Don’t ignore these essential steps in your job search
When you’re cranking out as many job applications as you can, it can be tempting to skip a few steps—but these shortcuts might cost you a job.
Searching for a job can feel like a seemingly endless series of time-consuming applications and grueling interviews. With all of that on your plate—plus the day-to-day workload from your current job—you might be tempted to cut a few corners along the way. Who’s paying such close attention, anyway?
Unfortunately, letting important details and necessary extra steps fall to the wayside will only hinder your efforts. Worse yet, these oversights may be undermining your job search without your knowledge.
Make sure you’re taking care of these five things while you’re hunting for a job.
Keep your resume updated
Finding a job takes time—it’s not a one-month kind of a process—and opportunity can knock at any time. Consequently, many people forget to keep their resume up to date while they’re job-hunting, says Atlanta career coach Hallie Crawford.
When you’re working full-time, it’s hard enough to keep up with your daily tasks and big projects as well as your job search, but, you need to apply to jobs as soon as they become available to have the best shot at getting your resume seen by the hiring manager.
Therefore, your resume should always be ready to go and include your most recent career achievements and skills, says Crawford. “If you closed a big deal recently or gained a new certification, it should be on your resume,” says Crawford.
One way to ensure you’ll update your resume is to set monthly calendar reminders, says Stefanie Wichansky, CEO at Randolph, New Jersey, management consulting and staffing firm Professional Resource Partners.
Tailor your resume
Rather than submitting the same exact resume for every application, you should have a master resume template that you can customize to fit each job description, says Crawford.
To save time on applications, focus on tweaking the summary section of your resume.
You’ll want to incorporate language from the job posting so that when your resume passes through applicant tracking systems (the software used toscan resumes for keywords), the words match what employers are looking for.
But you still need to be strategic about what keywords you select. “Focus on skill-based keywords [like Excel], not personal attributes like ‘passionate,’” advises Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a New York-based career-search consulting firm. (If your resume could use some help, get a free resume evaluation from the experts at Monster's partner TopResume.)
Track all job leads
In addition to applying to jobs online, you should be tapping your connections in the industry to learn about any upcoming job openings. Although it’s beneficial to keep track of these interactions, “a lot of people don’t have a methodology for tracking job leads,” says Safani.
One solution is to create a Word document or Excel spreadsheet where you can track all of your networking activity (i.e. who you’ve contacted, when you spoke, what you talked about). “Don’t try to keep it all in your head,” says Safani.
Also, to stay top of mind, make sure you’re touching base with contacts at least once every two months, says Wichansky. When you reach out, “don’t just inquire about job openings,” says Wichansky. “Ask what you can do for the other person.” After all, the best professional relationships are reciprocal.
Maintain online visibility
Depending on your line of work, it can be beneficial to have a strong presence on social media. Yet many job seekers get so caught up in filling out applications that they forget to stay active on social media.
Regularly tweeting on industry news, for example, can help you position yourself as an expert in the field; and if you’re in a creative profession, like graphic design, you might do well to post samples of your work on Instagram or Pinterest.
Like creating a system for updating your resume, the easiest way to streamline this process is to set calendar reminders so that you’ll tweet, post, or pin items at least once a day. Moreover, if you’re targeting specific employers, engaging with their recruiters on social media can help you gain exposure, cultivate relationships, and even score a job interview.
Know when to follow up
Most job seekers know to send a thank-you email to the hiring manager shortly after a job interview. (Ideally, send it the same day and follow up with a handwritten thank-you note in the mail, says Crawford.) But that’s not the end of the line.
“A lot of people forget to ask [a hiring manager] what the next steps are in the hiring process,” says Safani.
The best way to gain this information is to ask for it either in person at the end of the job interview or in your thank-you email. (“Would it be better if I circle back with your next week or the following week?”)
Knowing when to follow up—or when the hiring manager will reach a decision—can help prevent you from just anxiously waiting for the phone to ring.