Today's Job Search Requires A Proactive Approach

Technology Staff Editor
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In the not too distant past, eager job hunters typed their resumes and cover letters, sent them off to prospective employers either by fax or snail mail, and then waited for the phone to ring. Most of the time, the applicants heard nothing until they received a rejection letter. Things have changed. Whether you're looking for your first job or a change of careers, finding employment is hard work. The methods and practices of applying for a job are not what they used to be and both returning and new entrants into the job market often find themselves at a loss of how best to proceed.
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In today's job market, online submission is one of the most common methods of applying for a job. The process may seem easier, but more is involved than ever before. Cover letters and/or networking letters are now a necessity and must be as well written as your resume. In fact, since the cover letter is the first thing hiring executives see and will determine if anyone even looks at your resume, it is the most important document in your job search. Follow-up calls, which were occasionally expected, are now a mandate as employers are pushing a lot of the application tasks onto the job hunter. Instead of waiting for a call, you have to make phones ring in the HR offices of prospective employers. Essentially you have to become proactive and keep the lines of communication open. For first-time IT job candidates, it's important to realize upfront that your diploma doesn't come with instructions for finding work and is not an automatic ticket to a job. You may be a math or electronic genius, but how do you display this to hiring personnel? Graduating with honors doesn't get you any closer to a corporate office. You still have homework to do, learning how to write a resume and discovering the tricks of career initiation.

So take a deep breath and plan your attack. Start with your resume, cover and networking letters. Terms relevant to any desired discipline must be in your letters in order for search engines to select you. Otherwise, a person may not even look at your resume. You have to get attention within a few seconds, or you are out of running and the resume is dropped into the trash. For those seeking gainful employment in specific technical fields, there's even more work to do. The technical fields have more buzz words than any other specified area and job seekers must know and use them. If hiring personnel are looking for a computer science programmer with Java and/or Oracle experience, then these terms must appear in your cover letter and resume for you to show up in their search results. The same is true if you are interested in a job as a systems engineer, graphic designer, or any other specialized position. Resume search keywords are usually nouns but may also include skill and experience like "software testing" or "Web programming." Acronyms and industry terminology, such as JSP, are also important resume keywords. Remember to highlight your knowledge and experience with terminology used in the daily business of your industry. Once you have your paperwork in perfect condition, it's time to find employment. The jobs are out there, you just have to know where to look. How do you find them? Search, ask a professional career coach, spend time browsing Internet job sites, network at social functions, talk to friends and acquaintances who have successfully found work and started their own careers Of course, there's always nepotism, but don't count on it. Job-search engines are numerous and many are industry-specific. Some are very specialized, concentrated in a very precise, even limited, way towards exclusive areas of the workplace. Job sites are plentiful, but only 15-20% of available positions are advertised on the Web, or anywhere else for that matter. Finding unadvertised jobs is harder and requires a lot more work, but often can pay more. You can hire a professional career coach who has good contacts within hiring companies and can help find the 'hidden' jobs. Newspapers are still a source for job openings. However, now they can be viewed online and your application is sent electronically. Most major papers have tech sections in their employment pages. Another opportunity to network and find employment is job fairs. They are still popular and, yes, there are some just for IT specialists. With a so many sources and opportunities for finding employment and a low unemployment rate, you may get the impression you will find a job within minutes of starting your search. Face reality, the process may take months. Don't get discouraged. Take a deep breath, think positively and arm yourself with the that latest weapons of job hunting which can range from hiring a resume write, to working with a career counselor. Now, go out and conquer the world. Vicki Slingluff-Andrews is a staff writer for Career Services International, which assists executives win desirable new jobs. Vicki hosts a TechCareers blog, Career Chronicles. Other recent articles from TechCareers How To Beat Age Discrimination In The Job Search Move The Job Search Forward By Approaching It Backward
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