As we count down to 2011, here are my Top Ten federal job search resolutions to help you get a quick jump start back into your federal job search as soon as the holiday festivities are over.
10. Get inspired! Read a book about an expertise that you have.
Find a book on a topic of interest, such as leadership, management, teamwork or supervision. If the book is inspiring, you might feel more energetic and proud of your past accomplishments – which will translate into a good mood and higher confidence. Looking for a federal job? Here’s a great list of Federal Leadership Books!
Sometimes, job interviewers will ask you what you are reading now. You better get ready for this one. Books on leadership, history, or a topic that supports your non-profit or volunteer work would be perfect for the interview (not political books).
9. Be systematic with your online job search strategies.
Keep a list of your favorite webpages, and check them every day, or, at a minimum, once a week, for positions that could be of interest.
You can waste time at the computer if you don’t have a clear list of sites that you visit regularly and search strategies that work. Limit your time on searching for jobs, so that you can move AWAY from the computer and be productive in other ways.
8. Say “Happy New Year” to your references and people in your network.
This time of year is perfect for reconnecting with people you haven’t touched base with in awhile. Your references and network are your most important allies for your job search. Make a clear list of your best references / network contacts. Write to them, or preferably meet with them in person for lunch or coffee.
Talk to your references, update them on what you are doing, and ask them if they have any leads or ideas about positions. Be positive about your skills, experience, and new or renewed determination for 2011. Review your job search strategies with them.
If you don’t have a Linkedin or other online resume, you could work on that also. You can get testimonials and post your entire resume online for searches.
7. Make a new list of keywords, and check it every time.
Keywords are words that you can find in the recruitment advertisement. Look especially for words that are repeated several times in the job announcements. Make sure these words are included in your Work Experience descriptions. The human resources recruiters read or scan for those keywords in your resume.
Make sure you adapt your resume to include your skills, knowledge, and areas of expertise to each position for which you are applying. One resume won’t work! You have to take that one resume and change it slightly for each job announcement and position.
6. Add a few new “competencies” to your resume.
Competencies are the latest “thing” for human resources – both federal and private industry. Examples of competencies are: flexible, adaptable, customer services, interpersonal skills, excellent at problem-solving.
Do you have good interpersonal skills? If yes, say so in the resume somewhere. Are you great with customer services? Make sure it is in your resume. You might think it is OBVIOUS that you have great communications, negotiation, and problem-solving skills, but don’t be bashful now! Say it in the context of one of your accomplishments. Seriously, the HR specialists and managers love a person who get along great with team members, customers, supervisors, and even complainers! Here’s a Top Ten Managerial Competency List.
5. Stay up on the current events.
Keeping up with the latest happenings can help you get an edge in an interview. Stay on top of the news headlines and get out to local cultural activities, such as museums or galleries, which will have the added benefit of giving you a break from the job search.
4. Add pizzazz to your cover letter.
Cover letters are the hottest new item in federal resumes. Update your cover letter and add a new first sentence or paragraph give it a new 2011 zing.
Samples of positive, energetic starter sentences:
— I’d like to introduce myself to you as a Top Notch Office Administrator for your firm.
— Are you looking for a person who can multi-task, solve problems, and who has initiative and energy? I’m available.
— I can offer your firm outstanding skills in customer communication, problem-solving and project management. I can prove these skills and strengths by success in growing my company’s sales by 300% in 2009.
3. Take a class or course on something relevant.
Interviewers will want to know what you have done to keep up with your skills. Taking a class in just about anything will give you an interesting angle to talk about in an interview or while networking.
If you can take an online or community college course, here are some suggested courses that are helpful for career development: Technical Writing; Computers Skills; Public Speaking; Ethics (always good for any job); Organizational Development; Leadership; Supervision; Teamwork; Social Media Marketing for Businesses; Budgeting; and Acquisitions and Contracting (for government jobs).
You never know, you might also meet someone in class who knows about job for you.
2. Join a job club.
Go to a job club meeting or job fair once or twice per month. Get out of the house, meet people, listen for ideas, pass around your resume, smile and be friendly. You can be your own BILLBOARD.
I teach federal resume writing at several job clubs in the DC and Virginia area. These FREE meetings are invaluable for job leads, meeting other jobseekers and mentors who review resumes, practice for interviews, and help with job search strategies.
1. Celebrate your accomplishments.
What are you most proud of for 2010 (or the last time you were working)? Make a list and read it out loud. These will be your talking-points for your job interview. Review your list of accomplishments to prepare for an interview and compare them to your resume.
Many resumes that I review do NOT contain accomplishments at all. Or if they do, the accomplishments are one line. Expand on your accomplishments. Add the RESULTS. and even add the CONTEXT or CHALLENGE for what you did. Talk about the problems you overcame and how achieved success. It might seem like bragging, but if you are good at something in your job, you have to write it on paper to get the point across to the hiring official.
Best Wishes for 2011!
Finally, just keep up the good work and remember that perseverance is the key to success in this job market.
From Kathryn Troutman, Author, Ten Steps to a Federal Job
Success Story from First-Time Federal Jobseeker (who was from private industry):
I applied for a position in Reston, VA for a HR Asst. The job announcement closed on Monday (12-20-10) and I rec’d a call yesterday from a Hiring Official yesterday to set up an interview for today (12-22-10). After talking with him for 20 mins; he offered me the position!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe that?! I owe a huge THANK YOU to you and Kathryn for making me look GOOD!