Some people are more successful than others in their job searches. It is not just by chance or because they have better qualifications. It is about how they manage the job search process, even if they’re not actively looking for a job.
I’ve had the opportunity to interview thousands of job candidates. Here are seven habits that successful job seekers practise. How do you compare?
1. Be a passive job seeker always
The most successful job seekers are always on the lookout for good opportunities – even if they are not actively looking to make a change now. They may be satisfied with their current job but are always aware of the job market in their field. They have a good network of contacts. They know who is hiring, and they know what they are worth.
2. Maintain an active online presence
It would be best if you made yourself visible to employers who are increasingly using social media to find and screen candidates. But posting a profile and checking news feeds occasionally is not really “being on” social media. You must be active with relevant, accurate and current information about yourself. And while you’re at it, clean up any “digital dirt” that might be out there. Inappropriate photos, offensive comments, or evidence of excessive drinking can quickly destroy your chance of getting a job offer.
3. Build strong personal connections
Successful job seekers build and maintain an array of personal connections and relationships, including friends, relatives, former employers, colleagues, business associates, association members, community leaders, and former professors. But here’s the key: Even if you are not looking for a new job now, you should maintain these relationships by reaching out regularly. Send a holiday or birthday greeting, invite them to lunch, and offer your help if they need it. The more you give now, the greater the chance they will help you at critical stages in your career.
4. Customize everything
Successful job seekers customize their cover letter, resume, and interview answers to match the employer’s needs. Most job seekers, however, do the opposite. They send in templated cover letters, use the same resume for every job they apply for, and give vague, generalized answers to any interview question they are asked. Don’t be like them. Your cover letter should tell the employer how your background meets their requirements. Your resume should highlight your relevant experience clearly. And give detailed examples when answering interview questions. Do this, and you will stand out from the crowd.
5. Anticipate the interview questions
When preparing, successful job seekers review the job description and prepare a list of questions they would ask a candidate if they were in the shoes of the interviewer. It is absolutely the best way to prepare for an interview. You should be able to anticipate almost every possible interview question. Then, prepare answers to those questions and conduct a practice interview with a friend or family member. Nothing beats good preparation.
6. Make a strong first and lasting impression
Successful job seekers follow simple strategies to make a good impression. Be on time, have a firm handshake and friendly greeting, dress appropriately, maintain eye contact, listen well, be engaging, and smile. Employers prefer to hire people they like and who impress them. Employers will often reject candidates with strong technical skills – but who come across as arrogant or egotistical – in favour of candidates who are likeable with fewer technical skills.
7. Follow up with a thank you note
Successful job seekers always follow up the interview with a thank you note – one of the most under-utilized tools in the job search process. A well-written note allows you to highlight key points about your background and summarize why you are a good candidate. It also allows you to point out things you forgot to say in the interview. And finally, it gives you an occasion to say, “thank you” and express your gratitude for being given the opportunity to meet with the employer – even if you don’t get the job.