William Tate is the president of HR Plus, which provides employment and background screening for employers that range from Fortune 500 companies to start-up enterprises in the private, government, and non-profit sectors. He says today's job seekers need to "go guerrilla and creatively energize their search for a job."
Here are Tate's suggestions for job seekers who want to be sure to land a position that may become their true calling:
Know what you want.
Tate quotes Shakespeare's Hamlet and advises job seekers, "To thine own self be true." He notes: "It's so important to be true to yourself and loyal to your own interests." If you know what you want, are able to express yourself and your unique talents, and you understand how your skills fit into your target employer's needs, your search will be much more successful.
Tate advises: "Engage in a self-skill assessment. Taking the time to go through all of your work-related abilities and talents and ascertain the level of skill and talent you have (For example: writing, public speaking, spreadsheet work, team building, managing people, etc.). Determine how motivated you are to use each of these abilities and skills. Match your findings against what would make you happy and fulfilled every day in a career."
Identify the right type of employer. Remember, even if several jobs require similar skills, the type of organization where you work will make all the difference. For example, you may want to use your strong writing skills. Does a fast-paced environment like journalism or public relations suit you? Or, might you prefer using those skills to fuel a career as an academic? Tate suggests taking the time to identify your passions and skill sets and to match them with potential jobs.
Some sites that can help you learn about companies include Glassdoor.com, Hoovers.com, as well as company websites, blogs, and annual reports. Don't forget to find and connect with people who work at your target organizations via social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.
Study company culture. Dig deep when you research organizations. Tate asks: "Do your future peers hang out at a local coffee bar or restaurant? Go there and make friends and learn about the company first hand at a casual social gathering." He suggests you use formal and informal networking opportunities to "find out who at the coffee klatch could refer you to someone at the company."
If you can make a connection with good contacts, you may be able to ask for references or introductions. "Be sure to use short, succinct talking points to help sell your value and make it easy for new contacts to introduce you to people who can influence your career," Tate reminds job seekers.
Don't be complacent. Searching for a new and satisfying job is a full-time job. Tate suggests: "Network on steroids. Move beyond online job postings and classified ads. Identify the head of human resources or the hiring manager at your target company."
Google people you want to know more about and learn everything you can. Do they belong to associations? "If so, join and get involved," Tate says. Do they have outside interests that jive with your own? Solidify them as your own interests. Do they engage on any social media sites? Join the same sites and become an active, participating member. Demonstrate you have relevant, vital opinions and get noticed. Start discussions, comment on other participants' comments, author your own blog, tweet, or publish guest posts.
Don't become a stalker. Keep boundaries while networking your way into an organization. "Following an HR manager's whereabouts on foursquare and showing up everywhere he goes borders on stalker behavior." Tate says, "Always be sure to tactfully toe the line between interest and respect without becoming known as that 'stalker guy.'"
Offer a trial run. Employers want to be assured that the candidate fits with their company and culture. At the same time, you want to be sure you will work in an acceptable environment. How can you guarantee this? Suggest that the company hire you as a paid consultant for 90 days. The "try before you buy" approach will benefit both you and the employer. Or, work with the team for a week for free to determine if you are mutually compatible. "Don't be afraid to start at a level or two below your current status to prove yourself," Tate says.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.