Richard Bolles, job search guru and author of What Color Is Your Parachute? anticipates that you can expect to search for work 1-2 months for every $ 10,000 you hope to earn. So, if you're looking for a $ 40,000 a year position, you may search for 4-8 months to land it. Back when the economy sizzled, that job search length would have seemed outrageous, but now, many people would have thrilled to only search for 4-8 months.
Now the question is: How can you limit your job search length regardless of what's happening with the local economy?
The answer to that question depends on the strength of your job search campaign. Take a look at these common job search problems. If your campaign is suffering from any of these symptoms, try one or more of the tips suggested for each.
If you're mailing resumes but are not getting interviews:
o Your campaign may not be intense enough. Remember that searching for a job is a full-time job. Increase your employer contacts by phone, fax, mail and email to 10-20 per week. Gather job leads from a greater variety of sources than you have been using, such as networking, newspaper ads and Internet sites. But most important of all, tap the hidden job market.
Bottom line: Getting interviews from resumes is in part a numbers game. Contact more employers to increase the odds in your favor.
o Your resume may disclose that you do not possess the skills sets employers want. Get them! A tight economy means employers can command whatever skills, credentials and experience they want, so why argument with them? Volunteer, take a class or create a self-study program to learn what you need to learn. Or, take a lower-level position that will prepare you for advancement to the job you really want.
Bottom line: It's up to you to qualify yourself for the job you want. Demonstrate your initiative and enroll in that class now, then be sure to claim your new skills on your resume.
o You may not be contacting the employers who are buying the skills you're selling. First, identify the three skills you possess that you most want to market to employers. Second, match those skills to three different kinds of positions that commonly use your preferred skills. Next, tie each of the positions you identify to specific local industries and employers who hire people with the skills you're marketing. Then create different resume versions for each of the types of positions you intend to seek. Make sure each version highlights and documents your ability to do what you claim you can do.
Bottom line: Different employers need different things from their employees. Know what you have to sell and sell to the companies that want it. At all costs, avoid genericizing your resume with clichés and vague statements.
o Your resume may poorly communicate what you have to offer. If you have weaknesses in your employment chronology or if you are changing carers, you will need to take great care in structuring your résumé's content to overcome any perceived inadequacies. Create a strong career summary statement which emphasizes your primary skills, qualities, credentials, experience and goals. Group your most marketable skills into an achievements section and showcase those using numbers, concrete nouns and clear indications of the results you completed. Use company research and the employer's job description to focus your revised resume on the company's needs.
Bottom line: The person who decides whether or not to interview you will make that decision in a mere 15 to 25 seconds. Be clear, organized and achievement-focused to use those seconds to convince the employer to interview you. If you're getting interviews but no job offers:
o You may have the basic skills the employee needs but not the advanced skills they prefer. Review the second bullet above and act on the suggestions presented. Once you have updated or expanded your skills through additional education, experience or self-study, begin building a career success portfolio to prove your success to prospective employers. This will also help you respond to those behavior-based interview questions that are the rage these days.
Bottom line: It is up to you to advance your career. Figure out what you lack, then learn the skill or develop the ability.
o You lack strong self-marketing skills and this is showing in your interviews. To improve the quality of your interpersonal communications and interview responses, take a class. Invite someone to role play an interview with you. Practice answering behavior-based interview questions. Arrange to participate in a videotaped mock interview. To project your personality positively: Select three to five about yourself that you want the employee to know about you by the end of your interview. Brainstorm ways to weave those things into your responses to common interview questions. Learn about personalities different from your own. Smile and relax! Make strong but not excessive eye contact. Go into the interview armed with 5-8 words or phrases that positively describe your workplace personality and use those words or phrases through the interview. Match your communication style to the interviewer's questioning style. Know your resume and defend it. Keep your responses brief and always to the point.
Bottom line: Your interviewing performance serves as a preview of your on-the-job performance, so project your best. Research, practice, and sell! To job search is to make mistakes. Question is, are you learning from the job search mistakes you've made?
Evaluate your search every two to three months so you can fine tune your campaign on a regular basis. You probably get your car tuned up regularly. Why not do the same for your job search? With the right knowledge and proper tools in place, there will be no stopping you!