Prepare First, Search Later
Welcome back for Lesson 2! After you’ve determined the goals of your search, it’s time to get all your job-hunting documents, websites, and profiles in order. If you set up before you start to apply, you won’t have to halt your process or lose out on an opportunity.
Is Your Resume Ready?
Various resume formats exist, including chronological, functional, and a combination of those types. Following personal contact information, recent graduates with little job experience will want to lead with their educational information, while highly experienced job hunters will succeed by leading with career highlights. All resumes should include:
• your name, address, email address, and phone number
• work experience with responsibilities, key accomplishments, and recognition received; order the jobs from most recent to furthest in the past, omit short-term or older jobs if they won’t help your case, and include applicable volunteer positions
• relevant educational degrees, certification, and training completion, including the school or training source and if recent, the completion date
• special skills applicable to your field
• relevant professional associations or organizations
Expert advice previously suggested including a career objective at the top of your resume, below your contact information. Though now deemed optional, use an objective if it clarifies your immediate goal for the employer.
A one-page resume works best in most fields; two pages is the maximum length, unless your specific industry requires a longer one. Your resume must be error free, neat, and organized. If you plan to apply for jobs in different fields, create separate resumes that make sense for each one.
In a FlexJobs article, human resources executive Tiffany Kuehl recommends using keywords so recruiters and HR personnel can easily find you through search tools. Huffington Post author Susan P. Joyce explains that keywords include the buzzwords and jargon in your industry that reflect job requirements. For example, if jobs in your field requires using specific software, include your experience with it.
Cover Letters and References
To accompany your resume, write a cover letter template that you can customize for each job application. The cover letter introduces you to the employer and gives the reader reasons to interview you. Start by introducing yourself and noting the job of interest. Write about what makes you stand out as a candidate, including your experience and accomplishments. Don’t restate your resume, but highlight and emphasize your most relevant qualifications. Create a letter of three paragraphs and use a business letter format. If you are applying on a more informal site, match the level of formality and create a shorter letter.
Create a reference list of three people, including contacts who can provide meaningful insight into your performance and work ethic, such as a manager, mentor, coworker, or teacher. Request permission from your references, and confirm that they will provide a good recommendation. Include accurate name spelling, address, email, telephone number, and job information for each person.
How Does the World See You?
Social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are used by many people to make connections with others and sometimes, to promote a business or service. Remove inappropriate posts, and put your best face forward while job hunting.
LinkedIn is the most well-known career website. It allows you to connect with many people who have access to your professional profile. Job leads may come from LinkedIn, and employers who receive your application often check for a profile. Create one that highlights your talents and experience. Do the same on similarly focused sites that are important in your field.
Do you have a professional website? Review the site and update it. To create the best impression, ensure that all links work and information is correct.
Don’t Forget the Important Extras
If your professional chops are best assessed by showing your work, prepare samples, such as photos, writing samples, or artwork, in easily accessible files, or place them on a web link that you can include with your application.
Don’t miss an opportunity due to being unprepared. Make a checklist of the job search tasks described in this lesson. When it’s complete, you’re ready to search online as discussed in Lesson 3.
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