Finding a job is hard in the best of times but these days it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Mountains of resumes for entry levels roles are the bane of the HR department’s life. So instead of sending out dozens of template emails with resumes attached be proactive. Get out there and make things happen – it is a much more impressive approach from an employer’s point of view and therefore more effective for you.
I know that these options have a bit of a bad image, especially internships, because they are perceived as unpaid labor that businesses exploit people’s need for experience with. That may be true – although be careful not to tar everyone with the same brush – but for people perhaps lacking great qualifications or previous experience they add something extra to your resume.
What’s great is that voluntary work is fairly easy to get into, looks great to an employer and leaves you with a sense of satisfaction. Equally internships also look great to an employer because they demonstrate practical skills and experience needed in the workplace. Though they’re harder to get into than volunteer work they are often more relevant to your career path and still easier than getting a job.
Do the Leg Work
The temptation to write up a resume and introductory letter on your computer and then email that to a list of prospective employers is huge. Unfortunately, it is an incredibly ineffective method of applying for jobs - as most blanket approaches are - and rarely results in an interview never mind a job (I’m sure someone reading this will know someone who this worked for – but there’s an exception to every rule).
So don’t be lazy. Do your research and tailor your applications to individual companies – you can use a template to start with and build around it for each application. This way you show that you’ve gone out of your way to find out about their business. It also pays to actively seek out places that are hiring – you’re far more likely to be successful if you’re applying somewhere you know has an opening rather than hoping. If you fancy a more personal approach than emailing, make a list of potential employers and phone them to ask about any job openings.
Another approach that seems to have gone out of fashion is printing out a selection of resumes and literally doing the leg work. Drawing up a hit list of businesses that you’d like to work for, finding out who the relevant person is (recruitment manager, head of HR etc), visit the office and leave the resume with them (ideally) or a receptionist (better than nothing). Although some may think this looks a bit like desperation it is more likely, if done well, to look like determination.
Think Outside the Box
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to conform to some sort of set process. If you want a job but can’t stand out from the crowd be prepared to go over their heads (the crowd’s heads that is) to get what you want. By this I mean if you can’t out qualify them – out-think them.
It’s very difficult to make yourself stand out in a resume or application form; especially considering the sheer volume that many companies will receive. A proactive way to resolve this is to get creative. This is a video created by Matthew Epstein and posted to YouTube in order to get the attention of massive corporations like Apple and Google – he succeeded. His creativity (and there are hundreds of other examples all across the internet – like this guy’s idea to get funding for his business project) skipped the standard application procedure where he may not have stood out on paper. For more examples and ways of standing out from the crowd this article may be a good read.
Utilise Social Media
One of the most important means of communication in the modern world is undoubtedly social media. Its role in job hunting is no less significant – in Jobvite’s annual recruiting survey they found that 90% of companies used social media in the hiring process.
Any self-respecting citizen of the digital age has at least one social account and these should be used to help your job search. Use Twitter to follow companies/organisations you like and that you would like to work for if the opportunity comes up (within reason e.g. I could never work for NASA). Often they’ll publicize if they’re hiring and if you follow or like them you’ll know as soon as they do. Also interact with them via Twitter or Facebook – comment on their posts or point them towards information you think they may find interesting. Anything that you think will bring you to their attention.
Another great social tool is LinkedIn; this social network for professionals has nearly 240 million users around the world. Its job search functions keep you in touch with the latest offerings on the job market. It’s also a great way to skip the middle man in the application process by connecting with hiring managers directly. You no longer have to send blank resumes with a generic “Dear Sir or Madam” – now you have a way of finding out who’s in charge of the hiring process. You’re showing that you’re a proactive person – an ideal employee trait.
Before I started on my current career I remember thinking that people who networked were a load of pretentious wannabe professionals. However, I’ve come to realize how important a tool networking can be in a job seeker's mission. They are a great way to meet, and impress, people within your industry. If things go well you could find yourself with a lot of business cards which give you a (good) point of contact within companies.
You don’t necessarily have to go to out and out networking events either; many cities will have regular industry meet ups which normally involve short informal presentations than a bit of social mingling afterwards. Alternatively you can try industry exhibitions, where a lot of companies will be exhibiting their products/expertise and keeping an eye out for any potential talent. There is also the possibility of being able to network at a family or friends’ social event, lectures and seminars or even in line at an ATM (seriously). Just be willing to put yourself in a position where you’ll meet people relevant to your career prospects.Josh Hansen writes on behalf of Workfish a specialist PR recruitment agency in London. They aim to match the perfect candidate to the perfect career within PR, social media, communications and events.