If someone asked me what’s the best productivity tip I have tried so far, my answer will be:
Make a damn checklist.
- Research and Planning
- Resume & Cover Letter
- Job Searching
- Job Interview Preparation
As a 30-something adult male with the memory span of a goldfish, I tend to forget stuff quicker than normal. I’ve gotten myself into both funny and potentially harmful situations simply because I forgot something.
I wish I was kidding.
To someone like me, checklists are a godsend. It just keeps things a whole lot manageable.
“OK, I get it, checklists are important”, you say. But how the heck will that help me in looking for a job?
It’s like this: If someone told you to buy a list of 20 things in the supermarket, it’s a good idea to write it down, isn’t it?
Trying to recall all those items in your memory bank is not only harder, it’s also more risky.
A checklist ensures you don’t forget to buy eggs and chicken nuggets for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Believe it or not, the same logic applies when looking for a job.
Did you remember to update your phone number in your resume? Researched what the company you’re interviewing for is all about?
Aware of the exact date and time of the interview? Know how to answer the oft-asked, “Tell me about the time when there was a problem in your previous job and how you helped solve it?”
Before planes take off, pilots go through a checklist of items to ensure all systems are up and running.
Why? Because a single missed switch could result to something disastrous.
Imagine this guide as your very own job search checklist. All you need to do is read it, clear and check each task off, and you’ll be ready for that interview like a pilot ready to take flight.
See you out there, El Capitan.
Before you jump into another resource-consuming (time, money, energy) job hunt, it will be best to take a moment and do a bit of self-assessment of your goals.
Sadly, this step in the process is often overlooked because we’re too preoccupied in landing a job ASAP. This leads to a missed opportunity in identifying what we truly want in our professional careers.
- Identify which jobs and line of work interest you the most
- Identify which of these jobs you’re most qualified and have the skills for
- Decide on your target career path per your chosen profession
- Determine your key strengths and weaknesses as a professional
- Identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), what traits/skills help distinguish you from others
- Identify your accomplishments in the academe and previous work
- Determine the type of projects that made you excited in your previous job
- Write this all down and come up with a mind map that allows you to identify recurring strengths and patterns
- Take the company’s location into consideration
- Determine your preferred salary and how you’re going to negotiate for it
Research and Planning
Instead of scrolling like a madman browsing through job listings online, craft a solid strategy of your job hunt process.
A more thoughtful and targeted approach will help you land the best job and company that fits your needs.
- Set a designated time daily for conducting your job hunt.
- Determine which industries and companies you want to work for the most and make a list
- Write down a list of potential contacts that might be working in those industries already
- Write down a list (including contact information) of references.
- Identify which job search websites you will be utilizing (LinkedIn, Jobstreet, etc.,)
- Research and read guides online on how to make effective profile pages for these websites
Resume & Cover Letter Tips
A well-crafted resume and cover letter is like a speargun hitting a fish: strong and direct.
While others are too busy throwing fish hooks using resumes that look like personal data sheets, yours is a deadly weapon made to hit its target.
- Research samples of excellent resumes & CVs.
- Determine which type of resume style (Chronological, Functional, Combination) will feature your strengths best.
- List down key accomplishments (3-5) for each work experience.
- Use short, clear sentences to explain work experience
- Utilize bullet points for better clarity and flow.
- Use the proper font and format.
- Avoid the use of common buzzwords like “team player” and “hardworking”.
- Carefully proofread resume to avoid typos and misspellings.
- Control the timeline: Don’t include seminars/trainings and other info that are too old (more than 15 years)
- Made sure all information in resume is accurate and true.
- Include/mention volunteer work experience
- Make sure your resume header contained important contact information
- Avoid the use of “I” or “I am” (e.g “I’m skilled at ____ , I have ___ )
- Avoid writing, “I am looking for an exciting and challenging career and company to further develop my skills” (everybody wants that, no need to mention it or you’ll risk sounding cliche)
- Do not list any character references (recommended)
- Understand key strategies and importance of a strong cover letter
- Research and review samples online
- Utilized the active voice in describing strengths and accomplishments
- Provide clear and specific information about yourself
- Each cover letter should be addressed to a named person
- Make sure that the cover letter mentions the employer’s needs
- Make sure you clearly stated how you will help them solve their needs/problems.
- Show your knowledge about the company and its industry
- Cover letter should be clear and concise (not more than 1 page)
- Make sure nothing negative was mentioned in the cover letter
- Show enthusiasm when explaining why you’re the best person for the job
- Make sure to close strong
- Letter requests an action from the recipient at the end
- Proofread and check for any misspellings
Read our ultimate guide on how to write a resume.
Most people get turned off with the idea of “Networking”. These people equate it to “using others for personal gain”. If that sounds like you, better shed that thinking now and realize that true networking is all about give and take – it’s not a one-sided affair.
If you position yourself as someone who can provide value, people will be inclined to do the same.
In networking for jobs, it’s about building relationships so you can trade ideas, suggestions, advice, and referrals.
- Utilize LinkedIn and other social networks to connect with individuals under the same industry
- Reach out to your network of colleagues, friends and previous workmates for referrals
- Join trade or professional organizations
- Attend summits, seminars, trainings that are within the scope of your chosen field
- Offer to volunteer and extend expertise (opens up opportunities)
- Utilize social media to check and attend networking events within your industry
- Join Facebook groups of like-minded professionals/mastermind groups
- Look for people who are already working in your target industry and offer to “pick their brain” for advice on how and where to start
Job Search Tips
- Download and use apps that can help you with your job search (LinkedIn, Jobstreet, Indeed, Twitter, Glassdoor)
- Clean up your social media presence
- Remove any personal images/comments that are inappropriate (if there are any)
- Make sure you have a professional-looking email address
- Check websites of companies that you’re interested in working for
- Check newspapers for potential leads
- Polish up your resume
- Check out job boards (Craigslist, Jobstreet, Monster, Kalibrr)
- Prepare yourself of job interview questions
- Have a professional-looking photo of yourself taken
- Know your resume inside and out. Be ready to elaborate on each entry
- Stay organized. Track all your applications so you can follow-up accordingly.
- Set-up reminders and due dates
- Bookmark jobs you find interesting for further checking later
- Utilize spreadsheets, Trello boards, etc for keeping your information in one place
- Watch YouTube videos showing resume and cover letter creation best practices
Job Interview Preparation
Ah, at last. You landed a job interview. Good job!
After spending a good amount of time researching and sending out resumes and applications, your efforts have paid off.
Now we wouldn’t want to see those efforts go to waste, don’t we?
Now with one foot at the door, it’s time to kick it open!
Your Main Weapon: The Elevator Pitch
Elevator rides typically take mere seconds to complete. And the best client pitches are known to be as quick. Hence the term, “Elevator Pitch”.
An Elevator Pitch is meant to trigger interest from your prospect by letting them know what you can do for them through your product or service. The core strategy can be broken down into 3 parts:
- Tell your prospect what you do
- Explain why it is important
- Hook them in by saying what you plan on doing for their company
The highlight of course, as any good salesman will tell you, is closing the sale (number 3).
Focus should be on answering the prospect’s question of, “What’s in it for me?”. Why is this important? Because the client wants to know if what you promise you can do is something that would be of value to them.
For example, “Based on what I just said (see numbers 1 & 2 above), I can increase your total revenue by as much as 150% in the next 6 months”.
Or like this: “My experience in (insert your expertise here) will help cut your service downtime by as much as 20% overall, resulting into a profit increase of X percent”.
Here’s another one: “By doing this (number 2), I can create a strategy that will decrease each rep’s Average Handling Time which will help increase service quality and support coverage by as much as X percent”.
With a proposal like that, you’re enticing the prospect big time. You’re highlighting your skills and at the same time, showing them what they will get if they hire you.
Now, real sit-down interviews usually take longer than a few seconds.
To apply the Elevator Pitch’s core principles to an actual job interview, here are the steps:
- Know your prospect well. Knowing what they are looking for is a crucial element in closing strong.
- Tell them who you are (background).
- Explain what you’re good at (highlight skills)
- Offer your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
- Tell them about your strategy for achieving (insert client goal)
Each time you answer, make sure to be clear and direct to the point. All words coming out of your mouth should have a goal of achieving a step in our strategy above.
That being said, here are other things to keep in mind before and during the interview:
Before the Interview:
- Confirm the time, date and location of the interview
- Try to be at least 30-minutes to 1-hour early
- Check the route before the day of the interview (How will you get there? How’s the traffic?)
- Pack your stuff and important documents the night before
- Prepare your clothes the day before (look smart and crisp)
- Try to get plenty of sleep the night before the interview
- Remember the name of the interviewer
- Prepare for the most common questions
- Don’t eat anything that can upset your stomach
During the Interview
- Keep all gadgets in your bag or pocket
- Put your phone in silent mode
- Give a firm handshake
- Relax and talk as you normally would
- Look the interviewer in the eye while they’re talking
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer while they’re talking
- Show a bit of personality, don’t be too stiff
- Sit properly, don’t slouch or recline
- Smile appropriately, show that you’re confident
- Show your enthusiasm both in listening and answering
- Highlight points in your experience where you showed leadership
- Use storytelling, results, real-world examples of achievements as proof of your claims
- Show that you have a clear understanding of what the job requires
- Say thank you after the interview proper
- Get the interviewer’s contact info
- Send a personalized check-in email to follow-up
- Pace your follow-ups
Ready to take the next step? Check out these other guides: