Sometimes, it’s the little stuff that no one tells you that need to do to get a job. Other times, it’s things you know you should be doing but you resist doing it. Either way, you are not doing you, or your job search, any favors, when you ignore these 5 important job search steps.
1. Networking. You are probably sick of hearing about the importance of networking but there is a good reason for it: it’s the single most valuable tool in your job search arsenal yet often it is the most overlooked. I am continually amazed at the reluctance of the Millennial generation to follow up with networking leads and referrals if they do not know the contact personally. If someone gives you a lead, follow up on it. Here’s why.
First, you can be guaranteed that the connection has already been tipped off that you’ll be contacting them and is expecting to hear from you. When they don’t, you’ve burned a potential lead or reference. Second, people don’t make referrals to people who aren’t willing to be contacted. Third, you never know, it might just be the lead that gets you the job. Fourth, all leads are valuable. A good friend of mine got a job lead from the security guard at his condo complex and has turned that lead into a very successful career.
2. Communicating effectively. According to NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), employers want to hire college graduates who can communicate effectively, with over two-thirds of companies seeking both strong verbal and written communication skills. There is a time and a place for each format of communication: face-to-face, telephone, email, Skype/Facetime and text messaging. Knowing which form to use and when to use it is critical not only to a successful job search, but also to your future career. Please do not, ever, text an employer.
3. Following Up. A job search is a full-time, long haul endeavor that requires constant follow up. You have to do much more than apply on line and wait to hear back. These days, you could wait a very, very long time, if you even hear back from a company. It’s especially important to follow up once you’re in the interviewing process. While you never want to be a nag, do follow up within the timetable the interviewer set, or within 7 to 10 days if they did not specify a timeframe (and you forgot to ask). A short, polite email expressing your continued interest in the job generally pays off.
4. Responding quickly. During your job search, you should plan to check your email at least twice daily, ideally more often, and phone messages at least as often as email. Yes, people actually leave voice mails on smart phones. Responding to a prospective employer request within the same day is critically important. Remember that you are unlikely to be the only applicant for the job. Responsiveness is such a desirable trait that it just might be what tips the scales in favor of your selection for the job.
5. Sending Thank You Notes. If you interview, you must send a thank you note to each, and every, person with whom you meet. It’s not optional and not doing so can cost you the job. Email thank you notes are fine in today’s corporate culture, and have the benefit of being received more quickly, than a traditional hand written thank you note. Just don’t make the rookie mistake and send the exact same email, or worse yet, a group thank you email, to multiple people in the same company. It screams “lazy” and “lazy” does not get the job offer. And if you really want to impress someone, send a hand-written thank you note too.
Follow these steps and you are all but guaranteed to take your job search to the next level.