Job hunting during tough times can be challenging and frustrating. Jobseekers often feel that the process is time-consuming and opaque. In this article, we share our perspective about viewing the job hunt through a funnel approach. This is one where you begin from developing a personal brand, to expanding your professional network.
I am so upset! The job description seemed perfect for me! I am disappointed that they didn’t even call me for an interview.
Why aren’t they offering me an interview? I was certain that my experience was a fit for the job.
I just got rejected by a job that I really liked, even though I thought I did well in the interview.
If any of the above statements seem familiar, it is because they have been shared by many jobseekers over the past 12 months. Ever since the pandemic began, we have seen businesses stressed over losing customers followed by an increase in hard decisions and retrenchments. Many jobseekers are experiencing a challenging cycle of loss, self-reflection, determination to find a role, and disappointment upon being rejected.
The cycle continues because many jobseekers develop a routine of searching for jobs online, perhaps through job portals, using a pre-populated resume template and hoping for the best.
Instead, jobseekers should view their job hunt through the lens of a funnel, and pay close attention to the factors that they can control. At the top of the funnel would be all activities and actions that contribute to opportunities. The middle and end of the funnel is when they narrow the initial opportunities into interviews and subsequently job offers.
As we move into the start of a recovery period, aided by a mass vaccination drive, jobseekers should focus more on top of the funnel activities and actions. These include networking, searching for job openings, submitting their resume and cover letters, upskilling and improving their branding.
Let’s look at 5 capabilities that jobseekers can develop to help their personal brand during a job hunt.
Personal branding on digital platforms
It’s important to prepare your digital brand prior to starting your job hunt, while regularly cleaning up your digital footprint. Many recruiters will search for your digital profile on common social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. It helps to set your personal profile to private, clean up any questionable material and also put out professional pictures and write-ups for profile/content that is public-friendly. This can be your LinkedIn profile, your achievements or milestones listed on your blog, etc.
Depending on your area of expertise, your public profile should provide an authentic impression of who you are, from a professional perspective. Keep active on platforms such as LinkedIn by engaging in business networking and interacting with influential people, industry experts and potential employers.
Always upgrade your skills! Even while you are spending time on the job hunt, look for complementary knowledge and skills you can learn and bring to your new role. There are many organisations that provide courses. For example, SkillsFuture provides courses that might also be subsidised for Singaporeans.
Think holistically. Some skills might not have an immediate impact but could be worthwhile for your future career. Learning a new language, coding, digital marketing and automation skills can prove to hiring managers that you have a growth mindset, are aware of the world and systems around you, and possess resilience.
You might want to consider improving your soft skills around communication, negotiation and management. These will become useful when you take on more senior roles.
Continue to be involved with your network and find out about skill sets and capabilities that industries new to you might be looking for, or how various job scopes are being created or merged to increase productivity.
Attend workshops such as our Career Navigator to get clarity on career plans and goals. Our workshop includes an assessment that can help you understand and integrate your personality with the various career options available.
Your network consists of both friends and acquaintances. When you have a specific intention such as looking for a job, it pays to inform as many people in your network as possible. Share with friends any criteria you might have for your next role.
Similarly, if you are looking to build your professional profile, reach out to your contacts with a topic related to your subject expertise and offer to do a webinar, or write a blog post.
Using relationships in the right manner, without setting obligations or being aggressive, can provide a boost to your search.
When someone in your network offers you a job opportunity, make sure to thank them, prepare well, and importantly, ask if they can do a direct introduction to the recruiter, talent acquisition team or hiring manager in the hiring organisation.
It’s important to understand the process when a recruiter receives a resume. They go through many applications, and usually have very little time to review and decide whether to move forward with or let the candidate go. They are looking for resumes and content that catches their attention quickly. If your resume is similar to the other hundreds that they have seen, it will be rejected.
To make your resume attention-grabbing, it’s important to customise it for both the hiring organisation and the role you are applying for. It must highlight your career progression, key skills and experience, include keywords from the job description, and share achievements that relate to the role.
It helps to explain achievements and milestones in both quantitative and qualitative terms. For example, explain how your actions have helped your previous employers achieve higher targets, save more budget, deliver more projects, or engineer new and innovative processes.
Remember to make the information easy to understand and navigate. Use spell check.
Always write and submit a cover letter. This should be written for every job application you send. Ensure that it explains how your unique set of skills and experience will add value to the hiring organisation. Use the cover letter to display both your personality and the research you have done about the organisation, by explaining why working for them makes you excited.
Take the time to prepare for each interview by researching the hiring organisation, your interviewer and the details about the job. Learn about their vision, mission and goals. Practice explaining how your skills and experience can contribute to these goals.
Become familiar with the industry including news and announcements from the organisation or their competitors. This will help you look informed and diligent; as well as provide you with opportunities to ask questions.
In the current competitive job market, the combination of providing value, personality-company fit coupled with strong personal branding skills can be the advantage you need to secure a new job.