Are You Truly Prepared for the Job Search?

A recent survey conducted by consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison suggested that roughly eight in ten job seekers feel they are ill prepared for the job search. Poor job targeting, inability to use social media, outdated interviewing skills, underdeveloped professional network and ineffective résumés topped the list of areas survey participants identified as needing improvement. But it takes a lot more than a stelar résumé and few online job postings to find a good job these days. It requires a proactive marketing campaign that focuses on every aspect of the job hunt. The following areas are those where we recommend job seekers hone their skills and focus their efforts in order to maximum the effectiveness of their job search.

Social media can be a powerful tool.
Of all the areas survey respondents identified as needing improvement, the largest percentage said their résumé needed help while the smallest percentage believe they needed help with their social medial skills. In reality social media is playing a larger and larger role in the job search or "job acquisition" process – and many job seekers still don't appreciate the importance of social media when it comes orchestrating a successful job search campaign.

One of the first things that employers and hiring agents do when they receive a job application is go online to see what they can find about an applicant. In a best case scenario they'll find great things about you online. In a worst case scenario they'll find your name linked to bad press and publicity. However, finding nothing at all about you online isn't good either – especially if you're applying for a high-profile position. Don't discount for even a moment the importance of your on-line brand or image. Before you apply to your next job make sure that you are familiar with LinkedIn and that you have a LinkedIn account. Also, spend the some time to update your professional profile and establish credibility within your industry by getting links ("connections") and endorsements from other LinkedIn members within your industry. LinkedIn offers its members the ability to list their skills sets and then have these skills endorsed by other linkedIn members who know you, or you have worked with. A well established LinkedIn account can be an invaluable asset for a job searcher.

Don't discount the importance of facebook either. If you have a facebook account, you'll want to make sure it's clean and presents your best side. Don't ever post images, references, or information on your facebook account that you'd feel uncomfortable having a potential employer see. While facebook isn't a professional network website like LinkedIn, it can have just as big of an impact on your job search efforts.

Finally, go to Google and perform a search on your name. While most recent college grads and professionals aren't going to find themselves listed in search results, seasoned professionals, managers and executive often will. Google is very adept and finding any and all public information relating to an individual – including past career positions, relationships, awards, recognitions, business ventures, website ownership, and even scandals. If you don't like what you see when you perform a search in Google using your name, it's likely that employers and hiring agents won't either.

You are your own best product.
Would you ever consider starting a new business or launching a new product line without a well thought out plan? Who would your customers be? How would you get your product in front of potential customers? What would be your chief marketing model? How would you position your business or product in the mind of consumers? When it comes to the job search, you are you own best product – and to be successful you must proactively market yourself as you would a new business or product. You must put together a plan, identify what companies need your skills, the best way of getting noticed by those companies and how to communicate your unique value proposition to the individuals within each company who make, or influence, the hiring of new talent.

Would you ever launch a new business or product, throw a few coupons in a mailer and expect to be successful? Of course not. The same holds true for the job search. Successful job seekers develop effective, strategic, self promotion marketing campaigns that are comprehensive and proactive in nature. One of the biggest benefits of being highly proactive in the job search is that you'll be able to identify job positions before they ever come to market – limiting competition from other applicants.

Setting realistic expectations and achieving your goals.
The number one goal of any job seeker is to find a job. However, there may be several smaller milestones to achieve (e.g., establish a social media campaign, create a killer resume, get in front of a certain number of hiring agents, develop a professional network, etc.) that must be achieved before the right job is found. Setting realist objectives and goals helps (1) prevent frustration and (2) keeps you on pace. Even when the job market is tight, and there is a lot of competition for jobs, employers still claim it's difficult to find good talent. Studies suggest that for most job seekers, who are proactive, it will take anywhere from about 5 to 7 months to land the right job. For higher-paying senior management and executive level positions it often takes up to a year of proactive job seeking before the right position is secured. Again, the aforementioned figures are for “proactive” job seekers – those treating their job search like a full-time job (not those doing email blasts of their resume or applying to online listings.) Serious job seekers will develop a monthly, weekly and daily plan, stick to it and not let opportunity slip through the cracks.

Get some help.
Finding a job can take a long time. Expect your job search to last for 1 month for every $10,000 in annual compensation you're seeking. So if you're looking for a job that pays $90,000 a year, it could take as long as 9 months (if not longer) before you secure the job you're looking for. Six months, nine months, or even a year, is a long time to be in the job search full time. Having a mentor, coach or just someone to offer occasional support can go a long way to keeping you motivated and on the prowl. Finding a good career coach, with experience, not only will provide you with much needed motivation, it will allow you to glean helpful insights into how to make your job search experience the most effective it can be.

Network. Network. Network.
One more time. Network. Network. Network. Did you know that most job positions are filled before they ever come to market? That's right. The majority of jobs are filled by individuals who are known by or make themselves known to hiring companies. Networking is the number one most effective way of finding a good job. Those who know how to network, and network effectively, land the best jobs and have the most successful job search experiences. So what exactly is networking? Networking consists of establishing relationships of trust with individuals or professionals within an industry – sometimes referred to as a professional network – and then relying on your network to find job positions as they become available (often before they become available). However, effective networking should begin long before you need a new job. Once you've established a strong network, you can then contact individuals within your network to exchange information and learn about any new positions that are opening up at the companies that they work for. Best of all, if you have good rapport with the individuals in your network, you'll be one of the first people they contact when a position opens up that matches your skill set.

It's not that difficult, but it does require a strategy.
Finding a job isn't rocket science, but it's no walk in the park either. You must understand and be ready to implement proven techniques for networking, prospecting, interviewing, social media marketing and following up – in short, you must prepare yourself with a comprehensive plan and strategy. You must also be 110% dedicated to a full-time job search effort. If you treat your job search with as much gusto and dedication as you do a full-time job, you'll find the career your looking for in no time.

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