The Summer Games are in full swing, but for the competitive job seeker, summer is no time to play around! It's time to take action and organize your job search to gold medal standards.
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Wondering how you do that?
It will take extra effort for sure, but no gold medal was won without a lot of preparation, dedication, and good, old-fashioned training.
This is when you lay the groundwork. On your computer, create a new folder and name it "Job Search." Then set up two subfolders aptly titled "Resumes" and "Job Descriptions."
You're going to tweak your resume for just about every job or type of job you apply for. That means you've now got to keep track of those various versions so you don't bring the wrong one with you to an interview.
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Quick tip: Name your resumes intuitively so that when you send them to hiring managers, the titles easily identify you and your job type. For example: "MicheleMavi_MarketingManager". If you simply label your resume "Resume," it will be one of probably dozens with the same name sitting on the hiring manager's computer.
Just as you'll have different resume versions, you're going to have multiple jobs you're applying for. You'll want to keep track of those, too. Ever been called by a recruiter and had to ask them what job specifically they were calling you about? Yeah – no bueno. Keep track of the jobs you've applied to by saving each posting in your "Job Description" folder for easy access when a recruiter calls.
You don't want to run the job search race without warming up. It's not a sprint, but a marathon (or at least a half), so you'll want to be sure you're limber enough for the long haul. But you also don't want to stretch too much!
Be sure you're applying to the right types of jobs. It's great to stretch yourself every now and then, but to have a shot at the brass ring, you've got to be sure you're competing in the right category. Do this by being sure your resume contains enough of the keywords in the job description and contains the same job title so that it will come up in applicant tracking system searches.
Cover letters are your chance to hook the employer's interest. Use them as differentiators to say something about yourself that's not said in the resume. Communicate why you really want to work for the company, not just why you want the particular job. Wanting the job serves you, but wanting to work for the company and help them grow serves the organization.
Do research on the company, the job, and the person you're meeting with. Find the interviewer on LinkedIn and learn about their background. Is there anything of specific interest to you or a way you can make a personal connection? Find out what you can about them on social media. What are they positing, and what do they share? Don't forget to Google them, too. Depending on their privacy settings on LinkedIn and other social networks, you might need to turn to search engines to find the goods!
Now, replicate this research on the company itself and be sure to read any recent press. It's imperative that you know the marketplace and the competitive landscape of the industry. Look at the company's social media presence and take time to understand the brand identity. The company will look to hire people who share its values and identify with the brand.
Use your research to prepare well-thought-out questions. They shouldn't be easily answered by a quick read of the company's website; instead, they should demonstrate deep thinking on your part.
This is it, the moment that defines who wins and who goes home without a medal. Across the board, communication is a major differentiator between candidates of equal backgrounds. The more you're able to clearly articulate your experiences and successes while applying them directly to the role in question, the better off you'll be. This certainly takes a bit of natural talent and a good amount of practice.
Send a personalized, thoughtful thank-you note. Nothing generic, ever. It can be handwritten, which is lovely, but in today's world of instant access, email is totally acceptable.
You made it! Now it's up to you to turn your gold medal into platinum – if you dare. Once you're offered the job, don't be afraid to negotiate!
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing's resident career expert.