Okay, so maybe I am not an expert by no means, but I've been around the corporate block. I have been working for over 13 years, and I've been working for major companies for 10. By the way, I am only 28!
Finding a job can be difficult for everyone, but these tips will help make the process easier.
Here's what I've learned along the way...
1 - Quality not Quantity
The number of jobs you apply to isn't going to exactly increase your chances. You might think that spending 5 seconds on each job posting will do you some good, but you're actually wrong. It's taking your time with each job posting. Make sure that you've developed a resume and cover letter that matches or closely matches what the job posting is asking for.
Remember, everyone else is also hitting the 'apply' button with minimal effort. Take the time to stand out and offer a little more than the other applicants. Throw in a stellar cover letter, even if the job posting isn't asking for it.
2 - Cover Letters Work
Cover letters give you the space to shine. If you don't exactly have everything that the job post is asking for, you can sell yourself through a cover letter. Let them know what you can do for them. Include why they NEED to hire you. You have 3 ways to sell yourself: a cover letter, resume, and an interview.
That resume and cover letter is the first step behind that door of opportunity.
3 - Pay Attention to Job Keywords
If a job posting is asking for 5 years of experience, a Masters, and a proficient command over C++, and you have none of the above, you're wasting your time. Sometimes jobs will be a little flexible, but if you don't meet the basic requirements of what the company needs from the candidate, why on earth do you think they'll even give you a chance? Skip the job post and try your luck with a job you know you can actually do. Stop wasting your time, and stop wasting the hiring manager's time.
4 - One Resume Isn't Good Enough
If you're a good job seeker you'll understand that'll you're going to have to edit and revisit your resumes. I have about five different resumes for different fields (customer service, sales, editing/writing, ect). And that's not even the end of it. Depending on what the job is asking for, I'll tailor my resume to what they need.
So when they see my resume, their reaction is, "this girl has EVERYTHING we are asking on the job post."
5 - Copy-And-Paste Cover Letters? They Can Tell
Don't be lazy. Write a new cover letter for every job you apply to. They can tell when you copy-and-paste a generic cover letter. Show that you care -- research the company, highlight what you can do for them, even drop a little something like "I read an article on your product from XYZ and I am sincerely impressed by the incredible growth you've experience since it was founded back in 2011!"
It'll let them know that:
1) You cared enough to research the company
2) You took your time
3) Even if your resume is a shit-show, they are more likely to reach out to you because your cover letter was bad-ass (and because chances are, other applicants didn't even bother with the cover letter).
6 - Research The Company Like Your Life Depends On It
I don't mean just reading a basic summary on the company. Read recent and new articles. Find out who the founders are and why they created their empire. Figure out what other companies they are connected to. Research the work culture and its dynamic.
This research will tell you two things:
1) Either you actually don't really want to work for this company
2) You really love them! And now you have something to add when you have your interview with the company.
7 - Learn About the Interviewing Process
All companies have a different interviewing process. And if they are an established company, chances are that with just a web search, you can come in prepared. Find out what kind of questions they ask, if you're expected to complete a test, if you'll be tested on your writing and communication skills, how many round of interviews you can expect, and for how long. Figure that out prior to the interview. Over-prepare so what was supposed to be difficult, is actually a breeze.
Also, Glassdoor is your friend for this sort of thing.
8 - Sell Yourself
Don't forget to sell yourself. If you don't believe in your talents and skills, how could you expect a potential employer to believe in you? Never lie or stretch the truth - because that will bite you in the ass.
Don't say you are proficient in xyz when you're actually at a beginner's level. But take whatever you're lacking, and turn it into something else. I once has a company ask me if I can speak Spanish, I said, "No, not fluently. However, I can communicate on a basic level to the general Spanish-speaking audience. Also, if you ever need someone to connect on a casual level to Spanish speakers, I am your girl."
See, how that works? I didn't lie. But I also didn't say, "argh sorry I suck at Spanish and I know nothing *sad face*"
Your lack in skill might be a disappointment to the company, but you can control your response and be a true salesman of your talents. And maybe you'll be a great fit for another position. You never know!
9 - Remember, You Degree Isn't Everything
A degree is nothing special anymore. Don't use it as your crutch. You should be selling yourself though your skills and experiences, not your degree. A degree in the professional world has sort of been a minimal requirement, not something that sets you apart. When you're applying you need to realize that...
1-Nearly everyone has a degree.
2-Nearly everyone has volunteered somewhere.
3-Nearly everyone as a really cool article somewhere out there.
Think BIG. Think DIFFERENT. Think about the things that the Average Jo/anne isn't going to have, but that you have.
10 - Study, Study, Study
I mentioned this in number 6. But let me expand. If you're going into an interview for an engineering job...your ass better bet you're going to have some technical questions thrown at you. If you're going for something marketing-related, you need to make sure you know your numbers, your impact on the company, and what kind of metrics you use. Go into a job interview like it's your biggest final exam. Make sure you're well-prepared for anything that might come up.