4 Tips for Job Seekers from a Hiring Leader
You're navigating the job market and not finding a role that's the perfect fit for you. Or maybe hiring leaders aren't biting when you submit an application. It's easy to get discouraged and mired in the worry of what's next. I know - I've been there, too.
I've navigated a couple of layoffs and my own journey to proactively find a bold, new adventure. I also sit on the other side of the recruiting desk as a hiring manager. I'd love to share four tips with you that I think will help.
As a hiring leader and mentor to many who ring me up asking for career advice, I have two tips that will help you show up well with prospective employers. As an experienced job seeker, I have two tips to give your job search a boost.
You might not currently be seeking a new adventure, but you should stay curious as to what's available in your area of expertise. It keeps your network and career development skills sharp. Plus, one of the best ways to stay engaged in your current role is to see that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
4 Tips for Job Seekers
1) Update Your Resume to Show Results
I know LinkedIn is awesome, but I still like the synthesis of a well written resume. It's the first document I review when receiving candidate profiles from the Recruiting Team. I'm looking for clues within a resume that a candidate has the experience to deliver on the priorities I have in mind for the role.
The best way I've learned to provide that assurance to hiring managers is with the use of SAR (Situation - Action - Result) statements. SAR statements highlight your role in delivering results. They are brief statements that synthesize a problem you solved, how you resolved it and the results achieved. As a hiring manager, I'm not interested in a list of your day-to-day activities. I want to see the value you've brought to the role and a preview of the cool projects you've initiated or to which you've contributed. I would rather see two or three strong SAR statements per role than a bulleted list of job duties.
SAR statements also become the examples and success stories you'll use during an interview. Using SAR statements on your resume as the jumping off point for a "tell me about a time when" story gives you a chance to share details about how you brought a project in under-budget or drove a 10% increase in engagement scores. They reinforce the value you bring to a role and allow you to highlight skills or points of interest in your background. And it's already there, nicely summarized on your resume to remind the hiring team.
Writing SARS can be tough. They take time and consideration. Here are a couple of articles that mirror the advice I was given from outplacement consultants who guided my resume development some time ago. Sage advice never expires:
Remove Duties from your Resume: Replace with Accomplishments
2) Show Up as Your Best Self
This advice is 100% about presence and attitude.
I don't care what the attire is for the job you're seeking, wear the suit. It shows that you care about the opportunity. That you are willing to give it the extra effort to look sharp and put-together. The whole point of a resume, digital brand (see below) and wearing the suit is to be considered and to give your experience, attitude and brain the opportunity to shine. You want the hiring manager and their team to give you consideration - putting your best foot forward does that.
Further, I want to know that when I, as a hiring manager, have an opportunity to put you in front of senior leaders or in a stretch role, you're going to take that seriously. Show me in the interview that you can show up then, too.
Some will argue that this advice is old fashioned. Maybe. But I can also share that it makes a difference - it sets candidates apart and it matters.
Also important in showing up as your best self: Do your homework on the organization and bring thoughtful questions to an interview. Be genuinely curious during the interview about the role and the people interviewing you.
Yes, I'm asking you to be sharp. I'm also asking you to be you. Be authentic and ready for a genuine conversation.
3) Pay Attention to your Online Brand
This advice comes from personal experience as a recent job seeker and entrepreneur. Sure, you're going to apply to quite a few jobs on your journey to land a new role. But more importantly, you want to show up well online for the Recruiters and hiring managers out there sourcing candidates for roles that you don't have line of sight to or that aren't posted to a job board. Investing in your digital presence and brand is a must in today's job market.
Here's a few pieces of advice I received that were helpful:
Be clear on your career objective and align your profiles and digital collateral accordingly.
Use LinkedIn to your advantage.
When investing in my own digital brand, I used William Aruda's Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age as a resource. As a job seeker, it was a great tool to help me think fresh about my online presence. This Book Brief on Digital You narrows down a few specifics and is a good place to start for a digital brand refresh.
4) Track Your Progress
The last tip I'll offer is from my job-seeking days when I was focused full-time on landing my next role. Create a tracker to stay on top of the jobs you've applied to and where they are in process. You should also track networking opportunities. I used Excel for this with columns for role, company, key contact, keys dates, follow-ups, etc. You don't want to confuse hiring managers and opportunities when you've got a bunch of opportunities in the works.
A tracking mechanism also acts as accountability for job seeking activities for the week. Unless you're super-focused on a targeted role at one company, apply for, reach out and network with lots of roles and contacts. You may desire to work for a handful of organizations, but you just never know if that one odd-ball job has a fantastic work environment and will give you the chance to grow a new skill or two. Also, the process of applying and interviewing gives you practice and creates momentum. Momentum offers the opportunity to practice your hopefully seldom-used interviewing and job-seeking skills.
Plus, positive momentum creates confidence and brings polish to your presence. As an example of a lack of personal polish, I remember from a phone interview awhile back, a Recruiter asked me why I was interested in this particular role. Before I thought about it, "because of the quick commute to my home," popped out. Really - quick commute. Yep. The Recruiter handled it like a champ and politely closed us out, and that was that. I was interested in the role for lots of other reasons. The commute was a bonus. But why, oh why, was that what I said? Momentum helps you hone your answers and quick thinking.
You've Got This
The job search can be a tough one. You've got this.
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