5 Ways to Jump Start Your D.C. Job Search
Before you can impress an employer with your well-pressed suit and subject matter expertise, you'll have to ace the paper screen. These tips will take you from a stack of resumes to a first interview.
Write Your Story
Stories are powerful. People relate to them and hiring managers are no exception. Before you do ANYTHING related to a job search, it is important to have a few talking points down. Write down the things that make up who you are, like what you’re great at, and how your experiences have prepared you for the kind of job you’re looking for. If you don’t have decent answers to these questions, take 20 minutes and put some together. Write them down. This way, if you happen to bump into a great contact or get a call regarding your resume, you don’t have to take chances on slapping something together quickly.
When you're on a phone or in-person interview, the hiring manager will almost always ask you to walk them through your resume. Instead of just listing what you've done, give some context. Start off with something along the lines of:
“I grew up in a house where writing was a way to express yourself.”
“Ever since I can remember, I've enjoyed watching and dissecting the news.”
Do Your Homework
Before you apply to a job, it is important to do some research. For the jobs you like: mark up the job description, bolding or underlining keywords in the qualifications section, the responsibilities section, and how the company is describing itself. Make sure your cover letter aligns with these keywords (but don’t copy them verbatim).
For the jobs you *love*: do the above, then survey their website for a sense of their tone and culture. Look for their core values and what they’re most proud of. Cite one or two of the core values of their organization in your cover letter, and how it speaks to you. Google them in Google News. If they’ve had a recent press story, site that story in your cover letter.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
When you’re in need of a new job, the temptation is to blanket the employer-sphere with your resume. That’s a rookie mistake. Your time is valuable and scarce (especially if you’re currently working a different job). You don’t have time to go on interviews for jobs and companies you don’t really want to work for (and they don’t have time for mediocre, mildly interested candidates). If you can’t justify spending 30-45 minutes on tweaking your cover letter, studying the job description, and looking through LinkedIn to see who you know at the company– keep looking.
Make Social Media Work for You, Not Against You
Complete your LinkedIn profile and connect with all the strong business contacts you have. Customize your LinkedIn url in order to make it easier for contacts to find your page. Delete any questionable posts or pictures from your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram timeline (or better yet, don’t post them in the first place). If others have tagged you in anything offensive, ask to be un-tagged. Search your name on Google to get a sense of what employers will see when they research you.
This may seem like an obvious one for job seekers, but employers would beg to differ. If the job description asks you to address your cover letter to a specific person, don’t address it to “Hiring Manager.” If they ask for a specific subject line, give them what they want. Not doing so shows a lack of attention to detail and is a risk you don’t need to take this early in the hiring process. A strong paper application is not rocket science, but it does take intentionality and practice.
If the job description asks you to address your cover letter to a specific person, don’t address it to “Hiring Manager.” If they ask for a specific subject line, give them what they want. Not doing so shows a lack of attention to detail and is a risk you don’t need to take this early in the hiring process. A strong paper application is not rocket science, but it does take intentionality and practice.