Finding a job is work. Hard work. It takes time, talent, patience, persistence and, above all, confidence that you are a uniquely skilled individual who will add something to a company.
That is especially true the last five years when college graduates and young employees trying to move up, find themselves competing against a job pool flooded with experienced talent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the Great Recession took 8.8 million jobs out of the economy in 2008-2009. That means 8.8 million skilled and qualified individuals who had a job were sent out looking for another one.
That’s a lot of competition, especially if you’re just entering the job market.
That's why before you start formulating your job search strategy you should answer these questions:
Exactly what job do I want? And what makes me unique for it?
The first question should be easy enough, but the answer people often give – “I’ll take any job” – is not helpful. It’s like telling the waitress: “I’ll take anything on the left side of the menu.” It narrows the field, but she still doesn’t know what you want to eat.
Think of your friends, relatives and anyone else who might assist your job search, as the waitress, only they’re asking: “What job do you want?” The more focused you can be with an answer, the easier it is for people to help you.
Saying you want a job managing a business, for example, is not nearly as helpful as saying you want a job managing a restaurant business. Be precise and be sure your talents and interests are in line with the job you want.
There are a lot of angles for answering the second question: What makes me unique?
For the creative and confident person, that could mean submitting a video resume and cover letter. Even in today’s technologically advanced age, that would be unique enough to get noticed. Maybe not hired, but at least noticed.
The other 99.9 percent of job seekers will submit resumes and cover letters in the traditional print format. WHile there are hundreds of sample resumes and cover letters that are effective, but not distinctive enough to stand out. Your goal is to be distinctive and memorable.
That means highlighting the traits that are specific to you. What are you strengths? What words or phrases do friends or co-workers use to pay you compliments? What skills do you have that others admire? How have you applied those skills and produced positive results?
That is what makes you unique. Weave the answers into your resume and cover letter. Make people understand they are getting a one-of-a-kind individual. Be intent on being different.
There are many other steps to take in executing a job search – establish a LinkedIn account, use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word, identify specific companies you’d like to work for, line up internships or temp jobs, practice being interviewed, etc. – but none of that will help if you can’t answer exactly what job you want and why you’re specifically qualified to get it.
If you can do that, there is good news: the economy has added five million jobs the last two years. At the current pace, it will add another two million in 2013.
You are uniquely qualified for one of them. Search Simply Hired's job data base of 8 million job now.
Bill Fay is a writer for Debt.org, focused mainly on news stories about the spending habits of families and government. He spent 21 years in the newspaper business and eight more in television and radio, dealing with college and professional sports, then seven forgettable years writing speeches and marketing materials for a government agency.