Question: "What are the three most important elements of job-hunting?"
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
You could probably lock a bunch of career professionals in a room and ask this question and get dozens of different answers, but let me give you what I think the three most critical elements to job-hunting. If you understand how to best use these three things, your job searches should be much easier and more successful.
Too many job-seekers do not keep a running list of their accomplishments or believe they really do not have any job accomplishments, or confuse job responsibilities with accomplishments. Job responsibilities and duties are what any competent employee does in a job, but accomplishments are the things you do to make the job better, increases sales or profitability, save the company money. Accomplishments are the things you are most proud of from your job -- perhaps an award, testimonials from satisfied clients or suppliers, or comments made by your supervisor in a recent performance review. Maybe it's just how you do the job better than others -- you serve more people effectively, manage your staff better, or increase customer satisfaction levels. Whenever possible, it's best to quantify to your accomplishments. For example, rather than saying you produced a cost-savings for your division, say you produced a $10,000 cost savings for your division.
And to tie accomplishments to job-hunting, you should not only list these key accomplishments on your resume, but also incorporate them into how you plan to answer job interview questions. You'll also, whenever possible, want to have proof of your accomplishments in your career portfolio. Learn more in these articles: For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments and Your Job Skills Portfolio: Giving You an Edge in the Marketplace.
Career Network of Contacts
Job and career success, to a large extent, comes down to the most overused and least understood concept in job-hunting: networking. There is no question that the larger your career network -- your collection of friends, family, colleagues, former co-workers and bosses, professors, etc. -- the more opportunities you'll have for hearing about news and exciting job openings. Your goal should be to constantly grow and maintain your network of contacts by keeping in touch with current ones and joining new organizations and meeting new people to add new ones.
The idea behind networking is that we all know someone or something that can help someone else. We know our co-worker is quitting next month to start his own business, which means there will be a job-opening. Or perhaps our company is about to start a new division or market a new product. So, use networking to your advantage by harnessing all that information in your network. Just remember not to use networking only when you are seeking a new job and to always find a way to return the favor for the people in your network. Learn more in this article, Networking Your Way to a New Job.
Quality Job Leads
To put it as bluntly as possible, you will not have much job-search success unless you know how to uncover as many job leads as possible, act on those job leads, and then follow-up all those job leads. Job leads are the lifeblood of the job-search process. Hiring managers establish job leads and job-hunters track them down. The best job leads will come from your network, but you should also use traditional and emerging tools to uncover as many job leads as possible. Learn more in my article, 10 Ways to Develop Job Leads.
An up-and-coming fourth element -- and part of the changing paradigm of job-hunting -- is the development and use of a personal career brand. Read my article, Building Your Personal Brand: Tactics for Successful Career Branding.
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor's Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions -- and Dr. Hansen's solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor's homepage.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.