Successful job search takes preparation

December 29, 2014
Carter Dyson

Carter Dyson

It seems impossible, but the New Year and its resolutions approach. Some of the more common resolutions involve careers. Many will resolve to advance their careers or start entirely new ones in 2015.

Like so many things in life, a successful job search starts with preparation. And for those thinking about new opportunities in the New Year, it's time to get ready.

The most effective job search does not begin with polishing your resume or even letting your connections know you’re looking to make a move. Instead, it starts with purposeful reflection, research and planning.

First, think about you. What type of work interests you? Do you want to continue in your current line of work? What skills do you have that will build a bridge to a new line of work? What aspects of work, from location to potential career ladders, matter most to you?

Next, think about the labor market. Start with contacting a Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail career counselor to learn about the types of careers available. Additionally, make it a habit to comb job postings and look for trends.

You’ll also want to learn as much as you can about the employers that interest you. Research how often those companies hire, review past job postings and start thinking about how you’ll market yourself when new opportunities emerge. Follow those companies on social media and monitor their websites for job announcements or information that indicates new opportunities are on the horizon.

Once you have defined the type of work you want and the employers that offer those opportunities, it’s time to turn your attention to self-marketing.

Before you give any potential employer a reason to research your background, optimize your social media presence and make sure what employers will learn about you leaves a good impression.

According to a Career Builder survey conducted in June, 43 percent of employers are using social media to research job candidates. What’s troubling is that 51 percent of them have found content that led them to eliminate a candidate. The most common offending content included provocative photos and comments, posts about drinking or drug use and negative posts about previous employers.

The good news is that one-third of those employers have found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. Among other things, employers want to see a professional image, great communications skills, references and that your background information supports your qualifications for the job. They will be impressed if you’ve interacted with their own company’s social media accounts, too.

Also, before you make any casual or formal inquiries about career opportunities, be sure to develop your elevator pitch – a 30-second speech that explains who you are, what you do and why you are the right job candidate. Practice several versions of your speech so that you’re able to confidently deliver it whenever you meet an employer or someone who can offer a referral.

Keep in mind that attention spans are short and people will be listening for what benefits them. Give them what they are looking for by presenting what you offer and why you are unique.

The key to success in nearly every area of our lives is preparation. A job search that leads to fulfilling work is no exception. Some careful planning before you start applying will go a long way.

If you’re looking for career opportunities, the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail can help you prepare for your job search. Contact us to get more information about no-cost career counseling and a variety of workshops for job seekers.

Carter Dyson is One Stop Director for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail. He can be reached at (270) 766-5115 or The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Investment Board, is a one-stop resource for both job seekers and employers.

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The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.
Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
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