Sometimes both job seekers and career experts can get so caught up in job-hunting strategies and tactics that we lose sight of practical activities that job-seekers can do today -- right now -- to make progress toward finding new employment and landing a new job.
What can you do today -- especially if you are currently out of work -- to help obtain a new job? Here are 10 things you can do right now for your job-search.
1. Apply to one or more temporary agencies
One of the best ways to keep working, even while looking for a permanent position, is to take a temp position. There are temporary agencies for almost all kinds of workers, and depending on your location, you may find more than one that hires out people with your skills.
Besides providing a paycheck, temping is a great opportunity to test out employers and build a case for permanent employment if there is a good fit between you and the employer.
2. Identify at least five prospective employers
Conduct a search (via the phone book, Chamber of Commerce, Google, etc.) for prospective employers who hire job-seekers with your skills. You should start locally, but understand you may need to expand your search to other locations. Conduct research on each employer you find that fits your criteria so that you can use that information to enhance your cover letter, resume, and application. Once you have the information you need, apply directly to the hiring manager (for your position) of each employer.
3. Find and apply to at least one real job opening
Using all the tools available to you -- local job ads, industry-specific job boards, geographic-specific job boards, and general job boards -- locate and apply to at least one job opening. Do not, however, spend the bulk of your day on job boards because some of the "open" job openings may be no longer be available (or perhaps never were). Still, take the time to conduct a search as you may be able to find hidden gems that you could not find through other job-search methods. Finally, remember that networking and direct contact yield much greater success than applying to jobs online.
4. Reach out to family and friends about potential job leads
Even if you feel you have done this step already, make it a point today to contact people in your network about any new job leads. Ask the closest people to you to contact their family and friends to truly utilize the power of this tool. Remember that you are simply asking for any information about potential job openings and other contacts to talk to; you are not asking people for a job. The more networking you do, the more likely your success in finding a new job.
5. Schedule a meeting with a career expert
If you're having a hard time finding a new job, you may have a problem with your job-hunting tactics that you will never be able to identify without the assistance of a career expert. Job-seekers have numerous choices -- from local One-Stop Career Centers (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor) to local colleges and universities (especially your alma mater) to professional career coaches. Choose the expert that best fits your needs and your budget and ask him/her to help evaluate your entire job-hunting strategy, from your resume to interviewing.
6. Find additional people to add to your career network
Networking is the most powerful job-search tool available to job-seekers. The more people you can add to your network of contacts, the more job leads you'll uncover.
The most powerful network contacts are personal ones, so start here by finding and attending a networking event, volunteering in your community, joining a professional or industry organization, and asking for introductions to people from your family and friends. You can also build your network online through professional and social networking sites.
7. Revise, revamp, and improve your resume
Your resume is your most important job-search tool, and based on our experiences, just about every job-seeker has room for improvement in crafting a resume that will help you obtain job interviews. Start with ensuring that your resume has a clear focus -- identifying your unique mix of skills and experiences as well as the job you seek. From there, check that you identified key accomplishments (rather than job duties), focused on your most recent experiences, and have no typos or misspellings. Finally, remember that you must tailor your resume for each job employer, each job opportunity.
8. Sharpen your interviewing skills
The job interview is your chance to shine -- to sell your unique mix of experience, education/training, and skills to the hiring manager(s). If you are going on first interviews but never getting invited back, your interviewing style may be flawed. Two of the most common flaws for job-seekers is failing to anticipate potential interview questions and not developing strategic responses to those questions. If you're struggling with interviewing, you can try practicing mock interviews with friends, family, or career experts. You can also try asking for feedback from hiring managers who did not hire you.
9. Research and request informational interviews
One of the most underutilized tools of job-hunting is the informational interview. This tool is most useful when you are changing careers and trying to break into a new career field, but it is a technique all job-seeker can use. As the name implies, an informational interview is a request in which you seek to learn useful facts about a career, industry, or company. Remember that these are NOT job interviews, and job-seekers should not try to turn them into one. Instead, use these to learn more and build your network.
10. Follow-up all pending job applications
Take the time today to contact all the employers with whom you have applied or had interviews. Most employers view follow-up as showing interest and a desire for the job, so do not be afraid to not only follow up today but again next week and the week after (unless the employer tells you not to bother). Just remember to be professional and polite when contacting the employers. You can follow up by phone or email.
Final Thoughts on Job-Search Success
Another activity you can do today -- if you have already completed the tasks mentioned in this article -- is to develop (or enhance) your LinkedIn or other professional profile. The future of job-hunting for job-seekers is developing a branded online presence, which you can accomplish through a professional networking site and/or developing a professional website.
Finally, stay as positive as you can with your job-search. Employers and hiring managers can sense desperation, fear, frustration, and anger -- typical out-of-work job-seeker emotions -- so always try and enter each situation with a positive outlook and confidence that this time you will succeed.