What Would a “Career Master” Do? 4 Ways to Upgrade Your Job Search

Angie - Test Knowles, | March-12-12



How to Upgrade Your Job Search


At first blush, looking for a job seems like a relatively straightforward process. All that’s really involved is searching through job listings, applying for positions and completing interviews, right? 
While these steps definitely form the basics of job searching, they are also just that—the basics. 
When every other job seeker out there is doing the exact same thing, the real challenge with looking for work is not in how well you follow the standard steps, but in how effectively you distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack
To set themselves apart from a sea of fellow applicants, “Career Masters” draw on a number of targeted tactics. The time and effort they invest to maximize their job search truly pays off. Compared to typical job hunters, these savvy seekers usually land better employment opportunities in a shorter amount of time. 
What’s their secret? 
For 4 major job search activities, Career Masters take a noticeably different approach:


1) Staying in Touch with Industry News

The Average Job Seeker:
At some point in the job search process, whether when completing a résumé or participating in an interview, most job hunters need to demonstrate knowledge of the field they are planning to work in. To prepare, the average job seeker will sign up for a few professional newsletters and follow industry news through major publications.
The Career Master:
Career Masters also know how important it is to stay up-to-date with what is going in their field. Rather than simply read the latest industry news, however, these job search experts help shape it. They demonstrate that they are knowledgeable by actively sharing their insights on relevant online and in-person forums
Many will take this industry engagement to a whole new level by also maintaining their own blog to showcase their observations and ideas about recent industry events. By contributing valuable information back to their industry, Career Masters demonstrate a level of initiative and commitment that is irresistible to prospective employers.


2) Networking

The Average Job Seeker:
Networking makes such a crucial difference to the overall job search that most job seekers will attempt some form of it. For the average job seeker, basic networking involves contacting friends and professional colleagues to let them know that she or he is looking for work. This approach is popular because of the low intimidation factor, since this strategy involves reaching out to familiar acquaintances who are likely to be supportive (or at least polite!).
The Career Master:
By contrast, a Career Master realizes the value of confidently approaching new contacts in their field. As a minimum, Career Masters join professional organizations and attend industry-related events, while also asking their connections to refer them to additional contacts. 
To effectively maximize these opportunities to expand their network, Career Masters practice stating a clear, concise message about their career objectives (aka the “elevator speech”). They also ensure that the supporting materials that they bring with them, from business cards to a portfolio and résumé, are as polished and professional-looking as possible.  


3) Applying for a Job

The Average Job Seeker:
After learning about a job opening, many job seekers submit the one résumé that they’ve intended to use for all job applications, then patiently wait for a response for the employer. When no reply is forthcoming, the average job seeker assumes that their application wasn’t accepted and moves on to the next job posting.
The Career Master:
Career Masters put in an extra special effort to ensure that this crucial phase of the job search goes as smoothly as possible. They review the job description carefully and get in touch with a contact at the company (ideally the hiring manager) to determine what activities and expectations are associated with the position. 
Career Masters use the details from this research to prepare a targeted résumé and cover letter that include specific references to keywords related to the job. After submitting their application, Career Masters follow-up with the hiring manager in an appropriate and professional manner. Several great pointers on how best to do this are available in the blog post here.


4) Preparing for the Interview

The Average Job Seeker:
The interview is, hands-down, the most exciting and nerve-wracking part of looking for a job. At this stage, the employer’s interest in your application has been piqued, but much of his or her decision will depend on how you handle the interview. 
To prepare, the average job seeker reviews a list of typical interview questions and rehearses a set of appropriate, albeit formulaic, responses. This strategy essentially involves approaching the interview as if it were a test in which the interviewee must provide the “right” answers in order to pass.
The Career Master:
Career Masters excel at the interview phase because they adopt a completely different mind-set from the average job seeker. Instead of looking at the interview as a test with a set of pre-defined answers, Career Masters view the interview as a negotiation in which the job offering is a proposed solution that meets the employer’s and the job seeker’s needs. 
To adopt this approach to the interview, a Career Master considers the employer’s perspective and identifies the ways that he or she meets the employer’s requirements. In this way, the Career Master maintains a powerful role in the interview and actively determines whether the employer perceives him or her as a good fit. 
Over the course of the job search process, Career Masters discover numerous tips and tricks that lend them a competitive edge.

What additional strategies have you found especially helpful in your own job search—what worked really well and what would you do differently?




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