As the economy remains in a fragile state, and the unemployment rate continues to linger around 10 percent, job seekers need to transform themselves into knowledgeable, savvy individuals who stand out from the competition in the job market.
But the majority of today's unemployed are between ages 40 and 50, and aren't as savvy as they need to be when it comes to the job search process. There also are thousands of college-age students who aren't as knowledgeable as they should be on job hunting and the interview process. How do these two groups of individuals, as well as the rest of the nation's unemployed, get up to speed and develop the skills required to land a job?
Job hunting, like many careers themselves, requires a collection of skills which when properly utilized, can help you stand out in a crowd of eager job applicants. If you don't know how to communicate your strengths and define your identity in relation to the prospective company or position you're pursuing, chances are that position will be taken by someone else who can, no matter how great your resume might be.
Today, most job seekers turn to the Internet to begin their job search and prepare for potential interviews. In response to a call for additional interview and job training from the growing number of unemployed Americans, there is now a host of Websites that focus on job search advice, resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, and the basics of using the Internet for professional networking. Some sites further specialize and offer convenient, video-based learning and/or live one-on-one career coaching.
As a new medium, video-based training for job seekers has many benefits. First, video-based learning simplifies the job search process for the weary job seeker and provides a refreshing change from text-heavy resources. Second, it teaches job seekers to introspectively evaluate themselves, understand their strengths, and enhance their uniqueness. Third, video-based learning is a cost-effective resource that can have long-lasting results because job seekers can revisit the video as frequently as they wish.
As the president and founder of GoSavant.com, a new career-training marketplace that offers video-based learning, live career coaching, and extensive job resources, I would like to share some effective strategies for job seekers on networking as well as some tips on how to make an impact on recruiters and interviewers.
Networking is about meeting people in your field of interest and finding out more about the kinds of jobs they hold. In building new relationships with your peers, you are increasing your odds of finding jobs that may not necessarily be listed online. To get started:
- Set a goal to begin networking with people you already know, and talk to them about your career aspirations. Be open to listening to their experiences and welcome their advice.
- Rather than directly asking for a job, ask whether they know of any companies or organizations doing the type of work that interests you, and if they know anyone in a similar area of work who would be willing to talk with you.
- Be sure to research the fields you're interested in so you can avoid asking questions for which you can find answers elsewhere, especially on the Internet.
Leaving a lasting impact on recruiters and interviewers:
Think of your resume as a marketing tool but be prepared to answer questions, display your strengths, and summarize your skills, experience, and goals. In addition, be sure to:
- Create and set to memory an introductory script about yourself, also known as an 'elevator speech.' You also can use this at career fairs and networking events.
- Know your career goals and be ready to communicate them. Practice your delivery so you sound confident and self-assured.
- Quantify your accomplishments and use action verbs such as "achieved," "created," "developed," "demonstrated," and "delivered."
- Know your resume inside and out. Have interesting stories and examples of leadership, conflict resolution, project management, and time management for each relevant position listed on your resume. Stories increase the chance that interviewers will remember you when comparing you with other candidates.
- Think of what transferable skills you have obtained in your work experiences, and highlight those most applicable to the position for which you are applying.
- Specify leadership and project management skills, and highlight impressive performances of other team members.
- Remember, your job interview is about how you can be an asset to the company. Tailor your answers such that it is apparent what you bring to the table.
- First impressions are critical. Make sure you dress appropriately, sit up straight, smile to reflect a positive attitude, and make appropriate eye contact.
- Make sure you spell out your goals when they ask you why you are interested in the position. Remember that employers seek people with motivation, direction, and purpose.
- Have questions ready for the interviewer as well. Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered by a mere "yes" or "no," and show you have done research on the company.
While the competition in the job market is tough, job seekers should remember there always is turnover, and people are still being hired every day. With advances in technology, the Internet has made it easier to obtain the valuable skills and knowledge required to succeed in today's competitive job market. The chances of landing a job can be significantly amplified if applicants master the skills to effectively market themselves and make the time to prepare with online training programs, coaching services, and the wealth of other resources available to them with the simple click of a mouse.
Nitin Vernekar is president and founder of GoSavant.