By Mark Earnest
Unemployment is at one of its lowest ebbs in recent memory, which means that certain jobs are hard to find even for the most skilled employee. And, if you want a lower-paying job than you are used to, they are quite plentiful because there aren’t enough workers looking for work to take the menial ones on.
If you are either job seeking right now, or you are looking for a boost to your career, there are some techniques to quell these weird Catch-22s. A little research on the web shows a lot of advice on how to find a great job – and that’s not just any work. Something more fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding is what you really want.
Here are some quick ideas on how to find a great job in a marketplace such as this. A lot of it comes down to who you know (and not just people at the top), finding the right tools, and not being shy about putting yourself on the market for some positive change.
This first step is more philosophy than action, but it’s essential. When you are at a career crossroads, it’s best to do some soul searching and smart research to figure out your next step.
Glassdoor points out some good tips to find work, such as making a list of the important things you want from a new role as an important step. Think about a larger managerial role or your first time in management. Think about how much money you want, and that you are willing to take depending on the offer. Think about the quality of work and the work-life balance, as well as the culture of the workplace you want.
It’s good to figure all of this out so you aren’t just taking any old job once you are stressed about finding employment.
By that, I mean the electronic ones (although some decent business cards are never a bad thing). Updating your LinkedIn and tooling up your resume are keys to success in finding the right type of work for you.
Some more fresh advice from Glassdoor concerns that LinkedIn profile. Go beyond your work history and boost that skills section, especially with ones that have a leadership tone to them. You have up to 50 skills that you can add, but make them as specific as possible so you can be ultra-searchable by hiring managers.
For your resume and your LinkedIn, revamp it with an eye toward finding new roles or something that’s more of a challenge. Either way, make sure it exudes leadership skills and doesn’t just parrot all your day-to-day duties for your entire career.
It’s entirely possible that a friend, current or former co-worker, or even a boss from the past might have some great leads on a new job (hey, the latter is even how I found this job – true story!).
Forbes magazine recently gave some advice on how to find a great job, and they start with a great research tool that anyone can use – a top 25 most influential list from your own social networks, whether that’s electronic or from your corporeal work past. After that, get in contact with three people from that list, especially ones who you haven’t spoken within at least a year or more.
The idea is to take advantage of a network that’s distinctive to you, and that knows your skills and what you want, instead of just relying on internet searching to find that perfect next fit.
A good strategy is to think of a challenge you had to overcome during the process. Maybe some last-minute obstacles appeared to hamper progress, or your team came across a unique roadblock that they’d never been tested against. You have the chance in a cover letter to showcase a brief, specific example of how you approach and overcome conflict, as well as the positive results of your actions. Be detailed, but not overly so. Ideally you’re saying just enough to make the reader curious and ask further questions in an interview setting.
One easy way to make a connection with folks is by finding alumni from your university, or getting back in contact with those old school pals if you haven’t in years. As Forbes points out, people generally like to be friends with those who have something in common, so why not the alma mater?
A careers website called The Muse also brings up this idea: alumni usually have great connections with each other, especially if you are in the town where you earned that degree. Getting in touch through LinkedIn or your alumni office can make this process easier if you want to find some new connections that can help with your next career goal.
This is one of the easier things to do, and everyone does it. The disadvantage is, of course, that everyone does it.
Sites like Indeed, LinkedIn’s jobs section and Glassdoor all feature hundreds of jobs in your area. The trick, though, is to find the right one for you. The Reviews website recently updated its list of what it calls The Best Job Sites, which it rates by most listings, best company profiles and best for certain types of industries.
It’s important, though, to refine and narrow your search to save time. Make sure you are using all the parameters of a particular board – whether by salary or job type or location – to hone in on the jobs that have been posted that are truly right for you.
If you already have a company in mind that you want to work for, there’s nothing wrong with checking them out at the direct source. Many companies, especially larger ones, post jobs on their own sites, and sometimes they are posted there before they end up on those big e-boards.
Investopedia is another site that is offering some job advice, and a great first-step they suggest is to create a list of who you want to target for your dream job, and then schedule some regular time to check their own job boards.
It’s also a good chance to get an advance look at what kind of culture a company has before you take the plunge and send that resume, according to The Muse. If you aren’t sure of a specific company, one thing you can do is search for “Best Places to Work” in your industry or region and see what you come up with.
Being huddled over a computer constantly looking for jobs shouldn’t be Plan A and B. You should also consider some face-to-face networking. There are likely regular networking events available for your type of industry – just do a search for your city and “business networking events” to see what you can find.
Still, as The Muse points out, there are ways to network beyond just association events (sometimes with indigestible lunches, let’s be honest). Consider happy hours, hobby meet-ups, volunteer work or really any type of meet-and-greet gathering as a place to score some job leads, while also hopefully having some fun in the process.
One way to get a great job is, unfortunately, something that has to happen to you more than you can control.
As Investopedia writes in their article, some companies go through recruiters first to find the best and brightest and streamline the process. They may also use head hunters, who find people to work at a specific role. While you don’t personally hire the recruiter, it’s good to have all of your resume and LinkedIn ducks in a row (see way No. 2) to make sure you stand out in the big job-hunting crowd.
It’s clear that there’s no magic pill to get the job you want. It takes time, effort and even the occasional elevator speech to strive for your best career. With some research and perseverance, you can feel more fulfilled in your career and strive for a new level of happiness. It’s not unobtainable.
Mark Earnest is from Reno, Nevada, and he loves words. He loves them so much that he’s made them his career, first as a sports and entertainment journalist and then as a specialist in paid advertising and corporate communications. He even loves words set to really loud music, as he is the frontman for several rock bands in his hometown.
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