The Job Search: Reflect, focus efforts at end of year

Michael Cronk is assistant director of career development at Transylvania University
Michael Cronk is assistant director of career development at Transylvania University

As the year comes to a close, it's an excellent opportunity to reflect upon yourself as a job seeker in hopes of becoming a more effective candidate.

One way to do just that is a job-search model that an excellent colleague and friend, Christine Cruzvergara of Georgetown University, provides for applicants to follow — Documents, Research, Networking and Search.

Documents: A well articulated résumé concisely highlights the skills you've acquired from previous experience that are valuable for the manager reviewing your résumé. A cover letter explains how you are a good fit for the organization both in terms of your ability to do the job and work effectively with your future colleagues.

Always place yourself in the position of the reader and ask yourself, "Do cover letters and résumés explain how the candidates can successfully handle the requirements of jobs they are applying for?" If the answer is "yes," you are probably in good shape. If the answer is, "I guess so," back to work revising with you.

Research: Often a job description is limited in explaining what is required of the applicant. Work to discover more about the job as well as the company and industry. Can you answer these questions:

■ What is required of me, both in the day-to-day work, as well as the overall goals for achieving success in this position?

■ What are the goals of this company and how does it go about achieving them?

■ Who are competitors in this industry and what, collectively, does the industry stand for and what obstacles do they face?

The stronger the research, the more work you can do to revise and tailor your résumé and cover letter, making you a more effective candidate.

Networking: Your role in networking is to both learn more about opportunities and pathways, as well as to help others do the same.

Leveraging the insights you can gain from conversations with insiders and others knowledgeable about a company or industry will go a long way toward making you a successful candidate. It will also lead to you discovering more opportunities than can otherwise be found dredging through online job search engines. has quickly become an invaluable tool for networking. If you do not yet have a profile, go quickly to to read through the training guides to help you build a professional profile.

Search: The culmination of the previous three steps is the search. Make sure you are focusing on jobs for which you believe you are qualified. That may mean applying to fewer jobs overall, but the quality of each application will be stronger. There are only so many hours in a day and so much energy you have; be sure you are leaving enough mental energy to apply for the right jobs. Target job boards that are specific to your professional goals such as those found through professional associations.

As you continue your search for a job, consider these steps as a way to be more diligent, targeted and purposeful about your search. If you find you are not getting interviews, ask yourself which of the above steps you are not spending enough time on.

If you are doing only number four and are not spending enough time on the first three, try to change your patterns to rebalance your efforts. Hopefully this will lead to greater success. I wish you a very happy holiday season and all the best in your search for a good job.