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Small details pay off big in job search
Have you ever had to fold a t-shirt into a perfect six-inch square? Though it sounds ridiculous, precision in t-shirt folding was one of the biggest things that stuck with me in Air Force Basic Training. Not because I think it’s important to have organized laundry, but because of the lesson behind it. Details matter. They matter when putting together the engine of an aircraft and they matter in your job search.
Employers today can receive upwards of 50 applications per job opening. All things equal, it’s the details that can give you an edge over your competition. Make sure you’re giving proper attention to the following aspects of your search:
Your email provider. You probably won’t lose a job opportunity if your email ends in AOL.com, but in some business sectors that email address won’t help you, either. Older providers like AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail carry – fairly or not – certain associations that could lead hiring managers to assume you are less tech-savvy or of an older generation. Gmail is both generic and advanced enough to get the job done without making you stand out for the wrong reasons. And it’s free. Plus, Google is perceived as the leader in the tech space, so leveraging their produt can make you look more technologically progressive by association.
Your email signature. The signature you use to end your email should make an impression that’s professional yet compelling. Be succinct and include the essentials: your full name, your current title if employed or your profession/industry if you’re unemployed, your contact numbers, and link to your LinkedIn profile (and maybe Twitter, but NOT Facebook).
A printed business card. Yes, they’re still relevant. Whether you’re currently employed or between jobs, create a branded card that you can hand out for networking or during interviews. It should include the basics – name, address, contact numbers, email address, etc. – as well as a “title” that describes your professional skills. Professional yet personalized cards will leave an impression. Here at LinkUp we love the cards from Moo.com.
Professional-sounding voicemail. Imagine this scenario – the HR manager you’ve been hounding for an interview finally calls back. And your voicemail says “Hey, this is Joe. You know what to do after the beep.” In the background, the HR manager hears your kids screaming, the TV playing and the dog barking. You’ll be lucky if he/she leaves any message at all. Your voicemail should be professional, delivered in your clearest, most authoritative speaking voice, and recorded without background noise.
Update your LinkedIn tagline. Many hiring managers review a candidate’s social media profiles, so make a good impression. Take advantage of the branding opportunity a LinkedIn tagline presents. It should be concise yet descriptive, compelling but not cheesy. For example, the words “unemployed,” “out of work” or “seeking new opportunities” smack of desperation and should never appear in your LinkedIn tagline. Exective recruiter Pete Leibman blogs about LinkedIn headlines and offers a great formula to help make yours professional, accurate and engaging. Check out his LinkedIn blog.
Write a great thank you. After the interview, a thank you note is a must. It’s okay to send an email – just make sure you get names right and don’t misspell anything. If you’ll be sending a written note, choose notecards in a light, neutral color, printed on good quality card stock. They should either be blank, or simply have “thank you” imprinted on the front in a professional-looking font like Helvetica or Times New Roman. Hand write your personal thanks neatly inside.
Prep your social profiles. Even if you’re trying to keep your personal social media separate from your professional social media activities, some crossover is inevitable. Make sure your security settings limit who can view your personal social media activities, especially if you’ve been known to post things that may not play well in a professional setting. Don’t forget that even if someone can’t view the content you post, they’ll likely still be able to see your profile image, so choose one that says “pro” and not “party animal.” While you’re job-hunting, avoid posting anything that could be embarrassing. And don’t forget to keep your professional social media profiles up to date.
While I no longer fold my t-shirts into six inch squares, I do strive to pay attention to the details in life, especially in a job search.