If you’re a smart, thoughtful candidate, you’ll always research what you can do to improve your odds of landing a job. The problem is, there’s a plethora of advice out there. With so many articles, books, videos and even friends and family telling you what you need to do to score your dream job, how do you have time to sort through it all?
Well, fear not — we’ve distilled some of the best job search tips of 2017 down into one, easy-to-digest list for you. We combed through some of our top-performing pieces this year to get the most notable, valuable tidbits of advice so that you can find the job that fits your life in every way: culture fit, salary, qualification, etc. Read through this list, and make sure to employ these tips in your next job hunt.
1. Never Share Your Current Salary in Negotiations
If there’s one way to sell yourself short during a salary negotiation, it’s by letting them know what you currently make. While the interview question, “What do you currently make?” is already illegal in some places, there are many others in which it is not. But don’t worry — if you come face-to-face with this question, you don’t have to answer it directly.
In 9 Things to Never Say in a Salary Negotiation, Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiation recommends responding with something like the following: “I’m not comfortable sharing my current salary. I would prefer to focus on the value I can add to this company rather than what I’m paid at my current job. I don’t have a specific number in mind for a desired salary, and you know better than I do what value my skill set and experience could bring to your company. I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation.”
2. Quantify Everything You Can on Your Resume
One of the biggest resume trends right now is including concrete metrics in the section that details your prior work experience. Recruiters and hiring managers love this because it provides context for and demonstrates the impact of your previous accomplishments. Wondering what that might look like in practice? In Here’s What the Perfect Resume Looks Like, we provided the following example:
Dec. 2016 – Present
- Collaborated with a team of 4 people to brainstorm 3 major creative campaigns which ultimately drove 100,000+ website visits and a 27% year-over-year increase in traffic
- Drafted copy for 3 ebooks and associated email marketing campaigns, resulting in 10,000 downloads and 3,000 new leads generated
- Analyzed data from Google Analytics and Marketo to optimize marketing efforts moving forward, leading to a 24% increase in downloads from campaign 2 to campaign 3
3. Beware a Company That Posts the Same Jobs Over and Over Again
Has the company you’re applying to gone through three different VPs of Finance, or any other high-level executive position, in one year? You may want to think twice about whether or not it’s right for you.
“This can indicate a few things. One, leadership may be very fickle; unable to land on the specific qualities they want in a candidate. Two, the company may have a bad internal culture which makes retention nearly impossible, no matter how talented the new hires may be. Three, top-level goals may be as fleeting as the talent,” says Glassdoor Editorial Director Amy Elisa Jackson in 7 Types of Companies You Should Never Work For.
The fix? “Companies with high turnover won’t deliver on their promises and may just be a waste of time” — unless there are extenuating circumstances, you may want to direct your efforts elsewhere.
4. Watch Out for CEOs Who Are Dreamers, Not Doers
Just as it’s good to research a company before you apply to a job, it’s good to research the CEO as well, as Jackson demonstrates in 6 Types of CEOs You Should Never Work For.
Having creative ideas and a strong vision for one’s company are great qualities to have in a CEO. However, if they’re only capable of presenting a dream without possessing the determination, focus and grit to actually see it through, they may not be best suited for the top position at a company.
“If you are someone who appreciates clear guidance, structure, and an achievable plan, the dreamer CEO is not for you,” Jackson says. “The best dreamers (think: Elon Musk and Bill Gates) also have a dash of expertise and understand the weight of asking others to follow their crazy ideas.”
5. Prioritize People Over Tasks
It’s a simple concept, but one that’s helped launch Cathy Engelbert to the top of the corporate ladder, as she shares in The Brilliant Career Advice from Deloitte’s CEO in One Sentence. When asked what her secret to success was, Engelbert said it was “Building a team that brings you solutions instead of challenges, listening to and collaborating with them — that ultimately prioritizes your focus on issues where you can have the most impact, not just scratch items off the to do list… To me, productivity is directly related to the personal relationships you are able to build.”
Moral of the story — if you want to keep climbing the ranks, it helps to have a solid group of colleagues who can vouch for you and open doors for you.
6. Become an Informed Candidate
The number one way to become the candidate that recruiters dream of? Informing yourself about the role and company so that by the time you show up to the interview, you already know that you’re qualified for the position and a good fit for the culture. One of the best ways to demonstrate this is by doing your research beforehand. That way, you don’t have to show up to the interview asking questions like, “What exactly does the company / this department do?”
“Finding the answer to this question is part of your research. Your questions need to show that you’ve put in the time and done some basic research about the company and role,” says Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Customer Engagement & Education in 11 Things to Never Say in an Interview, According to a Hiring Manager. “Instead, consider asking what projects the department is currently engaged in or what challenges it faces, with a view to highlighting the value you can bring.”
7. Avoid Cliche Buzzwords
Hardworking, synergy, wheelhouse… these are all words that recruiters and hiring managers and tired of hearing. Not only have they been used so often to the point that they’re basically meaningless — they also don’t really prove anything about you.
“You have a limited amount of time to catch a recruiter or hiring manager’s eye — use it wisely,” cautions Jamie Hichens, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at Glassdoor in 21 Words To Never Include In Your Resume.
Instead of bluntly listing qualities like “hardworking” on your resume, provide relevant anecdotes that demonstrate those values. For example, highlighting an additional project or responsibility you took on in addition to your expected tasks is a good way to show you’re hardworking without coming out and saying it.
8. Resist the Urge to Multitask in a Phone Interview
The fact that recruiters can’t see you during a phone interview is both a blessing and a curse — on the one hand, you don’t have to worry about appearing nervous or getting caught taking a peek at an interview cheat sheet. On the other hand, it does open up the temptation to multitask.
“My number one pet peeve is people who decide to multitask while on the phone interview,” says Dan Krupansky, Talent Acquisition Manager at PrimePay in the piece 12 Things to Never Do During A Phone Interview. “I have heard candidates washing dishes, making lunch in the microwave, going for walks, letting their dog out and grocery shopping during the interview. I even had one person use the bathroom and flush the toilet while speaking with me.”
While you probably have the common sense to avoid activities like that, it can be easy to check your email or Facebook while a recruiter is speaking at length. If you know you’ll be tempted, stow your computer away.
9. Customize Your Resume
I get it: tailoring your resume to the specific job and company you want is a pain. But if you’re applying to your dream company, it’s well worth the effort.
“Most resumes are reviewed electronically before a human sees them,” says career coach Jeanne Patt in 6 Resume Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs. “Tailoring each submittal with keywords from the job posting is critical to pass the electronic screening.”
Look at each bullet point in your resume, and think about whether or not it communicates the skills, personality traits and values that the company you’re applying to is looking for. If not, tweak it until it does.
10. Frame Negatives as Positives
When people talk about why they’re seeking out a new position, they often delve into everything that was wrong with their former employer: low pay, a bad boss, uninteresting and unchallenging work, etc. But if you dive down into the rabbit hole of what didn’t work, you can come off as negative and ungrateful — definitely not traits you want to highlight to a potential employer.
“Complaining about how you didn’t get along in your last work environment is detrimental on two levels. First, it shows your lack of ability to cope with a challenging situation and move past it. Second, the last thing your interviewer wants is for you to be talking trash about their company or employees in the future,” says Glassdoor contributor Lillian Childress in 11 Things To Never Say in a Job Interview.
Instead, veer away from the negative and focus on the positive — rather than talking about why you want to leave your current company, talk about why you want to apply to the current company, perhaps because of their excellent company culture, career opportunities, etc. Not only will this make you look more positive — it’s flattering for the employer to hear.