Job Search Tips + Resources
Job Search Tips & Resources
Figuring out how to find a job can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure of how to organize your job search. This guide will give you tips for starting your job search, writing resumes and cover letters, leveraging job search resources, building your professional network and more.
How to Search for a Job
Just thinking about how to find a job can be exhausting. Scouring online platforms for relevant roles, networking with industry leaders and crafting cover letters all require time and energy. And even after securing a meeting with a hiring manager, you may have to undergo several rounds of interviews and skills tests.
Job Search Tips
- Develop measurable goals
- Update your resume and online profiles
- Research company websites
- Review job descriptions
- Set boundaries for your job search
- Track your job applications
To make the job search more navigable, we’ve broken down the process into stages and provided an in-depth look at each one. Check out some tips and strategies for how to find a job in an efficient and effective manner.
How to Start a Job Search
Before diving into your job search, it’s important to take a step back and think about how you want to approach finding a job.
Setting clear-cut goals gives you a way to measure the success of your search and hold yourself accountable. An example of a concrete goal is applying to 10 open positions over two weeks or scheduling three informational interviews over one week. Applying the SMART goals method and other frameworks keeps goals well-defined and realistic, so you can stay on track to complete your job search and professional goals.
You can even look a little further down the road and consider your short-term career goals. Perhaps you want to enter a field of interest, secure a job with a specific title or gain experience developing certain skills. Realizing goals you want to achieve in the coming months can inform your immediate job search and narrow your focus to companies and openings that offer the kinds of opportunities you’re looking for.
After establishing goals, make sure you’re ready to leave a good first impression on hiring managers and recruiters. Edit your resume to display the latest information on previous jobs, internships, volunteer work and other past experiences. If you have an online website or portfolio and professional profiles, you should also update these to reflect your most recent work history.
Following these initial steps can help you get off to a fast start when pursuing opportunities that are a good fit for you.
Job Application Tips
Companies can tell when candidates don’t do their homework before applying, so you’ll want to take the proper steps before sending off a job application.
To start, research a company’s website. This provides a glimpse into what the business does, the values it stands for and the work culture it promotes. You can reference this information when writing your cover letter to explain how you fit into the organization and reveal you’re already invested in learning about the company.
When crafting your resume and cover letter, be sure to read the job description and review what skills and experience the company wants for the position. These details may provide clues for possible keywords to target. For example, if the company mentions the phrase “strong attention to detail,” include the phrase in your cover letter and give an example of how you demonstrated it. Or if “collaboration” is listed as an essential skill, make sure your resume touches on how you worked with a team to complete a project.
Some companies still assign HR personnel to review job applications, but many businesses now rely on software. In fact, 75 percent of resumes are never seen by a human recruiter. This makes it all the more crucial to insert keywords that software is searching for, so you can show up on a company’s radar.
Once you’ve finalized your materials, be sure to submit your job application through the company’s website rather than a third-party job platform. This step solidifies that you’re reaching out to organizations instead of applying simply because you happened upon them on a job site.
Organizing Your Job Search
Conducting a job search can become overwhelming if you don’t take measures to organize your search and set boundaries, especially if you’re still employed.
Those looking for a new job while employed should dedicate around 15 hours per week to job search activities, including writing resumes and cover letters, researching companies and submitting applications. If you’re unemployed, you can increase the amount to 25 hours per week.
As you apply to more job postings, you’ll want to keep track of your applications. Job platforms typically record what companies you apply to and the status of each application. However, you may prefer to arrange job application data in an Excel spreadsheet or another personal system. Compiling job application info can be helpful for remembering companies you had positive or negative experiences with, highlighting companies you may want to reapply to in the future and avoiding accidentally applying to the same job twice.
If a business hasn’t responded to your application a week after you’ve submitted your job app, consider following up with a recruiter. If you still don’t get a response, then it’s time to focus on other applications.
Job Hunt Strategies
The job hunt process can be grueling and too often hinges on who you know rather than what you know. But what if you don’t have the right connections? You’ll want to explore strategies for finding the right opportunities.
A professional network can serve as a valuable support system throughout your career, so it’s best to start building it as early as possible. This doesn’t mean you should reach out to anyone and everyone. Focusing on a few high-quality connections can work wonders for your job search and career.
Locate individuals who may work for a company you respect or who occupy a role you’re interested in learning more about. Having shared interests, backgrounds or views on a topic can make your desire to connect with them more authentic and fulfilling for both of you as a result.
To request an informational interview, send your interviewee a brief email asking for about 15 to 20 minutes of their time.
The purpose of an informational interview is not to get a job. Enter with the mentality of getting to know someone as a professional and as a person. This approach will give the conversation a less transactional and more natural feel, enabling you to get the most out of this first interaction.
Finding the Right Job
Everyone has their own definition of what their dream job is, so it’s crucial you be able to define yours. The ideal job should at least encourage you to play to your strengths and fulfill the values that matter the most to you.
After assessing your strengths and weaknesses, ask yourself if a position caters to your skill sets while allowing you room to grow. Do you feel you have the skills and experience to handle the main responsibilities of a role? If so, does the role require you to engage in other areas you have less experience in but are eager to explore? Does a company have professional development infrastructure set in place to support you? While it’s key to refine your current skills, don’t be afraid to embrace new skills and learning experiences.
Another way to approach your job search is to determine your personal values. Perhaps you care most about a company’s culture. Does the business promote a healthy work-life balance among employees? Does the company offer work-from-home options, flexible scheduling and other perks? Do leaders seem committed to diversity and inclusion initiatives? Is a company a startup that promotes an open-office plan or a larger organization that prefers a cubicle-heavy office? All these factors could influence the kind of experience you have in a position, so be sure you know what you want out of a role and a company as a whole.
There’s no one-size-fits-all job for everyone. Reflect on the professional and personal variables that have the greatest impact on your well-being, and be sure to find a job that ticks off as many boxes as possible on your checklist.
Where to Look for a Job
There’s no single approach for how to find a job. In fact, you’ll have to get creative if you don’t know the right people in the right places. Thankfully, the digital age has developed even more pathways that people can follow in pursuit of promising positions.
Websites and online platforms have contributed to a digital job ecosystem rich with opportunities to connect with professionals and apply to openings. Built In, LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster are a few examples of sites that feature positions representing different skill levels, companies and industries. You can also sift through sites with more specific offerings.
In-person events are also available for professionals looking to learn more about the local business scene. Job fairs, company activities on college campuses and networking get-togethers are a few recruiting events that expose you to different organizations.
Recruiting or staffing agencies partner with companies to fill open roles with vetted candidates. This option can be a faster way to get your foot in the door of a top-notch company.
Job Search Tips to Maximize Your Search
While it’s essential you address the needs of the business to which you’re applying, make sure the company meets your expectations as well.
The easiest way to get to know a company better is through the organization’s website. Check out the “About Us” page to learn about a company’s history, values, mission statement and other basic information. If there’s a careers or employee page, be sure to review the type of culture the business showcases and whether you could see yourself enjoying their work atmosphere.
You can also learn more about a company’s interests, projects and industry by connecting with their social media or online job profiles. Businesses reveal a lot about what they stand for based on what they share through Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other digital platforms.
Another basic way to gather information is to Google the organization’s name and see what comes up. If a company’s reputation is consistent across various articles and sources, then you may feel comfortable enough to submit a job application.
Cover Letter Tips
A cover letter is similar to a sales pitch. It encourages you to show off your skills, traits and experiences to recruiters and hiring managers. This is your chance to dive deeper into your background as you convince readers that you’re the right candidate for a position.
While many companies may list cover letters as optional, you should always include one to set yourself apart from other candidates. The only time you wouldn’t add a cover letter is if the company explicitly asks you not to or if there’s no option to attach one to your application.
Your cover letter should be no more than a page long, consisting of an intro, one or two body paragraphs and a conclusion. Express your excitement about the position in the intro and explain how you heard about the company and role. For the body, be prepared to talk about two positions or experiences where you demonstrated skills and traits that would add value to the role and the company. Reaffirm your eagerness to apply for the role in the conclusion and sign off with a polite signature.
Be sure to borrow keywords and phrases that appear in the job description and include them in your cover letter as well. Inserting keywords shows companies you’ve read the job description and understand how your skills and experiences are designed to fit the role you’re applying for.
Earning an interview with a company is a major step in the job search process, but there’s still plenty of work to do. To solidify yourself as a top candidate, you need to prepare for a range of interview questions common to most settings and specific to your industry.
Review Common Interview Questions
The most common interview questions are simple in nature yet more complex when doing a double-take. Topics include where you see yourself in five years, why you’re interested in joining a company, why you’re the right hire and simply share more about yourself. While these questions seem straightforward, they are open-ended and can trip you up if you haven’t developed talking points ahead of time.
Reflect on each question and how it relates to the particular role and company you’re interviewing for. Assess your personal strengths and brainstorm how you can incorporate them into your responses. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading off of a script, but you should at least home in on a few ideas to anchor your answers. If possible, find a friend or family member to practice with, so you can fine-tune your responses and interviewing skills.
Prepare for Any Skills Tests
Depending on the position, some interviewers may ask candidates to put their skills on display. It’s not surprising for software engineering roles to include a skills test involving coding tasks. If you’re applying for a writing role, you may also be required to produce a writing sample in the company’s brand voice as part of the interview.
Take Note of the Interview Format
Many professionals are familiar with dressing up and looking the part for an in-person interview, but what if the interview is remote? For video interviews, be sure your background looks clean and professional and that you have the proper technology set up. If you’re participating in a phone interview, find a quiet space and pay close attention to your tone and voice inflection.
A thank-you email can be the difference-maker when a recruiting team needs to decide between two candidates, so don’t take it lightly. A timely, professional thank-you email lets the interviewers know you appreciate the resources they’ve invested in you as a candidate. It also serves as a sign of your professionalism and ability to follow up, which can raise your standing in the eyes of recruiters.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t guarantee you’ll move on to the next round or hear back from a recruiter. Some companies don’t have the time to respond to all candidates. If you don’t hear anything seven to 10 days after the initial interview, feel free to send a quick follow-up email asking for updates.
Job Search Resources
Coming up with strategies for how to find a job can be a challenging and taxing process, so it’s best not to go it alone. Leverage your professional networks, job platforms and other opportunities to connect with others.
If you’re looking for a role in the tech space, take advantage of the digital resources at your disposal. Built In features thousands of positions at the national and local levels, so you can exercise all available options and pick the one that most closely meets your wants and needs.