If you have been spending some time searching for a job, you might notice just how challenging it can be in the current employment climate.
In a weak economy and job market, employers are naturally more selective in shortlisting candidates from the droves of applications they receive.
Therefore, it is more important than ever to ensure that you are putting forth a professional face in the best possible manner, especially in the online space. You will want to make sure that employers see you in the most positive light from among other candidates.
So before you head off searching for your dream job and sending your resumes, it pays to do some groundwork first.
Google is your friend — or your worst enemy
Before you sign up to any job sites or employer job portals, be sure to do an online search of your email address on Google. You may be surprised or even shocked at what comes up in the search results. From postings and comments and profile pages on websites and social networks to photos of you in a drunk state on last Christmas, a simple search of your email address can reveal a whole lot of details about your life, be it good or incriminating.
If the results of your search are anything but flattering, it may be worth creating a new email address which you will use exclusively for this job search. Then be sure to include only this newly created email address on resumes, cover letters and other job search correspondence.
A bonus of this approach is that it allows you to keep spam away from your regular email address. Not all job sites and boards are created equal, and while they are generally a great way to network and find job leads, some of these sites sell personal information to email marketers. Knowing who has your new email address will help you to steer clear of scams and shady job site operators.
Review your privacy settings on social networks
Like your email address on Google, your social accounts reveal alot more about you than what you might feel comfortable revealing to prospective employers. Before sending your first resume, spend some time doing some housekeeping of your various social profiles. Social networks like Facebook has in place a set of privacy settings where you can limit your wild party photos to the eyes of friends only. While you are there, consider dressing up your personal profile and bio to better project the professional part of you.
The power of employer references and peer reviews
Another important job search preparation is to contact former employers, coworkers and colleagues and ask for references and letters of recommendation. A positive peer review is an important part of a successful job search. The exercise will also help you better understand how you are perceived by those you used to work with and for, so you can play them to your advantage as you position yourself to prospective employers. The widespread use of email makes it easy to gather those glowing recommendations and heartfelt references, but it is still worthwhile to reach out personally over a drink and a phone call first. Attaching a letter of recommendation to the resume you submit can really set you apart from the crowd.
Read and follow instructions
Nothing gets an application into the bin faster than one that does not follow the application instructions. Think about it, if you cannot even follow directions at the job application, nothing is going to convince the employer that you will if you are ever hired. When replying to a posted job opening be sure to pay careful attention to any specified formatting requirements, and always read the job application instructions carefully. If the instructions specify a .txt format, do not submit your resume and cover letter as a Word or PDF document. If a particular job posting contains questions, such as for an expected salary, be sure to mention it in your application.