Top 20 Your Job Hunting Checklist
With an average career of between 40 and 50 years and large percentage of your waking time spent at work, don’t waste time unless you are working in the perfect job. Although the job hunting process may seem intimidating, use the following job hunting checklist to help you achieve a fantastic career that compliments your amazing life.
- Competing with 60-250 Applicants for 1 Job
On average corporate job posting receive 60 to 250 applicants. In China it is not unusual for some roles to have more than 10,000 applicants. Make sure you really want this position, because if you don’t it is unlikely you will do enough to be short-listed for an interview. If you can’t be bothered tailoring your application and putting in that extra energy then maybe skip applying for that job.
- Update Your LinkedIn Profile
For many recruiters, particularly executive, professional or white-collar roles, if you aren’t on LinkedIn you don’t exist. Creating a fantastic profile and a strong online presence will build your professional credibility and help you secure your next job. Once you have updated your LinkedIn page and packed it with relevant keywords, not only will you be surprised how much attention your profile will get but you can also see who has viewed it. Remember to: (1) Professional profile photo (preferably a headshot with a simple background); (2) Engaging headline (not just your current job title); (3) Features an concise and yet engaging personal summary; (3) Ensure all your information is up-to-date (includes my most recent work history); (4) Highlights my career achievements and accomplishments; (5) Keywords are optimized; (6) Education and professional certifications are included; (7) You feature a comprehensive list of my skills; (8) Seek our testimonials and recommendations from current and former colleagues and supervisors; (9) Your profile is free of spelling or grammatical errors; (10) Is genuine and accurate; and (11) Is reviewed and even updated every week so that it appears active in talent searches by recruiters.
- You Have 5-7 Seconds to get Noticed
Recruiters spend on average 5-7 seconds scanning your resume before deciding if they will read it. Some resumes will never be read because they are rejected by the recruitment software for not having enough experience, skills or keywords that are relevant to the role. Make sure your resume is as user-friendly as possible. Include relevant experience and keep it to 1-3 pages.
- Interview Preparation Checklist
Your résumé was impressive enough to secure you an interview, however now you need be just as impressive face to face. Be prepared as you have a limited amount of time and only get one chance to impress! (1) Make sure you confirm all job and interview details and receive a job description and as much background material as possible in advance. (2) You now need to think as if you have the job and are presenting ‘what’ your objectives might be and ‘how’ you might go about delivering results. Walk in prepared to explain exactly how you would undertake the role if you were given the opportunity; (3) Recruiters will be flattered if you show passion for their company and have done your research; (4) Have answers to the most common interview questions (see separate news item); (5) Have your own questions ready as it is a 2-way conversation and you want to also decide whether you want the job; (6) Arrive on time, turn off your technology and polish your shoes (plus of course well overall well presented), have a firm handshake, walk confidently, smile, look the recruiter in the eyes, show your personality, don’t rush to answer questions or interrupt; (7) At the end of the interview make sure you ask about next steps, likely timing, whether reference checking will be undertaken and most importantly whether they see you being the right fit for the role; (8) After the interview send a short email thanking the Recruiter for their time and expressing your enthusiasm for the role; which you should follow-up within a reasonable time-frame with a phone call; (9) Job offers are often made ‘subject to reference checks’ so ensure you have your referees already prepared and their details ready in both paper format (in case you are asked in the interview) and ready to email; and (10) If you are un-successful ask for feedback and the reasons for their decision and if successful ask to meet again with your immediate manager for you to take the time to make sure the role is right for you and possibly negotiate (e.g. salary, performance review timing, annual leave days, work from home flexibility, etc.).
- Knowing Someone Inside
Look for connections through LinkedIn. Put out a call for help on your Facebook pages for someone who knows someone. Being endorsed for the role before you even apply or are interviewed is a great way of standing out from the crowd. Increasingly companies are relying and even incentivizing their staff for referrals. Companies want to hire people who “get it” and who’ll click with the current staff. Only 7% of job applicants get an employee referral, yet referrals account for 40% of all hires! Luckily, asking for a referral is easier than you think.
- Accomplishments… not simply Attendance at work!
Communicate what you have achieved and how a prospective employer will benefit from employing you. Highlight what you have achieved, not simply stating your responsibilities. You may need to “think outside the box” to identify tangible results of your skills and experience. You might highlight sales results, budget achievements, internal promotions, company awards, client testimonials, number of rapports and other similar achievements that stand you apart and take the imagination out of why a hirer should not offer you the role. Prospective employers can now see how your skills can benefit them much more easily.
- Actively Looking for Work – Don’t Be Shy!
There’s no shame in being out of work so let everyone know that you are looking for a job, including “friends” on Facebook and professional contacts in your industry. Remembers to update your CareerController and LinkedIn status to indicate you are actively looking for work.
- Research… Research… Research…
Do your homework thoroughly about yourself, the marketplace and industries, target employers, roles and even learn all you can about who you are addressing your resume to. Ideally for every job you apply you spend at least two hours of research. If you are short-listed for an interview, make your research even more thorough. Start with the organization website and any press – good and bad – before you deep dive into identifying via LinkedIn or Facebook someone who works or has worked at the organization (for major corporates anyway). Try to understand what the organisation is trying to achieve and the kind of talent they are trying to attract.
- Attitude & Personality
Try to convey confidence and mirror the personality of recruiters in an interview. Whilst making sure you don’t appear arrogant, convey your confidence in being one of the best candidates for the role and enthusiasm for the position. Seek out family or friends to practice your elevator speech and interview skills. The more you practice how you convey your skills and values the more confident and articulate you will be in the interview where it counts.
- Hiring Process Drags On… and on!
It takes about 40 to 60 days on average to fill a job opening. Rather than rush to send off your application it is better to take the time to get your application right.
- Resume Keywords
Keywords are critical to not only capture the attention of recruiters but to also ensure recruitment technology doesn’t filter out your resume before they even see it. Try to mirror the language and also keywords featured in the job ad.
- List of Companies Where You Want to Work
Rather than wait for a Job Ad, research company information and create a list of companies to target. Generally all the information you require is on the web or just one phone call away. Once you have a list of dream employers it is time to approach them to ensure your get noticed. Many larger corporates will even let you register your interest in working for them directly on their website.
- Who Do You Know?
Look back over your job history and identify the relationships that may assist you to secure a new role. Very few job candidates collect reference letters from previous employers however it is definitely a worthwhile exercise. Even if you can get an endorsement from past managers on your LinkedIn profile.
- Practice Your Interview Skills
Interviewing is often the most stressful part of a job search. You can prepare just as you would for any test. Devote your energy to preparing to answer the questions recruiters are likely to ask. Remember to prepare which questions you should ask to gain the respect of your interviewer and establish a good rapport.
- Job Offer – Accept or Decline?
If you are fortunate to be offered a role, take the time to carefully evaluate the offer so you are making a well-considered decision as to accept, reject or negotiate. Don’t be afraid to request a coffee or catch-up with prospective manager to better understand their personality, management style, reason for the vacancy and opportunities for promotion. Remember most people cite their relationship with their immediate manager as the main reason for resigning a role, so now is the time assess your professional compatibility. Most candidates over time will have a choice of jobs, so don’t waste time (which you don’t get back) by accepting the wrong job offer.
- Compete to Win
Be proactive and go the ‘extra mile’ to investigate prospective employers and understand their hiring needs. Put in the extra time to prepare for and follow-up every job application. If you are really serious about getting work fast, invest in job search, resume writing, and interview coaching resources contained here.
- Rejection is one step closer to Acceptance
If you are offered every role you apply for you should probably increase your salary expectations or seek more senior roles. Be prepared for rejection, but make sure you learn and adapt through the job hunting process. Use a sales mentality that you need to be rejected 9 times in 10 (or 49 times in 50) in order to reach that elusive sale. You only need one job, so be persistence when facing rejection as it brings you one step closer to being offered your new dream job. One important point lost on most candidates, is often they are rejected for a role due to cultural fit, lacking skills and other factors that would mean that even if you were offered the role you may not have enjoyed it or wouldn’t have been successful as maybe you imagined. Sometimes you should be grateful for that rejection letter!
- Deep Dive on Your Career
Before you start shooting off job applications and madly networking, draw up a long and unfiltered list of your achievements, training course you have attended, contacts and even past roles (for those in the workforce along time). List every skill you possess, industries where you have work experience and computer system you have worked with. Try to gather several pages of material before undertaking to write or updated your resume.
- Test Your Resume
It is easy to convince yourself you have perfected your resume until you go to Pinterest and see the efforts some people go to present and write their resume. Start with friends and family who you trust to be blunt in their feedback. As you perfect your CV expand your resume testing to your professional network. Even consider trying different versions, whether it be style or pitching yourself for different types of roles, until you settle on the resume that best represents your brand and it most likely to secure you an interview. Remember to ask for a summary rather than an opinion. Don't ask "What do you think of my resume?", but rather "How does my resume distinguish me from other candidates?" If you are not pleased with the feedback go back to the drawing board.
- Interview Preparation
Research the company before you go for the interview, dress appropriately, practice answering and asking interview questions, and make a concerted effort to impress the interviewer with your skills, experience, confidence, and expertise. The more prepared you are, the less stressful it will be.
Sources (Updated July 2020):