It may feel like, not that long ago, you were gainfully employed in a great role and then ‘boom’, there’s been a restructure or a round of changes at your organisation, and your role was impacted. Or perhaps the changes you experienced during the Covid-19 related restrictions made you decide it was time to stop talking about leaving the job or the boss you hate and make a change.
You were once filled with enthusiasm, but your confidence is starting to erode. It’s been a few years since you’ve been in active job search like this, and the rules of engagement seem to have changed!
When you are actively looking for a new job, it can be really hard work and feel like an uphill battle. You’ve set up job alerts on the major job sites, and the overwhelming task of dealing with recruiters and hiring managers who may or may not call you back to provide feedback or an update on the status of your application.
You’re also learning how to best navigate the online application process, sound cheerful, professional and approachable during phone interviews and you’re doing your best to keep the dog and children quiet during video interviews.
And we haven’t even mentioned the emotional toll of the job search battle and how you’re feeling about the inevitable rejection that naturally comes with applying for jobs in a competitive employment market.
So let’s start with this…
- Are you okay?
- Are you speaking kindly to yourself?
- Do you have a great support crew helping you stay positive?
The good news is that you are not alone and I am here to help. I work with professionals who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are in active job search and starting to wonder why they are not having the success they deserve when applying for roles they know they could do.
When I reflect on all of the clients I’ve worked with, what makes them successful is that they’re confident, they sell themselves and they have put all of the right tools together. They do the hard work and are prepared.
“But I feel like you just described me Marina!” I hear you say. I hope that’s true, and today’s article is your opportunity to check if there are any gaps in how you’re tackling your job search so you can win the job search battle. I’ll cover what I recommend you need to do to be successful in active job search and you can check and address any gaps in your battle plan.
The 3 Ingredients for Successful Job Search
When I work with clients in active job search, there is a certain element of relief when I explain to new clients that job search success is actually a very simple formula. It looks like this:
When you get your resume right, write exceptional cover letters and update your LinkedIn profile you are giving yourself the best chance of success. This is because you are prepared for the job search battle and this preparation gives you confidence, which will give you greater success in interviews. I’m not saying winning the job search battle is easy, I’m saying it takes a lot of hard work and preparation. And you can do it!
Let’s start with ingredient number one, your resume.
Ingredient Number One: Your Resume
Most people now understand that the Australian job market is highly competitive and that recruiters and hiring managers are spoilt for choice. Here is my comprehensive list of ‘must do’ items to set you up for success when writing your resume.
- You must go to battle with a well prepared master resume that you then adapt for each role you apply for. Expect to develop many versions of this resume when you are in active job search applying for multiple roles.
- Consider your audience when writing your resume and use the wording they use in the job advertisement to describe what they are looking for in a successful candidate.
- Your resume should be 2-4 pages and must showcase all the relevant information.
- A biography is important because it can grasp the reader immediately.
- As a general guide, your professional summary should be no longer than 3-4 sentences and include years of service & industry; synopsis of types of responsibilities pertaining to the job; highlight key attributes
- Highlight achievements wherever possible, include responsibilities written with metrics, provide the scope of the role (geographic, client/ industry type, no. direct reports, etc), include the improvements / contributions / achievements in each role, highlight what is pertinent and adapt the job titles if they are not well understood industry terms
- As a general rule, I recommend you list the following categories in your resume: Name and contact details; Bio / Professional Summary; Competencies relevant to role / job application; Professional experience summary relevant to role / job application; Career timeline and Education.
- The most common file format is MS Word. You may also be asked to submit your cover letter and resume in PDF format.
And now let’s look at your next vital ingredient, your killer cover letter.
Ingredient Number Two: Your Cover Letter
Every single role you apply for must have a cover letter tailored to that role, with the letter to a person rather than just the general Sir/Madam. This means you need to take the time to research the role and company, or the recruiter who may be representing the company, and do your best to find the name of the key point of contact who will be reviewing the job applications.
Key information to include when you set out your cover letter is:
- Your address and contact details usually on the right side at the top
- The employer’s (or recruiter’s) name and address usually on the left side
- The date
- Dear (Insert Name)
- Personalised and relevant information
- Address all key selection criteria in a table
- Mention resume and sign off.
Make sure your cover letter is highlighting the right information so that a potential employer gives you the big tick for the interview. I suggest you put yourself in the hiring manager’s seat. Make your cover letter easy to read and respond specifically to the requirements of the role, in summary form.
Address all Key Selection Criteria ‘head on’ in a table that highlights how your experience, educations and skills meets the requirements for the role. With this approach you actively demonstrate that you understand what they are looking for and how you meet the criteria. It is tailored, to the point and easy for the prospective employer to put you in the YES pile.
Then mention that your resume is attached and finish with a call-to-action such as requesting an interview or asking to meet before signing off politely.
Ingredient Number Three: Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is not your resume. What you are addressing on LinkedIn is a higher level or more general version of what you detail in your resume. LinkedIn is where you showcase your professional brand and includes key elements such as the About section that provides an overview of your experience, skills and personal attributes. You can let recruiters and hiring managers, as well as your LinkedIn community know you are in active job search with the Open To Work feature. Find out more here.
LinkedIn is search engine optimised, so it’s very important to use this online space wisely! You have 120 characters in the headline and 2000 characters in the About section of your LinkedIn Profile.
Here are some critical success factors to consider when writing your LinkedIn Profile.
- Professional Photo:
This can be taken by a photographer, or a friend with a good camera or phone camera and must show you in professional attire. Avoid pictures with others, pictures of you on holidays or at a recent wedding.
- Relevant Information:
Your information must be relevant to your ideal employer and optimised so you will get found on LinkedIn. the sections that are most important are the Open To, About Section, Experience, Education, Skills and Summary.
- Focus on Recruiters & Hiring Managers:
Before updating your LinkedIn Profile consider ‘What do I want to be known for?” and “Who am I trying to influence?”. Forgot about your friends and colleagues and focus on future employers, recruiters and hiring managers.
- About Section:
The first 1-2 lines of this section are the most important as they are what people see first and will encourage them to click through and read on. Be personable and speak directly to the reader..
Clearly articulate the scope and breadth of each role and demonstrate key achievements in this area via your experience and key achievement statements. Briefly describe your accountabilities and then focus on what you have achieved in that role. Provide as much relevant evidence of your achievements as possible, with clear metrics (e.g. % increases in business growth, if you’re in a business development role). Also use words such as ‘Successfully” and “Consistently” to communicate a more compelling achievement.
The best LinkedIn recommendations are ones that offer specific results or examples. They are just like a written reference and can be a very powerful way to reinforce that you are the professional who potential employers need to meet.
It’s now time to prepare for battle!
Remember . . . .
I am a passionate Career Coach who works with individuals in the explore and search phase of their career journey, helping you realise your strengths through my career coaching and training programs. I enjoy showing people the path to greater career satisfaction and providing insight and tools to help you make your next career move.