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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Labor of Finding a Job

Another Labor Day weekend, and summer for that matter, has come and gone. I hope you had an enjoyable weekend and summer yourself.

Labor Day is historically celebrated as a day of rest from work. Summer is ending, school starts up again, and in our industry, it typically marks the recruiting 'busy season'. Our campus recruiters are gearing up for job fairs, presentations and interview days. Our experienced-hire recruiters are proactively looking to fill the remaining openings we have before the end of the calendar year and the start of the accounting 'busy season'.

For those of you whose Labor Day signifies the time to look for a new and better job, the process of finding a new, better job can often be a complicated and tedious process. Resumes, cover letters, interviews, assessments, applications, references, multiple offers, negotiations (all of this going on while you have a job, or have other life events to attend to!) It's alot for anyone to handle. It is often said that finding a new job is a full-time job in itself, especially if you are focused on making sure that your new job is significantly better than your current one.

Finding job opportunities in the public accounting/professional services industry isn't the hard part, with thousands of jobs listed on a plethora of national, local, and niche job boards. But, how do you make sense of it all? What job boards are right for the types of jobs you are looking for? After you take the time to submit your resume, does anyone even ever look at it?

Using job boards as a primary job search tool can prove to be particularly frustrating. A column in this Sunday's Washington Post Careers section illustrates the challenge of navigating this landscape. Ultimately, using targeted job searches on job boards should only be a part of your overall strategy. Most major employers post all of their jobs to the major job boards (i.e. Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs), but what criteria are you using to help you decide which jobs to apply for? And when you do apply, are you doing anything to set yourself apart? Are you truly qualified for the positions you are applying for? Do you have any other connections into the organizations you are applying to?

If you are in a job search mode, you need to consider these questions as a part of your overall strategy. In my opinion, job boards are an excellent way to explore what types of jobs exist within employers you may be interested in working for. The rest though is in most cases up to you. If I were to offer just a few tips on how to use job boards as a part of your job search strategy, they would be:

1) Don't just limit your search to 'brand name' employers. Great jobs exist in small and large companies, companies with well recognized brands, and those who are unknown.
2) Apply only to those positions where you meet the minimum qualifications. Don't assume that the employer will settle for anything less.
3) Tailor your resume and cover letter for the job(s) you apply to, making sure to highlight how your qualifications meet the job(s) minimum qualifications.
4) Consider using job board aggregators such as Indeed and Simply Hired, which essentially pull job postings from a variety of sources, potentially reducing the time you spend searching , and increasing the time you have to apply, interview, and get hired.

There are more tips of course, and future posts will certainly address those. For those of you who are kicking off your post Labor-Day job search, happy hunting, and good luck with finding that next great career opportunity (maybe even with McGladrey!)

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