Finding a job requires tenacity, persistence, a positive attitude and strategic thinking. To help ensure the best results from your job search, it is important to approach finding a job as a job in and of itself.
As a general rule, the more time and concentrated your efforts are, the greater your results will be. Below, we’ve highlighted five approaches that can help sharpen your strategy when searching for a new role and improve your chances for success.
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1. Start with self-analysis
Review your academic history, interests, volunteer activities, talents, hobbies, values, lifestyle and ambitions. Thoughtful consideration of these things will help you identify positions that are best-suited to your unique abilities and aspirations.
Additionally, clear occupational goals and objectives will keep your search focused and on track. Consider the skills and credentials that will support or are required for a particular job. Do you have a solid match?
2. Prepare and organize
Organization is, almost without exception, a key component to a successful job search. Here are some tasks to consider when developing a thoughtful and clear plan:
- Create a personal data sheet to keep track of your employment applications as well as any interactions you have with potential employers.
- Get up to speed on any competency tests you may be required to pass for a position.
- Prepare your resume, print your business cards, launch your website, make copies of your work samples and design your portfolio.
- Draft a cover letter template, draw up a list of references, identify associations and networking events, and organize a support group of friends, colleagues (past and present), alumni and relatives to help you conduct your search.
Now you have everything in place. Start looking!
3. Search in the right places
You shouldn't keep your job search to just one job board. Widen your reach and look in a variety of places. You never know when an opportunity will arise or where it will come from. Consider using any or all of these resources to look for job openings:
- Personal contacts: Talk to family members, friends, career centers, professional colleagues, etc., about finding a job. Remember: One of the most common ways employers have of filling a position is to hire someone who was recommended by a trusted friend or associate.
- Networking: To find a job, you need to have more than just casual conversations; you must target your efforts to purposefully build a circle of contacts who can help with your job search. Search out all possible ways to meet the right people. Internet communities, associations, industry events, trade shows, business clubs, volunteer organizations, conferences and social gatherings are just a few. One popular networking tactic is the informational interview. This technique is used to gather information regarding the skills, training and experience needed for a particular occupation. It can also be a good way to learn about a company and gain an entree into the organization.
- The internet: There are numerous online resources for job seekers today, so sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. Search engines such as Google are a valuable tool. As you conduct your research, create a list of companies you are interested in and search their websites’ career pages to learn about their open positions. Make notes about whether or not you feel the company is a good fit for you.
- We also recommend searching job board sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor. Most of these platforms will allow you to post your resume or portfolio and set up automated job searches. They can also email you job alerts that list positions that fit your set criteria, saving you time and extra effort.
- Professional associations: Many professions have associations that offer employment information on their websites, including job listings and career resources. These associations may also publish professional journals or trade magazines that carry job ads.
- Employment or staffing agencies: Agencies are a valuable resource for job seekers. Staffing professionals often have inside knowledge on specific industries and may know about available positions before the general public. They can also guide you through interview processes and help you in the negotiation stages to help you get the salary you deserve.
4. Practice your interview skills
Since job hunting is not an everyday task for most people, even the most self-assured and experienced candidate can get a little rusty. Before you go into a job interview, consider doing a practice run with a friend. This can alleviate any performance anxiety during the real interview, allow you to fine-tune your presentation and, ultimately, build confidence. After a job interview, jot down any questions that were particularly difficult for you. This level of awareness and practice can help make you an adept and poised interviewee.
5. Stay positive
Many job seekers approach their search with a great deal of trepidation. They resent the loss of control in their lives and become easily frustrated by the smallest setbacks. Try to look at the job search as an opportunity to discover what you truly want to do, define what your career goals are and to further refine your options. It takes persistence and patience as the job market is constantly changing. Sometimes jobs are scarce; sometimes they are plentiful. An employer who isn't hiring today may be hiring tomorrow. Stay optimistic!
A few final thoughts:
By considering these recommendations, you can improve your odds of conducting an efficient job search. It takes practice, patience and a commitment to planning and organization — but like many challenges, if you take a thoughtful and intentional approach, you can further sharpen your skills and successfully land your next job opportunity.