Whether you are graduating college next month, searching for your next job or on your work computer reading this article — with a spreadsheet open just in case your boss walks by — there are new things to learn and consider about the job market.
Five years ago, I was graduating college, wide-eyed, entitled and impatient. Sound familiar? What I can tell you, what I found out quickly, is that nothing worth having will come to you. It has to be earned. That being said, it's not as difficult as you think. You should never settle. Find something that motivates you and never lose sight of it.
The hardest part is figuring out what you want to do and being specific. Marketing, advertising and public relations are not specific enough. There are three things that I can't stress enough. First, find your specific passion and carve out a niche for yourself. Second, network with as many people as possible related to that niche. Third, provide consistent value in those relationships.
Find a niche. Network with influencers. That's my best advice. Although, I watched enough Reading Rainbow to know that "you don't have to take my word for it."
In an effort to challenge my opinions and learn more about the topic, I interviewed three recruiters from across the country.
What is the one thing job seekers most often overlook?
“The amount of tools and resources that are available to them. Many job seekers tend to just focus on job boards to find opportunities, but the last two positions that I’ve held came through networking and word-of-mouth — not job boards. Job seekers should target companies that they are interested in and either become a “fan” or “like” the company pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Begin following and connecting with recruiters that are open to networking with you through any of these channels as well. Job seekers can even create alerts or create lists when certain keywords are mentioned in tweets. Take the time to be open to the different resources that are available, and don’t be afraid to reach out and network.”
- Chrystal Moore: Atlanta, GA @RecruitMoore
“I feel they overlook their own networks for leads. The most common thing I hear from candidates/job seekers is, 'I don’t know who to ask,' and when you start talking to them about their connections and network, they end up knowing someone who could help them land the job or interview.”
- Michael Woodward: Seattle, WA @michaelrecruits
“Job seekers often forget to make a business case for what they do. The way the job market is their job search is really no longer about them but about what they can do for a company. I don't want a laundry list of what you can do, but what can you do for me and a company with your skills, experience and natural talent. Your resume is prime real estate; the things on it need to hold value to the job your are applying for. I don't want a five page resume.”
-Sherene McLemore Phoneix, AZ @sherenemac
How can a job seeker differentiate their self from other applicants?
“I know that cover letters tend to get overlooked, but it may be because job seekers tend to use the same generic cover letter that everyone else makes. I would recommend creating a cover letter that contains a two-column chart on it. On one side of the chart, it would list the requirements of the job and the other side would list the job seeker’s qualifications. By doing this, it shows that the job seeker actually took the time to review the job description as well as create a cover letter that is tailor-made for the job at hand.” - Chrystal
“Personalty and any special skills or interests they have. A lot of the interview falls to the interpersonal connection. SO many candidates seem 'fearful' to show their true selves in an interview. I have been in many interviews, and the candidates who do let themselves shine through usually land the job.” - Michael
“If you are going into a marketing/PR/advertising job, you need to have an online presence. For these types of positions, you need to show that you are creative beyond what's on your paper resume. Show that you are up-to-date on the latest media trends.” - Sherene
What is the greatest piece of advice you can give?
“Be tenacious. It can be frustrating getting through the recruiting process only to hear back that someone else was selected — don’t let that deter you. Sometimes if a candidate isn’t the right fit for this one particular job, I’ve considered them in the future for another position that was a fit. The right opportunity may not be right in front of you right now, but it will be right around the corner, so be tenacious.” - Chrystal
“NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK! The last five positions I got were not positions I had applied to/for. I was networking and were asked to apply. I was being me, and they were attracted to that quality. The most recent, Bsquare, where I start on Monday, I got through the power of social media.” - Michael
“Looking for work in today's market is very different from even just a few years ago. You need to create a plan. Of course, you will have to apply online and follow the recruitment process of a company, but at the same time you need to be networking. I recommend that you make a list of the companies and types of positions you would like to target, then take a look at your 'Sphere of Influence.' Make a list of those people that you could begin to network with that may have leads into those companies. Use LinkedIn or other social media platforms to manage these networks and continue to have an online presence. Don't forget that networking is a two-way street. Don't just ask from your network but be thinking about ways you can serve your network as well. In the long run, you will be known as a trusted ‘Connecter.’” - Sherene
Any other advice?
“If you have limited work experience, be sure to highlight projects, courses and/or volunteer roles that can showcase your skills. As you begin to start looking, remember that you are marketing yourself. Create a brand that an employer won’t want to turn their eyes away from.” - Chrystal
“Always be yourself. Tell the truth in an interview — we always find out! Don't be afraid to connect with someone at your target company, and with LinkedIn and Twitter, this is easier than ever. The 'gatekeepers' of the organizations are going away and the ability to get a direct contact at an organization is easier than ever. LinkedIn, BranchOut and Twitter are the job seeker's best friend. Use them!” - Michael
“Don't limit your options. I've seen too many people turn down jobs because they just weren't exactly what they thought they wanted. The reality is that work summons energy and all work is honorable work. When you are working, you are also more appealing as a candidate as well.” - Sherene
Find a niche. Network with influencers. Provide value.
Never wait until you are 100 percent qualified to do something — 70 percent will do. Fortune favors the bold.