As you prepare your new job search or transition to another career field, here are four essential strategies that will help you stand apart and land the job.
Refine your Resume
The first step to a successful job search is creating a well-written resume. It’s important to select a format that aligns with your career goals. If you’re a traditional job seeker and intend to remain in the same career field, a chronological resume is the best option. However, if you’re trying to break into a new field, you may consider using a functional resume. The functional format allows you to demonstrate your proficiency by focusing on specific skill sets instead of relying solely on your work history and previous positions.
Include keywords that will pique the interest of hiring managers and recruiters. Find and reiterate words that are included in job listings that refer to specific skills or functions sought by the employer. Most companies use applicant tracking software to initially review resumes and online applications by searching for assigned keywords. Integrating keywords will improve your qualification ranking and possibly get you one step closer to an interview.
Lastly, make sure you use spellcheck and proofread. Nothing hurts your credibility more than stating you have strong attention to detail followed by typos or factual errors in your resume.
Audit your Online Presence
Many companies conduct online searches to see what they can learn about candidates before an interview. Keep private information private by utilizing the appropriate privacy settings on social networks. Google yourself and review the results. Be sure to remove any information that may be difficult or embarrassing to explain during an interview. Auditing your online presence will ensure that you have an opportunity to create a positive first impression.
Sync your LinkedIn information with your resume—there shouldn’t be any inconsistencies. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, sign up for one immediately! Connect with coworkers, employers, and other professionals in your field. It’s a great way to join professional groups, stay informed about industry trends, and grow your network. Consider asking for recommendations or endorsements from trusted colleagues and supervisors to draw attention to your accomplishments and to showcase the quality of your work. Encourage your connections to endorse your skills and write recommendations for you.
Use your connections to your advantage. Check LinkedIn to see if you’re connected to someone in the organization to which you’re applying. LinkedIn connections may help you obtain an interview especially if your shared connection is willing to act as a professional reference. You can also research information about a hiring manager in preparation for a meeting.
Prepare for the Interview
Do your research and be prepared to clearly articulate what you know about the company and how your job relates to its mission. Provide examples of accomplishments that demonstrate your skill level and proficiency. Practice common interview questions so that simple inquiries such as, “Tell me about yourself,” prompt you to give engaging answers that clearly demonstrate how you can deliver outstanding results. Practice succinct responses to these types of common questions and you’ll appear professional and polished in your response and delivery.
Grace Williamson is the Senior Manager of Corporate and Strategic Relationships at American Public University. As a certified career counselor with a strong background in employer relations and career services, she has lectured on many topics related to private industry and federal careers for Transition Assistance Programs at Walter Reed, West Point, and other military installations. Grace serves as an adjunct college professor and has instructed courses in computer science, management, business and communications at private universities. Grace has many years of experience in academia focused on establishing strategic relationships with Fortune 500 employers, federal agencies and government contractors interested in hiring students and alumni. She is passionate about education and has a special interest in supporting career transition for federal service employees, military veterans and their dependents.