By Miriam Salpeter
Finding and landing the perfect job depends on a number of factors. There is no “silver bullet” method that works for every job seeker, but there are a number of undeniably important aspects that, when done well, can make a difference for struggling job seekers. This article includes tips, information, and resources about an array of key topics for job search success, including how to conduct relevant self-assessments, how to research the market to determine promising job paths and industries, innovative methods to expand career networks, tips to effectively prepare for an interview, and advice about how to vet people serving as job references.
Many job seekers overlook self-assessment. Without fully exploring interest inventories and skill suits, many flounder and apply for inappropriate positions. If career coaching is not an option, consider suggesting that patrons investigate free online tools to help identify what they may want to do next. These assessments may trigger ideas and help get some job seekers out of a rut.
Job & Career Accelerator’s Occupation Matcher
Patrons of any library subscribed to Job & Career Accelerator can explore a wide variety of occupations and discover new opportunities by using the Occupation Matcher. The Occupation Matcher walks users through 180 questions that reveal occupations that best match their backgrounds and goals. Each user also gets a list of occupations based on his or her interest score and employment preparation level.
MAAP – Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential
http://www.assessment.com offers a partial report and five matches for free, and offers more comprehensive assessments for a fee. The free report may help encourage a job seeker to research a previously unexplored field.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
This assessment provides a four-letter composite about a person’s personality. It assesses people as either introverted or extroverted, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. Many believe these indicators can help steer job seekers into positions best suited to their tendencies. Candidates may try a free, shortened assessment here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp and learn about a few potential career directions.
Research the Market
Understanding the current job market is important, and many traditional reference tools, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, may help job seekers decide on appropriate next steps. Another terrific resource to help people learn about up-and-coming fields is U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Careers” article. Using “best company” lists, such as Forbes’ list of best places to work, may be useful. Glassdoor.com is an online site where people share information about where they work; it offers an insider’s look at companies that may interest job seekers.
The most effective way to land an interview is via a referral. The more people who know a candidate, the more likely he or she is to benefit from a referral that results in an opportunity. Social networking provides opportunities to significantly increase the number of people who know about a job seeker. These are some of the best online tools to use to expand a network:
LinkedIn. The number one professional, online place for job seekers, this is a must-have social network. After completing a profile, job seekers should visit Groups to identify active online communities who share their interests. Alumni organizations, professional associations, and personal interest groups may all be good launching points to meet new people.
Twitter. While not always considered a professional network, Twitter is diverse and offers a wonderful tool to meet and expand a network of people with shared interests. One useful Twitter tool is “Twitter Chats.” Twitter chats occur when people who share goals or interests come online to share information and resources via Twitter. Leaders name chats using hashtags (#) to make them easy to search. One chat for job seekers is #JobHuntChat, Monday nights at 10-11 eastern time. Job seekers may find chat topics covering an array of interests here. Anyone is welcome to join chats to ask questions, meet people, and grow their networks.
None of these other tips matter if job seekers are not properly prepared for resulting interviews. The best advice for jobseekers: research the company. Use obvious tools, such as company websites, their YouTube channels, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn Company profiles. Additional resources to learn about companies include:
Answering questions well is key to interviewing well. Job seekers should not try to memorize answers to lists of interview questions. Instead, suggest they prepare several stories to illustrate past successes, describe interpersonal relationships with colleagues and supervisors, and detail one or two negative situations they managed to salvage. Usually, having strong stories covering these topics will help them address most typical interview questions. They should be sure to follow an outline for the stories that includes the problem, the action they took, and the result (PAR).
Unfortunately, an unprepared reference may signal the end of a successful job search path. Job seekers should fully prepare and vet the people who will serve as their references.
They should ask permission to provide someone’s name as a reference ahead of time, and provide their recommenders with updated job search materials and information about the position. Be sure to tell the person about the interview, and suggest specifics the employer may want to know.