Are you feeling stuck in a job search rut? One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is ‘how can I get people to respond to my resume?’ I understand the feeling – it’s incredibly discouraging to apply for job after job and never hear a peep back. You start to think it must be you – there must be something wrong with you or why would nobody call back?
But that’s not the case. There’s nothing wrong with you although it seems there is something wrong with your job search strategy. After all, you’ve been doing the same things for a while now and they haven’t worked!
So here are just a few suggestions to shake things up.
13 Ways to Jump Start Your Job Search
1. Narrow it down: Get really specific about what you want to do and which companies you want to work in, and then develop a strategy to make connections inside those companies using your real life network and your online network (through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). Don’t worry if they’re not advertising jobs just now – there are tons of jobs filled every day that are not advertised.
2. Broaden it out: Maybe you have been very specific and it hasn’t worked. Well then, try broadening your search. Consider other industries and fields that might need someone like you and research the types of available positions.
3. Revamp your resume: Choose 3 vacant job postings that appeal to you. Go through them and highlight key words and themes. Get inside the head of the hiring manager – what is he looking for? Now look at your resume … does it instantly convey that you have what it takes? If not, rework it to focus on those words and themes.
4. Show some personality: Call or email friends and people who have worked with you. Ask them what words describe you best. Now look at your resume to see if it includes those words. If not, rework it to reflect some personality.
5. Be an expert: Giving advice instantly makes you look smarter than other people, so write an article about your area of expertise. Call it “The 5 Secrets of a Successful Administrative Assistant” or “10 Ways to Succeed at Sales” or “How to be a Successful Game Designer.” Publish your article to the web using Google Knols. Now when you send a resume by email, you can say “I have attached my resume but to learn more about how I work, feel free to check out my article on ’10 Ways to Succeed at Sales’.”
6. Be more of an expert: Create a whole resources page about your profession at Squidoo.com. Include your Knol article, but also provide links to other good resources, recommended books and some ‘quick tips.’ Again, you can include this link in your cover letter. (Now you can say “I have written several resources for other Administrative Assistants, including a web page which you can find at ….”)
7. Be even more of an expert: If you like writing, start a blog. Keep it professional and use it as a way to show employers just how much you know about your profession.
8. Read recruiter blogs and newsletters: To succeed, you need to understand how recruiters work and what they like and dislike. Reading recruiter blogs is a great way to find out. Just go to Technorati and do a search for ‘recruiting’ to find some blogs to follow. Also, I recommend signing up for Nick Corcodilas’s Ask the Recruiter newsletter, which is packed full of good advice and insights.
9. Use social media to make connections: Read my article on Using Twitter for Job Search. Then get on Twitter and start following people who work at your target companies. Start conversations with them – about them not about you – and make a connection. Once you know them and they know you, you can ask ‘hey, are you guys hiring?’
10. Beef up your online presence: Recruiters are increasingly using sites like LinkedIn and ZoomInfo to find candidates. Create profiles on both and make sure you do it correctly! Check my article on 7 LinkedIn Mistakes for some tips on what to do.
11. Check your web presence: Google yourself and see what comes up. Check Yahoo and MSN also as each search engine produces different results. Check Pipl, which pulls from information all over the web. If you find things you don’t like, take steps to correct that by either (a) removing content from sites, profiles, blogs or forums or (b) replacing search results you don’t like with better stuff. You can do this by making smart and thoughtful comments on blogs using your real name, creating profiles and writing articles as mentioned above. This will bump down any negative stuff over time.
12. Know who you are: This goes back to my #1 point, but sometimes in a long job search, you can lose track of who you are and your unique value. In trying to get a job – any job – you can start trying to be all things to all people. Don’t. It never works. Clarify who you are and your unique value proposition and then make sure that is the focus of everything else that you do (including articles and web profiles). Check out my free resume writing course to learn how to develop your value proposition.
13. Stop following the rules: When you apply for a position online, they ask you to follow certain steps. Don’t. Instead, research the company and then network your way to a real person. Send your resume to that person with a note telling them how excited you are about the vacancy you saw and why you would be the perfect fit. If you can find more than one person, send more than one email. Making the human connection is the key.
There are many many ways to get creative about your search. Taking action on one or more of these suggestions will make a difference to your search results and also maybe help you to feel “unstuck.” In summary, I think all this can be encapsulated as ‘stop doing what you have been doing and do something new.’
What about you? Do you have any suggestions for people feeling stuck in a job search rut? Have you ever used a creative strategy successfully? Do you know someone who has? If so, please share in the comments.