Looking for a job, it’s hard work

Many articles declare that most people find new positions through networking.  I totally agree that it is the best way to find a position but it is by no means the only way.  Just like in dating… it is best if a friend introduces you to someone but if that is the only way you find someone to date you are severely limiting your options.

If you want to get serious about the job search then you need to be deliberate.  One of the things to add in the mix is job boards.  Don’t scoff.  Any company that is a government contractor is required to post their openings.  Now keep in mind that sometimes they are only posted for 12-24 hours.  Yep, sometimes it is like concert tickets.  I worked for a company where we would post some positions for a day or less than close the posting.  We would receive 100 or more applicants in that time frame.  I would then sort and filter the applications.  If we did not find enough people I would post it again.  Is it fair, no.  But you know what “fair” is right?  Yep, the fair is something that comes to town once a year.

So, first you need to search the boards or set up a search agent on the boards to search for you daily.  I know, that is a pain in the ass.  But you know what, suck it up buttercup.  If you are like most of us you don’t have head hunters blowing up your phone with incredible offers. So then you need to go on the offensive.

Once you find a position you want to apply for you need to hustle.  Ideally you will tweak your cover letter and resume for the opening.  If you want a government job then you REALLY need to do a lot of prep work.  The OPM has a lot of hoops to jump through when applying and they screen applicants in a totally different way than the rest of the world.  I will talk about the OPM in another post, or several posts.

When you start updating your resume and cover letter be sure to read the job posting well.  Look for keywords and phrases that let you know what they want in a candidate. Let’s look at an example:

  • Monitoring and responding to program’s success metrics in your region.
  • Sponsoring internal and external business reviews covering operational performance and strategic initiatives.
  • Creating programs and processes that will allow the field sales force to target highest value regions, accounts and stores.
  • Managing in store product transitions and retailer communications.
  • Collecting business and market intelligence.
  • Incorporate field sales findings into marketing plan and product road-map.

Highlight keywords then be sure they are in your resume and cover letter.  A lot of hiring managers also like numbers.  Like an X% increase or decrease, ranked in top x%, etc…  Keep in mind that you want to be honest but remember what Samuel Langhorne Clemons is attributed as saying: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.  Here are the ones I see off the bat: monitoring, metrics, business reviews, operational performance, strategic initiatives, highest value, product transitions, market intelligence, and road map.

Do not just dump them in, take your time and work them in your resume.  If you are looking for jobs in one field you probably will not have to change much.  If you are all across the board it will be more work.  Just like dating.  If you only date one type of person then your wardrobe can be small.  But if you date athletic people, hipsters, the country club crowd, and academics then you need a bigger closet.  I see your resume as your wardrobe.  If it does not match the other person’s expectations it is much harder to get a date.

Don’t give me that “this is who I am and they need to accept me for me” crap.  So if you pick your nose from time to time would you do it while asking someone out?  Put your best-self forward.  Don’t want to do it, fine.  But don’t get mad when a company doesn’t want to play by your rules.  Yes, some companies won’t hire you if you don’t wear a suit to an interview.  But I bet you there are just as many companies who wouldn’t hire someone in a dark pinstripe suit with a tie in a windsor knot who is applying for a tech or creative job.  Bunch of bigots :)

OK, you have done all that.  Now let at least one other person read it for typos.  Yes, many companies will screen out people with any typos on their resume or in their cover letter.  Remember, most companies look for reasons to screen you out, not to pull you in.  Of course those companies are idiots but you deal with what you get.  Another good trick is to read everything backwards to make sure nothing is misspelled.  Do NOT trust spell check!  Remember, the only difference between assess and asses is whether or not you get an interview.

The Man

Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes things happen because you’re stupid and you make bad decisions.