Are you unemployed? Or, are you perhaps under-employed and seeking to make an upward change?

Technology puts information at our fingertips and gives us the ability to thoroughly do our homework. Job seekers have no excuse for being unprepared, and the option of doing research is no longer an option — it’s a must. People need to be well informed about the companies to which they apply and understand if their backgrounds and skill sets are potentially good matches for targeted employers. With relative ease and speed, we are able to research a company’s competitive marketplace, new products, services, and get a handle on open positions. It’s the details of our informed search that make the difference between getting hired and being the first runner-up.

Resources, such as resume and cover letter writing services, are available, as are opportunities to learn new skills, gather information through webcasts, or join groups of likeminded individuals — without leaving our computers.

Today’s technologies, when leveraged with an eye toward maintaining authenticity, provide job candidates with easy-to-use, tactical means of finding and capitalizing on the right opportunities.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps we recommend.

Resume

This may seem counterintuitive, but your resume isn’t about you — it’s more about what you can deliver to a future employer. So, what’s important on a resume? We recommend sticking to the facts that highlight your achievements, and nothing but the facts — no flowery prose, no pages-long biography. Your resume is your calling card to your employer, and it may or may not be used by interviewers to ask relevant questions. Make it simple and accessible for them.

Tips:

    • Focus on results, results, and results.
    • Less is more — don’t use language that’s specific to your company. Make your achievements accessible and understandable.
    • Always put your graduation date. While interviewers may not ask this, why would you conceal it when it may provide more context for them
    • No, it doesn’t have to be two pages — it can be one or three or four. Just keep it simple.

 

Cover letter

What’s most effective? No one thinks of themselves in the third person. If you want someone’s attention, make it personal, and use language and facts in your cover letter that will be relevant to the reader. Many people overuse the word “I” — as in “I can show results” instead of “You will see results.” Make your conversation about the person with whom you’re speaking, not about yourself.

Tips:

    • Keep it brief and to the point.
    • State your intentions.
    • Relate your skills directly to the position and/or company.
    • Don’t state that you’re “great” or “perfect” — stick to facts.
    • Include an action statement that you will follow up on a specific date.

Improve your networking skills

Make it count. Don’t network for the sake of networking — your goal is to get a job. Make every meeting you schedule with someone in the industry or with the desired company count. Make it specifically about a business solution, not about your employment status. Talk business — not your situation.

Tips: 

    • Do your homework. Know the company, its products, and its mission statement.
    • Follow up in a meaningful way. We live in a 24-hour turnaround culture, so send a follow-up email, but remember that handwritten notes make an impression.
    • Link up. Use LinkedIn and Facebook to your advantage by knowing the background of the person you’ll be meeting.
    • Be active in professional associations
    • Be active in general. Do something related to your search every day.

 

Improve your credentials

Obviously, certain fields have their own credentialing thresholds. For example, in high finance, you have a better chance of getting a job with a CFA designation than you do with a mere Series 7 certification. But many fields — such as digital media — have no such credentialing. You can strengthen your credentials and your network by participating in professional organizations, as noted above. You can also look to something like Upstream Habitat or other digital training resources, whether you’re a buyer or seller.

 

Tips:

    • Introduce yourself to editors and offer to write articles for their trade journals.
    • Start a blog. Follow and participate on other blogs.
    • Find and pursue speaking engagements
    • Continue to learn. Again, always do your homework.

Taking the previously described steps should help candidates attain more interview opportunities. Once you’ve made it to this crucial step, how prepared will you be? Will you talk more about yourself or about the company for which you hope to work? Will you know enough about your interviewer and take advantage of the opportunity to ask the right questions? That could be the best gauge of your interview performance, and your interview performance will more than likely be the best gauge of your job prospects.

Tips:

    • Hiring managers and human resource managers use LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networking sites for candidate development. Make your profiles for these pages the best they can be.
    • Publish your articles, public speaking engagements, and relevant presentations somewhere that a web search can find them.
    • Read bios and backgrounds of people you will meet.
    • During the interview, ask questions about specific plans and solutions.
    • Know the trends and competitive set of the company — this is vital to your preparation.
    • Understand company’s current business strategy, and identify any gaps you might exploit toward a strategic advantage.
    • Arrive 15 minutes early.
    • Be armed with information, articles — anything illustrating you’ve done your homework.
    • Interviewing is not about you — it’s about how you fit into the corporate mission and culture, and whether or not you will become an asset to that employer.
    • What are you bringing to the future boss, clients, and shareholders?
    • Don’t be in a rush while interviewing. Use the power of the pause — it gives you time to collect your thoughts.

Conclusion

    • Be authentic. It’s authenticity that people remember — your genuine attitude, abilities, and past accomplishments. These qualities are always in demand.
    • Being prepared is essential. The “my dog ate my homework” excuse no longer flies. Technology enables us to become mini experts on corporate cultures, products, and services. Knowing details about a company makes a powerful impact on hiring managers.
    • Listen and speak up. We all talk too much about ourselves; we need to listen more and ask appropriate, thoughtful questions about the company. Biggest turn-off? Not answering the interviewers’ questions.
    • Look the part. If the company has a receptionist, call him/her and find out the corporate dress code. If there isn’t a person at the company to call, call a friend in the industry. Hint: Dress up, not down, for an interview. Example: If the company is casual, dress corporate casual.
    • Be front and center. You belong there! They called you in for the interview — relax and enjoy. You’re armed with great questions, important detailed information, and you have the ability to listen.
    • Bosses don’t bite. They’re people, too, and many appreciate being asked for their business opinions. Many people would be open to being asked, “How was your weekend?” Asking questions and advice help build solid relationships
    • Representing your work ethic with actual results will speak volumes. It’s all about the results. Don’t talk about how great you are — show them the money by talking about actual results, whether it’s saving the company time, money, building clients’ trust, or building revenue. It’s all about the bottom line. Don’t ask what the company can do for you — ask what you can do for the company!