Forget the 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 will grant them a good grade on their next exam. But as adults, most of us have stopped believing that crossed fingers will help us, especially when trying to land the perfect job. Instead, we rely 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 strategic tweaks might just create a job-search success. Here are nine tips for creating some job-search luck.
Figure out your ideal job and company
Before you can land the job of your dreams, you need to be crystal clear on what's really important to you in an ideal job and company. Is it flexibility? Is it a prime location? Is it a job where you never need to deal with traffic to and from work? Is it a conservative environment, or more relaxed? Is your manager hands-off? Is your work one-on-one, client-based, or collaborative? What's the minimum you'd like to get paid? Is it a larger fortune 500 company, or a smaller independently owned company?
From the culture to the personality of the leaders to the location of the company, there are a number of variables to consider. When you have a sense of clarity on what you're looking for in a job and company, you can clearly identify the kind of position you want and the types of companies you want to work with — as well as those you want to avoid.
Use the right words when updating your resume
Maybe these are not magic words found in the spellbooks of your childhood, but you must be sure that you are using keywords strategically when it comes to describing your skills and qualifications on your resume. Before you get to a real person, your resume may have to clear an electronic gatekeeper called the ATS (applicant tracking system). That means making sure your resume includes keywords that are relevant to the position and will help you pass the ATS with flying colors.
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, or utilize a word-cloud generator to help spot the patterns. Once you have your list of top five to 10 keywords, use them wisely; don't make your incorporation too obvious because your resume will hopefully be read by a real human at some point.
It also goes without saying that your resume should include an updated professional summary, skills section, and professional experience section. Not sure where to start? Consider hiring a professional resume writer to support you in creating a resume that represents you and your skills in the best light, and also fits today's trends and expectations.
Know the right numbers
Do you know your lucky number when it comes to the 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 also 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 earlier applicants.
What's the 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 your lucky day, the bottom line is that procrastinating on submitting your applications and returning interview scheduling calls will hurt you in the long run. You may have the best 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 quickly than have a perfect resume two weeks too late.
Update your LinkedIn profile
With more than 500 million users, LinkedIn is one of the top networking sites for professionals. Companies and recruiters often utilize LinkedIn in hopes of finding their next star talent. If you have a profile you haven't updated in a while, you need to take action to update it as soon as possible.
A completed profile should include all of your relevant work experience, skills and certifications, education, a profile picture, and a powerful LinkedIn profile summary to catch people's attention.
Include a personalized cover letter
Personalizing your cover letter may seem like a time-consuming extra step, and many candidates struggle with writing one, so there is a temptation to simply skip it altogether — especially if the job posting does not specifically require you to submit one.
My advice? When in doubt, include a customized 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.
Run a Google search for your name
When it comes to your job search, your online presence needs to be accessed. Many don't think to Google their name to see what comes up, but many organizations will look you up if they're considering hiring you.
It's wise to do an online search every so often to see what comes up under your name. The results might surprise you. On that note, be sure to keep your social media profiles private if you don't want prospective employers to see posts about your personal life. Also, make sure to update (or delete) any old websites, portfolios, or profiles that are no longer relevant to your professional life.
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 your next job. 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 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.
Learn more about the people with whom you are interviewing
There's no need to engage in cyber-stalking, but you'll find that a little strategic recon before an 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 an interview.
Send out a well-timed thank-you note
Are thank-you letters after an interview 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 or email 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 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 of the interview while the memory of the conversation is still fresh.
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 or wear the same “lucky” tie clip. Creating habits and rituals the morning of an interview makes all the sense in the world, so don't be afraid to try something new.
Want to create your own job-search luck? Make sure your resume is up to par with a free resume review today!