You're in the search for a new job.  These 10 specific actions can maximize your efforts and make you like the Iowa farmer… "outstanding in your field."  They are in no particular order but all will assist you in "standing out" from the thousands of other job seekers. 

1.      Start with a daily conversation with God.  Spend 20 minutes at the start of every day getting emotionally and spiritually centered with prayer and a short Bible reading.  There is strength and encouragement there.  Don't just pray for your own needs but also for others in the same circumstances.  Try praising God and expressing thanksgiving for all He's done in your life without once asking Him for anything... it will be a blessing. 

But conversation must be two-way.  You talk to God and then allow Him to talk to you.  Use a daily devotional or notes from sermons or Bible studies.  Don't miss the opportunity for God to speak to you from His word.  Put God in charge of your job search.  He's better at it than you are. 

2.      Network, network, network.  Regularly attend a Bible-teaching church.  Ask people to pray for you.  Don't be too proud to tell people at your church that you are in a job search.  They may be able to offer networking contacts or even know of job opportunities.  Find and regularly attend Christian networking groups.  Many churches or Christian community groups have unemployment support groups.  Ask everyone if they know of someone else you could talk to. 

Remember you're not asking contacts for a job - you're asking them if they know of anyone who might have a job. If you leave a networking meeting with one other contact, you are working it.  Keep a record of people you've met.  You never know what friends, counselors, or future prospects you'll meet during this important part of your search.

3.      Be prepared to confidently sell yourself.  Be ready to answer the question, "What are you looking for?"  And prepare an "infomercial" when someone says, "Tell me about yourself." You WILL hear these over and over.  Write out and practice a 45 second personal infomercial and a 45 second bio.  Practice them out loud with a friend. 

Remember, a prospective employer is interested in what you can do for them, not what you want them to do for you.  A person who can articulate their own skills and the benefits they bring to a prospective employer will stand out from the crowd.  

4.      Prepare your resume and cover letter.  Create a resume format that can be customized for each position for which you apply.  For each job opening, incorporate the key words used in the job description or qualifications.  Keep your resume to a single page unless you have many years of accomplishments - then two pages max. 

A resume is your sales brochure; use it to tell prospective employers how you can help them.  Have a "plain text" version of your resume already formatted for online applications.  Then remember that the hiring official sees the cover letter before your resume so customize it and use it to expand on or give additional details and specific accomplishments that apply to the specific job opening. Get help on the appearance and formats.  The resume is important but the cover letter is too. Don't make it an afterthought.

5.      Never speak ill of your former company or former bosses.  They did what they did.  They had their reasons.  Move on.  Even a flash of anger can be a "turn off" to any prospective employer.  Practice talking about your past jobs with a friend who can help detect negative comments sneaking into your conversation.  You may even need to pray about this issue.  No one wants to bring an angry person into their workplace.

6.      Ask for the job.  At the end of any interview, if you want the job, tell the hiring official so and ask when you should check back.  Then follow the instructions as if they were a set appointment.  Calling back should always be done courteously.  You never know who you're talking to.  The CEO's secretary could be answering the phone that day.  Show your interest and express your desire to go to the next step in the hiring process.  Never be overbearing or a pest.  This is not a time to be over-assertive.  But, if you don't ask…

7.      Do not filter your job search by title.  When searching for jobs on an internet site, do not use key words.  For example: searching "Sales Manager" will exclude job opportunities with companies that might call it something else like Sales Director or Sales Team Leader.  Search all jobs in your geographic area.  You may see interesting openings under other descriptions and possibly get insights into companies that you could contact for opportunities in your area of interest or experience. 

8.      Have realistic expectations.  Be informed about the current market forces and economy in your industry of interest.  Be reasonable in desired income and title.  Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings about your business community.  Being able to talk about industry news or trends in an interview will allow you to stand out in a crowd of interviewees.  Do online searches for news, info and insights about a company before you go to an interview. 

9.      Dress for success.  You never get a second chance to make a strong first impression and hiring officials do judge the book by its cover (your clothes and grooming).  People notice haircuts, fingernails, shined shoes, food stains on clothes, or wrinkles.  Be conservative; do not wear elaborate jewelry or "hip" clothing.  If you don't make the effort to professionally prepare yourself for an interview why should the hiring official think you'll prepare to do the job?

10. Use social media.  Place links to your Blogs, FaceBook, Twitter and especially Linkedin on your resume.  Use them.  Just remember... your mother, pastor, and future employer will read absolutely everything and see every picture on these sites.  Join groups in your industry and participate in discussions just stay professional - do not vent.  Millions of potential bosses are watching and reading.  If you don't know how to use these resources, you now have the time to learn.

At this point in time, your job search IS your job.  Go to work and you'll go to work that much faster.  God blesses diligence - He will bless you.  Proverbs 10:4 (NASB) - Psalms 68:18.

Originally posted September 22, 2010.


Born and raised in South Dakota, Len Allen began college at South Dakota State University. He transferred to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu where he attended for 3 years majoring in commercial art and art history. In 1972 he graduated from Sioux Falls University back in his home state of South Dakota.

He returned to Hawaii where he began his career as a ditch-digger and met his wife, Beverly. Because of Bev's influence, Len went from ditch-digger to corporate Vice President within one and a half years and his career was off and running. They have lived and worked in Hawaii, California, South Dakota, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Texas and are now back in their old home of Chattanooga. They have been married 36 years and have a 21 year-old son attending college.