Searching for a new job may seem intimidating. You may end up feeling like you’re better off giving up. If you find yourself getting looked over by employers for other candidates or failing to land a job interview at all, be sure you are following these tips to give you the best possible chance!
1. Invest more time in your job search
This one speaks for itself. If you are serious about finding a new job, you need to put in the effort. While candidates in select high-demand industries may be lucky enough to have recruiters knocking down their doors, the reality is that most aren’t this fortunate and will need to be more proactive about moving up in their career.
Of course, someone who is already working 40, 50, 80 hours per week will clearly have less time available than someone who is unemployed. But, if you want to get out of that 80 hour work week, you should try to spend at least 8 hours per week on your career search. This includes searching and applying for jobs, updating and tweaking your resume, building connections, and building up your portfolio.
2. Tweak your resume and cover letter
Before you can ever hope to land that first interview, you need to impress the recruiter or hiring manager for the organization to which you’re applying. How do you do this without interviewing? You’ll need to give them an up to date resume and cover letter explaining why you deserve to work there. This is where a lot of candidates fail. If you are in the market for a new job, your first instinct may be to send your resume to as many companies as possible. Where this goes wrong is that they forget to personalize the resume for the individual job posting. For example, a job posting for a sales position won’t necessarily be fit for a resume full of account management experience.
On a similar vein, the cover letter is an often overlooked aspect of the application process. Surprisingly, many neglect to include one at all. Cover letters don’t need to be very long or complicated, just be sure to include why you applied, why you would be a great fit for the company and position, and any relevant experience you care to expand upon from your resume. Leave the list of skills and summary of your work experience in your resume.
3. Prepare for the interview
If you have a great resume and cover letter and you have finally landed that interview, make sure to prepare to sell yourself to the interviewer. Thinking that your resume speaks for itself is dangerous. Your resume will get your foot in the door, but your interview will be your opportunity to get that job offer. You’ll be asked additional questions that the hiring manager will use to assess whether or not you are a good fit for the job description and the company itself. Be sure you are prepared to answer questions about how you have handled different situations with working on a team, conflict resolution, and what you have to offer the company.
In addition to the “soft” skills portion of an interview, make sure you are also prepared to to describe your past work experience and answer questions related to the “hard” skills listed on the job description. For example, a Software Developer will want to study different programming algorithms and be sure to know some specifics about different programming languages (if the position lists them as required skills, like Java, for example). Glassdoor is a great resource for questions asked during the interview process for many different companies and job positions to help you prepare for the phone screens and on site interviews.
4. Follow up after your interview
If you’ve nailed the interview, but have not heard back from the company in a week or two, do not be afraid to follow up! Hopefully at the end of the interview, you got the contact information for your hiring manager, so be sure to send them a “thank you” letter, email, or phone call and address anything you may have missed or stumbled on in the interview.
A simple fact of life is that recruiters and hiring managers are very busy and have been in contact with many potential job candidates. Make sure they know you are still interested and you’d like to know how soon you can expect to hear back. Here, remember that a little politeness can go a long way. I’ve heard from many interviewers that a candidate is rejected not because of their skills, but because they are rude, arrogant, and would otherwise not be able to work effectively on a team.
5. Take online courses
Considering a career change but lack the relevant experience? You have already tried tailoring your resume to that new position and spinning your irrelevant skills into somehow relevant ones. At a certain point, you will need the concrete skill set to be a viable candidate for a new job. Paying for college is not usually financially feasible, but luckily many online companies, like Coursera, offer courses at a low cost. You can take the skills you learn there, and then build a personal portfolio to show off on your resume.
6. Consider a lateral move within the same organization
If you are somewhat flexible with your job description, but know what company, benefits, perks, or culture you are looking for, consider applying for other positions within the same organization and then work your way to a lateral move in to a job you are more interested in. This may initially sound like you are sacrificing your dreams, but remember that many people that take jobs in positions they do not have a degree for wind up loving their job simply because of the company perks and coworkers. If you don’t mind working with customers, consider taking that account management position and then moving in to a marketing position when one opens up. You don’t want to end up taking temporary jobs for years while constantly being overlooked in favor of internal transfers.
7. Take a break!
This may seem contradictory to the first point, but remember that your psychological well-being should always be your number 1 priority! Know that millions of people have gone through the same situation and that millions of people will be in the same situation after you. Make sure you are eating and sleeping enough and that you are taking the time to treat yourself. A well rested person is going to be more alert, presentable, and confident than if they were deprived of sleep.
Finding your new job may be tough, but remember that you are not alone. There are many tools available to aid you in your search and preparation. Make sure you are giving yourself all of the advantages to take charge of your career.