By Ali Rogerson, Staffing Consultant
Thinking of changing jobs or pursuing a new career? Make sure you have all your bases covered first.
Here are 10 things you should do before starting your search:
1. Drill down on your motivating factors. You should be genuinely focused and committed to a career field, and present that way to prospective employers. What three things do you need in your next position? What are your salary parameters and what kind of schedule do you need for work-life balance? Would you compromise on any of these, and why?
2. Ensure you have time to job hunt.Yes, there will be multiple interviews. Have a few reasons to be out of the office for a couple of hours without suspicion stashed in your back pocket. You may have to use vacation or sick time to interview. You must be able to check your email and voicemail often and be responsive to requests.
3. Update your resume. Remember that your resume is a marketing tool that you have 100% control over – a way to pitch your skills to employers. To that end, make sure it includes a line at the very top that states what you do, for instance “Experienced Accountant” or “Digital Marketing Manager.” Add your degree. However, if you took classes but didn’t complete a degree, leave it off. Identify your top 8-12 skills and line them up nicely in a skill section, with 2-3 per line, using the tab key (no hard returns with the space bar please!).
Here’s an example:
Digital Content Social Media Channels Marketing Campaigns
Copywriting Proofing & Editing Blogs & Online Publishing
4. Identify a concise and neutral reason why you’re looking for a new job. Everyone will ask you this question. Have an answer ready that moves the interview along expediently, as there are far more important things to discuss. I can’t emphasize concise and neutral enough. Don’t tell your life story and never speak negatively about past employers, unless you worked for an obvious bad apple like Enron or Bernie Madoff.
- Current company is going through a merger/acquisition = you’re seeking stability with an established employer
- You hate your boss = seeking a better cultural fit or work-life balance
- You’re underpaid or underemployed = seeking a position where you can be challenged in a fast-paced environment and grow with the role
- You want to advance your career = looking for an employer where you can make a long-term investment
5. Manage your social media. Make your Facebook account private, scrub anything offensive off your Twitter feed, and watch out for any content that makes you look like a partier who can’t roll into the office without a hangover. Make sure your online presence aligns with the professional image you want to project. Prospective employers will research you online, so do your due diligence to avoid the possibility that something will be misinterpreted.
6. Please delete the car selfie as your LinkedIn profile picture. Recruiters and employers will look you up in LinkedIn in “blind mode”, so you won’t even know they’re doing it. Selfies taken in your car, party photos, swimsuit pictures, and blurry photos taken from ten feet away do not say, “hire me.” Top talent has a built out, current profile with a clear picture. If you don’t have a professional photo, hire a photog or ask a friend to take a well-lit picture of you wearing a suit against a neutral background (a white or gray wall will often do the trick.)
7. Get a simple, neutral email address if you don’t have one. They’re free. Your email should not attract attention or be too far away from your name. I once had a candidate whose email address was inappropriate. Even though she was a VP at a major company, it’s been a year and I still only remember her shocking email address rather than her qualifications, because it made a personal statement that stood out in a bad way.
8. Don’t make a fashion statement in a job interview. You want the interviewer to remember you, not your clothing. Minimal or classic jewelry is best.
Stick to neutral or pale colors – gray suits test best, navy blue is a close second, pinstripes are third. Black can be severe, but if that’s what you’ve got, work it.
Make sure your nails are groomed – long pink falcon talons with glued on jewels don’t test well in focus groups. Don’t wear loud patterns, ties or jewelry. I had one candidate whose charm bracelet clunked a glass table so much during her interview that she drove the hiring manager nuts. Don’t risk it. And gents, about that trend with wearing your pants ankle length so your crazy-fun socks show? Great idea, but not for a job interview. Keep the focus on what you can do, not what you’re wearing.
9. Check your credit score. Employers may run a credit check as part of the hiring process, and you don’t want to be surprised.
10. Don’t take any meds you can’t get at CVS. Don’t take other people’s meds, even if they got them at CVS. Be prepared to pass a drug test. If you want to work in a hospital, stop smoking (many smoke-free facilities will run a nicotine blood test).
Enjoyed these tips? Follow Ali Rogerson on LinkedIn.