Forget luck of the draw. Draw your own luck!
Kids use lucky talismans and rituals all the time, trusting that a particular red shirt or a spell repeated three times to grant a good grade on the next exam. As adults, most of us have stopped believing that crossed fingers will land us the next perfect job, instead relying on tried and true job-seeking tips and techniques. And yet, with St. Patrick's Day upon us, there may be something to reigniting the old magic.
Even psychologists say that athletes who wear their “lucky socks” for the big game aren't wrong! There may be some advantages to following superstitions – even if they look silly. While rituals alone may not be enough, combining some good-luck charms with strategy tweaks might just create a job search success! Here are seven lucky tips for getting a job.
Use the right words
OK, so maybe these are not magic words found in spellbooks, but you must be sure that you are using keywords intentionally and strategically when it comes to describing your skills and qualifications. Before you get to a real person, your resume may have to clear electronic gatekeepers like the ATS (applicant tracking system). A junior HR specialist may be scanning your resume instead of the ATS or in addition to it, so make sure your resume includes keywords that matter.
How do you know which keywords matter? Experts recommend starting with the job description for the position you are applying for. You might print it out and highlight frequently used or emphasized skills and requirements. Word-cloud-generating software can help spot the patterns, as well. Once you have your list of top five to ten keywords, use them wisely (in other words, don't make them too obvious: your resume will be read by a real human at some point).
Use the right numbers
What is your lucky number when it comes to a job search? Some experts argue it's 72. That is the number of hours within which you should apply for a newly posted job. Surveys have shown that 60 percent of applicants will submit their applications within the first week of the new job posting. If you wait much longer, you risk having your resume stuck in the middle of the pile as the hiring manager's focus is captured by the earlier applicants.
Best day to apply for a job? Some experts think it's Tuesday. Research by Glassdoor says Tuesday is also the best day to schedule an interview. Whether or not you choose to stick to Tuesday as a lucky day, the bottom line of these job seeking tips and techniques is that procrastinating on job applications and returning interview scheduling calls will hurt you in the long run. You may have the best of intentions (like wanting to polish off your resume until it is absolutely perfect), but sometimes it is better to get a good resume out there timely than have a perfect resume land two weeks too late.
Include a personalized cover letter
Personalizing your cover letter may seem like a time-consuming extra step and not a great job-seeking tip and technique. Many candidates struggle with composing it, so there is a temptation to simply skip it – especially if the job posting does not specifically require you to submit one.
My advice? When in doubt, include a cover letter anyway. As a past hiring manager, I know that cover letters can set candidates apart by conveying their professional polish, a sense of personality and a little extra color on why they are a great fit for the position.
Is there a time when you should not include a cover letter? Opinions on this vary, but I believe the only cover letter you should leave out is a poorly-written one. And, of course, if the job posting specifically states that you should not send a cover letter, it is best to follow the instructions.
Make yourself easy to reach
A job search is a time-consuming and emotionally draining affair. I do not blame you for wanting to turn off the faucet of constant communication and hide under a blanket for a while. Unfortunately, that impulse is more likely to hurt your efforts than help you land a great next job opportunity. One of the best tips for getting a job is to be available and quick to respond.
Be sure you are responsive to recruiters and prospective employers. In most cases, they are reaching out to multiple candidates at once. Those who take the longest to reply (or make the mistake of ignoring the messages altogether) will likely not get a second chance, especially in the beginning of the hiring process. If you are not interested in an opportunity, it is best to communicate that politely and clearly. No one likes professional “ghosting”! An honest approach will showcase your professionalism and allow everyone to focus on their mission.
A quick pro job-seeking tip: be sure to include your contact information within your LinkedIn profile, especially when you are in active job search mode. Your goal is to encourage a flow of opportunities – not create extra hurdles for other professionals to overcome.
Send out a well-timed thank-you note
Are thank-you letters a thing of the past? I don't believe so — in fact, it's one of my best tips for getting a job. A quick hand-written card to acknowledge that the other professional has dedicated valuable time to meet with you can only help your candidacy. If you mention a key point or two that you have enjoyed during the conversation, or that can highlight your perfect fit for the position, include them for best results. And, just as with job applications, don't sit on your thank-you notes: get them out within 24-hours while the memory of the conversation is still fresh.
Learn more about the people with whom you are interviewing
No need to engage in cyber-stalking, but you might find that the job-seeking tips and techniques of a little strategic recon before the interview can do wonders to calm your nerves. LinkedIn allows you to read through other professionals' profiles and pick up on key details. Perhaps you find some unexpected commonalities (like having attended the same school or being fans of the same sports team) that will help you feel more comfortable heading into a meeting with the hiring manager you have never met before.
Create your own rituals and lucky charms
Science tells us that lucky charms work - if you believe they work! This may well be a placebo effect in action, but if it gets you great results, who cares? Maybe you eat the same meal for breakfast before interviews (make it a balanced one by adding some protein so that science is really on your side) or wear the same “lucky” tie clip. Creating habits and rituals that help alleviate pre-interview jitters makes all the sense in the world, so do try this at home!
Managing a job search requires a blend of art and science. As you look for your personal mix of solid qualifications, a well-written resume and a dash of luck, my advice is to bet on good relationships. Networking is key when it comes to creating opportunities and advancing your career. By taking a genuine interest in other professionals, you are likely to make amazing things happen in the long run.
Make your own job-search luck. Hire a TopResume writer today!
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