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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Springboard Your Career with These Success Strategies

It’s that time again––April is here––signs of spring!

Budding flowers, brighter days, and a renewed sense of hope along with a whole host of new opportunities await. Indeed, spring poses a refreshing change from one of the coldest winters that we’ve experienced. The months of April and May present great opportunities to focus on career growth, assess your values, and realign your career goals.

What do you want to achieve as part of your career goals this year?

If you’re planning a career transition or applying for a promotion, there is nothing stopping you, except fear, procrastination, and self-doubt. Let the values of optimism and empowerment represent your driving vehicles to career success.

Get ready to re-brand your marketing collateral! Eliminate outdated résumé trends and strategies and replace with a modern and customized résumé.

The résumé of 2018 is compelling, concise, and results-oriented. In sum, it captivates the attention of the employer.

Stay empowered by following these 10 useful job search strategies.

1. Always apply with a cover letter or an e-note unless the job posting states otherwise.

Today’s cover letters are concise, yet engaging. They articulate your unique value proposition at a cursory glance. Highlight how you meet the employer’s buying motivators with a snapshot of your achievements in a few lines.

For instance, consider starting the cover letter with a question that draws the employer's attention in the introduction such as:

Are you seeking a VP of Technology with success in planning and executing strategic IT solutions that drive corporate growth?

Then follow up with a few bulleted achievements and close with a powerful call to action. A cover letter does not have to be long-winded.

A cover letter can offer the employer the snapshot of your value while helping them connect the dots and address any potential gaps. Don't expect the employer to guess why you are applying, your value, and what your career goals are. Affirm your unique offerings and politely ask for an interview.

2. Avoid using one résumé to apply for each job posting or position.

This is one of the biggest mistakes that jobseekers make. Ensure that you appropriately tailor your résumé and cover letter to the employer’s particular requirements. Realign key areas such as the summary, core competencies/skills, experience and achievement sections.

You may need a completely different résumé when applying for two different roles. For example: Engagement Manager; Distribution Manager. Utilize the résumé towards your intended career goal. For instance, if you're applying for an administrative role, do not use the résumé to apply for a totally different role such as customer service or accounting position.

Never lie in your résumé about your employment status. It can be tempting to avoid telling the employer that you are unemployed. Career gaps happen though. Rather, address this gap either in the cover letter or résumé using a sound strategy.

Highlight what other experience have you gained. Have you been studying any courses or were you involved in community leadership roles? Lying, exaggerating, or omitting relevant dates or information can get your résumé screened out. If you get hired and your boss finds out, this could impact your credibility, even employment status. What's the best strategy? Address the employer’s pain points, highlight your strengths and achievements, and arm yourself with solid references to support your credibility.

4. Take action. Don’t expect the résumé to do all the work for you.

Your résumé is a key piece to your brand. I hear many jobseekers say: "Gee, I hope this résumé will get me my dream job!” Keep in mind, your résumé is only one piece of your toolkit to your overall job search. It all depends on how you utilize this brand marketing tool along with networking opportunities to garner results. Comparatively, would you buy a self-help book in the store and then expect to magically stop smoking or lose weight without putting in enough effort and planning? Leveraging the résumé with other valuable career tools in your toolkit using a focused, personalized strategy fuels a smarter job search.

5. Synchronize your résumé with LinkedIn.

Headhunters and employers will usually head to catch a glimpse of your LinkedIn profile even before they’ve viewed your résumé in most cases or called you for an interview. They want to get the big picture concerning your added value. Your online presence is a critical part of your overall brand and reputation management.

How does this apply to your key strategy?

Your résumé and LinkedIn need to be different, yet consistent when it comes to your professional experience, education, and career goals. They complement one another as a combined brand marketing and networking package. If you present a very different or inconsistent picture in your résumé than on LinkedIn, this will raise questions by the employer and may impact your candidacy. On the other hand, if you don't have a LinkedIn profile or an active online presence, this could also pose concerns by the prospective employer.

6. Solidify your references.

Address references right from the beginning. When I work with jobseekers, I have them solidify their professional references before the résumé is completed so they can hit the ground running. This is a critical step before the interviewing process that can help propel you to the next stage and accelerate the job search process.

Keep in touch with your references and update them regularly regarding your professional experience, career goals, and achievements. If you believe for whatever reason they are not credible or perhaps doubt their reliability, please leave them out and replace with trusted and current references.

7. Put the concern about ATS systems into perspective.

The topic of ATS systems has many concerned about how to pass the ATS. Did you know that there are 200+ systems on the market? Many are becoming more sophisticated. Even if a hiring manager or recruiter puts your résumé into its ATS system, they will likely read your résumé and then decide whether you are a good fit for the role.

Handle the ATS issue by ensuring the right keywords are positioned appropriately in your résumé and your value is highlighted. Don't overload the résumé though. Align your résumé with the employer’s or recruiter’s requirements. Showcase both qualitative and quantitative achievements. Getting your résumé directly in the hands of a hiring manager is still recommended.

At the end of day, remember that hiring is still done by a human and people hire self-motivated and highly qualified people who can produce concrete results.

8. Avoid sending your résumé to 100 companies on online job boards.

You may think that by sending a whole host of applications to an online job board may be the smart thing, but actually it is counterproductive. You are literally competing with numerous jobseekers––not just locally, but abroad. Without doing solid research and establishing a contact where you are applying, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Explore and leverage the hidden job market through researching companies and roles and engaging in active networking.

9. Be proactive and take charge with your career. Avoid the waiting game.

Many jobseekers have a compelling résumé, know their unique value, and are equipped with all the right tools and credentials. They may have even established trusted relationships or have made valuable contacts. The key missing puzzle piece is often following up, and many people insist on playing the waiting game.

Remember to always follow up and take the lead. Your career success lies in your own hands! Don't delay. Timing can either derail or propel your job search further.

A timely follow up can help guide you in your job search and elicit constructive feedback about your progress and next steps. Following up will also let the employer know that you're interested in the position and serve as a reminder of what sets you apart from the competition.

If you experience a setback, treat it as a learning experience and keep moving forward. Don't get discouraged. Things often happen for a reason. Alternatively, the employer could offer you a referral and redirect you to another employer where your skills and qualifications may be a better fit. Be open to feedback!

10. Avoid repeating the same vicious search cycle over and over again.

Apply - get rejected - apply - get rejected...repeat…give up…apply again….

Does this cycle seem somewhat familiar?

If you're applying and are not getting results, rather than continuing on the same beaten path, consider these questions for reflection and continuous improvement:

  • Could it be your résumé that fails to highlight solid results? (hire a professional Master Resume Writer)

  • Is your focus absolutely clear and aligned with your goals and values?

  • Could the problem be your exact employment or job search strategy?

  • How are you spending your job search activities? You may think that you are being productive, yet your results may show otherwise. Keep a log to track your job search activities and aim to improve your progress.

  • Could it be your interviewing strategy or progress? (You may need professional interview coaching!)

  • Could the issue be attributed to your networking strategy or lack of networks? (remember the importance of the hidden job market!)

  • What has worked in the past that you can implement once again?

  • Who are your supports and how can they assist you in furthering your job search goals? How can you help them as well? (it’s a 2-way street)

  • Do you need to adopt a totally different approach? If you’re debating whether the 9-5 office environment is for you, then consider another approach. From remote/freelance work to independent contracting, franchising or entrepreneurial start-up ventures, the possibilities are limitless.

Treat your job search as a full-time job while keeping your skills sharp. Take a course or learn a second language. Commit to completing that long-standing certification.

Remain focused, believe in yourself, know your value and where you want to apply, and incorporate a solid networking strategy.

Around 80% of jobs are secured with a compelling résumé and hidden job market approach. Yet, many people ignore this simple fact. So it pays often to "take the road less travelled" when it comes to job searching and your career.

Although an average job search can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, you can streamline your search using the above strategies that include driving compelling brand marketing collateral and active networking.

Springboard your career starting with a new résumé package!

Contact Creative Horizons Communications and let’s partner together to position you for your next milestone using the ABCD Method: Affirm–Brainstorm–Create–Discover. This spring, discover a new career horizon!

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