10 Job-Securing Strategies
These are nervous times for all of us. COVID-19 has caused some of us to lose our jobs, and this can cause high stress and worry. My best tip is to use the fear to propel you to grow.
My name is Jim Estill and I’m the CEO of Danby Appliances. Persistence has paid off for me, but success never happens overnight.
Strategy #1: Define your brand
When you are looking for a new job or career, one of the critical areas that few people do well is marketing themselves, or self-promotion. In today’s highly competitive job market, the key to getting one’s name out there and having an edge over competitors is successful self-promotion, which in turn helps develop a positive reputation. While some may think that “self-promotion” and “marketing yourself” are simply buzzwords, they are not, particularly in this digital age where much of what you do or say shapes your personal brand.
But what exactly is a personal brand? Karen Wensley, author of The Power of Personal Branding for Career Success (published by The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants in July 2012) defines it as: “… both the way you define yourself and the way you are perceived by others. It is the sum total of all of your personal and professional skills, abilities, attitudes and values. It includes attributes such as your appearance (do you look like a polished professional?) and your presence (do you behave and sound persuasive and confident?).” Self-promotion, or marketing yourself, is a way of owning your image rather than letting others define who you are from their own perceptions or misconceptions. Developing your personal brand is only effective if you take the time to think about what you’re doing and why. A sign of success is to be compensated for something that you are passionate about and love doing. Mix that in with a little bit of luck and opportunity and you’ll be on the path to creating a successful brand.
Brand discovery includes:
– Determining what your career path is
– Developing a powerful mission, vision and brand statement
– Creating short-term and long-term plans
Strategy #2: Market Yourself
Once you settle on your own personal brand, it’s time to think about marketing yourself. Consider the Four P’s of Marketing, a model used widely over the last few decades in various industries to introduce new products to existing markets. The four P’s to remember when promoting yourself are Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.
Product: You are the product. When attempting to sell a product in the store, retailers will focus on its features and benefits in order to gain the interest of potential buyers. Similarly, you will need to focus on your skills, capabilities, education, and personality in order to gain the interest of a prospective employer.
Price: The goal of retailers is to determine the price consumers are willing (and able) to pay for a product. The salary is your price. You need to understand your minimums, the job market, and the average salary for someone in your desired position with your skills and education. If you are in a starting position, keep in mind that your starting salary will likely be less than you are expecting. Also consider other forms of compensation when determining your worth (things like vacation time, employee benefits, and other employee perks).
Promotion: Products are often advertised on billboards, commercials, flyers, etc. Unless you plan to invest in some advertising space on a local billboard, you’ll likely have to find a more traditional way to promote yourself. This will be through your cover letter, résumé,
online profiles, attire, attitude, communication skills, and the use of your personally developed network. Social media is also a great way to subtly promote yourself. Making meaningful updates on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can get you found and keep you top of mind.
Place: When determining the place to sell an item, retailers will pick certain markets where the product has shown positive gains, as well as place it in an area of the store where it will catch the eye of the shoppers. When determining your place, you need to think of the size of organization in which you will succeed, your geographical preferences and what kind of work environment would be best for you.
Strategy #3: Finding Jobs and Networking Online
According to GlassDoor, an online recruiting site, 79% of job seekers were likely to use social media in their job search way back in 2013. Since then, social media use has increased steadily. The take away from this is that if you’re in the market for a job, you’d better be using online tools. Social media is an excellent way to connect with prospective employers. While connecting with a hiring manager in person is still more powerful, the ease and universality of online networking will inherently open up more opportunities.
In other words, connecting in person is still the most powerful tool to open doors, but online tools will help you find those doors.
The drawback to the job market moving online is that while it’s easy for you to find jobs, the same is true for everyone else as well. It’s also easier than ever to research a position before you’ve gone in for an interview. You can find out what past employees of a company thought of working there, what you can expect for salary, and whether or not it’s worth putting in the time and effort into a position that isn’t what you ultimately wanted.
Finding jobs online is massively more convenient than old methods of scanning through local newspapers or using recruiting agencies. The cost of this convenience, however, is that there will be a lot more competition for any posted job. For many job postings in high demand careers, it’s not unheard for it to reach hundreds of applicants.
Strategy #4: Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is currently the world’s largest professional network and exposes you to a plethora of potential connections that could lead to your dream career. One of the top uses for LinkedIn for job seekers is to establish your own personal network of professional contacts including old colleagues and employers, instructors, or even classmates. You can connect to people that you’ve met briefly or at work only, unlike adding friends to your Facebook account. The connections in your network can also endorse your skills and make recommendations directly on your profile. The majority of recruiters actually use LinkedIn as a method to vet potential candidates for their positions. If you do not have a profile, or don’t use it to its full potential, you are missing this aspect and it could cost you a great job opportunity. LinkedIn can send regular job alerts to your email based on the information that you have provided in your profile, making your job search much easier. LinkedIn is the only social networking website focused solely on creating and cultivating business and professional relationships. Because of the professional nature of the platform, it is much easier to retain a clean public image, lessening the potential for employers to find unpleasant information about you online. Many workplaces also restrict access to social media sites like Facebook, while LinkedIn is an often-accessed tool.
Of course, LinkedIn is only beneficial if you use it properly. Many on LinkedIn make mistakes when they create their profiles. Some mistakes not only make LinkedIn lose its full effectiveness, but can actually hinder your job search if recruiters or other potential employers consider your profile to be a deciding factor.
Profile Photo: No one likes to see a blank face on LinkedIn. Put a face to your name and your qualifications to increase your legitimacy to recruiters, connections, and potential employers.
Using a Generic Headline: LinkedIn provides users with the opportunity to create a headline for their profile that appears just underneath their name, but many users use old or vague titles. In many cases, students have a headline that says they are a “Student” and not that they are seeking a job or any information regarding their field of study.
Inactivity: An empty profile is a sign of an inactive user. An inactive profile on LinkedIn means that potential employers won’t see updated information about your experiences and qualifications. It gives the impression that you are not keeping up with relevant industry news, growing the number of connections in your professional network, engaging with other users, or looking at the job openings advertising on the website.
Sending the Default Connection Request: The default connection request is impersonal and can give the wrong impression. Using the default message that LinkedIn sets up when you make a contact request is easy, but you may find fewer acceptances when using a default message. A personalized request will increase the likelihood that someone will accept you, especially if it is someone that may need a reminder of who you are.
Updating Only When Unemployed: Many users feel that LinkedIn is only useful when they are unemployed or actively seeking a job, and don’t want their current employer to believe that they are thinking about leaving. Building a good professional network takes time and regular commitment through maintaining an active as well as engaging profile even while employed. You can use this opportunity to add new connections from your colleagues at work.
Strategy #5: Tailor your Resume
Your Résumé: Every time you submit a résumé, it should be tailored for the job you’re seeking. This means making sure your summary of qualifications matches the qualifications on the job posting, the language you use in your résumé matches the jargon used in the posting, and your key responsibilities at your previous jobs align with the job
duties for the desired position.
Résumé Updates: It is recommended you update your résumé every three to four months, even if you have a job. This ensures it is current and captures all your experience gained at your current job. Keep your résumé up-to-date because you never know when you might be approached for a promotion, or even another job that would allow you to progress in your career.
Formatting Your Résumé: The format you use will depend on the type of résumé that you decide to use but there are some things you can do to keep it pleasing to the eye. See the next strategy on “Résumé Pitfalls” to get an idea of the things to avoid when putting your résumé together. Font selection and size, line spacing and margins, and titles and page breaks are all important to consider.
Keep in mind that white space is more welcoming to the eye than pages heavy in text; you don’t want your résumé to look like it will be a lot of work to slog through. Keep fonts and sizing consistent between the body sections and the headings.
Strategy #6: Avoid Resume Pitfalls
Although you do want your personality to shine through when creating your résumé, it is often easy to overdo it and create a cheesy or flashy résumé that looks and reads poorly. You want your résumé to stand out, but not for the wrong reasons! Here is a list of things to AVOID with your résumé:
– Don’t Use the Wrong Font Size: Not Too Small or Too Big. The perfect font size to use for your résumé will be between 10 and 12 point. It should be as readable as possible, we don’t want an employer to be squinting to see what you are all about.
– Don’t Pick the Wrong Font: Avoid using hard to read, unprofessional, wacky, or just plain tacky fonts. When it comes to writing a résumé, it is best not to indulge your experimental side and try out different fonts. The best fonts to use are the ones that are low key. Some possible fonts you should use for your résumé are Arial, Calibri, Century Old Style, Garamond, Georgia, Times New Roman, or Trebuchet MS.
– Don’t Use the Wrong Kind of Paper: Simple is best! Avoid using paper that will stand out for the wrong reasons. Avoid paper that is coloured, patterned, or shaped. It is best to use just plain white paper. If you do feel like classing it up a touch, you can use a paper with a subtle texture or heavier weight.
Strategy #7: Dress For Success
Never judge a book by its cover, right? The unfortunate reality is that the first impression that you make can be a deciding factor on how well your interview goes. Here are a few tips that can help make that crucial first impression a good one:
– When it comes to clothing, the general rule of thumb is to dress a level above what would be worn on the job. And it is always safest to err on the side of conservative; avoid loud colours or bold patterns. If it is discovered that an employer encourages individuality, then personal style can be put on display after landing the job.
– Pay attention to personal hygiene. Shower, brush your teeth, keep hair and nails neat
and trimmed. Avoid foods that can cause bad breath prior to the interview, and gum or candy during.
– Avoid excessive makeup, perfumes, or colognes.
– Footwear should also be appropriate and match the clothing. Avoid wearing running shoes to an office interview.
– Accessories should be kept to a minimum – a watch and a ring are acceptable. Novelty ties, shades, bracelets, over sized necklaces, or too many rings can be distracting. As with almost any rule there can be exceptions. The key is to know the position you are interviewing for and your potential employer. If you honestly have no idea what would be appropriate to wear, it is not inappropriate to call or e-mail asking about the dress code before the interview. You want to nail that first impression so make sure to do your research!
Strategy #8: Prepare for Interviews
It is a good idea to assume that your interview starts once you enter the building where it is being conducted. As an interview candidate, you will need to adopt a professional persona the minute you start dressing for the interview. This will help you mentally prepare. Despite the many different types of interviews, they all follow a similar format:
Greeting: Initially the parties introduce themselves and form first impressions. A firm handshake while making eye contact is critical to making a good first impression. Be polite to all those you make contact with when entering the building; acting in a professional manner will help make a great first impression.
Company Presentation: The company presentation gives a brief overview of the company and summation of the position you are being interviewed for. You should bring a copy of the job description so you can follow along. This is also a good time to jot down any questions that you may have about the company.
Résumé Review: In this phase, the interviewer reviews your résumé and asks you questions while scanning it. This is possibly the first time he or she will go through your résumé in detail. Be ready for questions that can be used as a lead in to your portfolio. Be sure to have a copy or two of your résumé you can leave behind for them to share with other influential people within the company.
The following questions are commonly asked at job interviews. Do not expect them all, but make sure you would be able to answer if asked.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
2. What are your biggest strengths?
3. What are some of your weaknesses?
4. Why are you leaving, or why did you leave your last job?
5. What was an accomplishment you are particularly proud of while in this position?
6. What was a failure or professional disappointment that occurred while in this position?
7. Why do you want this job?
8. Describe how you get along with coworkers?
9. Do you find you do your best work as part of a team or on your own?
10. Describe how you handle stress and pressure.
11. What is your primary motivation?
12. What is your dream job?
13. What are your hobbies?
14. How did you impact the bottom line at your last job?
15. Describe a time when you had to handle a difficult person or situation.
16. What goals have you set for your future?
17. What relevant experience do you have for this position?
18. Why should we hire you over the other candidates?
19. How would you evaluate success?
20. Do you have any questions for me?
Strategy #9: Expect the Unexpected
Why is the sky blue? Why are man-hole covers round? Why is a tennis ball fuzzy? Imagine having to answer a question like this in a stressful situation like a job interview.
Well, one of the growing trends for interview techniques is to ask random, out of the blue questions to which the answer doesn’t matter. These almost rhetorical questions are a fun and interesting way for interviewers to gauge your reaction to a difficult, creative, or unanswerable question. Although these questions often have no one true answer, the way in which you answer a question like this could determine whether or not you land that job.
What is the point of asking this ridiculous stuff? There is a method to the madness. You may perceive a wacky question as just a way to trick you, but from the employer’s perspective your response can tell them a lot about you. Some things that they may learn are how well you will fit within the culture of the company, how creative you are, or what your sense of humour is like. For this reason, the worst thing that you can say is, “I don’t know.” So even though there may not be a right answer, there is definitely a wrong answer.
Things that you should not say or do include:
– “I don’t know” – This shows that you are unwilling to put in effort when faced with a challenge. You don’t want to look like a quitter!
– Become frustrated or angry – Being quick to anger is a major red flag and will remove
you from the selection pool very quickly. Keeping cool in the face of adversity is a skill that could set you above the rest.
– Try not to think too far outside the box – A common mistake is to try too hard. If your answer takes you into areas a little too far out there, be ready to rein it back in. You want them to see that you are creative but you don’t want to look like too much of an oddball!
Strategy #10: Stay Positive
We’ve all been there but there is nothing more uncomfortable than the feeling of rejection. Whether it is a rejection from a job application, a position in a course, or even a social rejection, it always stings. When you are searching for a job though, rejection should be expected. You won’t always be the best candidate for the job and you will rarely get the first job for which you apply. Here are a few things that you can do to get over that crippling feeling of rejection and keep it from bringing you down.
You’re Not the Only One! One way to avoid getting discouraged is to understand that rejection happens to everyone, even the most successful of individuals. Most ads that are posted online receive dozens of applicants who are just as qualified (or even more so) than yourself. This means that there are dozens of others that get rejected and are in the same
boat as you. Accepting that you are not alone will help with the feeling of being not good enough.
Understand Why. Sometimes it can help to understand why you were passed over for the position. Review the posting, read over your application materials, or run through the interview in your head. Often, you can pinpoint exactly what may have cost you the job with this self-reflection. You can even contact the employer and ask why they passed on you as a candidate. Don’t dig too deep though, as sometimes there is no real reason why you didn’t get the job and finding excuses can be counter-productive. Sometimes you’re not the best candidate for the job.
Have a Plan B. You never want to put all your eggs into one basket; your disappointment will be greater when all is lost instead of some. This is also true when job searching and dealing with being rejected. If you are turned down for one job, it is always easier to take if you have one or more to follow up with. This is why you should always plan to apply for
several positions every time that you work on your job search. The more opportunities that you have the less disappointed you will be when one or two fall through.