Job hunting is daunting and overwhelming to say the least. There’s an endless amount of information available online relating to job hunting and changing careers. It can be challenging at best to navigate through it all. Let’s try to break down some of the best ways to deal with a job loss or career change, starting with your resume.
Getting your resume in shape
Yes, that sounds like a no-brainer, but the fact is that many job seekers think they have a great resume when in fact it could use a little boost. This is also the most important step because if the resume is crafted poorly, the job seeker won’t get any further than the circular file known as the trash can.
- Make sure that your resume is up-to-date:
Format your resume and cover letter properly for uploading to job sites, as well as being formatted and having keywords to ensure the resume will picked up by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
- Choose your font and font size carefully:
Do not use italics or chose fonts other than Times New Roman or Courier New. Do not use a font size smaller than 11 or greater than 12 in the body of the resume. For the header which will include your name, address, phone number and email, use a larger font in bold so that it stands out.
- Align your resume and cover letter properly:
Keep the Experience or Professional Profile section of your resume left aligned and justified, as well as the body of your cover letter. This keeps a clean, sharp and professional appearance.
- No References upon Request is necessary:
Take out the “references provided upon request” line. This is cliché and not necessary. Most employers will look you up via social media sites, and if they need references, they will tell you up front in most cases. Employers already assume that you can provide references when asked. When asked for references, always put those contacts listed in your reference list in alphabetical order by last name on a separate sheet of paper.
- Objective Statement needs to go:
Take out the Objective Statement and replace it with a solid, proven Summary or Professional Profile section, listing specific accomplishments, and verifiable numbers and accomplishments to back up any claims of helping to increase sales, productivity, minimizing losses, profits/losses, company gains, promotions, and other career accomplishments.
- Past and present tense:
Keep the resume in the proper tense. Be consistent throughout your resume. This means keeping your present employment experience in present tense, and prior employment experience in the past tense. This is a highly common resume faux pas that most job seekers fail to put much thought into. When this is missed it shows an employer a lack of attention to detail.
- Cover Letters:
Always include a cover letter on a separate page. Make sure you carefully read the job posting. Many recruiters or employers require a cover letter and will reject a resume if there is not one attached. Do your due diligence to find out who the hiring manager, HR Manager, or recruiter is and target your cover letter specifically to that person if possible.
- Use the proper paper.
This can be purchased at any office supply store, most Super Walmart and Target stores and other retailers that sell stationary products. Look specifically for resume paper. Do not use plain copy paper, colored paper, bond paper, or stationary that has any type of design, print and/or scented paper (yes applicants have attempted to use scented paper), again, huge resume fail.
- Applying overseas:
If you are applying for employment in a country other that your resident country, do your research to ensure that your resume is properly formatted for applying to foreign companies or posting on foreign job sites.
Now let’s look at the actual job search
Searching for a job is a daunting experience no matter what level you are in your career. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period, this adds to the anxiety and sense of urgency, which ends up feeling like a vicious circle. To combat any job search anxiety or stress, it’s best to always be prepared in the event of a sudden and unexpended job loss. Companies lock their doors everyday with little to no warning or notice. Employees are laid off or fired, or “requested to relocate” more often than one might think. Here are some tips to assist to lessen the stress of searching for a job.
- Create a LinkedIn account:
There are numerous benefits of this social media tool. Connecting with other job seekers as well as recruiters and company leaders, is an excellent way to network and gain leads on jobs that may not be posted on the usual sites. LinkedIn also has its own job search-engine.
- Join or create a networking group:
Taking advantage of the resources of your local unemployment office, networking groups, local library events, or joining online social media groups targeted to your industry or area of interest is a highly effective way to meet new people who may be able to connect you with other professionals to assist in your job search.
- Create a “must” or “Mustn’t” have” bucket list:
Make yourself a list of requirements that you must have and must not have in your next job, as well as the company. This could include the location, job duties, benefits, salary and/or commission package, perks, travel requirements if you’re in sales, training, or consulting. Are you willing to travel at a minimum, or are you willing to live out of a suitcase? Are you willing to take a cut in pay for the perfect position or are you only willing to increase your salary? If so, by how much? Do you have a family and require Cadillac health insurance, or do you prefer to purchase your own as a single individual at a possibly cheaper rate and have that money as extra income in your paycheck? Once you take this step, you’ll find it easier to research companies that provide the desired personal career goals and requirements.
- Create a list of those companies you would like to work for:
Create a list of companies who are in the desired location, possess the required benefits packages, salaries, educational benefits or reimbursement of classes or degrees that may be obtained for the advancement of your career within the company, and any other requirements you have created in the previous list. This will make it much easier to narrow down companies that fit your search criteria.
- Create a list of your skills:
Create a list of your skills. Assess those which may need to be updated. Brush up on current skills and learn new trending new skills by taking a class or following a relevant online publication. Use your skills as search terms on job boards such as Monster.com, Indeed.com, or theladders.com, instead of simply using a job title in the search bar, you may get a larger pool of companies you can then target with your resume.
- Broaden your job search area:
Don’t limit your job search to just a few miles from your home. Sometimes the benefit of living close to work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Finding employment in larger cities will generally have higher paying salaries, which could equate to $1000s more per year. Also, occasionally, companies will state they’re located in a major city to obtain a larger pool of applicants which may not always show up on local searches. The reality may be that those companies could be 10 or more miles outside the city limits and much closer to where you would prefer.
Taking a little extra time at the beginning of a job loss or early in a career search by creating a workable, detailed plan will save a lot of wasted time and stress. This will also help to keep you motivated, avoid becoming discouraged, and ultimately avoid any procrastination issues.
Happy career hunting!