Hunt?

In our highly wired world, a good place to start your search is on the many available job sites, from the broad-based ones like Monster and Career Builder to the ones for your particular field or local area.  Don’t limit your search to just job websites, though, as many good jobs don’t make it to those sites. Be sure to check individual company sites for companies you’d really like to join, and continue networking to see if you can’t find any unpublished job opportunities.  The more methods you try, the more success you will have.

Q: How Do I Make a Good Impression During An Interview?

Well, different companies have different cultures, so it’s hard to give a universal answer.  There are a few tips that should work for most places.  Dress nicely (suit and tie for most white-collar positions, possibly something more casual for a blue-collar job), speak clearly and politely, and be ready to answer the most common interview questions.  Also, make sure you are prepared with copies of your resume, a list of references, and anything else you were asked to bring.  When the interview has concluded, be sure to send out a thank you message within a few days.

Q: How Can I Stand Out From The Crowd?

A: While it is important to stand out from the crowd, make sure to do it in a positive manner; no sense in being the person remembered for your complete lack of knowledge (or horrible attitude).  To stand out in a good way, a depth and breadth of knowledge will be invaluable; being able to ask good, deep questions about the company in question and the field in which it competes can definitely raise your profile above that of those people asking things like ‘what does this job pay?’  Leave the interviewer stunned by your knowledge, and you will do fine.

Q: What Can I Do To Stay Motivated If I Don’t Get a Job Right Away?

A: I hear you on job hunt frustration; I’ve definitely been there, spending months of my life trying desperately to get even a hint of a job offer.  It’s easy to get disappointed, and want to throw in the towel.  If that happens to you, my best piece of advice is to take a short (two to three days, tops) break from job hunting, reconnect with your family and friends, and then, when you return to job hunting, try a different approach.  Don’t give up, but trying to keep searching 24/7 will drive you crazy.

Q: What Is The Single Biggest Tip You’d Suggest To Job Hunters?

A: To pick one thing: network, network, network.  Most job opportunities aren’t ever advertised, so keeping up with fellow graduates and former coworkers can be the difference between months of no luck and getting a job offer within weeks.  This is not to say that searching job sites can’t lead to jobs (it has for me), but given the choice between spending an afternoon searching job sites or with friends in your industry, go with your friends; not only will you have more fun, but letting them know you are searching can lead to job offers in the future.

There you have it, some basic job hunting advice from someone who’s done much more of it than he’d like to remember in the past.  Here’s hoping any job hunting you have to do goes quickly, and leads to a great job!

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