3 keys to job search excellence

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Looking for a job is no easy matter these days with five qualified job applicants for every open position. It means you need to have “job search” as a job skill — and mastery of the job search skill would be even better. But how would you get to mastery? What would you need to nail down?

It turns out, there are three keys to job search excellence.

1. You need to know your job skills and how you do your best work

This is pretty straightforward — but often ignored. If you don’t know or understand your skills and how you best bring those skills to the job, you will lead an unfocused job search and eventually land in a job that is a mismatch for your best work. A guarantee to unhappiness. Here’s what you need to think through:

  • List ALL of your job skills. Most people get to about 50% and get excluded from good jobs because they don’t meet the job skills test.
  • List your soft skills. Stuff like how you do teamwork, how you resolve conflict, how you deal with adversity. These social skills are just as, if not more, important than job skills.
  • Know what management style brings out your best work.
  • Know the best manager you ever worked for and why this person was your best manager.
  • Know the best team you ever worked for and why it was your best team.
  • Know the best job you ever had and why it was the best for you.

If you don’t know yourself, you won’t have a focused job search.

2. Use all of your tools to find the job opportunities

We’re not dealing with want ads anymore. Most job opportunities don’t even show up in the listings for jobs. And the ones that do show up as openings get hundreds of resumes. In other words, if all you do is work the job boards, you’ll have a difficult time finding a job. What tools should you use?

  • Your business network. Your business network is the single most important group of people to help you find the right job for you. If you haven’t built a good business network, get started.
  • Your professional organizations. If your work has professional organizations, then you should be in your local chapter. These are people who work in many different companies who all know of job openings in their companies…that you are missing out on by not being a member.
  • Your focused job boards. Job boards have their place for both jobs and advice. But going to the biggest job boards doesn’t mean success. Instead, you are better off with focused job boards (like Dice.com for technical positions) that match up to your job specialty. It takes some research to find them, but that is why they are better than the mass job boards.
  • Your social media outlets. LinkedIn jobs. Jobs that are posted via Twitter — or by people in your Twitter list that are in your home town who Tweet job openings.

Everything looks like a nail to the hammer you carry if that’s the only tool you bring to your job search.

3. Interview like a pro

A resume gets you the opportunity to have a phone interview. A phone interview gives you the opportunity to get to a face-to-face interview. And face-to-face interviews get you the job offer.

All of these different steps — creating the resume, doing the phone interview, face-to-face interviews — are all different sets of job search skills. You need to master all of them to give yourself the most opportunities possible from a job search.

  • You need to research the company. You do this to understand what the company is saying about itself, what others are saying about it, and developing good questions for your interviews.
  • You need to create terrific interview questions. They need to help see if the position is right for you.
  • You need to create powerful interview stories. People remember stories, not facts. But you still need facts in your stories.
  • You need to practice answering interview questions. Answers to interview questions are not naturally conversational. So you need to practice answering them both for the answers and the presenting of the answers.
  • You need to follow through after each interview. Without the following up, you lose an important indicator of the urgency of filling the position and how you performed in the interview.

Interviewing is the weakest link in the job search because we all do so little of it. Getting as many interviews as possible and practicing doing interviews can greatly improve our skills in this area.

Job search is a job skill

The days of easily finding a job, especially one that fits best for our work, are over for the foreseeable future. That means more competition for openings, a tougher and longer time for finding work when we are looking, and a larger need to set ourselves apart in the job search process. Most people don’t do this process well. If you do, if you develop Cubicle Warrior mastery of this job skill, you’ll be in a much better position when looking for a job.

Do you have excellent job search skills or is this something for you to improve on in your work?

Photo by mripp

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