By Erin Wolfram, M.S.
The job search process can be very daunting and time consuming. In the turfgrass industry, you often work long hours, including weekends, so if you are on the hunt for a new job, you may not have much time to devote to your job search. To help you feel more confident as you seek new opportunities, and save you time in the end, the following are twelve tangible tips to help decrease stress and increase efficiency throughout your job search.
1. Identify your job target(s) and where to find opportunities
Defining what your current job target is will help you focus your job search and make it easier to identify positions in which you are most interested. Rather than applying for everything you find, it is better to take a focused approach and only apply to the positions that you are genuinely interested in and those for which you are, at least minimally, qualified.
Consider these questions:
• What types of job titles likely match what you want in a new position?
• What type of facility or organization are you interested in working?
• Are you looking to make a lateral move, or are you seeking a leadership role?
• Are you location bound?
Next, brainstorm where you can find job openings that may be of interest to you. Consider professional organization and industry websites, specific company or organization websites, job boards that have opportunities in your field and within your location of interest, social media job announcements, and people in your network who might know of open positions. The Sports Turf Managers Association job board (https://www.stma.org/job-board/) is a great place to start.
2. Prepare your documents
Prepare drafts of your resume, cover letter and reference page after you have an idea of the type of opportunities you want to pursue. Have a friend, family member or professional career consultant look over your documents to make sure they represent your strengths, skills and accomplishments well, and are error free. Once you have a solid foundation, you will be able to easily tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific positions for which you apply, and you will not be starting from scratch with each application.
3. Alert your network
Reach out to friends, family members, mentors and colleagues. Let them know the types of opportunities you are considering and discuss your qualifications. Talk to people even if they don’t work in your industry. When you tap into your network, your contacts can tap into their network, and suddenly you have a broader reach. You never know who might have a helpful recommendation. As you reach out to your contacts to seek assistance, don’t forget to offer how you can assist them. Remember, networking should be mutually beneficial.
4. Create an email account
Yes, you have probably had an e-mail account for more than 20 years, but unless you have an e-mail address solely for job search purposes already, you may want to consider creating one. Generate an address that is simple, professional, and clearly represents your name, such as email@example.com. This will help you funnel all job correspondence to one e-mail inbox and keep you organized. You won’t have to worry about filtering through, potentially hundreds of, other e-mails to find those that include job prospects or communication from human resources managers. The last thing you want to do is miss an e-mail with an offer for an interview.
5. Set up e-mail rules
To keep your job-search-focused e-mail account even more organized, set up e-mail rules to differentiate between e-mails alerting you of potential jobs and other correspondence, such as invitations for interviews. Through e-mail rules, you can automatically send job notification e-mails to a specific folder so you can peruse new opportunities at your convenience. This also allows more space in your inbox for direct correspondence and a quicker response time.
6. Set up e-mail alerts
Once you have a focused e-mail account and have identified places to search for opportunities, set up job alerts within any search sites that have that capability. Set your search parameters to identify jobs that best suit your interests and qualifications and adjust your settings to receive daily or weekly notifications regarding new opportunities that meet your criteria.
7. Update your social media platforms
It is always a good idea to review your online presence before beginning a job search. Many employers will conduct an online search of your name prior to inviting you for an interview. Therefore, it is important to maintain a professional online presence. You can start by checking the privacy settings of your more personal social media accounts to ensure they are set to “private” so the information you share with your friends and family is not visible to a prospective employer. Then make sure your LinkedIn profile and other professional accounts are up to date.
8. Utilize LinkedIn
If you do not already have a LinkedIn account, create one. Make sure you complete your profile entirely by adding a profile picture, background photo, work experience with accomplishments, organizational involvement, and education. Once you have a complete profile, you want to connect with people you know in and outside of the turfgrass industry. Then, you can even reach out to others you do not know personally by sending them a tailored message along with your connection request providing them with information on why you would like to connect. More and more employers are utilizing LinkedIn, and it is a great tool to showcase your skills and experience, as well as your commitment to your industry.
Use this LinkedIn connection request example to help you get started:
I am also a member of STMA, and will be moving to the Houston area soon. I am looking to connect with more professionals in the area as I look to make that transition. Thank you for your consideration.
9. Contact references
Reach out to people who know you well and can speak highly of you as a professional to ask if they will serve as a reference for you. Typically, job applications require at least three to five professional contacts. Current or past supervisors, colleagues or direct reports make the strongest references. Avoid listing personal friends and family members. Provide them with information on the type of opportunities you are seeking. It is also helpful to give them a current resume. If you have individuals who have previously agreed to serve as a reference for you, let them know you are actively looking so they are prepared if they are called for a reference check. Keep your references informed of applications you have submitted, and once your job search has ended, don’t forget to thank them for their time.
10. Create a spreadsheet
Next, create a spreadsheet to help you record necessary information and meet deadlines. Include information such as:
• Position name
• Application deadline
• Contact person’s name
• Contact information
• Link to the job posting
• Required application materials
• How to apply
• Date you submitted your application
• Date you followed up to confirm receipt
• Date you heard back from the organization
• Interview date
As you identify positions for which to submit applications, enter all the information for each position into the spreadsheet to help you prepare and accurately apply by the necessary dates. Keep the spreadsheet updated as you continue through the process.
11. Schedule time
Once you have systems in place to help you strategically execute your job search, you are now ready to start applying. After you have added a position to your spreadsheet, look at the deadline. Schedule a time to prepare, finalize and submit your application. Applications often take longer than you expect, so set aside at least an hour for each application – maybe longer, depending on the application requirements. You do not want to hastily submit an application. This can cause costly mistakes that will likely keep you from securing an interview.
12. Prepare to interview
Once you start applying for positions, it is time to start preparing to interview. This is a critical step in the job search process. Once you have an interview scheduled, it is important to research the organization you are interviewing with, as well as the individuals who will be interviewing you. In addition, practice responses to typical interview questions and prepare questions to ask your interviewers. Remember, interviews are a two-way process.
After you have implemented these tips, you will have a streamlined process to help you stay organized and prepared throughout your job search. This should help alleviate some stress and put you on a strategic path to securing a new position. Now, start preparing and applying. Good luck!
Erin Wolfram, M.S., is a career services professional with more than 15 years of experience. She has a specialization in assisting those in the turfgrass management industry, and works with clients to help them recognize their strengths and unique qualities to rise above the competition. She works alongside individuals to make sure they are confident throughout their job search and professional growth, and believes in getting to know clients and their stories to help them reflect their best selves in their application materials and portfolios. She owns and operates Career Advantage and Career Advantage Golf (http://careeradvantagegolf.com), and helps professionals throughout the world. Additionally, Wolfram is an ISSA certified trainer, and runs an online personal training and nutrition consulting business, The Fit Advantage.
Wolfram received a Bachelor of Science in Secondary English Education from Kansas State University, as well as both a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology and a Master of Science in Educational Technology from The University of Kansas. She also earned a professional etiquette certificate in 2012 from The Etiquette Institute in St. Louis, Mo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.