Here we are at part two of our series called "Take this job and shove it" dealing with a new and different job market. Last time we talked about returning to the job you already have and this week we focus on the transition when you decide it's time for a job change. If you're coming back to a job that might not fit your needs anymore, you can take advantage of the timing to start looking for a new job that better fits your skills and expectations.
What job is a good fit for me?
Make a list of interests, skills, professional designations, technical knowledge you have, and finally, what you would really like to do. Then begin to narrow down this list based on other criteria like how much income you need to make, and the scheduling flexibility you might need. You should now have a list of words that will also work as keywords when you begin your online searches and submitting online resumes. Use your keywords in the "search" boxes on job websites such as www.usajobs.gov. The two best ways to find employment are through the internet and networking with people you know.
Job Networking Tips
Some of the best jobs out there aren't listed in newspapers or online, but in the brains of those who work for the company already. You might get a lead before the job is ever posted. Dust off your conversational skills and put yourself in places where you can meet people.
- Know what kind of job you're looking for. Be able to state what you're looking for in 15 - 30 seconds. Be clear and concise so others can remember what you've said.
- Identify your contacts. Think beyond family and friends to people you do business with (hairdresser), those in your recreational life (the gym), your spiritual life, and members of clubs and organizations where you belong.
- Find your contacts. You now know who you'd like to talk to, so where do they hang out and be ready to talk to people anywhere.
- Realize that it's a numbers game. Not everyone will be able to help you, but eventually you'll find a number of people who will respond with something like, "I actually know someone you should talk to."
- Be a courteous networker. Don't do all the talking and don't just talk about yourself. Talk to others in a way that seeks their advice.
- Follow up with contacts and their referrals within 48 hours. If someone has given you a good lead, immediately write them a thank you note. Keep in touch with your contact and let them know how their referral panned out.
- Maintain your network. Keep in touch with your contacts even when you're not immediately looking for something. They'll be more likely to help you again and they won't feel that you've taken advantage of your relationship.
How do I apply for a job? - Skill-set transfer. You learned a unique set of skills through military service. Now determine how those skills become the ones a civilian work force needs. It may not seem obvious to you at first, so for help, try the skills translator at www.Military.com. You'll need an account to sign in.
Writing "Keyword" resumes for search engines
Inundated by resumes, employers rely on electronic methods to sort through resumes, using software to search them for specific keywords that relate to job vacancies. Key words are typically nouns, but verbs are also important. What tasks you have performed, in addition to how you performed them, is important. In the following examples, the underlined nouns are the keywords that relate to the action skill verbs in bold:
- Coordinated marketing campaigns and special events
- Managed customer database, product updates, and upgrades
- Functioned in project-management role
- Oversaw procurement, allocation, production planning, and cost analysis
Selecting Keywords - Scrutinize employment ads to see what words are repeatedly mentioned in association with a given job description.
Find three to twenty ads for similar positions at various companies.
In each one, highlight the words/phrases that seem as though they could be keywords used in an employer's search criteria.
Make a list of the keywords common to all ads.
TIP: A reasonable goal to shoot for is 25-35 keywords.
Put keywords throughout the resume but also consider front-loading it with some keywords. This will help the people who will eventually screen your resume (after the search software screening) to quickly identify your skills.
The keywords that relate to your skills and experience are the most important; job specific skills, technology skills and descriptions of technical expertise (including hardware and software in which you are proficient), job titles, certifications, company names, and names of professional organizations to which you belong are all potential keywords. The more specific a keyword is to a particular job or industry, the more heavily it will be weighed.
- Place a "Summary of Qualifications," or "Professional Profile" sprinkled with keywords at the beginning of your resume. This section presents keywords in context, fully describing the activities and accomplishments in which the keywords showcase your work. For each keyword you've identified as critical to the job, list an accomplishment that tells how you've used the skill represented by that keyword.
A good keyword resume must be specifically tailored to each job you're applying for. Do you need to create a separate resume for every job you apply for? Sort of. You should tailor sections such as your objective statement and professional profile using important keywords for each job.
- Remember your "soft skills," such as interpersonal and communications skills that relate to many types of jobs. These soft skills tend to be transferable and applicable across various jobs/careers.
- Use keywords in your cover letters, tying those words as closely as possible to the actual wording of the ad you're responding to.
NOTE: Don't put keywords on your resume that you don't have experience to back up!
Good luck with your job search and next time we'll look at actual interviewing skills and what companies are looking for in employees they want to keep!
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