Spring Cleaning: How To Tidy Up Your Job Search

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The month of April is upon us, and for thousands of students across the country this means they are about to hand in their final essays and hit up a pitcher and a patio to celebrate the completion of another school year.

However, after a couple days of hanging out with Alexander Keith, priorities are bound to shift and, for those who have not yet landed a job, job search mode will begin.

According to the Robert Half Professional Employment Report, a quarterly survey which tracks professional-level hiring, a net 9% of executives plan to hire full-time staff in the second quarter of 2012.

This suggests those with specialized skills just might have some luck finding jobs. Forget spring cleaning in your basement for a second and let’s take a look at how your job search can use some spring cleaning too, starting with…

Tidy up your resume

“Companies today are looking for very specialized talent” says Lara Dodo, a Regional Vice-President with Robert Half. “Highlight your specific skill sets and experiences.”

She offered six key points to consider when cleaning up your resume:

  • Cut to the chase: Make sure details are front and centre and use specific examples.
  • Tailor the content toward what each organization is looking for.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t use fancy language or distracting font.
  • Clear the clutter: Don’t muddle your message by having too much personal information. Include only your professional skills and experiences.
  • Use the right terms: Many organizations use key-word search engines to weed out resumes, so using company-specific lingo is essential.
  • Do the two-minute test: Have someone else scan the resume in two minutes to ensure it makes sense and makes you stand out.

Finally, as an honourary point: look for typos! Lara says many people are eliminated from job opportunities because of silly typing errors on their resumes.

Streamline your interview preparation

Just because the weather has been a tad wonky lately doesn’t mean your wardrobe has to be! When choosing an interview outfit from your spring wardrobe, follow these simple dos and don’ts:

  • DON’T assume you can dress down. Even if the company culture is very casual, always err on the side of conservative regardless of how warm the weather might be!
  • DON’T wear anything uncomfortable
  • DON’T wear clothing that is wrinkled or revealing.
  • DO pay attention to details such as clean shoes and kept fingernails.
  • DON’T over-accessorize. Choose simple jewelry, make-up and perfume. “Less is more” is very much a theme here – on paper and in person.

The job interview, step by step

This is nothing you haven’t heard before, but after endless months of burying yourself in the library with coffee, Nietzsche and an impossible word count before you, it’s easy to forget something such as simple interview guidelines.

  • Take a moment to think before you speak.
  • Keep a lighthearted approach. Humour is a great way to build rapport!
  • It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Be conscious of eye contact and positive body language.
  • Rehearse answers to common questions and think of examples beforehand.
  • When appropriate, ask your interviewer questions.
  • Always follow up! Thank-you letters may be an old fashioned tradition, but they can still go a long way. It is a very simple way to stand out from the crowd. A thank-you email is better than nothing, but personalized thank you notes still take the cake.

Now that you’re as ready for your job search as you are for the warmer weather, perhaps a peek at what positions are in greatest demand this season would be useful.

According to the Robert Half Professional Employment Report, the legal field is expecting the highest hiring activity, with 37% of employers planning to increase staff levels. The marketing industry followed with 22% seeking to hire, followed closely by the transportation sector which saw 21% anticipating hiring activity.

Here’s hoping your attic is as fresh and clean as your job search!

Photo credit: Cleaning Supplies by SurvivalWoman on Flickr
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