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Six Things to Remember in Your Job Search

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I recently had a friend come to me for help finding a job. As an HR person, I frequently get this question from friends, friends of friends, past classmates on LinkedIn, people on Twitter, and others. I am always honored when people ask for help. We all know that there are many workers looking for jobs right now and that finding one isn't easy. Here are six things to keep in mind when hunting for a job:

1. Looking for a job should be your full-time job.
Most jobs don't just fall into people's laps. You always have to be on the lookout for new opportunities. Take time to read about organizations of interest online, talk to friends, look at postings on LinkedIn, comb the job boards, contact professional associations or alumni groups, fill out online applications, etc. These steps will not only help boost your chances of finding a position, but can be a great way to learn more about your community, HR, and how various organizations operate.

2. Any job is better than no job.
To a recruiter or interviewer, long periods of "no activity" on a résumé can be viewed poorly. If you are having difficulty finding a teaching job, try to secure other work at a nonprofit, hospital, nursing home, daycare, bookstore, or apply for a substitute teaching position as you continue your larger job search. It may only be part-time work, but chances are you'll learn something while building solid experience to strengthen your résumé.

3. Differentiate yourself.

No matter the job, differentiate yourself. Volunteer to take on extra duties, become more active on social media, start a blog (on work-appropriate issues), or pursue other strategies to get your name out there. It is important to take advantage of opportunities learn, meet new people, and grow professionally. Just remember that some organizations will read applicants blogs or Twitter pages, so be thoughtful and careful in your approach.

4. Know your own story. Be memorable.
I learned this lesson early in life. When I was 11 years old, I founded a nonprofit in memory of my grandmother. The organization has had a great deal of success. Why? Because we have a moving story that people can relate to in one way or another. This nonprofit work is what grew my passion for making a difference in kid's lives

Everyone has a story whether they know it or not. When people come to me for help in looking for a job, one of the first things I ask is, "What is your story?" Most people are confused and respond with where they went to college, what they studied, and a list of other academic accomplishments. This is not what I mean. Yes, that information is important. Yes, it's on your résumé (it better be!). But, what I mean is what are your passions, how were they developed, and what experiences show you might fit well into an organization's culture? Your story should be what an interviewer remembers about you. Your degree and certifications are important, but likely won't distinguish you from the other candidates. Be memorable.

5. Yes, there's a process, get over it.
Everyone has to go through the interview process. Thinking you're too good for it can be the kiss of death in landing a new job. Organizations want candidates who are engaged and appreciative of the opportunity.

6. Be respectful.

I can't tell you how many people say to me, "I called the HR person like nine times over the past three days with questions and now they stopped returning my calls. I don't get it!" Well, I do! It's important to follow up with the HR department, but be respectful of people's time and work load.

What are your experiences in searching for a job? Share your story in the comments section.

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