By Alan Henry
Getting a job—whether it’s your first or your tenth—isn’t easy, even if you have all the right skills and experience. Luckily there are a few tools that, once you have them and use them, can boost your chances of landing not just any job, but one you’ll enjoy.
The first step to a better job is a better resume. If you have one and it just needs a little layout and design love, or you want something simple to give you a jumpstart, check out Google Docs’ free resume templates, which we’ve highlighted before, or these free resume templates for Microsoft Word. If you’d rather try something that lets you fill in the blanks, try a resume builder like ineedaresu.me. Once you have that awesome resume, make sure it’s well formatted to get you past applicant screening systems and robots.
Speaking of a resume builder, if you’re a creative professional, or you just like the idea of a modern resume, you can go all out with a builder tool like the previously mentioned EnhanCV or a similar tool we’ve highlighted, Sumry. If those are too modern for you, CV Maker is a bit more down to earth and simple, and produces resumes that look a bit more traditional. Which is right for you largely depends on your style, and the industry you’re trying to get a job in.
Similarly, if you want a jumpstart without typing in a ton of information, consider LinkedIn’s resume builder (update: looks like it’s dead.) It works really well, and if for some reason it doesn’t, Creddle is another servicethat will build a resume for you based on your LinkedIn profile—which should, we hope, be indicative of your experience and skills.
Before you go blindly hunting for job titles you’d like to have, or even companies you’d like to work at, make sure to check out what current employees are saying about them over at Glassdoor. The site is invaluable for job searchers eager to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at a company, in a specific role, and how much you can expect to make if you get an offer. Even if you’re familiar with it in general, it’s worth looking at.
At the same time, don’t limit yourself to just Glassdoor. If you’re a woman looking for a company that’s not full of garbage people, consider checking out FairyGodboss, a site dedicated to giving women a place to discuss issues that matter to them in a company, and rating their employers accordingly. If you’re concerned with work/life balance and making sure a potential employer respects yours, WorkDifferent works hard to make sure they only work with and highlight companies that actually care about their employees.
Speaking of learning how much you’ll make when you get that offer, make sure you do your homework on how much you’re worth before you hit the interview circuit. Salary.com and PayScale.com (as well as previously mentioned Glassdoor) all provide valuable information on how much you can expect a given job to pay, based on where you live, and other companies in the same field. For even more information, check out Comparably, a new service that crowdsources the information and lets submitters stay anonymous, so no one has to worry they’ll get in trouble for publicizing their company’s pay rates.
So you have a new resume, you have some compensation in mind, and you’re ready to go looking for a new gig. Before you throw your resume up on the major job boards (which you should do, to be clear) like Indeed and CareerBuilder, and hope for the best, you should also look into job boards and sites that are specific to your industry or niche.
For example, previously mentioned LanceList is a great tool for collecting openings on various freelance job boards, while MediaBistro is pretty much essential for anyone in the writing, journalism, or new media fields and HealtheCareers is useful for people looking for jobs in health care and medical fields.
When you do apply for a new job, or you email back and forth with a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR professional, your next step is to make sure you keep the conversation going and keep talking—even if you’re not terribly sure you’re going to get the job, you never know when someone will be useful in your professional network. Pick up a contacts app that will help you remember to follow up—or encourage you to reach out to your contacts—on a regular basis.
Previously mentioned JobHero is great for this, and it helps organize your entire job search to boot. NextCall is also useful for this, and it can help you remember to follow up with lots of people, not just job prospects. Also, remember, a reminder is just that—you don’t have to follow up if you don’t think it’s right, and you certainly don’t have to be annoying when you do.
The value of keeping a work diary goes well beyond just getting a new job, but once you’re on the hunt for one, you’ll be glad you have one. A work diary can help you keep track of your successes (and avoid your past mistakes,) keep you motivated, and also help you identify your biggest achievements so you can use them to argue for a raise—or in this context, flesh out your resume with glowing achievements and clearly explain to a hiring manager why you’re the right person for the job. Trust us, start yours today.
Don’t get stuck in thinking that because you’re always done a specific job that you always have to do a specific job, or that it’s all your qualified for. Job explorers like the one at Glassdoor or previously mentioned MySkills My Future can help you find jobs you may have never thought would be right for you, but do make use of the skills and experience you have in the jobs you’ve worked.
You probably know that good presence on Facebook and Twitter are important to landing a good job—and that you can even find jobs through social media by connecting with the companies you want to work for. Those are all great things, and you should definitely do them, but social networks can actually do much more for your job search.
For example, consider joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedInto chat with other people in the field you’re in and working in different companies to connect, share stories, and talk about the skills needed to get new jobs and get promoted. If you don’t see any, start one—or take it a step further and start a MeetUp group in your area and connect with other professionals in your area.
Probably the best and most effective tool you can have in your arsenal to land a new or better job is a strong professional network, full of people who know your skills and capabilities, and can open doors or vouch for you. If you don’t have one, it’s time to get started building one. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a gross, self-promoting process to build one.After all, a professional network is just a group of working adults willing to help each other out with work-related stuff when they can. Keep that in mind, and don’t forget to network down, too.
Not sure how strong your network is? Try the “layoff test,” or “if I got laid off today, which ten people would I call to talk to?” If you don’t have ten people, it’s time to make some calls, step up your networking game, and of course, make sure you reach out to friends and colleagues and see how you can help them, so maybe they’ll return the favor when you need it.
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