Five things I have learnt from being an active job seeker

I have been actively looking for formal sector employment for the last two months. In the process, and with my background as NLP practitioner and life coach, I am sharing some insights in the process, and how to keep going even when you feel like giving up.

#1 – Create a system, with a daily goal

Apply for 3 jobs a day. Or ten, if you are really serious. Check search engines / alerts every day, or rotate between them on different days – engines A and B on Monday, C and D on Tuesday, etc. Why?

When you have small, daily goals in this job search, you will be able to keep going for much longer, as you are reaching your daily goals. If you have only one goal, namely, to land a job, you might get disheartened after week 3 (or month 3) if you still have not landed anything.

Instead, focus on that daily goal. Make yourself a star chart, and have a celebratory cup of coffee for reaching that goal, daily. And keep going. And going. And going.

Tweak your CV along the way. Widen your search. Drop back a seniority level. Lower your required salary. But keep on applying. Try a different city, or country, if you are up to it. Spread that net wide.

Just keep going, reaching that daily goal of 3 job applications a day.

#2 – Have multiple versions of your CV

Why? Surely your experience is your experience? No, I am not mad. I am not suggesting you lie to prospective employers. I am suggesting that you rewrite your CV to be tailored to the job you are applying for.

For example, in my career, I have been a project manager, programme manager and general IT manager. I will have a version of my CV tailored towards project management opportunities, that stresses how my experience in all other job categories counts towards project management. When I was a general IT manager, I also lead two initiatives to upgrade infrastructure and applications. In the project manager version of my CV, that is what I will give more detail about, instead of stressing the general IT management part. Make sense?

Do the same for your covering letter. Use the appropriate version for the job your are applying for.

#3 – Search on multiple job search engines

When you are earnestly looking for a job, look across each and every search engine you can find for job opportunities. If a search engine directs you to a company’s website, and you like that company, set up alerts from the company’s site as well. In this way your net continues spreading wider and wider. And your opportunities come from more and more places.

Set up alerts for new jobs being advertised, to make it easy to check what has come in each day.

#4 – Tailor make your covering letter for each and every application

Does this sound like a lot of work? Yes, it is. But it also shows that you are serious about the search, and serious about this job. Because you tailor make your covering note for the specific role, using the things they ask for, and sort of answer those specific requirements.

If they are asking for someone with 15+ years of experience, make sure you mention that you have that. If they ask for someone with experience in Java programming, mention that you have done a Java course and have experimented with it in your private time, even if you never used it formally (this of course needs to be true, or you will be caught out). If they ask for someone with great communication skills, mention that award you got for exceptional communication on your last project.

Take the time and tailor make that covering letter. It will pay off in the end.

#5 – Seek wider than your last job or your ideal job

Things change fast in this world we live in. Team leaders are suddenly called scrum masters, or commodores. Project management is no longer the flavor of the month, Agile delivery is. The job still remains fairly similar, but the methodology, jargon and tools have changed. This is not only in the IT world.

How does being aware of the jargon in your industry, and tailoring your CV to those new names, benefit you? You will stand a better chance to be picked up by the filtering engines that scan and evaluate applications before any human eyes fall on them. Again, do not lie, but if you now have a qualification in Agile, make sure you mention that. And change your title for that last project you delivered using Agile, to scrum master or Agile project manager. The filtering engines will notice.

#5a – Because there is more

Eventually the first nibbles will come – an interview or two. Or four. Or ten.

We have all been there – job searching is tough. Now you can really celebrate. Open a bottle of wine, go out for a meal, take a day off from applying. Celebrate, that you have reached the next step in the process!

Hopefully, you will have used the waiting time to work up great answers to those lame interview questions that trip us all every time. Prepare for the interview. Go out, and you ace it!

You might circle back to carrying on applying, and a couple more interviews. Buff up that interview technique, by working up answers you can use for interview questions. Tweak your interview outfit – go more formal. Go less formal. Take printed copies of your CV and qualifications with. Do not ask about benefits or salary in the first interview.

Keep going, both with applying and with practicing interviewing. At some point, you will be a fit with a specific job and a specific company.

Eventually, you will get the offer you wanted. ffffffff

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