March is the ideal times to jump start your job search. Here are five tips to get your game back on track.
1. Full court press. At this time of year you need to put your job search on a full court press. Many firms do a lot of their hiring in the first and second quarter of the calendar year. Hiring tends to taper off in the late spring for graduations and summer vacations. This is the time to take action.
- Refresh your resume so that it is up to date. Fill in any current skills and experiences that you may have completed since your last resume revision. If you have taken classes, volunteered a skill, or updated your education it is worth noting.
- Review and refresh your contact list. Are the contacts still at the firms, have they been promoted, have they changed roles or departments? Update your database and remind them that you are out there and available.
- Make an A, B, and C target firm list. It should reflect the firms that are closest to your background and most likely to hire you. For example an A list firm would be a competitor or customer in the same industry as your most recent experience.
- Reevaluate the jobs you have been pursuing. Are they jobs you wish you could have or actual fits for your experience and background?
2. Pass. Know when to pass on a job. Many candidates apply to jobs that don't make sense for their background and qualifications. While sending out a lot of resumes feels productive you are wasting precious time and it will take you much longer to land the right job. Rather, target a few jobs where your skills and experience are direct fits for what the employer is seeking.
- Apply for jobs where you have a direct match with the job in terms of experience, skills and industry. Sticking to a direct match with your current background will increase your odds.
- Pass on jobs that sound great but you are not qualified for. Employers need individuals who can be productive day one without additional training.
- It is best not to change industry or functional areas during a job pursuit but rather find something similar to your last job so you can start on the ground running. Once you join a firm you can explore internal lateral moves.
3. Slam dunk preparation. Set yourself apart from other candidates by over preparing for your interview.
- Research the firm. Review materials that are publicly available about the firm. Learn about the people you are meeting.
- Set up information phone calls or emails with current employees who work for the firm so that you can ask questions before your interview. You can reach out using LinkedIn, Yahoo groups or Facebook networks.
- Prepare a plan for how you would approach your new job. Some people develop 100 days plans to show that they have researched the job and the firm. This can be very impressive to a hiring manager.
4. Don't fake. Don’t fake your background. Most interviewers are pros who have seen it all. When you try to fake in this situation you will surely slip and hit the gym floor ending your candidacy right then and there. Increasingly employers are using a variety of techniques to expose someone who fakes their credentials.
- Depending on the job, be prepared for credit, education, drug, employer, security, and financial checks in addition to the standard reference checks.
- Depending on the job, be prepared for tests- skill, personality, behavioral, problem solving tests. Some of these tests may be prescreen tests on the computer to evaluate your skills before setting up an interview.
- Be prepared for a number of interviews by many people that may occur on the phone, in person, via Skype, recruiters, HR, with teams.
5. Drive to the basket. During the interview let the employer know you are interested in the job and want it. Employers will want to be assured that you want this job and that it is a priority for you.
- Interview as if you are already part of the team and making a contribution. Talk in term of how you could see yourself immediately fitting in and making a contribution.
- Ask questions and present ideas to the interviewer that help show that you have done research and are interested in the job.
- If you are not sure you want the job, don t give the interviewer any indication you are not interested. You may change your mind in the future. If you are indecisive you surely won't get it.
- Don't forget to- Ask for the job.