Below is an effective, efficient job search action plan that will match your skills, experience and qualifications to the companies where you want to work. Many of these tips come from the book “Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters,” and they’ll help get you in the door where you want to be:
Week One – Plan Your Brand
Develop a career plan. Write down the kind of job you want, your marketable skills and experience and the employers for whom you want to work.
Create an online presence. Create a website, online employment portfolio or online resume and a LinkedIn profile. If you use multiple online tools, make sure they reference each other. For example, have links to your website and employment portfolio on LinkedIn.
Create a resume with a strong headline, a precise career objective, a list of core competencies and a focus on accomplishments, and post it on LinkedIn.
Create a family of branded marketing materials. Your website, resume, business cards, LinkedIn profile and future cover letters should all match each other in style and tone, font and presentation. Put the same headline on each for a memorable presentation.
Build your brand with a targeted elevator speech.
Research jobs online, with a particular eye out for the names and titles of people with authority to hire you. Use LinkedIn Signal, job discussions, resume editing service, or call companies to ask for names and titles of hiring managers. If they won’t give you that information, check the job posting to see if it mentions something like, “reports to the director of marketing,” then check the company website to identify that person. Create a contact list of the hiring managers for the positions you want for fast and easy reference. Keep a log of which hiring managers you contact, how you made the contact and when you will follow up.
Create targeted cover letters that focus on the company and position. Using keywords from the job posting and description, emphasize your accomplishments, and address the cover letter to the person who can hire you. Do not use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir.”
Ask for referrals! Use your network of family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances for tips on openings at the companies where they work. Plan to attend job fairs, chamber of commerce events, job search seminars and networking groups to talk to people and let them know you are looking for work.
Call, email and mail hiring managers at the target companies where you want to work. Introduce yourself using your elevator speech or headline, ask for an interview and tell them you will follow up with them within a day. Say you’d like to present your complete resume in person and ask for a convenient time in the next day or so to do that.
Start preparing for interviews. Prepare answers to the top 10 questions, and do so with a friend or in front of a mirror or video camera. Be aware of your likability by practicing positive body language and preparing rapport-building techniques.
Prepare your interview attire and prepare note cards with information on the position, company and hiring manager.
Express appreciation for the opportunity to interview and the hiring manager’s confidence in you.
Focus on the employer’s needs and your accomplishments. Use stories about what you’ve done in previous positions, the problems you’ve solved and the career accomplishments that are relevant to the position.
At the conclusion of the interview, ask when they expect to make their hiring decision and when you can check back about it. Make sure you ask for the job.
Send a handwritten thank-you note as soon as the interview is over. Thank the manager for the interview, emphasize a couple of your strongest points that relate to the position and ask for the job again. It’s a good idea to bring thank you notes with you and write the note in your car after the interview, then take it inside and give it to the receptionist to give to the manager.
Call hiring managers and ask if they have made decisions on the positions you interviewed for, and if not, where they are in the process. Stay polite and professional.
If you are not selected for the job, thank the hiring manager for his or her consideration. Ask about other openings in the company and to please pass your resume along to other hiring managers.
If you haven’t had any interviews, review your branding efforts, online presence, interview skills and follow-up techniques, and make any improvements in weak areas.
Keep perspective on rejection, and if the interviewer is open to it, ask for feedback on why you weren’t selected.