Like most challenges in life, there is no absolutely right way or wrong way to do things. A job search is no different. Certain approaches and strategies work better for some people than others. That's part of the reason there are so many experts on finding a job. We all can share what we've seen as effective ways of building a network, writing a resume, or interviewing for a job. And by "we," I mean you, too.
Experienced job seekers are coaches, too. As long as you pay attention to what is or is not working, your abilities get stronger and your senses get keener, over time. The lessons learned are allowing you to get closer to your goal, of finding employment. Online and offline networks for sharing these lessons should be part of your resources for improving your skills, too. In addition to comprehensive web sites like this one, there are all kinds of message boards, chat rooms, and Social Media forums where real-time advice is exchanged. Twitter always has countless "conversations" going on, regarding the job search.
Margo Rose runs a Twitter chat that takes place on Fridays called Hire Friday. Job seekers can exchange their ideas by simply having a Twitter account and searching on the hashtag #HFChat (you can use tweetchat.com to participate). On February 4th, several good topics were covered during their weekly one hour "chat." Here are some of the "tweets" from the discussion amongst job seekers, coaches, recruiters, and others.
Should a job seeker target a job, a company or both?
- @DavidGaspin: Both. Some target a company first, and then find a job they want to/can do. Some target a job first, and then find companies that are hiring.
- @RichardSPearson: By targeting a company you may find the "not posted" jobs versus getting lumped in with other applicants.
When is it appropriate to take a step backward in job title/grade/salary?
- @SaleStart: If [you] really like the company, but no current positions are at your level [are] open, you might be willing to work [your] way up to [your]dream job.
- @tombolt: Smaller companies tend to offer bigger titles as incentives.
- @garrickt: Taking a step backward is appropriate if it helps you accomplish a larger, potentially long term, goal.
- @BillBoorman: Choose job content over job title.
What is the best way to do background search on a company for a job?
- @MaleciaWalker: Talk to other people who worked there. Preferably those who departed amicably.
- @DavidGaspin, @tombolt : You have to go beyond the company website to research potential employers. Use Google, your network on LinkedIn, Glassdoor.com, Bestplacestowork.org, everything.
- @Lin_Dolin: Look at Yahoo message boards for public companies. Find industry specific blogs. Go back months to identify trends.
- @myFootpath: Get into some Twitter/social media conversation with whoever runs that company's account.
- @tombolt: Financial info available on WSJ, Barrons, or Hoovers will give an idea of company stability.
- @BillBoorman: Replyz.com is a good way to see questions and comments about companies, and to ask for info.
Is the culture of a company important and how do you find out about it?
- @EmilieMeck: Company culture is huge. There needs to be great chemistry in order to encourage brainstorming and collaboration.
- @MaleciaWalker: Look at the longtime employees' career progression, especially if looking to advance.
- @jim_horrell: You can also tell about culture by the pictures/posters on the walls. If they have inspiring posters, [it's a] good sign.
- @ResumeStrategy: Ask people who've left the company in the last year or two. They are more likely to be blunt about the pros and cons of [the company's] culture.
- @RichardSPearson : Culture is driven from the top management. Google [the] CEO for his past performance/companies and you'll find good info.
How important are company benefits in the selection of a target company or acceptance of an offer?
- @tombolt : Benefits should match personal needs, such as child care, paid time off, [and] medical insurance. You need to decide on what you need before you think about what you want.
- @tombolt: Company web sites may mention overall benefits but employee contacts are [the] best source.
When is a temp or contract job appropriate?
- @PaulSevcik: When it's helpful to move you forward, such as opening a door into a longer term opportunity with the company.
- @ResumeStrategy : Contract/temp work is appropriate when you need to broaden or deepen your experience base.
- @SaleStart : Working temp/contract is a great way to keep [your] resume current while looking for perm position. You are more attractive to employers if employed.
As you can see, there are lots of ideas and opinions on these topics. In the end, you must try approaches you are comfortable with, but don't be afraid to try new things. The lesson to be learned here is simple: Don't overlook the expertise of those who are in the process with you. Coaches can be very helpful, and the ones doing the work know plenty, too.
Next: The Ultimate Job Search Guide