Many job searchers approach their search using the following principle: "The more jobs I apply for, the better chance I will have of getting an interview." They often then become frustrated when they do not get a call back from an employer; many will back away from searching at all in frustration.
There are three steps you can take to gain greater control over your career search: Conducting research, following up, and networking. Remember, it is not about casting as many lines as you can and seeing what bites, but rather showing employers why you belong with their company and making yourself stand out among the other candidates. Follow the steps below to show candidates you are more than a piece of paper – you are an effective candidate with a strategic plan that employers will remember.
Step 1: Research, Research, Research
Prior to applying to a position, take time to read over the company website. Focus on the mission statement and company values and jot down what you like about the company and decide if you want to pursue this position or not. Understanding the company's culture beforehand can benefit you by making it more likely you will work with a company that matches your values, which may help you stabilize your career path. Additionally, you will be prepared to answer interview questions such as, "Why are you interested in this company?" or "What do you know about our company?"
Step 2: Stay Organized
Not only is it important to apply to positions that meet 75-80% of your qualifications, but keeping track of the positions you apply to is vital to the job search. One easy way to track your applications is to save the emails you receive from application submissions. Using an Excel spreadsheet can work well, too, and may offer you the ability to analyze your efforts. Whatever method works for you, make sure to keep this information in a place that is easy to access. If an employer contacts you, it will be all available.
Step 3: Build Your Network and Make New Connections
If you have a LinkedIn account, use it to connect with the director or hiring manager of the company you're interested in, in order to introduce yourself to the employer after you have applied to the position. Use the advanced people search function using the company name to find the hiring manager/director for the position to which you are applying. You can send them an invite to connect, so you can follow up appropriately with the application.
Step 4: Follow Up!
Many individuals may worry that they'll come across as impatient or feel nervous about contacting an employer directly. Making yourself known to the employer is probably one of the most effective tactics you can employ, though. The most important rule about following up is keeping it professional. If you are going to contact an employer, be sure to thank them for connecting with you and introduce yourself professionally by providing your name and reason for contact. Remember, you are contacting them to see if they can direct you to the person in charge of the position rather than asking them if you can speak with them about the job.
Step 5: Be Patient
Patience is a huge part of the job search process. When emailing on LinkedIn or contacting employers and leaving voicemails, it's important to be patient with the turnaround time. If you are not able to reach an employer, wait about a week for the employer to contact you back. If the employer has not contacted you by then, another call may be appropriate. Contacting an employer too much can make a negative impression.
Step 6: Prepare your Elevator Pitch
While waiting for the call back, prepare an elevator pitch that details what you want to say to the employer. Tell the employer who you are professionally - what your skills and experience are, what you have accomplished and what you can bring to the role. Having prepared ahead of time can help alleviate some pressure and can help market you effectively to the employer. Showing confidence and being fully aware of your skills is one of the keys to a successful job search.
Interested in more posts on job search-related topics? Check out our Career Development blog.
If you're a current AIU student or alumnus looking for more career advice, please contact the Career Services Department at 877-221-5800 Option 5 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.