It seems like just about every time you turn around, some blog, newspaper, radio station, or television show is offering job-seekers "insider" tips for finding a job. But job-hunting is simply not that complicated. In fact, you should be able to easily obtain at least one job offer simply by following the six job-hunting tips in this article. No secrets or insider information -- just straightforward expert advice designed to help you find new employment and land your next job.
Six Expert Tips for How to Find a New Job
1. It's all about your network. Whether you feel you have an extremely small network or are blessed with a large and connected network, the way to your next job is through the people you know. The vast majority of jobs are filled through referrals -- through people recommending someone they know for a position. The vast majority of jobs are not found through responding to job listings or posting your resume on job boards, but through networking. So, the first step when you are looking for a new job is to tell everyone in your network about the job you are seeking.
Even when not job-hunting, your goal should be to stay in touch with your network while also expanding it by joining professional and community organizations. Another great tool for expanding your network -- especially for new college grads and graduate students -- is targeting key professionals within your career field and requesting informational interviews.
Networking is best when done in person, but as you'll see in the third tip, you can also build and maintain relationships with people online.
2. Knowledge is power, thus researching prospective employers is essential. Make no mistake; the job-seekers with the best success in job-hunting are those who have thoroughly researched prospective employers -- both from a standpoint of whether the organization's mission, focus, and culture are a fit, as well as understanding the company -- its strengths and weaknesses, key needs, and competitive information. Job-seekers can use research throughout the job-search, from an initial search for developing a list of prospective employers to target, to uncovering people in those companies to network with, to succeeding in the job interview.
The job-seeker who can persuasively respond to the why do you want to work here and what do you know about our company questions and who can propose solutions to an underlying problem, demonstrate strategies for increasing revenues, or present ideas for saving the company money is the one who will get the job offer.
3. Use the Web to build your reputation and your network. There's no question that the Internet has to play a key role in your next job-search, but perhaps not the way you thought. The Web's power in assisting your successful job-search is not through your spending countless hours on Monster or other unfocused job boards, but through you using the Web to build your reputation and expand your network. All professionals should have a LinkedIn membership, which allows you to develop a page that can function as your online resume and recommendation page, while also providing you with the venue for finding and networking with others in your field (or from your previous jobs and educational institutions). You might also stay active in a social networking site, such as Facebook, but keep your profile clean.
The best strategy for those with even just a bit of Web savvy is to buy your name (or some variation of it) as a domain name and develop a small Website that showcases your talents, skills, education, and accomplishments. You could publish anything from your resume to a full online portfolio of your work.
Learn more by reading our annual report on the state of Internet job-hunting, as well as our key branding and self-marketing tools and resources for job-seekers.
4. Customize cover letters and resumes to each opportunity. In applying for a position with an organization, submit a customized resume and cover letter that each are tailored to the specific job requirements, utilizing the same keywords the employer uses to describe the opening. Even better, use some of the same words to describe yourself as the employer uses to describe the organization.
If you've never written a resume -- or haven't in a long time -- read up on the current trends and styles for developing your resume, while remembering that your resume is a marketing document designed to help you get that job interview. My partner, Katharine Hansen, suggests there are only two real unbreakable rules of resumes: do not lie and have no typos or misspellings.
5. Prepare thoroughly for job interviews. Determine the type of interview and interview questions, develop thorough responses to the questions, and run through a few practice interviews. The best way to uncover the type of interview(s) to expect is simply to ask your contact at the organization. Then find sample interview questions and compose short, but focused responses that include an element of storytelling to help you remember (but not memorize) the responses. Finally, practice interviews give you a chance to receive critical feedback on your performance and make adjustments before the actual interview.
Remember that everything counts in the interview -- from the impressions you make with the receptionist and support staff to your nonverbal behaviors during the interview to the depth and quality of your interview questions responses.
Find all the tips, tools, sample questions, and more free tools to wow them in your next interview, by using our interviewing resources.
6. Stay proactive and follow up all job leads and after every interview. If any of these tips has the potential to be an insider secret, perhaps its following up, since so few job-seekers seem to understand the concept. The idea behind follow-up is keeping your name in front of the hiring manager -- by ensuring she has all the information about you she needs, composing thank-you letters to each person who interviews you, and updating the hiring manager with any new information about your qualifications for the position.
In terms of thank-you notes, the best method is sending an email thank-you shortly after your interviews, followed by a more traditional thank-you (typed or hand-written) sent by postal mail.
Still not sure about how to follow-up? Read our articles... Follow Up All Job Leads: Don't Wait by the Phone (or Computer) and The Art of the Follow-Up After Job Interviews.
Final Thoughts on Finding a New Job
Finding a good job with an employer that's a good match for you usually takes a lot of time and effort on your part. If you take job-hunting as seriously as you take your job or schooling -- putting in the long hours of research and dedication -- the efforts should result in multiple job leads and at least one new job offer. Using the tips in this article -- along with the more detailed information you can find within Quintessential Careers -- should lay the foundation for the work you need to complete to succeed in your job-search. Go to the Quintessential Careers I am a Job-Seeker Page to find additional tools and resources you need to help you refresh your job-search.
Finally, see our Job Search Checklist.
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.