Top 20 Job Hunting Guide
With an average career of between 40 and 50 years and large percentage of your waking time spent at work, don’t waste time unless you are working in the perfect job. Although the job hunting process may seem intimidating, use the following job hunting checklist to help you achieve a fantastic career that compliments your amazing life.
- Hiring Process Drags On… and on!
It takes about 40 to 60 days on average to fill a job opening. Rather than rush to send off your application it is better to take the time to get your application right.
- Test Your Resume
It is easy to convince yourself you have perfected your resume until you go to Pinterest and see the efforts some people go to present and write their resume. Start with friends and family who you trust to be blunt in their feedback. As you perfect your CV expand your resume testing to your professional network. Even consider trying different versions, whether it be style or pitching yourself for different types of roles, until you settle on the resume that best represents your brand and it most likely to secure you an interview. Remember to ask for a summary rather than an opinion. Don't ask "What do you think of my resume?", but rather "How does my resume distinguish me from other candidates?" If you are not pleased with the feedback go back to the drawing board.
- Network - 80% Jobs Never Advertised
Most jobs are not posted and are only found through networking. Visiting your favorite 1-2 jobs boards is not enough. Supplement your online research with real-world activities. As a first step, map out who you know. You can start by creating a list of former co-workers, classmates, teammates, and more. Then, reach out to friends and acquaintances for informal advice and to learn more about their roles. Connect with everyone you know, because you never know which contact may be able to help you with your job search or put you in touch with someone who can.
- Recruitment Agency Networking
Try to establish a rapport with senior managers, or better still owners, of recruitment agencies and gradually establish a network of 10 to 30 recruiters whom you can reach out to throughout your career. Whether it is touching base every year or so to get an update on the jobs market or average salaries, it is this network who will often be contacting you when your perfect job crosses their desk. Who better for them to place into a role than someone who they know or even possibly have placed into an earlier role. Recruitment agencies are paid by their clients, however need to operate quickly and efficiently to be successful, which means you may be the only candidate for a role if you know the right person at the right time.
- Knowing Someone Inside
Look for connections through LinkedIn. Put out a call for help on your Facebook pages for someone who knows someone. Being endorsed for the role before you even apply or are interviewed is a great way of standing out from the crowd. Increasingly companies are relying and even incentivizing their staff for referrals. Companies want to hire people who “get it” and who’ll click with the current staff. Only 7% of job applicants get an employee referral, yet referrals account for 40% of all hires! Luckily, asking for a referral is easier than you think.
- Who Do You Know?
Look back over your job history and identify the relationships that may assist you to secure a new role. Very few job candidates collect reference letters from previous employers however it is definitely a worthwhile exercise. Even if you can get an endorsement from past managers on your LinkedIn profile.
- Practice Your Interview Skills
Interviewing is often the most stressful part of a job search. You can prepare just as you would for any test. Devote your energy to preparing to answer the questions recruiters are likely to ask. Remember to prepare which questions you should ask to gain the respect of your interviewer and establish a good rapport.
- Interview Preparation Checklist
Your résumé was impressive enough to secure you an interview, however now you need be just as impressive face to face. Be prepared as you have a limited amount of time and only get one chance to impress! (1) Make sure you confirm all job and interview details and receive a job description and as much background material as possible in advance. (2) You now need to think as if you have the job and are presenting ‘what’ your objectives might be and ‘how’ you might go about delivering results. Walk in prepared to explain exactly how you would undertake the role if you were given the opportunity; (3) Recruiters will be flattered if you show passion for their company and have done your research; (4) Have answers to the most common interview questions (see separate news item); (5) Have your own questions ready as it is a 2-way conversation and you want to also decide whether you want the job; (6) Arrive on time, turn off your technology and polish your shoes (plus of course well overall well presented), have a firm handshake, walk confidently, smile, look the recruiter in the eyes, show your personality, don’t rush to answer questions or interrupt; (7) At the end of the interview make sure you ask about next steps, likely timing, whether reference checking will be undertaken and most importantly whether they see you being the right fit for the role; (8) After the interview send a short email thanking the Recruiter for their time and expressing your enthusiasm for the role; which you should follow-up within a reasonable time-frame with a phone call; (9) Job offers are often made ‘subject to reference checks’ so ensure you have your referees already prepared and their details ready in both paper format (in case you are asked in the interview) and ready to email; and (10) If you are un-successful ask for feedback and the reasons for their decision and if successful ask to meet again with your immediate manager for you to take the time to make sure the role is right for you and possibly negotiate (e.g. salary, performance review timing, annual leave days, work from home flexibility, etc.).
- Your Personal Brand
Your resume, your covering letter, LinkedIn profile, attire in an interview, phone manner and who you select (and how well they are worked up) for your Referees are all important elements in your personal brand. Whether it is getting a professional to help create your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile to match your resume or buying yourself a new suit, make sure that you present as the person you want to become. Don’t let recruiters have to imagine you in the role, but instead ensure they can’t see you undertaking any other role. Now is also a good opportunity to lock down your Facebook privacy settings and Google yourself to find out what others may shortly learn about you. Remember a strong personal brand that portrays you in a professional light will provide recruiters, employers, and contacts with a strong positive impression of you as a candidate they should be interested in.
- You Have 5-7 Seconds to get Noticed
Recruiters spend on average 5-7 seconds scanning your resume before deciding if they will read it. Some resumes will never be read because they are rejected by the recruitment software for not having enough experience, skills or keywords that are relevant to the role. Make sure your resume is as user-friendly as possible. Include relevant experience and keep it to 1-3 pages.
- Accomplishments… not simply Attendance at work!
Communicate what you have achieved and how a prospective employer will benefit from employing you. Highlight what you have achieved, not simply stating your responsibilities. You may need to “think outside the box” to identify tangible results of your skills and experience. You might highlight sales results, budget achievements, internal promotions, company awards, client testimonials, number of rapports and other similar achievements that stand you apart and take the imagination out of why a hirer should not offer you the role. Prospective employers can now see how your skills can benefit them much more easily.
- Job Hunting Timing & Intensity
Many candidates will utilize jobs boards “click and apply’ functionality to apply for 20 jobs in 20 minutes and declare they have finished applying for jobs for the day. Unless you are very lucky or have applied for a role that no one else wants, you can almost guarantee rejection which may lessen your job-hunting enthusiasm. Determine who you want to work for, what type of work you want to do, how you will go about securing the perfect job and implement a well prioritized career plan. Don’t burn your contacts unless you are clear on what you have to offer and your career plan. Slow down and pace yourself to make a lesser number of right decisions than a lot of bad ones.
- Resume Keywords
Keywords are critical to not only capture the attention of recruiters but to also ensure recruitment technology doesn’t filter out your resume before they even see it. Try to mirror the language and also keywords featured in the job ad.
- Actively Looking for Work – Don’t Be Shy!
There’s no shame in being out of work so let everyone know that you are looking for a job, including “friends” on Facebook and professional contacts in your industry. Remembers to update your CareerController and LinkedIn status to indicate you are actively looking for work.
- List of Companies Where You Want to Work
Rather than wait for a Job Ad, research company information and create a list of companies to target. Generally all the information you require is on the web or just one phone call away. Once you have a list of dream employers it is time to approach them to ensure your get noticed. Many larger corporates will even let you register your interest in working for them directly on their website.
- Compete to Win
Be proactive and go the ‘extra mile’ to investigate prospective employers and understand their hiring needs. Put in the extra time to prepare for and follow-up every job application. If you are really serious about getting work fast, invest in job search, resume writing, and interview coaching resources contained here.
- Job Offer – Accept or Decline?
If you are fortunate to be offered a role, take the time to carefully evaluate the offer so you are making a well-considered decision as to accept, reject or negotiate. Don’t be afraid to request a coffee or catch-up with prospective manager to better understand their personality, management style, reason for the vacancy and opportunities for promotion. Remember most people cite their relationship with their immediate manager as the main reason for resigning a role, so now is the time assess your professional compatibility. Most candidates over time will have a choice of jobs, so don’t waste time (which you don’t get back) by accepting the wrong job offer.
- Deep Dive on Your Career
Before you start shooting off job applications and madly networking, draw up a long and unfiltered list of your achievements, training course you have attended, contacts and even past roles (for those in the workforce along time). List every skill you possess, industries where you have work experience and computer system you have worked with. Try to gather several pages of material before undertaking to write or updated your resume.
- Setup Job Alerts
After you have compiled your list of ideal job titles or categories, researched salaries and decided your preferred geographical locations it is time to setup job alerts on all the major jobs boards (e.g. Seek.com.au, LinkedIn.com, InDeed.com, CareerController.com, Azuna.com, Gumtree.com.au). Setup a folder in your email program where you redirect all your job alert notifications to so that they can be easily sorted and discarded. Some jobs need to be filled quickly, so be ready to customize your resume, undertake research and apply within a few hours of receiving your job alert!
- Best Job Listings
What are the best sites to use to find job openings fast? Check out and bookmark the best job search engine sites, jobs boards, company websites, networking sites and sites listed by type of job. Create your own ‘black book’ of recruiters who appear to work in your industry (e.g. retail), job type (e.g. accountancy) or target client (e.g. Staffing may be contracted by a company to manage all their hiring needs).
Sources (Updated April 2019):
For more HR Career Advice see below additional resources to find the perfect job:
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