11 Secrets to Sleuth your way to a New Job (Part 1 of 2)

I learned a thing or two about conducting a job search from a voracious university recruitment season, as well as the last 2.5 months when I eased out of that first job into a more thoughtful and self directed search (resulted in 2 offers). First and foremost know your values and long term goals to identify jobs that suit you well.

The tips below came from my detective like approach to the job hunt – researching my targets, looking for clues, interviewing suspects…ahem targets/experts. You may want to lean more towards Jason Bourne as opposed to Inspector Gadget, but approaching your search with a clear mission/target and the tools below should lead you to a solid outcome, without extendable arms and legs.

1.       Even if you are junior, you can get recruited from linkedin. So make sure that profile counts! It’s always wise to meet recruiters because even if you aren’t a good fit for the position at hand, they may find another one that fits well with your skills/goals. Play nice with recruiters always.  

2.       Online job boards are not dead. I’ve been advised to focus on the hidden job market through networking and to spend 25% or less of my time on job boards. Granted I didn’t just focus on job boards, but I received several interviews from companies where I knew no one internally and applied online.

3.       Don’t be afraid to quit your job before getting another one. I had been warned that I would be less marketable/employable if I wasn’t working but I didn’t find that to be the case. In fact, I needed the extra time to really analyze what I liked and didn’t like about my last opportunity, decompress and rejuvenate from poor work life balance and general unhappiness and determine my new target. If you give into the pressure to jump from job to job, you may not end up in the right place.   

4.       Don’t treat contract jobs like the plague. When I was graduating university I turned my nose up at contract opportunities. Sure you don’t get benefits, but it is a great way to test the waters of a company/role you aren’t sure of, without long term commitment. Also, there tends to be less competition for contract roles, which may make you stand out even more.  

5.       Contacts that TOOK ACTION to help me in my job search stood out. A few contacts sent me good sites or positions. They also offered to connect me with their linkedin contacts of interest. I remember those people. Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand.

Who's smarter: inspector, penny or the dog?

 6.       If less than 75% of the job description thrills you – don’t apply. Be very clear about what you want and apply to those jobs (missions) that meet the majority of your criteria. Like a relationship partner, you probably won’t get everything on your wish list but you can get most (barring self employment).  

7.       Spend up to 2-3 hours on each job application. I did. Research the company (the website), scrutinize the job description to identify what the company is looking for and tailor your resume and cover letter to those needs.  

8.       Don’t be afraid to get creative with resume subheadings. I consider myself to be creative and wanted a more creative opportunity in marketing or PR. So I renamed all the traditional subheadings i.e. instead of “Volunteer Experience” I used “Labours of Love”.  I heard great feedback on this in cases where I got the interview.  Adopting this or another approach to showcase your unique approach to life and work.

9.       Consider using web 2.0 in the application process. Lots of people these days have online resumes or blogs to showcase their personality and experience, especially if the role is social media related. You will be asked for your twitter and various accounts. The video resume is also gaining in popularity in some fields and will definitely make you stand out (I didn’t use one). Consider expanding the tools you use to get yourself noticed.

10.   Research your stereotypes of certain roles i .e. Data analytics. I kept saying I wanted a creative job and ended up getting several interviews for web analyst roles. My perception was that these were computer facing, number crunching, boring roles. However, I spoke to a couple data analysts and realized that numbers-based decision making is becoming core to start ups, social media and larger companies. The recommendations and strategies lie in the numbers and you use them to tell a story. You also have to be able to communicate the findings to people in the organization so they understand, so there is people interaction. Alternatively, when I was working on creative based email or DM campaigns, I found there wasn’t much mental creativity.  Be careful not to disregard opportunities that may be well suited to you due to a lack of understanding.

11.   Sharing a blog, even if it isn’t professional in nature, MAY help you. This is an individual choice but I shared my blog for jobs that required writing or a particular quirky personality. I got an offer for a job where the interviewer loved my blog. Outspoken Chelsea shared her blog because she wanted her employer to accept her fully. The choice is yours, just be aware of what you are posting (i.e. I hate working isn’t great to post when you are looking for work) and that the employer can always access your blog after you get hired.  Do you want to share that much info ongoing? One size doesn’t fit all, you may develop criteria on when you will and won’t share your blog.

If only Inspector Gadget was as thoughtful in his approach, he probably wouldn’t need Penny to save the day. And just for fun, enjoy the opening of this classic cartoon.

What other tips can you share with respect to the JOB SEARCH?

8 Responses to 11 Secrets to Sleuth your way to a New Job (Part 1 of 2)

  1. J O'K says:

    You’ve picked up some awesome perspective from your job search Vanessa! Hopefully where ever you land, they’ll fully appreciate and utilize your exceptional writing skills:)

  2. Vadim says:

    Great article Vanessa, as always i enjoy your writing style!

    Good luck with the job hunt and keep on posting!

  3. Melissa says:

    You are an amazing writer! I am absolutely positive that you will find a job that will let you shine! Thanks for the words of inspiration that encourages us all to take our own leaps of faith…

  4. Vanessa says:

    Aww thanks all 3 of you! Blushing at the compliments on the writing. You just wait – it’s either gonna be a book or a movie or a show. I just need some accountability partners to make sure I make time for it 🙂

  5. Nikita says:

    I have been scoping out media job search canada and work in culture since 1st year uni! They are both great sites.

    100% agree with you on how we should apply to the jobs that really thrill us (75% rule)! Often times, we apply just because we feel we should be, not because it’s the right fit.

  6. Vanessa says:

    Wow Nikita you are on the ball – I just found those sites 2 months ago! I can’t wait to hear where you end up.

  7. Jen Gresham says:

    If everyone followed these suggestions, they’d have a job in no time. Great job writing this up!! 🙂

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