Hunting for employment can be frustrating in this tough economy, and so far your resume hasn't lured any game into your sights. How can you better arm yourself for the hunt and improve your chances of bringing home the elusive trophy? • The right equipment for the job hunt and expanded search techniques will improve your chances for success. Hard work breeds success in any endeavor. Most successful job seekers diligently search newspapers and websites, network to get their name in circulation, send resumes targeted to the job that was advertised, do their homework to find these various opportunities and take full advantage of all resources available to them. • Here are some steps for developing a better organized approach and expanding contacts that will give you more opportunities and improve the results of the hunt.
Commit to hard work to succeed: Working in HR, engineering and in professional recruiting and placement exposed me to a variety of job seekers and why hiring managers hired them. Success is invariably a result of perseverance and resourcefulness. This requires you to document all facets of your hunt, expand the hunting range, identify likely targets and ensure your job search focuses on the right target.
Identify the job you want at the pay rate you need: Using note cards, determine what kind of work you can perform now or could do with limited training. Identify positions for which you may qualify. Remember that a company searching for a difficult-to-fill position may decide that someone with less experience could be worth training, so don't rule out a job just because it isn't a perfect fit. Use a separate note card for each position. List on the cards all trade skills, licenses and certifications you have that might qualify you for that position, as well as the experience you have in performing that job. Now rank the jobs with the most desirable being a "1." Don't be unrealistic about your skills and work experience and how that would fit the job description. Determine the pay range you need for each position. Be realistic about salary expectations. (Try salary.com, dol.gov or your local university's website for wages in your field and community.)
Beef up your skills: Examine the skills that appear often in the jobs you desire. There may be free or low-cost training online or other training through the state unemployment agency or local community college or university. You can hone your skills while you search for a job. Education can make you better qualified for several positions, and it's another opportunity to network.
Refresh your resume to show skills and expertise: Use your cards to build or refresh your resume. Your resume should be one to two pages, bulleted and list facts and achievements, such as awards, acknowledgments, citations, dollars saved or sold, increases in sales, cost reduction, etc. The resume's intent is to make the reader want to meet you, not tell everything about you. You are one of many they read so keep it to the point, don't exaggerate and don't use exotic fonts. Have three work and personal references on a separate sheet and include those with your resume. Call your references to ensure they will speak well of your skills and character because a good HR department will call them. Now you are prepared to begin your search.
Perform your job search in all the usual and unusual areas: If you limit your search to the usual — newspaper want-ads, online sites or networking through your friends — you might miss other key sources of employment. Check your local library for other local and nearby area newspapers. Expand your social circle by visiting the local Chamber of Commerce, becoming active in Kiwanis, Rotary and your place of worship, joining a networking group or visiting local unemployment offices to inform the staff your availability and skills. Face-to-face meetings build better relationships than phone calls or e-mails. Other job seekers in your field also may be a source of leads and provide you inside information on the interview process and companies where they have interviewed. You may be able to create your own networking group of similarly skilled people to help each other with job leads and contacts.
Wanted posters attract attention: Carry copies of your resume wherever you may encounter a forum to discuss your job search. Follow up with the people you meet with a phone call, e-mail or handwritten note. Ask them whether they know of any companies hiring in your field or others who may know someone in HR or a hiring manager. Get business cards from everyone with whom you discuss your job search. Catalog that information on your note cards for reference. Keep a small notebook with you for recording names, companies and possible contacts and transfer that data to your note cards as soon as possible. Follow up on the meeting or lead with a call or written note. Stay in front of your target.
Get your target's attention: These simple ideas will separate you from the average job hunter.
• Create your own business cards to serve as a miniresume. A business card fits easily into every wallet and doesn't get lost. You can print your own or have them professionally printed with your contact information and major bulleted skills and certifications. This small investment has a huge potential upside and can help you stand out in a crowd of job seekers.
• Create a professional e-mail address to use exclusively for your job search.
• If you have a Facebook or MySpace account, check that all photos and information are appropriate and positive. HR and hiring managers often review a candidate's social networking sites to get a glimpse at their lifestyle and determine whether they fit into the corporate culture.
• Google your name to see what others may see about your life. You might not desire this kind of publicity, but at least you won't be surprised at an interview.
Investigate the position and the company: If you hear of a position, determine the skills it requires and how you match up using your note cards. You need to be qualified for the position or in a position to be easily trained to do the tasks. On a job note card, identify the position, where you learned of the opening, who you contacted and when, and any details on skills required, work schedule, and pay rate, if possible. Log on to the company website to learn more about the company and its potential. Use the Internet to learn as much as possible about the company, the industry and competition, and its future.
Target your resume to the job: Match your skills to the position, use key words found in their advertisement for the position and sell yourself as the right person for the company, not just the job. Preparation, focus and effort will result in a target-rich environment and job opportunities. The results of the hunt are up to you.
Retired Col. Irv Dupre is the chief operating officer for Davron Staffing Inc. The Tampa-based firm recruits executives and technical experts in engineering, architecture, geology, finance and accounting, information technology and related technical support to meet their local, national and international client companies' needs. For more information and other job-related articles, go to davron.net.