Bigger Bullets for Your Job Hunt

It’s a weird time to be a job-seeker…

The world doesn’t quite know what to make of the turmoil in Washington, and employers are historically cautious in the face of uncertainty. Given the state of things, standing out from the sea of job applicants is more important than ever. Here are a few things to consider when you’re on the hunt for a new job, especially if you’re a recent graduate or are changing fields.

Think about your online presence and how it will look to potential employers.

Considering how connected (and in some cases, over-connected) today’s job-seekers are, this is a primary area of concern. Sure, social networking is fun and can be really useful, but think about what you’re actually putting online for anyone to see. You can be absolutely certain that potential employers are going to check you out online.

Do you think it’s going to help you land a job if the HR manager you just visited finds pictures of you on Facebook doing a keg stand in your underwear? Do your Twitter followers really need to know that your toilet is clogged? I suppose it might depend on the job for which you’re applying, but my guess is that you’re not going to get an offer with that sort of stuff floating around in the digital ether.

Take a good look at what you have out there on the Net and get rid of anything that might hinder your success. You might be surprised by what a quick Google search of your name will reveal.

It’s both what you know and who you know, so network intelligently.

Sometimes being the smartest person in the room isn’t enough, especially if nobody else knows it. Despite what I just said about Facebook, Twitter, etc., they can be very powerful tools to get in touch with the kinds of people that you want to know and emulate. Remember, digital relationships can prove every bit as useful and powerful as those in the so-called “real world,” so take care to manage them appropriately and with respect; you never know where your next opportunity is going to come from.

Take all the help you can get from anyone who offers, but be wary of paying for it.

Most colleges have a career services department to offer placement assistance, internships, résumé editing, etc.; many will even provide these services long after you graduate, so use them. There are also plenty of commercial services that promise to help you get a job if you pay them a fee, but you should carefully consider if they’re offering a service worth paying for. There are oodles of online job boards, and you should take a crack at them before you start paying someone to look for you.

Job seekers are products, so pay attention to your online packaging.

Courting a new employer is almost like dating, where first impressions go a long way, and you need to think about what you’re saying without speaking. Do you have a professional-sounding email address? If you’re still using the same address you created when you were a teenager, chances are you should change it. Consider buying your own web domain, which will allow you to create your own email address; it’s cheaper than most people think, and it will also give you a place to create, develop, and maintain your own personal brand. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should be professional.

Know your limitations and seek the help necessary to transcend them.

Does your résumé sound like it was written by a second-grader? Ask a literate friend to help you, or hire a professional writer to write it for you; that bit may sound self-serving, but I hire someone to do my taxes every year, take my car to a reputable mechanic when something’s amiss, and visit the dentist every few months. We all have a part to play, so do your best to play well with others.

Most importantly, be tenacious, and don’t get discouraged!

It’s tough to get the job that you really want, but make getting that job your main focus until you get it. That often means spending hours writing the perfect cover letter, tweaking and re-tweaking your résumé, making follow-up phone calls, and countless other things that you’d probably rather not be doing. Remember, you’re not the only one who wants a particular job, and other applicants may be going after your ideal job with both guns blazing.

Good luck to you all, fellow job-seekers! Feel free to share your own tips and success stories in the comments section.

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