Cheat sheet: Five essential dos and don’ts for today’s job search

Have you been off the job market for a while? There are some crucial details that you need to get right in order to conduct a successful modern job search campaign.

We recently asked our online community to share their job search dilemmas and questions with us. (The team here at CareerBeacon is committed to helping people overcome their career challenges.) One user wrote in that she just didn’t know how to get started.

She said that she had been with the same employer for many years before a layoff, and so she had not attempted to navigate the job market for a very long time. She was feeling overwhelmed.

So we’ve put together a cheat sheet for kicking off your job search. Here are the basic do’s and don’ts for getting hired in 2017.

1. Don’t mass apply to every employment ad that you can find using one generic resume that summarizes your experience and education. The internet has made it very easy to send of job applications to tons of jobs in just a few clicks. Don’t do this. Think quality over quantity.

Do tailor your resume to highlight your relevance to each and every job and company you apply to. Employers can spot a templated one-size-fits all resume in a heartbeat, and they don’t like them. Apply to fewer jobs, but apply better with resumes and cover letters that show how you want to work for that employer specifically and why you would be great at that particular job. It takes longer, but it pays off.

See: How to update your resume for 2017.

2. Do maintain an online presence. Have professional profiles on at least one or two social media platforms that are searchable by employers. Most hiring managers say that they look up candidates before interviewing or hiring them. If they can’t find a trace of you online, it can make you look out of touch.

Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. People lose out on job opportunities all the time for posting inappropriate photos, rants about previous jobs, excessive drinking or drug use, or incoherent updates full of grammar and spelling mistakes.

See: 10 types of social posts that can cost you a job

3. Don’t show up unprepared to a job interview. Employers consistently say that the biggest mistakes candidates make in job interviews is demonstrating little or no knowledge of the company they’re applying to.

Do your homework. Learn about the company and the industry, the challenges and responsibilities of the role you’re seeking. Be prepared to talk about your past accomplishments is ways that are relevant to the potential employer. (“Here’s what I’ve done in the past, to illustrate what I can do for you.”)

Here is how to answer the most common job interview questions.

4. Don’t make a bad first impression. Another common complaint employers have about applicants is that they too often appear to lack the requisite soft skills for the job. Applicants appear unmotivated, unprofessional, or to be poor communicators in interviews.

Do ace that initial meeting. Show up a little early for your interview so you’re not stressed or flustered over being on time. (Don’t enter the building more than ten minutes before your appointment.) Dress professionally. Have a firm handshake, and make pleasant small talk. Ask smart questions that demonstrate how you’re already thinking about how to excel at the role.

See: How your first impression can make or break your chances.

5. Don’t neglect the post-interview follow up. A top recruiter once told me that all of the best candidates send thank you notes. You don’t want to knock yourself out of that category by skipping this essential step.

Do send a thank you note to everyone interviews you. For one thing, it is only polite to thank people who took the time out of their busy days to meet with you and discuss your candidacy. Secondly, your thank you note is your chance to reiterate your passion for the position, showcase your communications skills, and address any information you might have forgotten to mention in the interview.

(See: How to follow-up after a job interview.)

Job searching is really marketing. You’re selling your credentials and personality as being a better fit for the role than those of other potential candidates. A customized resume and savvy online presence, professional first impression and job interview, and timely, polite follow-up can give you a big boost over the competition.

And if you seem to be spinning your wheels without getting anywhere in your job search, try these unconventional strategies for getting hired.

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