The job search can be a grind. A frustrating, drawn-out grind. But does it really have to be THAT much of one? We usually look at aggregate numbers and comment on how employment is down, jobs are sparse, and employers are picky. But what does that mean from a micro viewpoint. In other words, how does it affect you directly?

Every day, someone is being interviewed and someone is being hired. The nationwide statistics may not be as favorable as they once were, but as an individual, the only you are concerned with landing ONE job. So the question is how does one implement a strategy to stay ahead and out front of that sea of applicants that get marginal results? By doing the things that your competitors won’t, you can stay ahead of the game and ensure your best chance for a shortened job search. This is the first of a two-part series on ways you can build an advantage over your competitors.

executive resume writerYour Competition Will Not Have their Resume Professionally Written

I know what you’re thinking: “William, you are a resume writer. OF COURSE you are going to recommend everyone get their resume done by you are your fellow professionals.” Well, that is partially true. But it doesn’t stop it from being a fact. What many don’t realize is that there is so much more that goes into a successful resume than just your duties. With verbal communication, it isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Resume writing is no different.

A resume is more of a print marketing document than anything else. A certified resume writer is trained to get eyeballs to the most important content with little effort by the reader. This is important when your reader is a tired middle-management professional with 15+ resumes on his desk with a mandate to get it down to 20 viable candidates by the end of the day. It’s really simple math: if my resume goes up against yours in a job search “¦who wins? I’ll let you guys marinate on that for a bit. (But here is a hint “¦ MY CLIENT’S RESUME WINS!). When you are trying to be the last person standing of 150 candidates, does it really make sense to ignore the importance of this tool?

Let your competition use that home-spun resume, get poor results, and then wonder why the economy is so bad. You’ve got better things to do, am I right?

Your Competition Will NOT Access their Network to Stay Connected

Whether it is newspapers, temp agencies, company websites, databases, or job boards, none of them are as effective in finding employment as a well maintained professional network. It is a saying as old as the business world itself, but it is, and will always be true:

“It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know.”

Did you know that it is believed that more than half of available positions are filled before they have had the chance to be made public? That is because while the position was working its way through “proper channels”, some department head told his colleague who was looking to make a change, put him in touch with the right people, and he was hired. And you never even knew the position was available in the first place. Even while employed, the professional in this example who got the position likely nurtures and cultivates his professional network continuously to ensure they are there when he needs them. How does one do this?

  • When things are going well for you, take the time to reach out to those your professional network who may need assistance and see what information or services you can pass along to them without necessarily seeking anything in return. Consider it “paying it forward”.
  • If you have not developed a LinkedIn profile yet, you should do so immediately after reading this blog entry. As of June 30, 2012, professionals reportedly are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of two new members PER SECOND, and as of August 2, 2012, LinkedIn was operating the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 175 million members in 200+ countries and territories. You can use LinkedIn to find those employed at companies you are interest in, contact current employees, and build relationships. Many feel LinkedIn is the next “resume“. (a discussion for another day)
  • When you get involved in Facebook and Twitter conversations, make connections with those involved in the conversation that seem to be heading in the same direction as you. Social networking plays such a huge role in our lives these days that now is a major player in search algorithms that determine where websites rank. Don’t just be a Facebook voyeur, get involved in the conversations! You never know what relationships can blossom out of it.

Your Competition Will NOT Treat Their Job Search Like a Job Itself

You can name the activity, but whatever it is, I can assure you that those who get up the earliest and work at it the longest will get the best results. One’s job search is no exception. If you are getting up at 11 am, applying to 3 or 4 positions, and calling it a day, then you are not serious. With 7.8% unemployment, you are not the only one looking for the next employment opportunity. Many people prefer the phrase “The early bird gets the worm”. I prefer the phrase “Money never sleeps”. While you are turning over at 8 am, someone is following up on leads, strengthening their network, fine-tuning their professionally written resume to target specific positions, and cold contacting companies of interest. When you finally get up at 11 am, they have spoken with recruiters and hiring managers, located and applied to numerous positions of interest, touched 5 or 6 people in their network, and followed up on other strong leads.

Act as though looking for a job IS a job. Get up at 6:30 am and get dressed like you would for work. The act of prepping for the day is a good way to get you in the right mindset and build momentum. You should have prepped your schedule the night before so that you have a hit list for the day. Don’t fall into a comfortable rut that you may never climb out of.

William Mitchell, CPRW