27 Tips for Job Searching, Cover Letter Writing, Resume Writing and Interviewing

It's rough out there, but you can still find and secure a job no matter what the shape of the economy.

Is one of your goals for this year to find a new job? Don’t let the rough economy be an excuse.

Yes, you have more competition, but you’ll always have the advantage of being you. By that I mean you have your own blend of skills, expertise and experience to offer the prospective employer that no one else does. Use it to your advantage.

In addition to playing to your strengths when it comes to job hunting, here are 27 other tips to keep in mind when searching for a new job, writing a cover letter and resume and preparing for an interview: 

Job Searching Tips

  1. What are a handful of ideal companies where you would love to work?
    Once you’ve got those, check the companies’ Web sites to find out if they’re hiring. Ideally, you can apply for an open position for which you are a perfect match. More than likely though, they are not hiring. In that case, contact them to set up an informational interview. This shows huge initiative. The informational interview has several advantages:

       

    • It gets your face and name recognized.
    • It takes the pressure off compared to a “real” interview.
    • You get to see if the company culture really is as awesome as you imagine.

    Again, no job is going to come from an informational interview, but you can use this opportunity to follow-up every couple of months or so with whoever interviewed you. That way, when a job opening does open up, you’ll be one of the first candidates in mind for the position.

    This tactic worked for a former coworker who wanted to be an editor at Las Vegas Magazine. It took more than a year for her to finally get the job, but it was worth it.

  2. Have you heard of Indeed?
    I hadn’t until late last year. It’s the best tool yet for job hunting. It searches all online job boards, which cuts down a lot of search time for you.
  3. Don’t let your industry niche sites go to waste.
    For example, I love Ed 2010 for its “whisper jobs” feature. In fact, I’ve secured several part-time writing jobs with Ed 2010. It’s so under-the-radar that many of those opportunities aren’t found through the bigger media job posting sites, such as Mediabistro.com or JournalismJobs.com.
  4. Search every day.
    In my experience, the jobs I jumped on immediately are the ones that I got. The early bird definitely gets the worm.
  5. Be wary of Craigslist jobs.
    I’m not saying all of them are shady, but my experiences with Craigslist jobs have not been good. The one full-time editor job I found through them was super shady and the couple of part-time writing jobs I found were also a bit sketchy, not to mention paid terribly.
  6. Network, network, network.
    Check in with your friends and acquaintances regularly to see if they know of any job openings. I know this one is obvious, but it’s always surprising to me how many people fail to do it. What do you think one of the major perks of having 387 friends on Facebook is?
  7. Perform a gut check.
    Do you really want to work here? Or are you lukewarm on it? Or are you just so fed up with your current job that you’d do anything to get out of there? Be careful of these scenarios. I have first-hand experience of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It was a horrible, horrible experience, but I definitely learned from it. (I’m referring to the shady full-time Craigslist job I accepted and worked at for four miserable months.)Don’t waste your time or the prospective employers’ time by applying to jobs in which you’re barely interested.
  8. Cover Letter Tips

  9. Keep it to one page.
    Even better – keep it to three-fourths of a page and use lots of paragraphs so it’s easier to read. There’s nothing that makes my eyes glaze over faster than a giant wad of black ink from top to bottom.
  10. Pay attention to detail.
    For example, make sure your header with your name and contact information at the top matches what’s on your resume and your references.
  11. . Keep your cover letter concise.
    However, make sure you use it to show how perfectly matched you are for the position. To do this, go through the specifications of the job posting and make sure you’ve addressed how you’ve exemplified each trait or skill that the company wants.
  12. . Include relevant volunteer experience.
    For example, say you are applying for a management position. In your cover letter, talk about your experience managing and fundraising for a charity event. What you do in your free time matters.
  13. . Let your personality shine through in the cover letter.
    Again, you want the cover letter brief, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have your tone and style. Your enthusiasm for this company and how you and the company are a match made in heaven should be jumping off the page.
  14. . Show you’ve researched the job for which you’re applying.
    Impress them with your knowledge of the company and the amazing ways they’re improving or innovating in your industry.
  15. . Exemplify how you can save the company money (most experience, multiple talents, etc.) and make management look good (perform the job smoothly and efficiently).
    These are the two implied skills that every company looks for in its workers.
  16. Resume Tips

  17. . Job objectives aren’t necessary.
    Keep it if you love it, but otherwise, free up that space to highlight more impressive work you’ve done.
  18. . Use numbers on your resume.
    For example: Managed 5 accounts. An exception to this is if you’re in the writing, editing industry. In this case, always use AP (Associated Press) style. So for me, I write out numbers one through nine, 10 and up are numbers.
  19. . Use action verbs and fragments:
         

    • Managed 5 accounts
    • Supervised 8 employees
    • Led monthly team meetings
  20. . Be specific; get to the point.
    This goes along with the example above. Use lots of numbers and time frames.

       

    • Led monthly team meetings
    • Wrote annual report
    • Took photos, wrote articles and completed layout to create monthly company newsletter
  21. . Include your references with your cover letter and resume.
    (This is unless the job posting specifically says not to do so.)
  22. . Ensure your references know you’re using them as references!
    Sounds obvious right? But in the frenzy to find a job, it’s amazing how easy it is to forget. A quick call or email should suffice. After all, no one likes to be caught off guard.
  23. Interview Tips

  24. . Have a firm handshake.
    Yes, it’s still important.
  25. . Come to the interview with a little something extra.
    Put together a little portfolio of your best work in a glossy binder, for example a sample of the files you create or advertisements you created. Yes, they’ve probably seen it before when they got your application, but if they don’t have it on hand at the interview, you already just helped them out.
  26. . Make sure you can always answer, “Why are you the best person for the job?”
    As I said, you bring your own unique blend of skills and experience to the table. What can you do or offer the company that no one else can?
  27. . Impress them with your knowledge.
    Let them know that you’ve researched this company and why you love it.
  28. . Ask lots of questions.
    Remember: you’re interviewing them, too. What are the typical work hours? Are there flexible hours? How long have most people worked here? What does the person interviewing you love about their job and the company?
  29. . Write a hand-written thank-you note to the person(s) who interviewed you.
    Do this as soon as you get home from the interview and get it in the mail the next day.
  30. . Go with your gut.
    If something feels off about the place or the interview, don’t ignore your gut! Going back to my nightmare Craislist job, in hindsight, I had red flags about the job, but I ignored them and took it anyway. I should have listened to my gut.

You’ve got the tools, now get out there and put them to use. Good luck in your job hunt!

Want some help with job huting, cover letter writing, resume writing or interviewing? Contact me.

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3 Responses to 27 Tips for Job Searching, Cover Letter Writing, Resume Writing and Interviewing

  1. jennifer says:

    Nice tips! I have one to add that doesn’t fit in any of your categories: Keep your social media profiles set to PRIVATE!

    These days, employers are not only doing background checks, but they’re also Googling job candidates to see what’s out there on them. It’s fine to have a Facebook or MySpace (do people even use that site anymore?!) profile, but keep it private. That way your potential future employer doesn’t get to see anything on your page (such as pics of your drunken spring break trip).

    I once worked at a magazine and heard from the internship director that they had an internship candidate they were interested in, but when they Googled her, they discovered she had posted on her MySpace page, “I accepted an internship just so I can spend the summer at the beach in Cali.” Needless to say, she no longer had the internship after the company read that.

    The only exception to this rule would be if you have a LinkedIn account. Those accounts are made for networking and business purposes, so definitely keep that one public. Just make sure everything you link to or post on there is professional.

  2. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Such an excellent addition, Jennifer — thanks!

    I remember the exact reference you’re talking about from the internship! That was a wake up call to all of us.

    As for MySpace, yeah, I think I’ve only logged onto my page once this year. I heard they’re not even trying to compete with Facebook as much anymore and are sticking to the music industry for it. Not sure if it’s true or not, but it makes sense — I wouldn’t want to compete with Facebook right now!

  3. jennifer says:

    Yep–As soon as I heard her say that, I went home and made my MySpace profile private!

    And I haven’t used my MS page in over two years… but I hear MS still “where it’s at” when it comes to music.

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