10 Secrets That Successful Job Seekers Know

1) They know their personal brand.

Successful job hunters know what sets them apart from everyone else that has their same job title. They know their leadership role and how they contribute on a team. They can easily tell someone their brand position in a simple statement that demonstrates their unique promise of value and how they can promote the company’s brand.

2) They understand that their name will be Googled by potential employers and recruiters.

Eighty-seven percent of hiring managers and executive recruiters polled by Execunet stated that they do Google potential candidates before selecting them for an interview. Successful job hunters know this and understand they need to build multiple, on-brand results showing their thought leadership in their field of expertise. They may blog, post comments on high-ranking, relevant sites, microblog on Twitter, build their profile on professional networking sites, etc. Many strategies exist for building online identity on Google. Successful job hunters know how to employ strategies to either remove the digital dirt or develop enough content to push the digital dirt to page four of their Google results if they have digital dirt that needs to be less visible on Google.

3) They use multiple strategies to find a job.

Successful job seekers understand that unless they have a specific skill set, it will be difficult for them to find a job utilizing just online job boards. Between 4-10% of people will find a position via a job board (source: What Color is Your Parachute 2009). Job boards are important piece, but they are not the only strategy that should comprise your job marketing plan. Visiting company websites to find out about job opportunities is another strategy. Additionally, researching target companies to find out about new projects, potential challenges, etc. is a great way to potentially tap into an unpublished opportunity.

4) They network online and offline.

While social networking online is increasing in popularity, it is important to do live networking as often as possible. It keeps you in the loop and on the pulse of what is happening. Remember to always be giving to your network and thinking of ways that Joe could help Mary or Mary could help Steve. Link your network members together to add value in their lives. Send them items of interest and make sure that you keep in touch. Networking is not about reconnecting when you need a job, but is about constantly maintaining relationships.

Social networking online is a great way to reconnect with people from your past and present. I quickly grew my network online from zero to 200+ people on Facebook in a couple of months. I make sure to read all of my friends’ status updates on a daily basis and send supportive messages or resources whenever appropriate.

Twitter is fast becoming a social networking phenomenon. I hear it mentioned by the media on different news programs. Twitter has allowed me to attract followers of people who are interested in my target message. Identify where your target audience is (i.e. LinkedIn, Spoke, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and utilize those platforms.

5) They know their references, have asked permission, and have coached them.

Successful job seekers have asked permission to list someone as their reference and have coached them about previous achievements / successes on the job. It is not telling a person what to say, but reminding them of the value you have provided. For someone acting as a reference, this coaching is helpful as that person may not remember how you captured $1.2M in sales by identifying and penetrating new markets. Coach them on your top three achievements.

6) They know their resume’ is not the silver bullet.

Too often, I hear people say that if they can get a professionally written resume’, it will magically open doors to get them a job. While a professionally or well written resume’ is very important as this is usually the first introduction of who you are, it is not the ticket to a job offer. Realize that few, if any, people have been hired on their resume’ alone. I once had someone write the copy for my website because I wanted someone who could be objective about what I did and what was important information for my site. She did a phenomenal job, but I know it’s now up to me to market my website. I want to target my niche to do this effectively and make sure my marketing efforts drive traffic to my site. Resumes have to be customized to highlight the skills / abilities you have for the job posting. Employers have a “Buyers’ Market” right now and very few will try to read between the lines to see how you may be a potential match for them. It is up to you to demonstrate this through your resume’ and cover letter by customizing for EACH position for which you apply.

7) They research their target companies AND their target companies’ competitors.

Successful job hunters not only research their target companies, but also find out information about the competing companies. Why? It helps them to know the challenges facing the targeted company in outpacing the competition and gives them material to show the prospective employer HOW they can do the job. If an interviewee shows up to an interview knowing the top three problems facing the company and has actionable items that can move the company forward, then they have made a lasting impression on the interviewer. Does it guarantee a job offer? Maybe not – but it does set that person apart from all the other people who have come and just answered a series of questions.

8) They customize their cover letter for each company.

Let’s face it–people can smell a form letter a mile away. Are you sending the same cover letter to every position for which you apply? Successful job hunters realize that to set themselves apart from the competition, they need to customize their cover letter for each position. The letter should reflect research about the company. The cover letter also needs to address the person by name instead of saying “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Human Resources Manager.” Do some research if it’s a blind post and see if you can find out on the company’s website (or even call the company and ask what the name of the hiring manager is) the name. If you can’t find out this information, you might say in the first line that you did try to find out their name, but were unable to find the information since it was a blind post.

9) They don’t have an “Objective Statement” on their Resume’ – They have a Profile Statement.

Successful job seekers understand that objective statements only show what they want. Employers are all tuned to the same radio station, “WIIFM” –What’s in it for Me? Addressing this in a profile statement and telling the employer what he / she can expect if they hire you goes a long way.

10) They write thank you notes within 24 hours after their interview.

Surprisingly, only 5% of job hunters write a thank-you note after a job interview. According to CareerBuilder.com’s survey, “How to Get in the Front Door”, nearly 15% of hiring managers say they would not hire someone who failed to send a thank-you letter after the interview. Interestingly, 32% say they would still consider the candidate, but would think less of him/her.

Writing a thank you after an interview will definitely differentiate you from the crowd. More importantly, though, is that it demonstrates the ability to follow-through and see a task to completion–this characteristic can demonstrate the kind of employee one will be to a company.

Bonus Secret: They review job postings and look at noun and noun phrases to identify keywords. Many companies use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) or resume’ scanning and will set up keyword parameter searches to identify the resumes that they will review. As part of the customization strategy, the successful job seeker knows that if those keywords are applicable to their background and experience, that it is a good idea to weave those keywords into their resume’. Additionally, on the cover letter, the job seeker demonstrates how they can meet the top requirements for the position.