When you're competing against so many other talented job seekers, it's hard to have the confidence that helps you get the job. And while plenty of other candidates will spend as much time as you carefully crafting their application letters and résumés, others will sloppily send them out to every job that interests them. With a little extra attention to detail, you can better position yourself to move to the call-back list.
1. Use words from the job description. When you write your application letter, carefully reread the job description and pull out points you can make in your letter that relate to what the company is looking for. Do the same for your résumé. Hiring managers may not even notice if you use similar verbiage as the job description, but they'll like your application better if the language is familiar. For example, if the description asks for someone with extensive experience managing teams, mention that and highlight your experience to show this off on your résumé.
2. Keep your ear to the ground. Don't let the job description from a company be your only knowledge of the brand. See what the company is saying on social media and search for news online. This will give you a bigger picture of what's happening at a company where you want to apply to work. That knowledge can help you look sharp in an interview.
3. Tweak your online brand. Since you know employers will Google you to see what you've got going on online, it's in your best interest to make sure what's out there puts you in a positive light. Keep a steady stream of content on your personal/professional blog to show you're tapped into your industry, and keep your social updates professional enough to not turn off a hiring manager.
4. Get out there. Meeting people at networking events can work wonders. Start by connecting with people on LinkedIn, then see what types of events they attend. Find a way to introduce yourself, then start building the relationship.
5. Volunteer. Not every company is hiring much this year, so one way to get your foot in the door is to volunteer or intern with the company or an organization with which it's associated. For example, if you know a company has strong ties to the local Humane Society, helping out there might be a way to meet people you need to know.
6. Stay on top of job listings. Yes, looking at job boards every day makes your eyes cross. But you never know when "the one" will pop up. Keep up with which jobs you've already applied for so you can easily see which ones are new and worth exploring. Use the email subscription features to be alerted for new posts in your area of interest.
7. Make friends with recruiters. Recruiters often know about jobs you won't see online, so keep your information updated with those that work in your industry. Let them know you're actively looking so they can keep you on their short list.
8. Be patient in the follow-up. Whether you're anxious to find out if the human resources manager has reviewed your résumé, or you're waiting to hear if you got the job post-interview, it's tempting to call too soon to follow up. Follow up to thank everyone for their time and reiterate your interest and then let the company come back to you. If you got the job, they'll let you know. It's very important to show your interest, but bugging them every day for a decision won't make anything speed up.
9. Ask around. You never know who might know who is connected to a great opportunity, so put the word out with your friends and social circles that you're looking. It might end up being a friend of a friend of a friend who helps you find your job.
10. Give it time. Finding a job takes longer these days, so prepare to put in enough effort to make it happen. Don't give up. Also don't wait until you quit your current job to start looking. Plan as far out as possible to give yourself plenty of time to find the right job.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.