The art of job searching certainly appears to be more planful and sophisticated each year. It was not too long ago that most positions were found by knowing someone or just walking in and applying.
For years in this column, we have written about being a savvy job seeker as a way of differentiating yourself from your competition. As we all know, for the really good jobs, the competition can be stiff.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from your competition is by being very knowledgeable and doing the research necessary to gain that needed level. Research goes far beyond just finding out what somebody does, so let’s take a look at some of the key areas a job seeker should dive deeper into.
• Research before you begin your job search. It is important to perform a self-assessment to determine what you value and where your interests lie. For example, everything from size of the company, benefits, compensation, and commute should be ranked along with the type of work performed, such as human interaction, industry, and level of responsibility. You can then research companies within your designated areas to meet your needs. Your job search can then be focused on positions that match your desires.
• Dive deeply into any job advertisement or posting you encounter. Use the format that works best for you, but I recommend printing the ad if online or cutting the ad out of the printed-paper. Read and reread what has been written. Highlight any keywords or requirements that immediately grab your attention. Really review the position to determine if it is something you would be interested in. Look through your records and determine if you have applied for the position previously. If you can, try to research how often the position has been posted and when; this can give you a feel for turnover or difficulty filling the position. Remember that keywords are very important because recruiters (or computers if applying online) will scan an application/resume seeking these keywords. If there are keywords or phrases that you are not familiar with, you need to research them immediately. If you think about it…if the employer thought it was important enough to place in the ad, then a job seeker should at least be familiar with the term. Your cover letter and resume should be designed around the ad being reviewed (providing the personal touch) so incorporate as best you can the information gained from the employer into your documents.
• Come prepared to any Career Fair you attend. Obtain a list of all employers and what positions they are currently recruiting for. Target whom you are interested in and research them. At a Career Fair, you have a very limited time with a Recruiter, so it is crucial that any questions that you may ask are prepared and thoughtful.
• Show the knowledge you have gained in the interview. Research the company to the point a general understanding of what they do is known and a conversation on the subject can be held. The goal is not a regurgitation in the interview of every “factoid” gathering, but rather so a professional discussion can be held. A common error for a job seeker is to use their very limited and valuable question and answer time in the interview to play trivia with every fact gathered. This will not impress the interviewer and will consume time that could be spent asking thoughtful questions and gaining valuable additional information that can be used by you later. Information is easily obtained through sources such as the company’s Website, or doing a search engine with the company and/or their industry as keywords. It is nice to be timely with your research, so search area news sources for headlines that may have involved the organization. For more entry-level positions, the fact you have gone to the trouble of researching may just be enough to provide you with a competitive edge.
• Use first-hand sources whenever possible. This is certainly a more difficult and time-consuming approach compared to just looking at the Internet. By speaking directly with people who work with the company are familiar with them in the industry, you will gain information and a perspective not available online. You will also obtain information on topics such as promotional policies and reputation in the industry that may not be available elsewhere.
• Be prepared for the offer. In today’s changing world of business you should get a feel for the organization’s standing prior to saying yes to an offer. The best way to do this is to research. Find out what the range is in WNY for the type of position you are looking for and in the industry you are seeking. Determine the financial status of the organization if they are publicly traded. You may look at stock price trending, net income, and market share among other key indicators. A lot of this information can be found in a company’s annual report or by searching the various stock price websites.
Conducting the proper research takes time and discipline. The effort you expend will allow you to be better informed regarding the position, the company, and industry that you are interested in. The job search is an area where knowledge is power and your research will give you a competitive advantage.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: