As anyone who’s had a frustrating conversation with their parents knows, the job market just ain’t what it used to be. Where our parents generation may have switched jobs four or five times in a lifetime, these days, it’s far more common for people to change jobs — and sometimes whole careers — at least twice in a decade. The Bureau of Labor reports that the average worker spends around 4.4 years in each position. And for millenials, that number’s even higher. Whew.
A lot of time, energy and interview outfits will go into the jobs you’re likely to pursue over a lifetime, so why not go through the process in the best way possible? Whether you’re just starting out, or have been in the workforce for a while, getting a new job can be a daunting process. So it’s a good thing we’ve compiled a list of 26 tips, culled from our combined 50+ years in the working world. So check out our advice, and then share yours in the comments!
1. Network, network, network. In order to increase your job opportunities in any industry, you have to be considered an “insider” in that industry. The best way to do that is to know people. Keep up with them. Have drinks. Show your face around industry events.
2. Set up coffee dates with people you admire in your industry. This is a great thing to do, even (and some might say, especially) when you’re not looking for a job. It accomplishes two things: You can learn from them and when you are looking for a job, you can contact them for suggestions.
3. Ask for informational interviews. Maybe the company you want to work for doesn’t have any openings at the moment. You may still score big by asking for an informational interview with someone in the department you’re interested in. It can create goodwill and valuable name recognition the next time a job does open. Which, hey, you need.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. Around 80 percent of all jobs are obtained via networking, so use the network that’s around you. And remember, when you’re networking, apply the same level of professionalism you would with a potential boss. You never know how far your networking email might travel.
5. Learn about where you want to work, seriously. Potential employers can smell a form cover letter from a mile away, so do your research and tell them not just why you’d be a good fit, but what you like about the company.
6. Utilize your connections. Put the name of your colleague or connection in the subject of the email so that the person you’re trying to reach will be more likely to open it.
7. Get yourself a LinkedIn account. Use it to build up your online presence, connect with others in your field and hunt for job opportunities.
YOUR RESUME & COVER LETTER
8. Make sure your resume is flawless. This goes double if you’re applying for a job that in any way involves writing. Employers often use typos in cover letters and resumes as an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Send your resume out to at least three friends to give it a thorough read-through before shipping it off.
9. Sure, put some personality in there. Jessica’s resume mentions that she spent time abroad in Prague. Mine references that she can recite “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” from memory, and that she’s captain of her soccer team. Believe it or not, these things catch potential employers’ eyes and may serve as the touchstone that gets you in the door. Plus, it’s an easy way to differentiate your resume from the pile of others.
10. For chrissakes, send your resume as a PDF. As any control freak will tell you, you never know what version of Microsoft the person you’re emailing has. Maybe they’re on a Commodore 64 and just use text edit. You never know, so save yourself and them the trouble and send your resume as a PDF attachment. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.
11. Do you have an “objective” section on your resume? Take it off. It’s assumed that if you are sending your resume someplace, you and they know what job it’s for. Don’t waste valuable resume space with this category
12. Do some research and find out who you need to send your resume and cover letter to. It’s usually not impossible to figure it out. None of that “To Whom It May Concern” business.
13. Never give references you haven’t thoroughly vetted. Make sure all of your references are aware that they’re references.
14. Follow up a day before the interview and confirm the time and place. Yup.
15. Write down the contact information, address and directions for your interview. Seriously, there is no excuse for being late, especially not if you have a smartphone.
16. Learn how to give a good interview. More often than not, how much people like you, how well you present in person, how much they would want to work with you, often counts for a lot more than your resume.
17. Demonstrate why you’d make a good worker by example. When you show up at an interview, be the kind of person other people want to work with. Present a positive attitude, be polite, friendly, punctual and engaged. Think about your goddamn posture and presence. Are you sitting up in your chair, leaning forward, engaging with your interviewer? Do that.
18. Dress for the job you want. It’s a total cliche, but it’s also totally true. It’s better to be overly professional at an interview than not professional enough.
19. Make sure you have clean fingernails. Ah yes, this. Potential employers are going to notice your nails. They just are. Nails are sort of a window into your working soul, as it were. They’re seen as a reflection of what kind of a person and worker you might be. So keep those puppies clean.
20. Have some questions ready. Again, this should be a no brainer, and yet! Ask about the challenges and rewards of the job, the work environment, the size and scope of the team you’d be working on.
21. Don’t forget to ask the interviewer a couple of questions about themselves. Newsflash, people love talking about themselves, and it endears you to them when you take the time to ask about their own experience at a company. So store a couple of questions like, “What drew you to this company?” or “What was your professional path that led you to this firm?” or whatever.
22. Say thanks, a couple of times. After an interview, send a thank you email to the person or people who interviewed you. Saying something like “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, your company seems like a wonderful place to work.”
23. And then follow up with a handwritten thank you note. Sure, nobody does handwritten anything anymore. Which is why you’ll stand out by taking the time and effort to hand write your thanks. This goes double if the person you’ve interviewed with is of an older generation — until recently, it was not just suggested but required that you mail in a thanks.
24. Modify your resume accordingly. Every job is different, duh, and your resume should be modified to speak to the particular aims and goals of the job you’d like. That doesn’t mean you should have 20 different resumes (too confusing!), but tailor one to your retail experience, or research strengths, or marketing skills.
25. Be aggressive, B-E aggressive! Your interviewer probably has a lot going on, so don’t be super concerned if you don’t hear back from them right away. But do take the time to follow up and reassert your interest in the position.
26. Don’t give up. Nobody gets every job they ever go out for. If you feel like you developed a rapport with the interviewer, feel free to ask them what you could do better next time, or what experience you should try to build.
Got any other tips, especially tips that suit the industry you work in? Share them in the comments!