Alberta has been in rough shape for the last few years and there were signs of recovery in early 2019. Then, the massive budget and job cuts by the Alberta government in early 2020 didn’t make it easier for Albertans. In addition, since early 2020 the world has been in the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown for over a year! The job market has been slim with many people trying to change industries so here are some job search tips.
Job Search Tips
I have seen many truck drivers, mechanics and people with oil and gas field experience applying for convenience store or office type jobs. Many people spend a long time in the same industry or company so they never really learn how to conduct a proper job search. Until I got into human resources I also made many of the mistakes I have listed below. As the economy stays bad these tips will help keep you on top!
You need to build your network! My last 4 jobs came from my network not from directly applying for a job. I must not be good in interviews but I’m sure good at making connections that trust me. I’m a natural introvert so public events and meeting people is not my preferred method.
I use LinkedIn as my primary job seeking and network-building platform. LinkedIn is for your professional and career side of your life. It’s not a place for posting photos or videos of your kids and pets. Create or start using your LinkedIn to help you build a network.
Networking is a form of sales! You are selling yourself so you should brush up on your sales skills and use them while talking to your new connections. I always recommend the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham on Amazon to organizations with sales teams.
Another great book on networking is How to Be a Power Connector by Judy Robinett that can also be found on Amazon. The same skills in SPIN Selling are mirrored in this book with vital tips specifically for building a large functional network.
The most important rule of networking is “Do NOT try to sell anyone”. As you network you should be offering to help with no expectations of getting anything in return. Selling your product or service to people is not how you “help” someone, so get that out of your head!
2 ) Cover Letter
Most people, up to 90% of the job applications I get never send a cover letter, and people that do send a standard cover letter seem to always send one that is not job-specific. Write a cover letter that directly addresses the required job skills/experience listed on the job ad.
Your resume, tailored for your industry or job type, can be standard for the jobs you apply for, but your cover letter should be different for each job ad. A generic cover letter, a bad cover letter, or the absence of a cover letter will actually hurt your job prospects.
Since cover letters are so vital to advancing a career I advise people to learn about them. Check out Knock ’em Dead Cover Letters by Martin Yate on Amazon.
3) Don’t Seem Desperate
I have seen applicants use the same cover letter and resume to apply for every job I had posted. This makes you look extremely desperate and is a big red flag to a hiring manager. If you make the job you’re applying for seeming unimportant, then nobody will want you around. You need to make their job seem important and interesting to you.
I also get a lot of people connecting with me on LinkedIn and the first thing they say is “I need a job, can you hire me?” This is a very big turn off. You need to do proper networking and create value by giving help first. Networking is the long game so you should be doing this when times a good.
4) Research the Company
Research the company you are applying for before you write your cover letter. What if you find out you really don’t want to work for that organization? More importantly, knowledge of the company or industry is gold, as it tells the employer that you are interested and driven.
If a company calls you for a phone interview it’s okay to say you’re busy at that time. You could request to book at a later time for the call. This will give you the time to review your research, the cover letter you sent, and the resume you used. If the recruiter has sent you an e-mail to set up a time to conduct a phone interview, that’s your cue to review your documents and do more research.
I have conducted many phone interviews where the person I was interviewing didn’t know anything about the job I was interviewing them for. People actually admit to me on the phone they applied for so many jobs that they don’t remember. This will only contribute to you looking desperate (see above “Don’t Seem Desperate”).
5) Resume Layout
You should rewrite your resume to be achievement and action-oriented. For example, turn job experience listed from “helped customers find a product in-store” to something like “I helped increase sales and customer satisfaction by memorizing all departments of our large store.” Using this style of resume writing, you will emphasize the achievements and activities you accomplished in the position, rather than the mundane duties related to a role like ‘customer service associate’.
Check out my Fiverr Gig if you would like to have me review your resume and give you some job search tips! Naturally, this is a paid service!
6) Team Credit
Your cover letter and resume are about you, but they are also about how you work with other people. If you have the ability to credit a team for some of your success then you should. Something like, “I was part of the six-person marketing team responsible for increasing sales by 35% in two months.” The ability to work effectively with other people will demonstrate that you’re at a lower risk of upsetting the work culture of the company you are applying for.
7) Video Interviews
During this time of social distancing during the pandemic, the use of video meetings has skyrocketed. I think we all wish we had invested in video meeting services in 2019! Most importantly, you need to be ready to have video interviews during your job search.
Here is a short list of video meeting tips:
- Make sure your Internet connection is good.
- Make sure you have a quiet and professional-looking place to hold the meeting.
- Send any children or noisy people away before your video call.
- Ask what video service you will be using for the call so you can test it on your computer, camera, sound, and mic beforehand.
- Make sure you’re dressing for the part just like going to an in-person interview.
8) Remote Work
Remote work may be more prevalent after the pandemic is over but naturally some positions may move back to the office. Many of us have prepared home offices for remote work during the pandemic but here are some tips to think about.
- Good work desk so you have a lot of room to work preferably not the family dinner table or living room coffee table.
- Up to date computer! So vital, now that you will be using cloud-based software and work software that you only had on your work computer. If you are lucky your organization will give you a computer to use at home but if you’re a consultant like me then you will need your own. I use a Mac but there are a lot of great PC laptop computers that are affordably listed on Amazon.
- Reliable and fast internet connection. Sometimes we think a cell phone connection might be enough when working remotely but it may not be if your organization demands something like a VPN connection to the work servers.
- A good chair that is comfy but still ergonomic for long hours on the computer. I highly recommend one of these ergonomic chairs on Amazon that can be delivered to your home.
Job Search Tips Conclusion
This list is based on my experience looking at thousands of cover letters, resumes, and connecting with people. These are the most frequent issues I see. Even people with the right skills and the right attitude may have slipped through my fingers because they didn’t conduct their job search properly.
You need to make it easy for the HR people, recruiters, and hiring managers to find you in their overflowing e-mail boxes. This list may not cover all the reasons you’re struggling with your job search, but if you make some corrections you could see improvement in your responses.
When you do get an in-person job interview dress appropriately for the position and industry you are applying for. I had an applicant show up in a spandex tracksuit for a financial/banking type job…they didn’t get the job because of the tracksuit alone.
If you need more help and tips from an HR professional during your job search or career advancement consider asking an HR question!