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Career tip: Ready, set, go? November 25, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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One thing I try to ingrain in people is that opportunities are like automatic doors. They open and close on their own accord. Unlike automatic doors, however, career opportunities are not triggered most of the time by things you do and can plan on the door opening. You might send out resumes or network regularly, but the main part of any opportunity happening is on the receiving end. My analogy of the day is that if you sow seed on fertile ground, something might sprout, but you are blindfolded and there are lots of patches of infertile ground. There are only a few oases of fertile ground. You cannot peek very often – you rarely get good tips from your network about good opportunities. But you can learn to sow further out around you, increasing your chances of sprouting some seeds.

One of the big errors people make in a job search or even when not looking and something ideal pops up, is to not be prepared to move at that moment. They put off updating a resume. Or they have only one resume and it only fits a narrow range of jobs. Or their references are not at the ready to give good words. As in any networking, you do not want to appear to always asking and receiving. Take the time to include a more personal tone to any communication. If you find an article or bit of information that might be useful to someone in your network, take note and pass it on. Being helpful gives you a more balanced appeal.

If you are actively searching, you ought to have your references in line. Update them on your situation and possible prospects, that way they have some forewarning of a request for a reference. They might even think of things to say in your favor. Have at least three versions of your resume – a generic one and two more focused towards different areas that you are aiming at. A fourth version is even better, one that is a quickly edited template that you can cut-paste-rewrite to customize for an application.

Cover letters also ought to be ready, varied, and customizable. These allow you to include a tone more reflecting your personality and attitudes, so spend time saying more than “I am interested in your position. Here is my resume.”

If you use job boards, like Monster, Dice, Hotjobs, et cetera, update your information and resume there on a schedule. This not only gives potential employers fresh information, but it puts your profile back into the latest listings.

If you are not actively searching, but have not yet found that ideal job, then at a minimum let your network know that you might be interested if a job appears that is within your targeted area – be it location, type of work, or whatever are your criteria. That way they can keep their radar on for a job that might be better for you. Without that information, the job might attract any notice and you’d never know of it.

Even if you are not actively looking, you still need an updated and ready resume just in case your ideal job does pop up. If not, you risk missing it because you had to prepare one and a cover letter even if you had an already full schedule.

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