Are your studies edging to an end and you’re worrying how to tackle the big, bad job hunt? Looking for a new gig but not hearing back from anyone? Finding work that really works for you is never easy, but in today’s job market, it seems tougher than ever. Nothing will replace patience and perseverance, but these five tips are sure to help you get that job:
Rock up in person. Yep, it can be scary. Yep, you might not score face time with the hiring manager. Yep, you might hear a few ‘Nos’. But you know what else? You’re putting a face to your CV, and making your application stand out from the squillions of emails the HR manager gets every day. And all you need is one lucky break where you get five minutes with the right person to say ‘Hi’ so that you’re first in mind when it comes to a vacancy. The bottom line: being pro-active never reflects badly on you, and it’s something you can be sure nine out of 10 applicants aren’t doing.
Kick boring CVs to the curb. Yes, your resume needs to be legible and easy to follow, but that doesn’t need mean it has to be boring. Keep the key info clear and on the first page (your latest place of employment, important personal info, a quick summary of your education), but don’t just default to Times New Roman font and a bland Word doc. Why not ‘brand’ your CV: use a colour, font or design that’s consistent with the message you’re trying to convey? Think about the visual impact your CV has when an HR manager first opens it. No, you don’t need to be a professional designer, but you can bring in easy elements like unusual (but still readable!) fonts, graphic lines and text boxes to break up a page. One or two professional but popping colours throughout won’t hurt, either. Above all, make sure the first page of your CV is exciting and fresh – it’ll ensure the hiring manager keeps on reading. And always send your CV as a PDF file, so that your formatting and content doesn’t distort over email.
Pick up the damn phone. Seriously. Stop hiding behind your computer, steel your ovaries and give the HR manager a cold call. Ask her about the vacancy you’re interested in; find out if she’s received your CV via email; enquire if you can swing by and drop off a printed resume to make her life easier; learn her name. Heck, ask if she’s got 15 minutes for you to treat her to coffee so you can introduce yourself! There’s no substitute for personal face time, and you’re showing initiative, drive and courage for doing more than just firing off a standard email. What’s the worst that could happen… she says no? You’ll get over it. You’ll learn that hearing ‘No’ isn’t as scary as it seems, and you’ll move on to your next lead. But the prospect that you could make a fab first impression and score a chance to meet in person is well worth it. You might even glean info that you couldn’t from the internet: new positions not yet advertised, key requirements you should address in your CV, and a chance to add a hiring manager to your network.
A little hustle never hurt nobody. In today’s digital world, you’ve got no excuse for not googling the heck out of the company and key personnel. Know their backgrounds, experience, areas of expertise, likes and dislikes, and be able to talk about the company you’re going for. Be creative: drop off a bottle of bubbly with your CV attached to make sure your name is remembered and your resume gets read; think of an attention-grabbing subject line for your application email, so it stands out in the HR manager’s inbox; ask around your network for anyone who might know someone at the place you’re applying to – can they put in a good word for you, or offer you some advice?
One size does not fit all. It may seem like a schlepp, but firing off the exact same CV to a bunch of different companies and vacancies can be a complete waste of time (and make a bad impression). Rather, send fewer applications but make each one count. Tailor your resume to fit the company and role you’re applying to: switch up the wording and emphasis on your characteristics, experience and education to highlight the things that connect with that particular vacancy and company ID. Instead of the same old ‘I’m hard-working, passionate’ blah blah blah, write something fresh and relevant. Does the company emphasise teamwork? Talk about how your people skills will be an asset. Is the staff line-up all women? Fire up your feminism rhetoric and why you’re passionate about women in the workplace. Does the business have a brand colour? Adopt this in your CV to create instant synergy. You get the drift. Which means you shouldn’t be sending off any applications without researching the company and role first.
Now go get that job!
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