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As most job seekers know, looking for a job is a job in itself. Candidates can spend countless hours on job boards sending their resumes and cover letters out to hundreds of openings and still end up empty-handed.

For better results, we recommend targeting your search with these four tips.

Hone in on the Job Description

Read the job description to every single job you apply for, even if the title is the same as the one you already have.  Too often, candidates fail to thoroughly read job descriptions to gain a full understanding of what the roles and responsibilities are, and what types of skills and requirements are necessary to be successful in the position.  If the job description says you must have experience reconciling expense reports, not only should you make it a point to include that as a bullet on your resume, but highlight it in your cover letter as well.  Executive Assistant job descriptions may also note that the company is looking for a candidate with extensive knowledge of the city, industry know-how, or experience assisting C-level executives at a Fortune 500 company.  Use the information within a job description to really drive home why you would be a great fit for the role.

Eliminate “I”

The focus of a cover letter should be how you, as a candidate, would meet the employer’s specific hiring needs.  Including one or two interesting, personal facts on your resume, like a high GPA or the fact that you run marathons may help differentiate you from the pack, but be sure to keep the focus of your resume to the  skills or technical requirements necessary for the job.  Highlight work experience that proves you are a good fit for the company’s current vacancy.  Don’t obsess over yourself too much, though.  

Read the News

You could apply aimlessly to every and any company that has a vacancy, or you could do some research that will benefit both your current job search and your long term goals.  A company that had a bad financial streak in the few years may not last much longer.  A company that has recently expanded could show potential for promotions or even relocations in the future.  It’s also a good idea to look at mergers and acquisitions. A good strategy is to focus on rapidly growing companies or companies in a growth industry. Then, tailor your cover letter or resume to reflect skills for those kinds of companies.

Do Your Homework

Glassdoor is one of many excellent resources for job seekers to do a bit of homework before applying to a job, and it is even more helpful in the interview process.  Glassdoor profiles companies and even has anonymous reviews from their current and past employees; they also show you the company’s CEO approval rating, ways in which the managers can improve, and the overall pros of working there.  In addition, in the interview section, candidates who have interviewed with the company rate their interview on the basis of ease, and may even list some of the questions they were asked, so you know what to expect.

Hiring managers don’t blindly interview candidates; they comb through resumes one by one, examining them to ensure the candidate meets the basic requirements of the position.  Job seekers shouldn’t blindly apply to open positions.  Don’t waste your time.  Take a look at the corporate culture, work environment, turnover rate, salary, growth potential, and, on the most basic level, the duties listed in the job description so you can be sure you will enjoy spending 40 (or more) hours per week there


Image Attribution: By The Library of Congress [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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