Career Advancement Career Portfolio Current Issue General Knowledge

Three Areas of Preparation for Your Job Search

From time to time, it makes good sense to evaluate oneself personally and professionally. We should ask ourselves questions with the expectation of an employer like;

1. “Am I someone people want to hire?”

2. “What is so great about me that people would want?”

3. “When I apply for a job or go for an interview, do I look and sound like most of the candidates who came?”

Let’s not get depressed about whether people want us or not. This is just self evaluation. We need to know who we are from time to time. A young jobseeker in his or her twenties will not be the same person in their thirties, forties and fifties. People do change. Their priorities change but what doesn’t change sometimes are methods and habits. Sometimes these are accumulated habits and practices.

If you’ve been feeling that there have been no improvements and results in your job search, then perhaps it’s time to look inside and see what more you could do for yourself. Remember, employers don’t have to change. Employees do.

We would like to take you through 3 vital areas of preparation and this is to help you get further clarity on where you might be standing in your career. Consider this as the most important homework you may do.

1. Do a Self Assessment

Before we start job hunting, we do need to take heed of our own condition and willingness. Where are you now? What is working for you and what isn’t ? For example, have you been willing to relocate or are you able to? Are you a single parent or you have elderly parents you need to take care of? Are there certain jobs you can do well, but qualifications are holding you back? There can be many different situations and suffice to say, there’s always something holding one back from their true potential at different points in one’s life.

We all want new beginnings. A new job will have you buying new sets of clothing (a change in packaging), a fresh new hairstyle and perhaps even updating that old resume. But what about the things that are still the same, like the way of thinking, problem solving, approaches in communication, lifestyle, habits and things along those lines. We say this because people can change for progress in their career. For example, a student counsellor can develop that special and long-suffering patience with students when she had much less patience before. That marketing executive can listen, learn and improve his communication skills instead of murmuring about whatever that’s holding him back.

So ask yourself the question, “What is so great about me that people would want?” Or to put this in another way, “What do I have to offer the marketplace?”

To help you understand, you could do a self-appraisal of yourself in the same way that it is done in big companies. The best person to do that is you because only you know the deepest things about yourself. Here are three simple areas to consider.

  • Assessment of your goals.
  • Assessment of your skills.
  • Areas where you can improve.

a) Assessment of your goals.

  • What is it that you want in the job?
  • What do you want to accomplish and add to your resume?
  • Does your job allow you to acquire new skills and improve yourself?
  • What do you want to improve where you can get that recognition or advancement?

b) Assessment of your skills.

  • What are your skills that make you good at what you do?
  • Can you fire up more of your skills to make yourself more valuable?

Today’s workplace is demanding more for less. It’s vital to earmark your skills and bring them in so that you could contribute more. Gone are the days of the old thinking when people kept knowledge to themselves. The job description and demands have become more complex across the board in this new digital economy/workspace.

c) Areas where you can improve.

  • There are many skills training opportunities that can help you add to your skillset. Don’t wait for your company to do this for you (This was the old thinking). Take your future into your own hands and do it yourself.
  • Identify skill sets that can help you do better and contribute more.

2. How Do You Brand Yourself?

Think of yourself as a product. A brand. A package of core skills. Not just another candidate that sent in the same generic application or turned up for the interview. Be different and with the value that people want. Try not to look and sound like everyone else but create a special presence about yourself especially in the way of communication and problem solving. Be the person they would want to hire. Here are some tips.

a) Establish that personal brand – This can be in the form of a personal image brand or logo with a capability statement. I will tell employers of your work ethic, testimonials and what it’s like to work with you from the viewpoint of co-workers and customers. Testimonials given about you can be incorporated into this section. 

b) Establish your resume, cover letter and online profile (example: LinkedIn) –  This is to have a uniform feel and information. This uniformity shows the reader that you’re focused and you know what to do. This is important because if your personal information is inconsistent, it just shows that you’re all over the place. The focus is lost and focus is the key here. Your task is to create that special focus on yourself so that you don’t look like everyone else.

3. Applying Online but Not Targeting or Networking

If you see a job posted online, do you worry about the following?

a) You’re afraid you might be late for not being on top of the list?

b) You’re afraid that hundreds of other applications will get yours swamped out or lost.

Try this instead. It’s a lot more work each time, but writing targeted and customized applications with targeted resumes could make the difference. Networking and relationships is another. Try sending in applications to the person who is actually in charge by online and in hard copy. It seems unusual, but this is what networking relationships are about, especially via LinkedIn. Your relationships can start much earlier than the job post. For example you saw a job post six months ago in a company you want to work for. You didn’t apply then but now, six months down the road, the same job post appears again. This simply means that the person who was there isn’t there anymore and perhaps wasn’t suitable for the role. Finding out who the hiring manager is and working out a relationship with him could help you land that job. To conclude this point, customize and target your application to get in front of the right people.

For further insight, please read our short article “Creating Value-Job Hunting Preparations You Can Do Now” and “Resumes of Recognition Part 1 & 2”.

In conclusion, you may focus on the quality and value of the application itself. The language you use in the cover letter to sell yourself. The look and feel of your content and the targeted approach but before all this, know and establish your goals and focus.