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Top 10 Things To Prepare For The Job Market

You’ve graduated. Or maybe you’re ready to jump back into the labor pool, or into a new career. In any case, you’re entering the realm of the job market: a competitive space where dozens or hundreds of individuals are vying for the same spots. 

It isn’t all competition and stress. Navigating the job market, when done properly, can be an incredibly fun and enlightening process. You’ll learn more about yourself as a professional, and more about your goals and interests. 

In order to get the most out of the process, however, you have to be prepared. Here are ten ways to get prepared and take the scramble out of the application process.

1. Learn the Appropriate Skills and Technology

Most industries have key skills and technologies that they look for. It could be the case that certain jobs have used the same key software for years, or that professionals in the field are moving to new platforms. In either case, knowing what those skills and technologies are not only helps put you in front of hiring managers for interviews, but shows that you know the field.

If you’ve just graduated from a college that teaches you these skills, great. If not, find out ways to get your hands on the programs or books that will help you get the knowledge you need.

2. Develop Your Social Media Brand

Recruiters and hiring managers will often search out the social media profiles of potential job candidates. If your social media accounts are free of incriminating or unprofessional behavior, then your job prospects go way down. More importantly, however, if you have a helpful, attractive, and coherent brand across all your social media channels, then your job prospects go way up. Don’t sell this aspect of the job hunt short.

3. Practice Your Interview Skills

Interviews are controlled experiences, and recruiters and hiring managers are looking not only for someone who fits their job description, but who can think on their feet, who have personality, and who fit the mission and environment of the company. So, then, practicing your interview skills means a couple of things: first, you need to be able to respond to some basic questions--why you want to work there, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what do you offer the company. 

4. Write Top-Notch Application Documents for Your Intended Profession

This is obvious, but bears repeating. Your resume and cover letter should be flawless, top-notch documents that hit a number of different potential jobs in your industry. 

Here is an exercise to prepare: find three of your favorite jobs, ideally ones that are different contexts than the others-like a corporate job vs. an agency job. Write resumes specifically for those jobs as templates for the kind of work you want. Edit, edit, edit, until they are perfect. Then, when you apply to different jobs that are similar, you can tailor your materials so that they fit the jobs in question.

5. Groom, Dress, and Act Like a Professional

You are looking to get a job in your profession, and you should act like it. It isn’t the case that you get the job,then you are a professional. Ever heard the phrase dress for the job you want, not the one you have? There is truth to this. 

Before you even begin looking for a job, develop your dressing and grooming, whatever look you want to have and that fits the jobs sought. This is generally a good idea regardless, but make sure you have clean clothing, suits, clean shave, groomed hair, etc. No matter what, you should be able to show up anywhere looking like the professional you are. 

6. Research, Research, Research

Know the jobs you want, and know the profession you are entering. Find ideal jobs that you want, dream jobs, and research their mission, their operations, and the people they hire. Look at competitors, look at what people say about working there. Identify common tech and skills in that profession associated with those jobs. 

7. Shore Up Soft Skills

It is easy to get caught up in knowing the right tech or having the right keywords on a resume, but never forget your soft skills. Sometimes these can sound down right generic, but skills in collaboration, communication, and strategic thinking are things that every employer wants, regardless of the profession. 

But you can’t just say that you can do these things, because recruiters will see right through it. Clearly note in your professional background and documents where you demonstrated leadership, communication, project management, and teamwork skills. These show that you can do more than just the practical aspects of the job: you can lead and rise up the ladder, benefiting the company. 

8. Get Flexible

Don’t be so married to a particular job, position, or outcome that you lose sight of the forest for the trees. Open up your expectations and see the bigger picture in your field. There are jobs and companies that you may never have heard of, doing things you never dreamed. Don’t let opportunity pass you by because you are too connected to a single path.

9. Increase Your Network

Always network. LinkedIn, social media, conferences, whatever… if you aren’t expanding your network, you’re missing out on opportunities.

10. Get Real on the Career You Want

All of us have to have a “come to the light” moment regarding what it is we actually want. Don’t waste time doing the things you think you need to do. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t just want bodies in seats, they want excited employees who share their goals and expectations. If you are buried under the weight of landing a job you don’t want, or following a path that doesn’t really excite you, that comes through.

Look for the career you want, not the one you think you need.

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