So, you’ve picked out your perfect job. You know what you want to do, maybe even which company or companies you’d like to do it for. You even know what salary and benefits you’re looking for. Now what?
Once you know which career you want to pursue, it’s time to begin making your move. There are several things that you should do when you’re looking for a new job; many of the things you will do depend on your education and experience as well as on the job itself. Here are a few things you might have to do to land that perfect job.
1. Brush up your resume. Make sure it’s the most up-to-date version, with all your awards and achievements listed. Focus your job descriptions on skills that would be beneficial to your new job. Also, use active verbs on your resume, avoiding any form of “to be” or “to do.” Instead, show off all you’ve done with descriptions that pop by using active verbs and replacing “blah” verbs with more interesting ones. For example, instead of saying that you “kept files organized,” say how you “designed an organizational system for files,” or simply “organized filing system.” Think about what verbs employers will look for.
2. Write a killer cover letter. Your cover letter should not simply summarize your resume. Instead, it should expand upon accomplishments that meet the criteria of the job. For example, a former teacher looking for a job in customer service should highlight her high level of success with parents during her tenure in the classroom. Even if you’re applying to dozens of jobs, each one should have its own tailored cover letter. This can be time-consuming and arduous, but it beats the heck out of losing the job to someone else who took the time to write a tailored cover letter. The cover letter is usually the first thing a prospective employer looks at. Show them how serious you are about the job by writing a cover letter.
3. Hone your skills. Not getting any bites on your resume and cover letter? You might need to add to your skill set by taking a class or tackling a special project at work. New job require more computer skills than you have? Scope out local community colleges for a computer course. Some colleges offer concentrated continuing education courses that meet over a few weeks or a month. Not sure your leadership ability comes through on your resume? Volunteer to lead a team on a special project at work. Sure, these moves may take a little more time, but they can also make a big difference when you’re shopping for a new job.
4. Network. Many jobs aren’t advertised, and even if a job is advertised, having someone on the inside of a company can help give you a leg up on the competition. Even if your contacts don’t get you a job with their company, having someone who can give you career advice and serve as a mentor can be a valuable resource.
5. Get real. If you never finished your Bachelor’s Degree and are applying for a job that requires a PhD, you won’t be hired no matter how great your resume and cover letter are. This doesn’t mean you should give up; instead, make a plan for yourself so that you will be able to get the experience and/or education necessary for such a job. Give yourself a realistic time frame and keep focused on your goals. It may not be feasible now, but with a little planning, it can be a reality in the future.