Welcome to Office Hours. We’re so glad you dropped by. This new column is an initiative of The Fine Line and Fairygodboss created to address the career questions of women 40 and older. Fairygodboss is the largest career community for women and provides millions of people with hard-to-find intel on maternity leave policies, salaries, work-life balance, and how companies treat their female employees.
Each month, a Fairygodboss expert will answer a question from one of our readers. If you have a question about finding a job, starting a new career, or an issue in the workplace, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: It’s been ages since I’ve looked for a job. What three things should I absolutely do? What three things are out of fashion with employers today ?
A: If you haven’t done a job search in some time, it can be stressful, daunting, and hugely overwhelming. Maybe you know what you’re looking for and where to look, but you may not know what employers are looking for. Sure, you knew how to play the game ages ago, but times have changed.
Here are three things you should absolutely still do when you’re looking for a job:
- Have a job search checklist. Your checklist should include things like updating your resume and cover letter, freshening your LinkedIn profile, getting in touch with recruiters, networking, doing some interview prep by reviewing common questions and preparing answers to them, asking colleagues for references, and figuring out salary requests and researching what’s appropriate for your industry.
- Clean up your resume. Your resume should be neat and readable. A large part of that is removing anything irrelevant and tailoring your resume to the job for which you’re applying. Regardless of the job, however, you won’t need things like your college GPA or your earliest job history.
- Clean up your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn will be among the first things a prospective employer looks up about you. It’s basically an extended version of your resume with more personality, since you’ve got connections who endorse you, businesses you follow, and more on there. Some people believe that your LinkedIn profile may actually be more important than your resume. Update your photo (and be sure it’s professional), remove excessive personal information or anything that could be confusing to someone who doesn’t already know you, and make sure that your headline is accurate and to the point.
Now, here are three things that you shouldn’t do when you’re looking for a new job:
- Don’t come across as stuck in your ways. You will probably need to learn new skills and develop old ones, depending on the job for which you’re applying. It’s important that you keep confident in your abilities to adapt and adjust. If you’re stuck in your ways, it’ll come across to prospective employers and deter them. For example, if you’re used to filing reports via email, and your prospective employer uses shared Google docs, you should verse yourself in Google docs. If they ask how you’d typically perform a certain task in an interview, let them know how you’ve done it (in as many ways possible) and also let them know that you’re a quick learner — and be curious about how their company handles that task.
- Don’t send out the same resume or the same cover letter to everyone. Tailor your resume to the job for which you’re applying. The same goes for your cover letter. A generic cover letter can deter an employer who wants to hire a candidate who expresses enthusiasm for their specific opening and doesn’t just need a regular paycheck.
- Don’t sweat the rejections. Chances are that you will be rejected — probably a lot if you submit a lot of job applications. There are tons of people applying for the same jobs as you, some of whom have more experience or just different experience from yours. Don’t let a rejection get to you and keep your head up. The right job will eventually come along if you keep at it and stay confident.
If you missed our profile on Fairygodboss co-founder Romy Newman, read it here.