When you’re in the job market, job searching isn’t always the easiest process. Whether you’re just starting to look or are at the height of your search, follow these 10 job hunting tips on how to find the right job, optimize your application and appearance to employers, and nail every single aspect of your job search.
How to Find a New Job in 10 Easy Steps
1. Determine Your Job Search Priorities
Start by narrowing your search to job titles you’d like. This helps you hone your seniority level as well as the kinds of functions you’d like to do every day. When you think about the tasks you aim to be doing, how do those translate to job titles you can search for? Think about the industries you’d like to be in and the opportunities to advance. Be as specific or general as you want to be, depending on your goals.
Second, determine your ideal work environment. What do you need in your environment to be successful? Create a checklist that is prioritized by need-to-haves versus nice-to-haves. This will help you narrow down to the kinds of companies you’d like to work for. Consider this list of attributes companies may have: a closed office layout, a mission-based focus, and options to work remotely. For some, these could be need-to-haves, nice-to-haves, or please-don’t-haves. It’s all up to your preferences and needs.
2. Identify Your Market Rate for Your Ideal Jobs
Now that you know the kinds of roles you’re searching for, know what the fair pay is for those roles. This differs by seniority, industry, and city, so if you’re searching across a spectrum, outline the market rate by category. Do some research on salary.com, payscale.com, or other compensation survey data in your industry (www.guidestar.com for non-profits) to understand how someone in a role you desire with your skillset, accomplishments, and experience is paid at market rate. Glassdoor can also be useful, but keep in mind it may be less accurate as it is self-reported data and does not include an assessment of salary versus benefits.
By attaching a dollar value to your years of experience and skills, you can go after roles that will pay what you like. Establish your minimum, including base pay and benefits/other forms of compensation.
3. Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems
You could have the strongest resume in your applicant pool. But if it’s not formatted right, it could end up in a black hole after you hit “submit” on an online application. That’s because most job boards send their resumes through an applicant tracking system, which is a software that helps filter applications automatically based on criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, area of study, highest degree, certifications, years of experience, and schools attended. This is called resume parsing.
Through using complex rules and statistical algorithms, machines are enabled to read your resume and pick up your relevant information. That’s why it’s key for your resume to be formatted in a way for these systems to more accurately read your it. Here are some tips for optimizing your resume:
Use keywords from the job description on your resume (especially from the relevant skills and qualifications sections of the job posting).
Don’t use headers or footers—they confuse the software.
Use a simple style for fonts, layouts and formatting. I recommend keeping everything in one column.
Avoid any kind of graphics. Use words and numbers to convey your point instead.
Use standard section names like “work experience” and “education.” More creative subtitles tend to confuse.
Avoid using acronyms, unless they’re in the job description.
Format your past experience listing job title first, company title next, and employment dates last.
Stick with the file types, .docx, .pdf, and .doc.
It’s important to know that even if your resume is formatted properly, you still might not be right for the role. However, by optimizing your resume, you’re increasing the likelihood you will be contacted for next steps and can guarantee your resume was not totally ignored.
4. Audit Your Social Media and Delete Anything Concerning
Prospective employers may do a sweep of your social accounts to the similar effect of a background check. They may even make hiring decisions based off of what they find. Your social media accounts are a testament to your character—and you want them to portray you in the best light possible. Go through all of your accounts, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else might show up when you Google yourself and scrub them of content that might raise concerns. We all can think of a few celebrities who have landed in hot water for old posts that were offensive to protected classes of people. Check all the photos you’ve posted and have been tagged in as well. When you’re done, make your accounts private for good measure.
5. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Make sure everything on your profile is current and accurate. The roles and responsibilities you have listed should be as up to date as possible. List any new skills, courses, and certifications you have. Especially make sure that the skills you have listed align with the skills of jobs you’re applying for. Pro tip: Do some searching on LinkedIn to see the roles in accordance with your job search priorities. See the language surrounding the skills they’re looking for and mirror them in your profile.
If you’re actively searching for jobs, update your headline to accurately reflect that. For example, a marketer might say “Experienced Digital Marketer Seeking New Opportunities.” You can also privately let recruiters know you’re open to new opportunities by navigating to the “Jobs” tab of your account, clicking “Career Interests,” and switching “On” next to “Let recruiters know you’re open.”
6. Block Time On Your Calendar for Job Search Tasks
If you’re serious about job searching, you have to make the time to do it. Deliberately set time aside for different aspects of the job search process. This includes finding postings, prioritizing which jobs you’ll apply to first, developing cover letters, answering supplemental questions, etc. Make a plan that works for you. Stick to this schedule for two weeks, then review for efficiencies. You should start to see some traction.
7. Search for Jobs Online and Subscribe to Email Updates
Now, dig into the actual search. Look at jobs on different kinds of job boards like Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed, Career Builder, etc. It’s possible your college or university also has a job board specific to alumni. Niche areas also have job boards, like AngelList, where you can exclusively search for jobs at startups. Set up automated emails from these sites that will send you new postings of jobs that match your interests. That way, you’ll never miss a posting relevant to you.
Additionally, go back to step one where you’ve outlined the kinds of companies you’d like to work for. Go directly to their website and look for a careers or jobs page. Depending on the calendar you’ve created for yourself, begin applying. Customize your cover letters and inform your references.
8. Prepare For Interviews
Practice giving a solid personal introduction, including your body language and your elevator pitch. Be ready to deliver your summary with confidence and clarity. Then, prepare for the kinds of questions your might expect from an interview. Know how to talk about your weaknesses in ways that position them as strengths. Figure out how to best tell the story of your career that portrays your experience in the most positive light and strategic way possible to answer the common ask, “Tell me more about your background.” Think about how you’d answer “Tell me about a time that was challenging for you and how you worked through it,” and “What was a project you’re really proud of?”
From there, create a list of questions you can ask your interviewer so you’re not flustered when they ask if you have questions. This is your opportunity to engage your interviewers. Ask about any new projects they’ve launched or completed. Ask what they would change about how their team operates. Ask what their favorite experience of working at the organization has been. And of course, be prepared to dress for interview success.
9. Send Thank You Notes and Follow-Ups
After you leave the interview, send a thank you note email within 24 hours. It should be personal and brief, reiterating why you’re a fit for the role, and maybe touch on a unique conversation point during your interview. If time passes and you don’t have an answer, send follow-ups to your interviewers politely inquiring about the status of the role and re-expressing your interest.
10. Consider Your Job Offers
If you follow tips one through nine successfully, you should be fielding job offers. It might take some time, but you’ll get there. Consider your job offers against your priorities and accept or decline. That includes looking at your title, roles and responsibilities, and the total compensation package. Definitely negotiate. It also includes assessing how a role fits into your long term career goals. You want to make sure the job offers you opportunities for growth and will help you get your next job, either through promotion or another search.
These are my tried and true top ten steps to finding a new job. Many of my clients going through the job search process have achieved success after working their way through the list. Job searching takes time, energy, resilience, and perseverance, but I’m sure you’ll eventually accept an offer that’s right for you.