Career & Job Hunting Checklist
With an average career of between 40 and 50 years and large percentage of your waking time spent at work, don’t waste time unless you are working in the perfect job. Although the job hunting process may seem intimidating, use the following job hunting checklist to help you achieve a fantastic career that compliments your amazing life.
- Hiring Process Drags On… and on!
It takes about 40 to 60 days on average to fill a job opening. Rather than rush to send off your application it is better to take the time to get your application right.
- Interview Preparation Checklist
Your résumé was impressive enough to secure you an interview, however now you need be just as impressive face to face. Be prepared as you have a limited amount of time and only get one chance to impress! (1) Make sure you confirm all job and interview details and receive a job description and as much background material as possible in advance. (2) You now need to think as if you have the job and are presenting ‘what’ your objectives might be and ‘how’ you might go about delivering results. Walk in prepared to explain exactly how you would undertake the role if you were given the opportunity; (3) Recruiters will be flattered if you show passion for their company and have done your research; (4) Have answers to the most common interview questions (see separate news item); (5) Have your own questions ready as it is a 2-way conversation and you want to also decide whether you want the job; (6) Arrive on time, turn off your technology and polish your shoes (plus of course well overall well presented), have a firm handshake, walk confidently, smile, look the recruiter in the eyes, show your personality, don’t rush to answer questions or interrupt; (7) At the end of the interview make sure you ask about next steps, likely timing, whether reference checking will be undertaken and most importantly whether they see you being the right fit for the role; (8) After the interview send a short email thanking the Recruiter for their time and expressing your enthusiasm for the role; which you should follow-up within a reasonable time-frame with a phone call; (9) Job offers are often made ‘subject to reference checks’ so ensure you have your referees already prepared and their details ready in both paper format (in case you are asked in the interview) and ready to email; and (10) If you are un-successful ask for feedback and the reasons for their decision and if successful ask to meet again with your immediate manager for you to take the time to make sure the role is right for you and possibly negotiate (e.g. salary, performance review timing, annual leave days, work from home flexibility, etc.).
- Knowing Someone Inside
Look for connections through LinkedIn. Put out a call for help on your Facebook pages for someone who knows someone. Being endorsed for the role before you even apply or are interviewed is a great way of standing out from the crowd. Increasingly companies are relying and even incentivizing their staff for referrals. Companies want to hire people who “get it” and who’ll click with the current staff. Only 7% of job applicants get an employee referral, yet referrals account for 40% of all hires! Luckily, asking for a referral is easier than you think.
- Update Your LinkedIn Profile
For many recruiters, particularly executive, professional or white-collar roles, if you aren’t on LinkedIn you don’t exist. Creating a fantastic profile and a strong online presence will build your professional credibility and help you secure your next job. Once you have updated your LinkedIn page and packed it with relevant keywords, not only will you be surprised how much attention your profile will get but you can also see who has viewed it. Remember to: (1) Professional profile photo (preferably a headshot with a simple background); (2) Engaging headline (not just your current job title); (3) Features an concise and yet engaging personal summary; (3) Ensure all your information is up-to-date (includes my most recent work history); (4) Highlights my career achievements and accomplishments; (5) Keywords are optimized; (6) Education and professional certifications are included; (7) You feature a comprehensive list of my skills; (8) Seek our testimonials and recommendations from current and former colleagues and supervisors; (9) Your profile is free of spelling or grammatical errors; (10) Is genuine and accurate; and (11) Is reviewed and even updated every week so that it appears active in talent searches by recruiters.
- Network - 80% Jobs Never Advertised
Most jobs are not posted and are only found through networking. Visiting your favorite 1-2 jobs boards is not enough. Supplement your online research with real-world activities. As a first step, map out who you know. You can start by creating a list of former co-workers, classmates, teammates, and more. Then, reach out to friends and acquaintances for informal advice and to learn more about their roles. Connect with everyone you know, because you never know which contact may be able to help you with your job search or put you in touch with someone who can.
- Attitude & Personality
Try to convey confidence and mirror the personality of recruiters in an interview. Whilst making sure you don’t appear arrogant, convey your confidence in being one of the best candidates for the role and enthusiasm for the position. Seek out family or friends to practice your elevator speech and interview skills. The more you practice how you convey your skills and values the more confident and articulate you will be in the interview where it counts.
- Interview Preparation
Research the company before you go for the interview, dress appropriately, practice answering and asking interview questions, and make a concerted effort to impress the interviewer with your skills, experience, confidence, and expertise. The more prepared you are, the less stressful it will be.
- Setup Job Alerts
After you have compiled your list of ideal job titles or categories, researched salaries and decided your preferred geographical locations it is time to setup job alerts on all the major jobs boards (e.g. Seek.com.au, LinkedIn.com, InDeed.com, CareerController.com, Azuna.com, Gumtree.com.au). Setup a folder in your email program where you redirect all your job alert notifications to so that they can be easily sorted and discarded. Some jobs need to be filled quickly, so be ready to customize your resume, undertake research and apply within a few hours of receiving your job alert!
- Accomplishments… not simply Attendance at work!
Communicate what you have achieved and how a prospective employer will benefit from employing you. Highlight what you have achieved, not simply stating your responsibilities. You may need to “think outside the box” to identify tangible results of your skills and experience. You might highlight sales results, budget achievements, internal promotions, company awards, client testimonials, number of rapports and other similar achievements that stand you apart and take the imagination out of why a hirer should not offer you the role. Prospective employers can now see how your skills can benefit them much more easily.
- Competing with 60-250 Applicants for 1 Job
On average corporate job posting receive 60 to 250 applicants. In China it is not unusual for some roles to have more than 10,000 applicants. Make sure you really want this position, because if you don’t it is unlikely you will do enough to be short-listed for an interview. If you can’t be bothered tailoring your application and putting in that extra energy then maybe skip applying for that job.
- Resume Keywords
Keywords are critical to not only capture the attention of recruiters but to also ensure recruitment technology doesn’t filter out your resume before they even see it. Try to mirror the language and also keywords featured in the job ad.
- Deep Dive on Your Career
Before you start shooting off job applications and madly networking, draw up a long and unfiltered list of your achievements, training course you have attended, contacts and even past roles (for those in the workforce along time). List every skill you possess, industries where you have work experience and computer system you have worked with. Try to gather several pages of material before undertaking to write or updated your resume.
- Your Personal Brand
Your resume, your covering letter, LinkedIn profile, attire in an interview, phone manner and who you select (and how well they are worked up) for your Referees are all important elements in your personal brand. Whether it is getting a professional to help create your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile to match your resume or buying yourself a new suit, make sure that you present as the person you want to become. Don’t let recruiters have to imagine you in the role, but instead ensure they can’t see you undertaking any other role. Now is also a good opportunity to lock down your Facebook privacy settings and Google yourself to find out what others may shortly learn about you. Remember a strong personal brand that portrays you in a professional light will provide recruiters, employers, and contacts with a strong positive impression of you as a candidate they should be interested in.
- Practice Your Interview Skills
Interviewing is often the most stressful part of a job search. You can prepare just as you would for any test. Devote your energy to preparing to answer the questions recruiters are likely to ask. Remember to prepare which questions you should ask to gain the respect of your interviewer and establish a good rapport.
- Customize Your Resume & Cover Letter
It's important to take the time to write targeted resumes and cover letters that specifically link your qualifications to the hiring criteria for the jobs you are applying for. Although this advice is repeated by us regularly, it can’t be overstated the importance of this task. Recruiters will be able to see at a glance why you are a good match for the role.
- Focused Job Search
Use the job search engines to find jobs by using keywords that match your interests and the location where you want to work. Narrowing your search criteria will help you focus your job search and will give you more relevant job listings to review and fewer non-relevant job listings to weed through. Use advanced search options to drill down to the location where you want to work and the specific positions you're interested in.
- Job Hunting Timing & Intensity
Many candidates will utilize jobs boards “click and apply’ functionality to apply for 20 jobs in 20 minutes and declare they have finished applying for jobs for the day. Unless you are very lucky or have applied for a role that no one else wants, you can almost guarantee rejection which may lessen your job-hunting enthusiasm. Determine who you want to work for, what type of work you want to do, how you will go about securing the perfect job and implement a well prioritized career plan. Don’t burn your contacts unless you are clear on what you have to offer and your career plan. Slow down and pace yourself to make a lesser number of right decisions than a lot of bad ones.
- Job Offer – Accept or Decline?
If you are fortunate to be offered a role, take the time to carefully evaluate the offer so you are making a well-considered decision as to accept, reject or negotiate. Don’t be afraid to request a coffee or catch-up with prospective manager to better understand their personality, management style, reason for the vacancy and opportunities for promotion. Remember most people cite their relationship with their immediate manager as the main reason for resigning a role, so now is the time assess your professional compatibility. Most candidates over time will have a choice of jobs, so don’t waste time (which you don’t get back) by accepting the wrong job offer.
- Test Your Resume
It is easy to convince yourself you have perfected your resume until you go to Pinterest and see the efforts some people go to present and write their resume. Start with friends and family who you trust to be blunt in their feedback. As you perfect your CV expand your resume testing to your professional network. Even consider trying different versions, whether it be style or pitching yourself for different types of roles, until you settle on the resume that best represents your brand and it most likely to secure you an interview. Remember to ask for a summary rather than an opinion. Don't ask "What do you think of my resume?", but rather "How does my resume distinguish me from other candidates?" If you are not pleased with the feedback go back to the drawing board.
- Compete to Win
Be proactive and go the ‘extra mile’ to investigate prospective employers and understand their hiring needs. Put in the extra time to prepare for and follow-up every job application. If you are really serious about getting work fast, invest in job search, resume writing, and interview coaching resources contained here.
Sources (Updated April 2020):