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A four-step plan for job search success using the Web
(ARA) - Limited job options, stiff competition and new technological advances require job seekers to step up their game in order to stand apart from the crowd. In today's tech savvy world, this includes not only updating your resume, but also using new online technologies to augment your research and organization.
While this may seem a bit daunting, insider advice from a few career experts can help you with recommendations for job search success using the Web.
Give your resume a makeover
"The first thing a job seeker needs to do is to update their resume with the terminology and formats used in the desired industry," says Kirsten Wright, director of career services for The Art Institute of Washington - Northern Virginia. Research professionals working for the industries you want to work in to see how they phrase their skills and abilities. Then tailor your resume to a similar format.
"A general resume that highlights achievements with a position-specific cover letter is the best approach," says Wright. "Hiring managers can spot a generic cover letter a mile away. When each resume and cover letter get less than 20 seconds to make a first impression, that first impression is critical." She also recommends that you consider doing a video resume to complement your standard materials as a great way to set yourself apart.
Research your wish list of companies
Once you have selected the top 50 companies where you would like to work, create a folder for each (physical or electronic) that includes the company name, location, website, contacts you have there, human resources manager, manager of the department you're interested in, top management, products or services, and positions available.
Ed Hunter, vice president and director of career services for The Art Institute of Philadelphia, suggests using social media to help research your preferred companies. "Set up 'Google alerts' on each company so you know what the media are saying about them," says Hunter. He also recommends following both the company and the managers on Twitter, liking their Facebook pages and connecting on LinkedIn. "This will help you stay abreast of new products, services, changes in staff and even new position announcements."
Network, network, network
You've used social networking on a personal level; now is the time to make it work for you. Use the networks you've developed online to gather information about job openings. Let your online friends know what you're looking for.
"It's fine to engage the managers you're following on social networks," says Debra Pierce, director of career services at Miami International University of Art & Design. "Be sure your communication relates to the company or the profession, as people blatantly looking for a job are quickly avoided." You can even refer to these interactions during an interview.
Pierce also reminds job seekers, "It is important to manage your online presence since hiring managers will do an extensive search on a candidate prior to hiring them. Be sure to eliminate unused social media pages and to delete any material that you would not want an employer to see."
Remember that social media has not replaced personal contacts. Many employment opportunities still come from people you know or have met in person so continue using your offline network of friends, colleagues and family as they too will be valuable in your search.
Implement your action plan
Armed with information and job search tools, it's time to put your job search strategy in place. Spend at least two hours every day searching online, tweaking your resume and cover letter, and following up on job openings. Make sure that each resume and cover letter is customized to the job you are applying for - mirroring the wording to match the job description when appropriate is important.
Bruce McCain, career services director for The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, reminds job seekers, "Organization is key. Maintain a list or spreadsheet to track goals you've set for each week, jobs you've applied for, follow-up you've done, passwords for various websites and the status of each company on your wish list."
The competition is fierce, so it's important to use the all the latest tools at your disposal to be successful in your job search. And when you get that interview, just pull the information from the company folder you've created, review your online interactions with the managers you've engaged and get ready to land that job. To learn more visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.
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