Job search is not fun for most people. The process is fraught with difficulties on both sides. Too many job seekers also rely on what worked for them in the past. They barely update their resume and then blast it out while doing all their job search online. I see them in LinkedIn groups asking generic questions, in resume reviews, and as a speaker at job search clubs, military transition programs, and career events. Here are a few of the most common issues – and ways to address them.

Marketing Yourself

A resume is not the only tool for marketing yourself! Your resume needs to show those achievements which best support the job you seek. Of course that means you have already decided what job you want and researched such jobs and potential employers. Use your target’s values and wording to ensure the resume resonates with them.

You may find a one-page summary of your achievements and expertise, with a title of the job you seek as a headline, very useful in your networking efforts.

Check yourself out online. Use a search engine to see what others will find when searching on your name(s.) Ideally you will pop up on the first page of results and more. But if you share a name with someone or have some stuff you need to clean up yourself, learn what is out there. Correct as needed.

Enhance your social media presence carefully.

You can learn a lot about companies, jobs, and job search on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook without being very active on the platforms yourself. Being active is a bonus – both in terms of showing your expertise and increasing your visibility.

A well written LinkedIn profile is useful. Many recruiters and hiring managers look for potential candidates and at applicants on LinkedIn. Your headline should be customized, not the default job title you have. The headline and your summary should entice people to learn more. Don’t forget a good headshot – research shows that is connected to interest and responses. If you want, put all those extras about your early experiences, volunteer work, projects, and such on LI so you can keep your resume clear, concise and focused. Remember to personalize your URL, and put it with your contact info on your resume. Join alumni groups (schools and past employers) as well as those in your career field. Follow target employers and other interests to keep track of current issues, hiring employers, and such. As you follow target companies, search out their management in your field for information on their careers, and connect with their recruiters.

Talk to people you know about your search. Ask for information or assistance to improve the range of employers you target and to learn more about each, to improve your resume, learn about current trends and issues, and so on. Build or rebuild connections with past peers at work, old friends or community contacts, good bosses, people in your field, and people in your target employers.

Consider a job search business card. This card will have the title or type of job you seek instead of the job you have on the front along with your contact information. The back side has short highlights about you that will show why you are a great candidate. Use these in networking, at events, and in the interview process to remind everyone what a great catch you are for the jobs you seek.

Set up a specific email address for your job search too. This makes it easy to track things in one place and shows you are savvy enough not to use your employer’s resources. Use your personal cell phone for job search texting, for the same reason.

“Show Me the Money”

Many people want a big pay jump with the next job. Or perhaps to change career focus without having to take a step backwards on pay. Do you actually know what the job you seek pays? How?

When you want to know about current pay levels and trends, talk to people who are hiring for those roles. This is a part of your preparation for the job search. Reach out to those hiring managers in your network for a short phone conversation or coffee meeting and include questions about current pay levels in your discussion. If you do not know any, then ask your connections for introductions to such people.

There is general information online. Be careful, most of it is averages of averages with a COLA adjustment for you location rather than actual local data. Use it for general ideas, rather than specific info which you can get from your contacts.

Smarter employers are including the salary range in their job announcements.

You still need real advice that fits your background and where you’re seeking work. The same job pays very differently based on many factors. For example: where it is located? What is the primary business focus of the company – is this job core to its work or not? What is the size of the company? How easy or hard is it to hire people that match the job requirements in the specific locale? For government contractors: are they a prime or sub on the contract?

Age Bias

The workforce is aging but not every company or hiring manager has caught up with that fact. Age discrimination exists. It starts in one’s 30s in some areas, like tech jobs, a little later is others.

Research this at your target companies and ask your network about firms which value experience and expertise.

One way around the age issue is finding employees to refer you internally. Study after study on hiring sources shows that employee referrals – which you get from your networking efforts incidentally – are the #1 preferred source of new hires at companies. Going through HR is not the right approach, unless you are in HR. You want someone, preferably in your career field or a related one, you know to introduce you to someone who can hire you – the HR side will catch up.

Age discrimination combines with the narrowing in the number of positions for experienced technical and managerial applicants to make searches in the last half of your career more time-consuming. Hiring managers fear such applicants are too expensive, too set in their ways, and yes too old, illegal though may be. Your efforts need to be to find the companies where experience is valued, and those people who actually have open positions requiring your experience and expertise.

Think of your current/last role – how many people your age or older did you hire? How open was your company to such hires?

These realities mean your focus on the right employers and the networking side of job search are critical.

Multiple Job Offers

If your skills in demand, you may be juggling several employers’ hiring processes at once.

Never waste time or energy on jobs which are not really what you want. No amount of money compensates for a bad fit. Rarely will a company interview you for X and suddenly be willing to consider you for another position you actually want. And you do not want to be going through another job search in a short time – because you thought you could ‘make it work’ when you knew it wasn’t right.

Whether a company is speedy or slow in its hiring (which is something you should learn early on, so ask), most expect quick decisions once an offer is made. Some will push for it when they call or say they want to know in a day or two.

Always ask for the offer in writing. You need this to assess if he offer is what you understood it to be and whether there are any caveats or changes. It happens.

If the job is a good match but you are talking to another employer about one that you think is even better:

  • Say you need a few days to discuss with your family. Asking for a week is acceptable but some employers will push for sooner.
  • Consider beginning negotiations on the existing offer if you have any aspects you want to change. While pay is the most common, job scope and vacation are also commonly issues that trigger negotiations.
  • Do this only if you are really interested!

Meanwhile, call the hiring manager of the other job you are most interested in. Do this only when you feel the interview process has gone well, you have talked to several people, and you think they are likely to make an offer.

  • Reinforce your interest
  • Ask if they are still interested and, if so, how soon are you likely to know if they will make an offer
  • If you know the hiring manager is likely to be receptive (another part of your advance research on target employers), say that you have another offer but would prefer to work with them.

Once you know where you stand, accept one offer and tell the other. If the offer is right and the job is right, accept it and move forward.

Job search may not be much fun. You can make it more successful and faster via smart marketing and networking efforts!