1. Set out your job search parameters

Finding your next job is a lot easier if you know what you're looking for. Before you even start looking, you have to set out your job search parameters. (If you're already in the middle of your search, it's never too late to start!)

What is a must have? What can you do without? What was bad about your previous role that must change? What are you willing to sacrifice? What is nice to have but not mandatory?

Write down the answers to these questions for things like company size, team size, chain of command, salary, benefits, perks, job title, degree of responsibility, etc... This will help you profile yourself and the type of workplace that best suits you.

2. Quantify your work experience

It's great that you increased sales revenue by doing x, y, and z. How much did you increase revenue? What percentage was the increase? How much of the company's revenue were you directly responsible for? How many sales did you close?

It's wonderful that you developed a successful email marketing strategy. How many more signups did you get to the newsletter? What was the increase in email opens and link clicks for your newsletters? What was the result for the company - % increased signups, % increase in qualified leads, user growth, etc...?

Every occupation has something they can quantify. Adding numbers to your resume increases the effectiveness of your experience and gives the hiring manager something to measure you on.

3. Find a job board that specializes in your niche

Indeed, Careerbuilder, Monster, SimplyHired - they're great if you know how to take advantage of their advanced search functions. But even so, they can present you with a lot of noise and irrelevant jobs.

To mitigate this, expand your search targets to some niche job boards. There is a niche job board for many industries and professions. One of these boards can help you find targeted opportunities specifically catered to your career desires.

Some sample boards:


4. Make your thank you note memorable

When writing a thank you note, it's important to say thanks, but it's much more important to show that you listened, learned, and took something away from the conversation.

Think back to things that were said during the interview. What struck you as important? What statement or question resulted in long and meaningful conversation?

In your thank you note, point back to that moment and add on to what was an already good discussion.

Ways you can do this:

  • link to a relevant article that provides deeper insight
  • point out something that your interviewer said and expand on it with further thoughts and ideas
  • provide a unique solution or alternative point of view for a problem or project idea

This allows you to continue a conversation while staying fresh on the interviewer's mind.

5. Close your employment gaps immediately

Sometimes you lose your job without warning. It happens in corporate settings, with workforce downsizing, layoffs, etc... It may throw you off and delay the start of your job search, especially if you decide you want to spend some time recharging before you return to the workforce.

But this can also cause gaps in your experience. Luckily, there are a few ways you can get the rest you want while keeping your skills sharp and your resume up to date, and they’re all about being proactive with your professional development.

Some things you can try:

  • volunteer work for local charities or non-profits is a great way to show companies you're not just idly sitting by and waiting for a new job to land on your plate.
  • finding relevant studying opportunities and certifications can be great for both your career trajectory and as a way to show you're always looking to grow as a professional
  • freelancing on sites like Elance/oDesk and Freelancer.com is a great way to continue building your portfolio of work while making a bit of money during your job search

6. Clean up your resume formatting

Columns, skill progress graphs, pretty fonts & colors - all of these things are becoming more common as articles about "X amazing resume templates" gain popularity. But, at least for applications that you know will hit an ATS before they hit a human being, do away with these fancy formats and styles.

Your resume isn't being considered on how pretty it is. It's being considered on the quality of your work experience, the strength of the content & writing, and the readability of the document.

Remember that recruiters and hiring managers read hundreds of resumes each day. They want to get through the first glance of each one as fast as possible to narrow down their top 20-30 picks. Disrupting their flow with columns or fancy fonts & styles only works against you.

7. Use the right resume file type

When you're directly emailing your resume to someone, send it in a PDF format. PDF files feel cleaner and easier to read, and your formatting won't get messed up from one computer to the next through varying versions of Word and other word processors.

When you're applying online and sending your resume in through an applicant tracking system (Resumator, Taleo, etc...), use .doc or .docx as file types. Keep your resume clean by avoiding tables and columns, and go for simplicity over flair. This will minimize the chances that the ATS will mess up the way it processes and saves your resume.

8. Get feedback from the right source

Once you finish writing, editing, checking, and double-checking your resume, it's time to start applying, right? Not quite yet.

Find a friend or family member who is directly involved in hiring and ask them to look over your resume. Whether they work in HR, as recruiters, or they just actively interview candidates and read resumes as part of their job, these can be the best people to give your resume a review.

Don't know of anyone that fits this profile? Ask around - a friend of a friend could be just as helpful.

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