Because job search mavens don’t settle for silver.
-by Jaclyn Westlake, Founder of The Job Hop
With incredible athletes like Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Kerri Walsh Jennings, and Laurie Hernandez representing the USA, it’s no surprise that the United States is already dominating in the medal count. Watching our fellow Americans achieve their Olympic dreams is so inspiring, that it’s easy to forget how much hard work and preparation went into these medal winning moments. Whether you’re gearing up for a flawless floor routine à la Aly Raisman, or getting ready to search for your next dream job, preparation will play a crucial role in your success. So, in the spirit of the 2016 Rio Olympics, let’s make like David Boudia and dive into what it takes to prepare for a job search like an Olympian.
“The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”
-Coach Bobby Knight, 1984 U.S.A. Men’s Basketball Team
Set Yourself up for Success
Laying the groundwork for a successful job search is the crucial first step toward landing the job of your dreams. Before you start applying to every new opportunity you come across, you’ll need to get organized.
“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.”
- Mark Spitz, U.S.A. Gold Medalist in Swimming
1) Update your resume
Your resume is so much more than a summary of your work history – it’s an opportunity to tell a dazzling story of your greatest accomplishments! Recruiters receive tons (like, hundreds) of new applications every day, so creating a resume that grabs their attention is crucial.
In addition to ensuring that your content is accurate and free of grammatical errors, take the time to make a comprehensive list of all the great things you’ve achieved throughout your career. Did you implement a new calendar management system? Streamline an outdated process? Save your company oodles of cash by identifying and onboarding a new vendor? Instead of saying that you’re responsible for making travel arrangements, tell us about the time you seamless coordinated ridiculously complex international travel schedules for five busy executives with only 24 hours’ notice. Now that’s impressive!
As a best practice, you probably don’t need to include more than the past 10 (maybe 15) years of work experience, and you’ll definitely want to keep your resume to two pages (or less!).
2) Assess your online presence
Yes, prospective employers are googling you and yes, you can lose out on an offer if you haven’t taken the time to clean up your online presence. Would you want to hire someone who posts rants about their current manager on Twitter or uses a picture from that super wild night in Vegas as their profile photo on Facebook? Didn’t think so.
Start by googling yourself to see what pops up, check your social media settings to make sure they’re private, and build out your LinkedIn profile to start developing a strong professional online presence. If you think that your online reputation is in need of more than a just minor tune-up, try checking out services like Reputation Defender.
3) Get organized with these job search tools
It’s 2016- of course there’s an app for that. Keeping track of each and every job you’ve applied for and staying on top of your follow-ups can be challenging. Stay organized by using sites like JibberJobber to track opportunities, companies, and contacts and Contactually to manage your networking relationships and follow-up reminders.
Make a Plan
If Michael Phelps can squeeze in five hours of training almost every day, surely you can manage a few weekly job applications and networking activities.
1) Build your job search dream team
Identifying your most relevant job search resources will make finding new opportunities to apply for much easier. Job boards, company career pages, and sites that focus on career and job search advice are all great places to start. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, AngelList, and TheMuse are tried and true resources, but there is a myriad of industry-specific job boards out there! Spend some time looking around to see what will make the most sense for your search. And don’t forget to create a list of targeted companies that you’d love to work for. Keeping an eye on their career pages could yield some great job leads!
As much as most of us would love to sit on the bench when it comes to networking, your friends, family, colleagues, and professional contacts are likely the most valuable resources available. You’re much more likely to land a new job through someone in your network than through any job board, so spend some time reaching out to your contacts to let them know that you’re looking, ask for introductions, and score some referrals. But don’t stop there! Expand your network by checking out local professional networking events like Network After Work or one of Levo’s many unique professional workshops. You never know who you’ll meet!
Go beyond your LinkedIn network or circle of friends to build a team of trusted advisors and connectors. These are people who can not only relate to what you’ve done and what your aspirations are, but have the knowledge, resources, advocacy, and connections to get you where you want to go. This could be a mentor, a colleague, or an experienced recruiter. A partnership with an agency like Maven Recruiting Group goes beyond simply sourcing new employment opportunities – it can provide you with valuable career, resume, interview, and market insights – and we like to think that the amazing team at Maven is pretty great at all of that.
2) Create a schedule (and stick to it!)
Finding time to look for a new job can be a challenge, but creating a schedule (and staying consistent) will make your life much easier. Job hunting is a bit of a numbers game, so the more often you apply, the more likely you are to land an interview. Try applying to at least five to ten jobs each week, and do your best to submit applications in the morning when recruiters and hiring managers are most likely to check their e-mail.
Keep Your Confidence (and Stamina!) Up
Your hard work and dedication will undoubtedly pay off, and eventually, you’ll start scoring interviews. Now is the time to outshine your competition!
“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”
-Carl Lewis, Nine-time American Track & Field Gold Medalist
1) Impress your recruiter
You never get a second chance at a first impression, so you’ll want to be sure that you’re on your game whenever a recruiter reaches out to you. Get on your potential future employer’s good side by keeping your outgoing voicemail professional (no ringback tones or full inboxes!), responding to all calls and e-mails within 24 hours, and keeping all of your communications friendly and professional.
If you want to score extra points with your recruiter, do your best to be flexible and accommodating when it comes to scheduling calls or in-person interviews, show up on time, and be sure to thank them for all of their help.
2) Prep for your interview like a champ
Walking into an interview armed with a solid understanding of the company and position you’re interviewing for will boost your confidence and wow your future manager - but don’t stop there! Take time to search for recent, relevant news about the company or its leadership, select an interview outfit that reflects the dress code at your potential future employer’s office, and draft a list of interesting, engaging questions to ask your interview panel.
Thinking through your answers to some of the more commonly asked interview questions is a great way to give yourself an edge during an interview. Try recruiting a friend or close colleague to help you run through your answers to some of the most commonly asked interview questions, and pay attention to your body language, eye contact, and tone. Going the extra mile in your interview could mean the difference between settling for silver or going home with the gold.
3) Take a time out for yourself
While interviewing can be fun, exciting and exhilarating, the process can, at times, be taxing. Finding ways to rejuvenate and restore yourself is essential to keeping your stamina up. Whether it’s putting in time at the gym, grabbing a glass of wine with friends, or putting in some serious couch and Netflix time, taking a time out will help you to stay fresh and energized.
Finish Strong and Stick that Landing
Usain Bolt is the fastest person on the planet, and even he doesn’t slow down as he’s approaching the finish line. So neither should you!
1) Ask for that offer!
Don’t even think about leaving an interview without making your intentions crystal clear. If you’ve found your dream job and can’t imagine doing anything else, say so!
2) Nail your Thank You note
An artfully crafted thank you note could mean the difference between getting the job or losing out to the competition. Go beyond simply thanking your interviewer for their time - show your genuine interest in the opportunity by mentioning specific details from your interview and highlighting the traits and skills that make you an absolutely perfect fit.
Sending your thank you note within hours of your interview is a great way to show your legitimate dedication to landing the job, but if you can’t make time that day, be sure to get that note into your interviewer’s inbox within 24 hours of your meeting.
Remember, Job Searching is a Marathon – Not a Sprint
The job search process, much like preparing for the Olympic games, can be grueling. But, your preparation, hard, work, and consistency will inevitably pay off.
“Hard days are the best because that’s when champions are made.”
-Gabby Douglas, U.S.A. Women’s Gymnastics Gold Medalist
Stay positive and keep up the hard work! When you know you’ve done everything in your power to win, you’re bound to succeed. And when in doubt, make like Laurie Hernandez and remind yourself that you’ve got this.