It is almost time to put 2020 behind us. While no magical changes may occur with the flip of the calendar, people seem optimistic about what the New Year might hold. If a new job is on your wish list this season or your “New Year, New You” plans for 2021 include a career change, these five job-seeker tips might help you get the results you wish for. Hiring managers wishing to tap into the increasingly diverse talent pool may enjoy the accompanying inclusive hiring tips.
- Build and Engage Your Network
The adage, “it’s who you know, not what you know,” remains true in the job search. Notably, the higher salary you aim to earn, the more likely your network will be a factor. According to career site Ladders, 35% of people who earn over $100,000 annually found their most recent job through networking (rather than a job board). Making your existing network aware that you are open to new opportunities and building new, meaningful connections can help you find the right opportunity. Without in-person networking events, LinkedIn offers a valuable platform for this: Sharing or commenting on posts, asking for specific advice from someone you admire, or looking for introductions from mutual acquaintances can all build your network.
For hiring managers: One study by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that 75% of white people have exclusively white networks of people with whom they discuss important topics—such as career paths. Before you rely on networking to fill a position, make sure the networks you are tapping into represent the diverse community you serve.
- Be Intentional with Your Approach
If you are actively searching job boards for new roles, you may come across several opportunities (all at once) that pique your interest. With your newly freshened-up resume, it may be tempting to apply for every position. Be careful not to send the message, “I’ll take any available role.” Instead, research specific details about each role to learn why you could be the right fit, then reference what you learn to set your application apart. Drafting a letter of interest that references key elements of the job posting may demonstrate that you understand the unique nature of this credit union and this role.
For hiring managers: View your job posting as a conversation starter with candidates. What will help them decide to apply? Can you share organizational values, growth opportunities in the role, where the last person in the position successfully advanced? This information might help job seekers form an understanding of why yours is the role for them.
- Be Respectful in Your Approach
Always remember the human on the other side of the job search. Hiring managers are screening dozens—sometimes hundreds—of resumes for each role. Thanking the hiring manager for his/her/their attention to your application throughout the process— including if you are rejected—is a powerful way to be (positively) remembered and maybe kept in mind for a future opportunity if this role was not right for you. And about those pronouns I just used? Not every hiring manager is male, yet some cover letters continue to be addressed to, “Dear Sirs.” With businesses increasingly focused on inclusive workplaces, this greeting may make you appear out of touch with modern times at best and misogynistic at worst. Consider a different salutation (such as “Dear Hiring Manager”) or research who might receive your letter and offer a personal greeting.
For hiring managers: Always remember the human on the other side of the job search. People bring various levels of experience. If something happens that is not as “professional” as you expect during the search, either dig deeper to understand why or, if possible, offer feedback that may help the candidate in a future search. Different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and generations have produced candidates who approach the job search differently. Going beyond expected behaviors may increase the chances of hiring someone who introduces diverse thinking and creativity in your organization.
- Ask Strategic Questions
You have landed an interview! After an engaging conversation with the recruiter, your time together is wrapping up. Didn’t get the chance to share all your best strengths? Want to leave the recruiter with a bold last impression? Take a few minutes at the end of the interview to ask strategic questions that allow you to emphasize why you are a great fit and that may help you prepare better for the next round. Questions about goals for the first 90 and 365 days, key organizational priorities, employee well-being, and the impact this role could have on each of these areas would position a candidate as thinking strategically. Offering examples of how you would take action based on the answers could further differentiate your candidacy.
For hiring managers: An interview should not be a pop quiz. Provide information to candidates before the interview that might help them prepare for a meaningful conversation. Consider sending a few of the questions you will ask in advance, let them know how much time will be designated for their questions, and share some background information about the company. These steps may increase the likelihood of a successful interview for introverts, people for whom English is not their first language, and anyone who is not an experienced interviewee.
- Be Patient with the Process
The job search is demanding and deeply personal. Candidates put forth effort to craft customized cover letters, tailor their resumes, respond to screening questions, and allow themselves to get excited about the possibilities. And then…Sometimes weeks pass with very little communication. Depending on the timing of your application relative to the search timeline or other organizational priorities that may demand a hiring manager’s attention, there could be reasons beyond negligence and disrespect that are causing the process to take time. While a first instinct may be to criticize the process (or the individual handling the search), a more constructive action is sending a thoughtful (and brief) email checking in. It is perfectly appropriate to seek clarity on the process and timeline. Handle that request with the same respect for the human on the other side of the search as you would like extended to you, and you are more likely to get a response. Before you send that email, though: Check your spam and junk email folders and verify that you provided the right contact information on your resume. If you are non-responsive to an email early in a search process, a recruiter is likely to read that as disinterest in continuing and is unlikely to track you down.
For hiring managers: Feedback is a gift—especially for candidates who are not expert job hunters. While it is not always possible to connect personally, when you are able to provide constructive feedback to a rejected candidate, you may be the reason they land the next opportunity. You will certainly leave a positive impression of your organization. When personal feedback is not possible, work to provide as swift a response as possible: Nobody likes to learn they did not get the role they are waiting to hear back from by reading a press release about the person who was hired.
Looking for your next professional step should be an exciting journey. A thoughtful approach to your job search may make it a productive one, too!
Humanidei + O’Rourke supports candidates and hiring managers in matching diverse pools of talent with inclusive workplaces. Let us know how we can be part of your journey!