Career Advice

Are You Using the Wrong Tools in Your Job Search?

Would you ever use a screwdriver to open a can of soup? It can be done. However, most would agree that it is not the preferred method. In the world we occupy today, there is virtually a tool for every chore. And a stroll down the aisle of any well-equipped hardware store will prove this.

Practically daily, a call comes in from a sincere job seeker who is frustrated with how little success they are having in their job search. The problem, more often than not, is they have been using the wrong tools for the desired result. As in the example above, sometimes you can get away with using the wrong tool. But even then, it may get messy.

Now, let’s take a look inside your tool bag and see what may need to be added or replaced to help you find the right job:

1. Resume. If there’s not one in there, get one. Whether this is your first job or you’ve been in the workforce since the invention of the telephone, the resume is your most important tool. If you have one, be certain it is up-to-date and speaks to your intended audience. Consider having a couple of versions of your resume if you have slightly nuanced targets. Doing so is a great way to be certain that your strengths are showcased and apropos to the position you seek.

2. Cover Letter. Chances are that you’ve never attended a concert without an opening act. This show starter is designed to get the audience warmed up and raise the anticipation level among the crowd before the star of the show steps out onto the stage. A well-crafted cover letter will do the same thing for your resume. It is an introduction meant to whet the appetite of the reader, and when properly executed, will provide a great lead-in and create anticipation for what lies ahead.

3. Executive Biography. This one or two-page document is written in a conversational tone. This is a great tool to use when you want to add information that may not be “directly” related to the job, but can provide a prospective employer with some personal information that may be valuable as it relates “indirectly” – perhaps a motto for life, or volunteer activities. You can describe where you were raised and how that impacted your career decisions. Mention mentors that may have impacted your way of doing things. The resume will supply the facts and figures. Adding the executive biography is a way to round that information out with some personal background.

4. Interview Questions. Have you ever left an interview wishing you had asked this or that? Having a list of questions that you’ve practiced with before the interview is the best way to guard against this regret. Find a willing partner and practice, practice, practice. You will be smooth and confident when the time comes to use this invaluable tool. What employer wouldn’t want someone “smooth and confident” working for them?

5. LinkedIn Profile: Many experienced managers, senior managers, executives and recruiters prowl the LinkedIn network, appealing to others to expand their network, to hunt for new talent and to simply build and expand upon professional relationships. Do not miss out on this opportunity to be found!

Squelching the buzz that LinkedIn is simply an online resume is important. However, the online “resume” profile you do develop should be both powerful and targeted, invigorating the value of your membership. As well, great value is placed on writing a LinkedIn profile that’s “different” from your resume. While achievements from the resume should punctuate your LinkedIn profile, handled effectively, the nuanced distinctions of your LinkedIn profile versus your offline resume content can help catapult your job search to a new level.

Having a well-executed career portfolio may not land you a job, but a poorly executed one can certainly eliminate you from the running. When the economy is sluggish, employers have a great deal of opportunity to look through a multitude of career documentation, and those who represent themselves best are the most likely to be invited to become a part of the team.