6 Crucial Job Searching Steps Most People Skip

by Julie Rains on 21 March 2012 (5 comments)

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After making the decision to look for a new job, most job seekers put together a resumé and then start networking and marketing themselves to potential employers. Naturally, you hope to attract interest and win a job offer as soon as possible.

Fueled with the desire to take positive action quickly, however, you may skip important aspects of your job search. Even if unhurried, you may not realize that figuring out what you want in a job and an employer helps you increases your chances of getting hired.

Here are crucial steps that people often miss when conducting a job search. (See also: 10 Outdated Job Search Techniques to Avoid)

1. Defining Your Ideal Job

You may jump into a search without considering what’s best for you because you do not want to limit job possibilities. But even when unemployment stats are high, defining your ideal situation helps to focus your job search. 

Specific areas to consider include:

  • Work content and day-to-day responsibilities
     
  • Expertise you hope to contribute
     
  • Duties you’d like to avoid
     
  • Organization size, structure, and style

Using this information, communicate career goals to your network as well as human resources managers and hiring managers.

2. Updating Your LinkedIn Profile

Many job seekers focus on polishing their resumés and cleaning up their Facebook walls, but neglect their LinkedIn profiles. Remember to do the following:

  • Upload a recent, professional image of yourself
     
  • Freshen your experience to include projects and accountabilities relevant to your job search
     
  • Build and expand your network
     
  • Request and offer recommendations
     
  • List stand-out stuff about yourself to infuse your personality and drive for excellence into your professional online presence

Your LinkedIn listing validates your professional experiences through connections with and recommendations from your bosses, colleagues, customers, vendors, and other relationships.

3. Researching Workplace Culture

Job seekers often fail to investigate the workplace style of potential employers. But having the right cultural fit is a key factor in your appeal as a job candidate.

Research organizational practices and ways of thinking in these and other areas:

  • Encouragement of innovation and risk taking
     
  • Expectations for workloads and extended workdays
     
  • Commitment to employee development in terms of training, assignments, and promotions
     
  • Decision-making styles, from empowering independent action to requiring multiple layers of approvals

Talk with friends and acquaintances about their experiences with the company. Read news accounts. Look at job descriptions on your connections’ LinkedIn profiles. Check out employee reviews at career sites such as Glassdoor

Determine if a potential employer is a good match with your professional values and approach to getting things done. Then, use this information to articulate why you are a great candidate for the company during interviews with human resources staff, hiring managers, and potential colleagues.

4. Learning About Interviewers

In the excitement of winning an interview, job seekers often forget to gather pertinent information about those who are interviewing them. You may be reluctant, but asking questions often places you in a positive light with hiring decision-makers. Plus, you gather valuable information for interviews and follow-up activities.

Find out these tidbits about your interviewers:

  • Names and titles
     
  • Contact information, including email and mailing addresses
     
  • Positions (if not clear by title), such as who represents human resources, who is the department head, and who are potential colleagues

Learn about each interviewer’s background by looking at her bio on the company’s website or reviewing her LinkedIn profile, noting career progression and special interests. This information can help you understand how to frame your responses, shape questions, and manage the flow of conversation during the interview. Plus, you’ll have the details you need to send a thank-you note.

5. Uncovering the Difference Between Official and Working Job Titles

Many job seekers do not take the time to truly understand all the terms that companies use to describe openings within their organizations. Even the most discerning person may draw incorrect or incomplete conclusions about a position based on its title and job description. What’s crucial is grasping that there is often a gap between your understanding as a job seeker and the intent of the employer, which may have an unusual organizational structure or quirky corporate lingo.

So don’t rely on job titles to identify positions for which you are qualified and don’t assume that you are ill-suited for a job based solely on the written description. Do your best to vet opportunities by researching a company, its culture, and its representatives with whom you are interviewing. When you meet with hiring decision-makers, ask clarifying questions about work content so that you can be sure you understand the requirements. Then, use this knowledge to reference professional experiences, skills, and accomplishments most relevant to the job opening.

6. Sending Thank-You Notes

Many job seekers forgo sending thank-you notes because they think that this step will not play a significant role in the hiring decision. While it’s true that many companies call back candidates before a message can be composed and delivered, proper follow up contributes to success in a job search.

Differentiate yourself from other candidates by thanking your interviewers. Craft a thank-you note that conveys your appreciation and solidifies your position as a strong candidate. In your written communications, reinforce the value of your capabilities and let the hiring manager know that you are truly interested in the opportunity. These messages increase the likelihood that you will receive an offer.

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Meg Favreau's picture

I TOTALLY agree about the importance of defining your ideal job. I also know that often, you have to take jobs that are less than ideal -- but defining what you do want not only helps focus your search, but can increase your confidence in interviews as well.

Will Chen's picture

A good thank you note can make a big difference, especially if the note talks about a specific part of the interview process that went really well. This reminds the potential employer of your positive traits, and also give them the sense that they are not just receiving a mass-spam thank you note. Great tips Julie!

Guest's picture

I was just hired for a position and when I went in to fill our paper work, I noticed the Thank you card I had wrote to the interviewer was on her desk when I arrived. It made me feel good to see that they had it and displayed it too. I will be writing them for every interview I get from now on.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for sharing! Someone else told me a similar story -- glad that helped.

Kentin Waits's picture

Writing a good thank-you note is a lost art! Thanks for mentioning this as a key piece in the job search.