Ingenuity Is Key to Landing a Position Do Sweat the Small Stuff. (Job Hunting)

USA TODAY, December 2002 | Go to article overview
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Ingenuity Is Key to Landing a Position Do Sweat the Small Stuff. (Job Hunting)


Ingenuity is the key to landing a new position, according to career expert Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group, Menlo Park, Calif., a specialized staffing firm placing creative, advertising, and marketing and web professionals. As the employment environment becomes more competitive, she emphasizes that it is increasingly important for job seekers to distinguish themselves.

"A clever job search strategy can help candidates attract the attention of hiring managers, which is essential in today's market where many applicants may be vying for a single opening." Turner points out, suggesting that, while creativity can set a candidate apart, it is possible to go too far. "Gimmicks such as sending a resume in a tin can may sometimes work, but the potential employer might question the job seeker's judgment. The most-successful strategies emphasize the unique qualities an applicant has to offer in an original, yet professional, manner." She provides the following job search tips:

Go digital. Launch a personal website to showcase your resume and work samples. It provides an impressive link within an e-cover letter and enables prospective employers to view your portfolio at their convenience. Take advantage of easy-to-use website development software, or hire someone to construct a site.

Be visible. A period of unemployment is an opportune time to network. Become involved with trade and professional groups by giving talks or writing newsletter articles about your area of expertise. Prepare business cards to distribute at industry events. Photograph the new contacts you meet at these functions so you can later send out the pictures with personal notes.

Show your return on investment. Companies seek employees who will add to the bottom line. Quantify your contributions in previous positions and emphasize these achievements on your resume. For example, a web designer might note that his or her work on an e-commerce site improved usability, and, subsequently, the company's online sales increased by 20%.

Look for the competitive advantage. Along with carefully researching a prospective employer, investigate the firm's chief competitors and identify areas in which you could help the business gain an edge over these companies. This type of information not only helps you compose a more-compelling letter, but prepares you to speak knowledgeably if you are invited for an interview.

Offer a critique. Congratulating a company on its successes when meeting with a potential employer is always a smart move, but it is also wise to formulate ideas on how the firm might improve. Hiring managers routinely ask questions such as, "How de you think we could enhance our web presence?" You can stack the deck in your favor by tactfully offering well-thought-out suggestions.

Follow up. Sending a personal thank-you note to your interviewer is a must, but you can make a more-memorable impression by including an industry-related article with the letter. A carefully selected news item demonstrates awareness and enthusiasm.

"Don't sweat the small stuff" may be a popular philosophy in today's society, but according to an author and job search expert, overlooking the "small stuff" is poor advice for a recent or soon-to-be college graduate seeking that first job.

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