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Six job search tips that work

If you just graduated, will graduate soon, or will eventually graduate, it’s time to get going on your job search.

It may be summer, but that actually can be a good time to get someone’s attention.

It’s never too early or too late to start your job search, so begin now. It’s a lot of work but you’ll learn about yourself and when you score a great job it will boost your confidence.

Be prepared to put in a lot of time. You may have heard that getting a job is a full time job. It’s true. Maybe the job search process is just getting you used to the real thing.

Here are some job search tips that work:

1. Know the value you bring an employer. I hate to say it, but the employer really doesn’t care that you need a job. He wants to know what you can do for him. Therefore it’s critical that you know what your skills are and how these skills will be useful to this particular company.

2. Relate your skills/experience to each job opening. Be able to tailor your skills and experience to a particular job. Don’t expect the employer to do that. You need to bridge any gap in his understanding about how, say, your job as a waitress relates to the customer service position you’re applying for. And it does relate. As a waitress you’ve had to deal with lots of different people. Your job was to make them happy. If you did a good job and can explain some difficult situations you resolved - I’d consider you for a customer service position! This is called a transferable skill. Don’t forget them.

3. Research every company you apply to. Research the larger industry as well. For example, if you’re interested in Lockheed Martin know who its competitors are. Is it Ball Aerospace, Boeing? What are Lockheed’s major markets, products, customers? Is it considered an innovative company relative to its competitors? Being armed with more than basic information about the company you’re interviewing will allow you to ask smart questions during your interview. This is the kind of employee I want to have working for me.

4. Be aware of networking opportunities. This is so important. The vast majority of jobs are filled by networking with others – strangers, friends, neighbors, relatives. Take your professors to coffee. Ask your neighbor’s cousin if he has any connections at that company you’re interested in. Go to job fairs – but make sure you’re prepared before you step up to the booth. Your goal should be to network with someone every week. Believe me, it will pay off.

5. Stay confident. The results of negative self-talk are crippling, especially in a job search. When you’re busy beating yourself up about not getting a job, you can’t be fully present in an interview; you can’t think straight, and you can’t respond well to questions. Your negativity will also show in your body language. One way to build and maintain your confidence is to practice. Practice answering questions.  Practice explaining what you offer the company.

6. Make a good first impression. The easiest way to do this is to dress professionally, follow the points made above, and do three simple, but critical things. In my experience these three points will raise you above the other job seekers…and they are so easy:
a. Smile
b. Firm hand shake
c. Good eye contact

In case you didn’t notice, the common denominator in all of the above tips is: prepare. It will definitely pay off.

The job market is better than it was a few years ago but is still very competitive. So you must have a marketing perspective in your job search. That means always look at things from the employer’s point of view. Ask yourself “How can my background and skills help make this employer’s business more successful?”

With this attitude you’ll be way ahead of the competition and be much more likely to hear the two sweetest words for any job candidate: “You’re hired.”

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Gale Dunlap

Gale Dunlap is President of Standout Strategies, a company that helps business owners and job seekers market themselves and their businesses more effectively. Her career has included management consulting and operating management. in marketing strategy and management training for companies such as Amoco, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, the Kauffman Foundation, and many start-ups and nonprofits. For more detail visit www.standout-strategies.com, call 303-250-8039 and connect with Gale on LinkedIn

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