6 Tips For Serious Job Seekers

6 Things Everyone Candidate Should Know-Advice for an effective job search and things to avoid during your ‘down’ time.

Recently a candidate asked me if I could put together some suggestions for job seekers.  Here are a few to consider for career-minded candidates who are serious about making a change.  Also included are some tips for keeping your resume and experience fresh, even during down-time.

Beware!  This info is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (in my humble opinion.)  Please refer to tip number three and understand that a ‘good’ recruiter should also be honest and truthful-even when it stings.

  1. Make your job search a full time job, a part time approach will yield part time results.

You should have your ‘game on’ at all times – that means answering your phones and emails immediately, and be on the ready for interviews at all times. No voice mail! A simple lapse in a return call could award someone else the precious interview slots.  Candidates often lose jobs to other candidates simply because they weren’t available when someone else was.

  1. Filling jobs is often comparable to FIFO (first in first out).

This doesn’t mean an employer will hire the first people in, but it does mean they will often choose the first exceptional candidate(s) in a round of interviews.  Occasionally, hiring managers will ‘hold out’ but most want to remove the burden of an open job req as quickly and efficiently as possible-with the best candidate in a series of interviews. Target jobs that are fresh on the market (as opposed to those which have been open 3 or 6 months.)  Be sure you get in the door early to make a lasting impression.

  1. Use good recruiters to assist whenever possible.

Don’t just throw your net onto anyone and everyone you see, try to find those with industry experience with clients you want to get into. And remember – recruiters typically don’t get paid until a hire is made, and there is usually a 3-6 month grace period (a sort of probation) to make sure the candidate is the right fit. We have a lot of incentive to make a great *long term* connection between hiring company and candidates.

  1. Don’t work fast food.

Nothing looks worse on a resume than going from a manager with corporate responsibility to a server at a greasy spoon. Most folks say  “Hey – I needed to work and it shows I’m a hard worker.” While that may be true to some degree, often times it can be a deterrent. Volunteer or try something new, but demonstrate that you are using your free time to better your career and not just to ‘get by.’ Taking online classes won’t cut it either, be sure to compliment your education with real world experiences *in your field* even if you have to volunteer your time. I know, easier said than done but that is how it is in the trenches. It’s you versus the world and no one has much in the way of sympathies to your bills stacking up at home.

  1. Time off is the kiss of death.

Employers hate lapses in resumes even if you were spending time with your kids’ or ‘finding yourself’ – yes the job search can be time consuming (and typically, if done correctly, a full-time job. See: #1) but that’s where leading a volunteering effort can come into play.

  1. Your resume is a foot in the door.

It’s true – I spend about 15 seconds per resume – *unless* I see something that stands out. Could be a skill, could be an accomplishment, could be a volunteering effort. Make sure your resume is a wonderful representation of all of the good qualities about yourself and/or your experience – not simply a timeline of the work you did.  Also, please note that while I take 15 seconds for my initial resume scan, in a recent study, The Ladders found that most recruiters spend only 6 seconds per resume!


Rich Collins is Market Street Talent’s Recruiting Manager.  You can learn more about him here or follow him on twitter at @richardscollins

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