Maybe you were laid off recently, or your current job is driving you crazy. Perhaps you're a new graduate or looking to change careers. Whatever the situation, job searches can be exhausting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated by the sheer length of the process.
While there’s no quick fix to something everyone has to face sooner or later, there are some ways to increase your odds of landing that dream role fast. Here’s what to do.
When you’re feeling desperate to find something — anything — you may be tempted to cast a wide net. But don’t cast it too wide. Applying to jobs takes a considerable amount of time, and if you complete applications, including revising your resume and writing cover letters, for jobs that don’t really interest you, you’re only wasting your time. Instead, focus on jobs that actually align with your goals and interests. Actually defining those goals, of course, will take some time, too, but it’s necessary. Think about what you want your career to look like five and 10 years from now, as well as the type of employer that’s most suitable to your strengths and interests.
You probably already know how important it is to revise your resume before you start your job search. It’s also important to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you send an application. Pay attention to critical responsibilities and duties in the job description, making sure your resume and cover letter include relevant keywords. This will help ensure that the ATS system, commonly used to identify suitable candidates in the recruitment process, will pick your application out of the pack. It will also show the hiring manager that you’re truly interested in the position.
By the same token, you need to thoroughly research any company to which you apply. This will allow you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the employer and position in your application, as well as in your interview later on. In your research, attempt to answer the following questions, and then address them in your application:
• What separates this position from similar roles?
• Why do you see yourself fitting in at this employer?
• What’s something the employer has done lately (an initiative, a project, etc.) that you admire?
We discussed how you shouldn’t cast too wide a net when you’re job hunting, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sending out many, many applications (really, a lot). If you really want a new job, you’ll need to make your job search your full-time job. That includes searching, revising materials, preparing for interviews and so on. This can be difficult if you currently have a full-time job, but it increases the odds that you’ll find a new position sooner rather than later.
If a recruiter or hiring manager is really considering you for the role, they’re more than likely going to look you up online. Make sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a clear, concise summary, headline, photo and history of your roles. Depending on your job, you might also consider creating a website or portfolio with samples of your work. This makes sense for careers like graphic design, software development, writing and others.
On the flip side, you should also make sure there’s nothing that could harm your candidacy online. That mean’s removing compromising photos or any other content that shows you in an unprofessional light from your social media photos.
Today, many (if not most) people find jobs through networking. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you tell anyone and everyone that you’re looking for a new job. (That is, of course, unless you’re trying to keep it quiet from your current employer; in that case, avoid disclosing it to colleagues.) You should also attend events such as conferences, industry parties, meetups and more to make yourself as visible as possible.
Don’t rely on networking alone. You should be actively looking for a job on job boards, websites of prospective employers and job search sites. Set up job alerts for keywords relevant to the position you’re seeking so you’ll know right away if something that might interest pops up. Plus, it saves you the hassle of having to perform the same search over and over again. Post your resume on a couple of reputable job search sites so employers can find you, too.
If you’ve sent in your application to a job that really interests you and you haven’t heard back in at least a week, follow up (that is, of course, unless the job description specifically says not to). Often, the hiring process takes a long time, so don’t get too discouraged. A quick email checking in will demonstrate that you’re interested and put you on the employer’s radar. (It’s also reasonable to follow up after an interview, but this requires a somewhat more nuanced approach.)
One way to get your foot in the door at a company or in an industry is to work on a temporary or unpaid project. This will demonstrate what you’re capable of to prospective employers. Once they get a taste of your work, they may consider hiring you fulltime.
You might also consider working with a staffing agency to fill a temp role at a company that interests you. Many positions are temp-to-hire, meaning you could well become a full-time employee. Internships can also be helpful if you’re changing careers, even if you graduated a while ago. This could be a necessary step toward finding your dream job since it shows that you’re willing to put in the work to build your career.
It’s easy to get discouraged if you’ve been job searching for a while and nothing’s materialized. Still, it’s important not to settle for a role you don’t think you’ll really love. If you do, you’ll just end up in this exact position again — soon. Keep searching for something that truly aligns with your career goals and interests. When you do find that great role, you’ll be glad you waited.