My least favorite thing about job hunting is feeling absolutely lost.
I know I’m not alone in this. There are thousands of articles online with tips for starting a job search, but the process still seems daunting. Hours are spent looking and applying for jobs with no guarantee that you’ll receive a response. Hours more are spent interviewing and filling out new hire paperwork only to find that this job or company really isn’t a good fit for you.
And the job search starts all over again!
I am not a career coach, but my tips for starting a job search revolve around targeting your job search and setting achievable goals. Start thinking of your job search as a project with major milestones and daily tasks that break down the process into a less overwhelming season.
1 | Create A Job Search Plan
There are certain tasks that are necessary during a job search, and you should already have some of these on your mind. This list of tasks includes updating your resume, reviewing job descriptions, applying for jobs, researching companies that schedule an interview with you, and so on.
The best thing you can do to make sure that your job search is successful is to make a plan. I highly recommend using a planner that helps you set goals and track your progress. I personally love using Panda Planner because you can set weekly goals and prioritize your daily tasks. Here are a few examples to get you started...
Weekly Goals: Update resume + LinkedIn profile, Apply for 3 jobs, Connect with 3 recruiters on LinkedIn, etc.
Daily Priorities: Update resume, Update LinkedIn profile, Find 3 jobs to apply for, Target resume for Job Posting 1, Write a cover letter for Job Posting 2, Send Personalized Invites to connect With 2 recruiters in my area, etc.
2 | Review Job Descriptions To Find A Good Fit
Looking for a new + better job can be frustrating, time-consuming, and discouraging. The worst mistake you can make when starting a job search is to not know what jobs would be a good fit for you. Consider how much responsibility you want and which skill sets you want to use.
A great way to narrow down which jobs will be a great fit for you is to review job descriptions. Your ideal job may hold multiple job titles, so using a tool like ZipRecruiter can speed up this process by allowing you search for jobs based on keywords (such as skills, software, etc.)
3 | Determine + Know Your Worth
Once you’ve figured out which job(s) you may want to apply for, you should research salary ranges for your area. If you think this step is too early in the job search process, stop that. It’s so important that you know your worth before applying for jobs. The value you offer to employers is not just determined by your years of experience or your education level, but these are critical details to consider first (because an employer will).
You can use Salary.com to figure out what salary range would be appropriate for your background. Once you have a range, you should consider your work ethic and also the contributions you’ve made to organizational goals in the past. If you are a valuable asset to a company, embrace it. Knowing your desired compensation will help you narrow down jobs that are worth applying for because you’ll have a better idea which companies will recognize your value.
4 | Research Companies To Find A Good Fit
Do you want to work for a small business or a mid-sized to large corporation? What is your ideal work environment and style? What values or causes are important to you and should be important to the next company you work for?
These are important questions to consider when starting your job search. You can research your ideal companies online fairly easily. I recommend starting with LinkedIn since you can search for companies by size, location, and keywords. You can also learn more about the company values and environment using Facebook and sometimes Instagram.
5 | Take Inventory Of Your Achievements + Skills
By now, you should have a good idea regarding which job titles you want to target and which companies may be ideal for you to work at. Before you jump into networking or applying for these jobs, make your resume and cover letter writing easier by taking inventory of all of your achievements and skills.
Use some job postings (and ones similar to the jobs you want to apply) to help you get started. Look at the qualifications or requirements. Which of these skill sets do you have? What did you accomplish in using these skill sets? Thinking about your achievements and major contributions in advance and making a tentative list will speed up the resume targeting process.
6 | Create Targeted Resumes
Targeting your resume doesn’t need to be as time-consuming as it sounds. If you have narrowed down your job search to 2-3 job targets, you can create a “resume template” for each job target that focuses on the most desirable skills for that job target. Then you can adjust the Job Title, Branding Statement, and achievements for each job posting more quickly.
It’s critically important that you target each resume for your job search to be successful. If you don’t target the resume that you upload to online job postings, the Applicant Tracking software that most employers are using to narrow down candidates may not rank your resume high enough to be considered by a decision-maker. Don’t skip this step!
7 | Prepare For Background Checks
Most employers will run a background check to see if you have a criminal record, but a high percentage of hiring managers are also using social media to validate your work history and look for anything questionable. Why? Because it’s less time-consuming and less expensive for them!
This is one of the reasons I highly recommend having a LinkedIn profile with your current work history visible on your public profile. I also recommend checking your Facebook profile for revealing photos, questionable or controversial interests, or inconsistent work history updates that are visible on your public profile.
8 | Use LinkedIn To Connect With Recruiters
LinkedIn has a feature called “Open Candidate” that notifies recruiters with Paid LinkedIn accounts (which most serious, career recruiters will have) that you are open to new opportunities. Better yet, it provides these recruiters with your ideal job titles and company information that you indicate in the Open Candidate settings. Recruiters with open positions to fill that match your interests will contact YOU rather than you having to track down and connect with every recruiter in your field or area.
To turn on and adjust your Open Candidate settings from the desktop view: Click the Jobs tab in the main menu, click “Update Career Interests,” add your preferences, then click the toggle to turn on the Open Candidate beacon. To turn on and adjust your Open Candidate settings from the mobile app: Click on the briefcase icon to open the Jobs tab, click on the pencil icon to open your Career Interests, add your preferences, then click the toggle to turn on the Open Candidate beacon.
9 | Reach Out To Family + Friends
Referrals are statistically the most successful method for securing a new + better job, so notify your family and friends that you’re looking! Update your Facebook status to indicate that you’re looking for a job and include your preferences for job titles, company sizes and locations, etc. You are more likely to be referred to a great job if you’re specific in your career goal.
You can also start growing your network on LinkedIn by connecting with family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, former classmates, etc. You can ask for referrals by clicking on the “See who can introduce you” link beneath Highlights on the profile of the LinkedIn user you’d like to connect with. These users may be recruiters, HR professionals, or hiring managers that work for one of your ideal companies.
10 | Practice Interviewing
Finally, don’t wait until the night before your job interview to start preparing. The internet is stuffed full of common interview questions that you can practice answering with a close friend or family member at any time.
Your job search will be far more successful if you walk into each job interview with a solid understanding of the job opening and the company’s goals. Doing some research prior to your interview using the company’s website and LinkedIn can also help position you as the best fit for the job.
Don’t be overwhelmed by a new job search - Create a plan, set a few goals, and conquer your job search.
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