When researching the most effective practices on conducting a job search, job seekers can get a lot of mixed messages on what to do (or what not to do) – depending on the who they talk to. HR and Recruiting professionals can be a great source of information, given their roles in the recruitment and selection process.
This article is comprised of job search tips from 50 different HR and Recruiting members of Minnesota Recruiters.
1. Use Google to find email addresses of target companies. Enter “*@domainname.higherleveldomain” For example, if looking for an email address at Pearson search “*@pearson.com”, which will give you several examples of their email format. From there you can fill in the target’s name.
2. Don’t assume the jobs posted online are the only positions available. Recruiters often close their postings online before jobs are filled. You must network and market yourself!
3. If you know any recruiters or managers who regularly interview prospective new employees, ask them to give you a mock interview and take their feedback on your résumé and your interview style. This will improve your confidence and performance in real interview situations.
4. Listen to opportunities even when you are happy in your position. A new opportunity may take you to an even better place, personally and professionally.
5. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone! If you let your thumbs do the talking, you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the inbox and a lose out on an opportunity.
RESEARCH AND PREP
6. Learn as much as you can about the interviewer before the interview, and prepare questions before the meeting.
7. Research the company prior to interviewing, in order to ask informed questions of your interviewer. Focus on questions that are pertinent to the position you are considering.
8. Do not only have answers prepared for the great things about yourself, but be prepared to answer the tough questions such as, “Describe the worst experience you have had with a customer? How did you handle it & what was the outcome?”
9. Never underestimate the power of preparing for an interview, and be armed with examples to showcase your skills. With more companies using phone screens and video conferencing for interviews, I would also suggest practicing in front of your webcam or over the phone with a friend.
10. Read the job description, not just the title before you apply to a job!
ONLINE JOB SEARCH
11. Spend a day registering and applying to all jobs of interest to you on job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and niche job boards such as CollegeRecruiter.com and then don’t go back to them unless you receive an emailed job match alert (some sites call them agents) with a job which matches your interests. Starting on day two, network, network, network.
12. Search and apply for jobs online using all of the traditional methods like Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed.com, DICE, etc., and establish automated job notifications utilizing the online career sites for the companies you are interested in and register your profile with them. Write down the job numbers and go find anyone you can on LinkedIn (preferably a recruiter or HR representative) and establish a dialogue with them. Tell them your story and why you think you would be good for the job, and reference the job number. Ask them who you can send the resume directly to for consideration, and tell them you will also submit your profile online. Establishing this direct connection with the company and/or its recruiting staff may help you make inroads into the company or, at the very least, will establish a connection for you who can help you find a job and refer you to others in their network!
13. Google Yourself. Put positive and branded professional content under your name and Google yourself everyday.
14. Develop an elevator pitch to use at career fairs or networking events.
15. Look at you email address and ask yourself if that email represents a good business image of yourself. Emails like: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com are probably not images a hiring manager would like to see in a future employee they expect to be hard-working and dedicated. If you have a personalised email address, I encourage you to get a new account for your job search needs that will include your name to keep that image at a professional level.
16. Update (or create) your Linked In profile and ensure it reflects you, your personality and your experience.
17. Ask yourself “What would I do for a job/career if money were no object and why?”. If you can answer this about yourself, you can and should be able to go forward with a foundation to review and assess any new opportunities that come your way.
18. Build your personal brand and develop your social network.
19. When preparing your resume for submission, create a section following your professional summary that is titled “Experience Highlights”. Craft four to five bullet points that summarize your expertise as it relates to the specific position. Many organizations now use technology to sort through keywords and you should tailor your resume each time to accurately reflect your fit with the role. Be sure to include what you personally did and the result.
20. If you really want to impress a recruiter, tailor your resume to fit the job description of the job you are applying to. Don’t rely on a cookie-cutter resume to pique the interest of the recruiter. Pick out some main themes in the job description and use similar words or phrases when writing your career objective and when describing your work history.
21. Use keywords from the job description in your resume. For example if the job description lists working in a Call Center Environment make sure you have “Call Center Environment” in your resume….but make sure you actually have that experience before you add it in your resume.
22. Make sure your resume is as clean as possible. Do not get fancy with borders, fonts, etc Once the resume enters our resume database it will scramble and if I can’t read it I move on to the next one.
23. Don’t make your resume so short that you cut out companies that might help you connect with interviewers or cut skills that may assist you to getting a position. Flip side, don’t make it overly in-depth that no one can tell what you are good at.
24. I am amazed that in this day and age people still submit their resumes without using spell check. Not only should everyone use spell check (can be set up to automatically spell check when you click on send), but you should definitely read and re-read your cover letter prior to hitting send. There is nothing worse than telling a company you are applying for a position that they don’t even have available (oops, forgot to change the title on the cover letter from the previous application!) This is such a small thing that translates into you even getting an interview – highly recommend!
25. Put a phone number on your resume that you will actually be able to answer and’/or will consistently check messages on. Many people put a personal cell phone or home phone number on their resume, however use a company cell phone all day and never check messages on the other numbers. If traveling, it could be days before you know a recruiter has even called, and can miss that opportunity all together!
26. Make sure to include a cover letter which will allow you to incorporate how your KSA’s (knowledge, skills, and abilities) along with your experience on your resume correlates to the position you are applying for. Depending on the type position you are applying for try to show your personality in your cover letter…personally I like to see a little humor in a cover letter as it allows me to believe the candidate will fit into our culture. Someone with a sense of humor can usually let stress roll of his/her back and continue working through difficult situations.
27. As a recruiter for a call center I see a lot of resumes with inappropriate handles for emails. Take the time to get a free email address with your name and use it only for resumes or networking needs. Another thing to keep in mind is caller tunes on your cell phone. If your cell phone has an inappropriate song as a caller tune for the caller to hear, you may want to change it to a standard ring tone, or at the very least something more professional.
28. Be sure that employment history and contact information is current. It is ok to show that you are currently unemployed. Revise your resume to highlight skills that are applicable to each specific job you apply for so that it is easy to find the applicable experience.
29. Don’t be the only one to proofread your resume! You’ve read it a billion times over, so of course you’re not going to see the same mistake that’s been there for the last 50+ times you’ve submitted it. Find someone else, anyone else, to go over it. That person will be much more apt to find typos, missing words, etc. and it will definitely pay off in the long run to recruiters and hiring managers alike.
30. In our ever-changing economy, there is more unemployment than ever before. Many people have found themselves out of work for six-months, one year, or more as a stay-at-home parent who are looking to re-enter the workforce. Many times, these people become candidates in our applicant tracking systems who have obvious and unexplained employment gaps on their resumes.
In Corporate America where we see hundreds of resumes a day, these candidates may not stand a chance. Although some recruiters may disagree, some of the best advice comes from better utilizing your cover letter (yes, I read them!) and resume to depict a little bit more of your life story. Job seekers can easily dedicate a section of their resume to where this mystery time has been spent. Have you been a home manager (stay-at-home parent)? Have you been actively pursuing work (an avid job seeker)? Have you been serving others and gaining additional skills (volunteer)? Or have you simply gone back to school? As recruiters, we want to know these things!! Job seekers can also write a sentence or two in their cover letter to explain their situation. If I don’t understand why someone is applying for a specific job, I often times scroll back up to the cover letter; seeking clarification. These small tweaks may not guarantee an interview or a job, but it will ensure more understanding and could result in a better sell from recruiter to hiring manager.
Moral of the story: As recruiters, we don’t need your biography, but we do want to know why you haven’t been working. Find a succinct way to tell us!
31. If you are networking and sending a cold email, please do your research and reach out to the correct person for the role. Please do not reach out to 20 people at once with the same email. They will all end up in the recruiters inbox and she will not be happy.
32. LinkedIn Recruiters love to connect with people on LinkedIn. However, if someone I don’t know asks to connect with me and then within 5 minutes, sends me a request to find a job at my company for them, it leaves a bad impression. Connect with me, tell me about yourself and find out some information about me and I will be more than glad to help you out.
33. Network, network, network! It’s important to let everyone you know be aware that you are seeking a new job. Your network will help you make connections that you would not have imagined otherwise.
34. Of course, it is better to have a target list of companies, and have your resume in the company’s system BEFORE the opening occurs. It is even better is to have network contacts inside the organization who can help.
TIP – However, we all know that many opportunities come to potential applicants via job boards. For these posted positions, apply within the first 24 – 48 hours of the posting. The recruiter spends more time on the early resumes, and often hiring managers put the pressure on the recruiter (“Did we get any good candidates over the weekend?”). It is estimated that 60 -75% of successful candidates (those that got the job) applied within the first 24 hours of the job post. Delay can hurt you.
35. Leverage your personal network, let friends and family know that you are looking for a job, in a competitive job market this can open new opportunities for you!
36. Don’t be shy. A lot of job seekers are either ashamed that they are unemployed or don’t want to let people know they are looking for a job. Let it be known and get the word out there. Networking is one of the most important aspects of searching for a job, getting out there and meeting with people, attending events can only benefit you as a job seeker.
37. Network, network, network! I wasn’t sure how I was going to get a foot into my field, human resources, and graduation was quickly approaching. Through a series of highly unlikely events, set in motion by networking, I landed a perfect job to get started in HR. Go to conferences. Attend seminars. Listen to webinars and podcasts. Immerse yourself in your field of choice, paid or unpaid, and doors will open for you to land that stellar job. Good luck!
38. I strongly encourage job seekers to send out a “message blast” to all their contacts on LinkedIn! I have them include some information about the type of position they are looking for and add their LinkedIn Link to their profile. I also have them to ask their contacts to forward their information to their LinkedIn contacts in other industries. I know this works… when my HR position was eliminated, I sent out a “blast” to all my contacts and within 1 hour, I had 4 messages about positions in organizations that had not yet posted their open position. I am currently working in one of those “un-posted” positions! LinkedIn is a powerful tool in the job search process!
39. Network and network wisely! The single most job opportunities I see in my non-metro MN location is through a Linux Users Group, an IT focused networking group who all share a common interest. Comparatively, if the job seeker is looking for a Human Resources position, join your local SHRM chapter. If the interviewer knows your name before he sees your resume, you have a competitive advantage!
40. During an interview, the #1 thing hiring managers are looking for in candidates (whether they realize out or not): passion for the job they are being interviewed for, i.e., the occupation and/or industry. Everyone likes to work with someone who loves what they do!
41. For Phone interviews, remember to always close. If you want the job, tell them “you want the job”. Try to ask a couple of key questions…what the “next steps” are for the in-person interview, decision-making timelines and possibly who the decision maker is. And, remember to send a “thank you” email.
42. Have prepared, well thought out, meaningful questions to ask at every stage of the interview. It demonstrates your research capabilities, your preparedness and engagement.
43. FIrst impression go a long way when interviewing. Always show up 5 minutes early, but not 30 minutes! Always give a firm hand shake and greet with a smile. And do your research on the company prior to your interview. This shows your interest in the company. Last but not least, always follow-up with a thank you email.
44. Appearance counts in interviews…lose the gray hair before interviewing. Now is not the time to take a stand regarding “going natural” with your gray hair. It can make you look 10 years older, and though age discrimination is prohibited in employment, you don’t want to give the interviewers any cause to surmise that, if hired, you may be with them for only a few years.
45. Always be prepared to ask questions at the end of the interview, even if you feel you know the company/position. It can even be about the company history, culture, something that you read about the company online, anything, but do not ever say you don’t have any questions. The impression that this leaves with a recruiter is that you are not interested in the role they just spent time interviewing you for.
46. Phone interviews with recruiters are often a candidates first step in the door, learn the fine line between providing too much information during this often short phone screen vs. not providing enough context; be able to hold an engaging conversation and demonstrate your passion. The recruiter you speak with is your potential gateway to the hiring manager, take the time to prepare.
47. If there is a job that you are REALLY interested in, make some phone calls once you have submitted your application. Do some follow-up! Contact talent acquisition/recruiters at that company, confirm they received your application, etc., find someone you know on LinkedIn who works at that company to help you make the right connection. Don’t let your resume/application be overlooked.
48. The best piece of advice I can give to job seekers is the mindful discipline to follow-up with those with whom you’ve met along your job search journey. Gone are the days of handwritten thank you notes, but not their lasting impact and impression!
49. Follow-up and follow-through are key components of any successful job seekers search. If you notice a position posted online, research the company on LinkedIn and find a contact (preferably a contact in the department of interest – i.e if it’s an Accounting role find the Accounting Manager or Controller…if one is not available HR will do). Draft an email with your resume and cover letter and send it to that contact. Follow up with a voicemail to formally introduce yourself and mention your availability for an interview. If you don’t hear back within a week FOLLOW UP. Phone calls are better than emails when it comes to following up…make sure you reference the resume you sent over. By simply submitting a resume to on online posting your chance of being seen through the black hole of HR is slim…do your due diligence, and if it’s a position you’r e interested in go out and get it!
50. Send follow-up thank-you notes to everyone you meet with.
A few of the contributors to the list of 50 job search tips include:
Searching for your next job or career takes an investment. Our hope is that the tips outlined here can provide insights into what recruiters are looking for – and how to set yourself apart from your competition (other candidates).
Have additional job search tips to share? Use the comments section.
Talent Acquisition & Diversity Exec, Jason Buss, is the founder and editor of THQ. Prior to starting THQ, Buss launched The Talent Buzz in 2008. He is also the Vice President of Talent ... read more