Monday, October 4, 2010

The Habits of a Successful Job Seeker

Who are They

Over the years working in Employment Counselling I have see many people find work, for some it has taken time, some have had to take risks and others have started work in areas they never thought possible to begin with. No matter what type of work they were looking for there are some things that all of them had in common.

·         Get a Plan Together – Making a list of long as well as short term goals is essential in planning your career path and continuing your professional growth. A simple ‘get a job’ won’t suffice.  These are your goals that you are aiming for so include details for example:

List 10 things that you are looking for in a job/career
Have my resume checked by a professional
Identify what my skills and strengths are

Also don’t restrict your goals just to Job Search, achieving a goal in one area of our lives inspires us and gives us confidence in the other areas.

Always be Prepared – The majority of job opportunities are rarely handed to you in advance and we need to be prepared for the surprises that may come up during the day. Successful job seekers are prepared, they have their day planned out and know who and where they have applied to recently so if someone does call they are ready to discuss business.

·         Be Open-Minded – A lot of job seekers today search with blinders on. They are so focused on one particular set job title or career that they dismiss out of hand other potentially viable careers. In today’s job market however we cannot afford to set ourselves strict boundaries like that. Different companies will use different titles for the same job, or job sites will list some kinds of work by category not title so searches for them became redundant. 

·         Bypass Human Resources – Human resources representatives are also known as "screeners." Their job is to review resumes and match your experience with a checklist of requirements set forth by the employer / hiring manager. If there are enough matches, the human resources representative forwards the resume to the decision maker. Unfortunately, this is now more and more common in the workplace it is also why most opportunities are lost - because the screener doesn't have the luxury of making a decision based on instinct; he or she is instructed to follow the lead of the hiring manager or they simply do not know enough about the job at hand to make an informed decision.

Since the decision makers (e.g., Supervisors, Department heads, CEO’s) are the ones who determine who is ultimately hired, it is advisable that you attempt to apply directly to them. One way of doing this is particularly if you are not applying to an advertised position is to research or contact the company to find out the contact details of the person in charge and address your resume / cover letter to them. Not only does this bypass Human resources but if handled properly there is also the possibility of meeting someone who can successfully expand your network as well. 

Keeping Your Network Alive - We all have contacts; the question is how effectively we utilize them. For most, the idea of networking simply involves contacting everyone they know and asking for a job.

Effective networking takes this concept one step further. Instead of just contacting everyone that you know instead focus on those that work (or have worked) in the industry that you are interested in. Then start calling and setting up a time to grab a coffee or something equally brief (which helps keep the cost down). Then when you do meet, don't just ask, "Do you know of any jobs?" Instead keep it light, say that you're looking for a place in the industry and in the meantime, you're making an effort to stay informed of what's happening. Your goal is not just to find a job but to develop new contacts and get your name spread around, so when positions do come up in your line of work you get to hear about them.

Follow-Up – Well-written follow up letters can make a difference to whether you get hired. A follow-up letter is more than a simple note thanking the interviewer for his or her time. It should be a sophisticated letter that re-affirms your interest in the position and can serve as an opportunity to mention an important point you neglected to bring up, and/or provides an opportunity to offer new insight on a topic that was discussed during the interview.

            Be Good to Yourself - There are two types of job seekers. One, which has a laid back approach and the other that always feels "there aren't enough hours in the day" and compulsively searches for a job without taking a breather.

It's important to keep your job search active, but not at the expense of your own sanity. Take breaks to keep your spirits and energy level high. Unchecked stress can feed on itself, so make time for enjoyable pursuits. Go away with your family for a couple of days, treat yourself to a nice meal or simply place all applications aside for one weekend. You'll come back to your job search with new perspectives and strategies.

Take Charge of your Attitude – While last in our list, the most effective habit of all our successful job seekers has been maintaining a positive attitude. There are many things we can’t change during our job search for example, the number of available vacancies The one thing we do have control over and can change is our attitude

One example regarding attitude is how we look at previous successes and failures. In reality it does not matter what we did or did not do in our last position, in our last interview, on our last resume. In all likelihood, we did not fail and you have no reason to feel guilty for anything you have done up to this point. If, however in some way you did fail or make a mistake, learn from it, and put your new knowledge to work for you. Remember if you focus on the positive, you will find the positive. If you let the little things drag you down, (especially the things you cannot do anything about) you will take yourself out of the game before it begins.


Looking over this list of effective habits the one thing that should strike you is that they are all habits which we have control over. Most job seekers don’t feel like they have any control of the situation they are in. But what we can change is how we look at our job search, how we go about searching and how we maintain our own well being.

No comments:

Post a Comment