Job hunting tips to focus your search
Job hunting involves more than searching for open positions and sending your resume to employers. You also need to make sure you’re a good fit for the job, can catch the hiring manager’s attention and are well-prepared to answer interview questions. Here are 14 tips that you can use to improve your chances of finding the employment you desire:
- Know your career goals.
- Plan ahead.
- Get resume and cover letter help.
- Use all job search resources.
- Customize your resume.
- Research companies.
- Apply with confidence.
- Schedule informational interviews.
- Succeed in your current job.
- Network regularly.
- Identify examples of your skills.
- Prepare for interviews.
- Follow up.
- Expand your skills.
1. Know your career goals.
First, identify what type of career you want. This is particularly important for people entering the workforce for the first time or changing careers. Get recommendations from family, professors, a career coach or former coworkers. Make sure you have a clear and realistic goal, determine how you plan to reach it and note what qualifies you for that career path. These steps can help you narrow your job search to positions you are passionate about and will help you advance professionally.
2. Plan ahead.
Organize yourself and your schedule to search for jobs more efficiently. Determine how many hours per day or what days of the week you will dedicate to job hunting or networking. Make sure your resume and cover letter are up to date. If you need help creating these, search for templates or samples online. Have a list of two to three references and their contact information ready to provide employers.
Create or update your profile on professional networking websites and create a spreadsheet to note the jobs you have applied for and the interviews you have received. You might also choose to set up a professional email account to keep your job search messages separate and organized from your personal ones. Completing these steps before starting your job search can make the process faster and easier.
3. Get resume and cover letter help.
Ask a friend, family member, coworker, career counselor or other professional to proofread your resume and cover letter for errors, as well as to offer advice. Some job seekers even choose to work with a professional resume-writing service or resource to save time and enhance your resume and cover letter.
4. Use all job search resources.
Rather than limiting yourself to manual online searches, take advantage of all job search options. This might include reaching out to companies or hiring managers in person, attending career fairs, searching social media or using a career counseling service. Use job search engines to find openings on job boards, company websites, professional associations and more. Sign up for daily or weekly job alerts by email.
5. Customize your resume.
Adapt your resume to each job you apply for. Study the job description to determine why you are a great fit. Then, add your skills, experience and measurable achievements that are relevant to that position. Hiring managers who look through many resumes should be able to read yours and quickly know you have the skills for the position.
To simplify this step, have templates of your resume and cover letter ready to customize. Keep key sections such as your education and contact information the same, but personalize your abilities or past job duties to fit the job you are applying for.
6. Research companies.
As you find job listings that interest you, research the hiring companies before applying. This can provide you with information about their company culture, benefits and salary range, products and services and work environment. Your research will tell you whether you want to or are qualified to work for that company. It also gives you valuable information you can reference in your cover letter or interview.
Related: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company
7. Apply with confidence.
Apply for jobs you are interested in even if you only meet some of their requirements. Depending on the position, employers might hire motivated individuals who learn quickly and provide them with skills training on the job. If you meet a portion of a job’s qualifications but believe you can still succeed in that role, apply. Include examples of your work ethic and ability to learn new skills in your resume. Emphasize how your goals align with those of the company.
8. Schedule informational interviews.
Informational interviews are informal conversations with professionals in an industry or a company you might want to work for. Find out whether you are a good fit for a job by requesting informational interviews with someone working in a field that interests you. Search for potential interview subjects on professional networking sites or member organizations.
Related: Informational Interview Questions
9. Succeed in your current job.
If you are currently employed and looking for a better or different career, continue to perform your current job with positivity and commitment. Maintain good relationships with your coworkers and managers as long as you’re working with them. Your professional attitude and efforts can result in job references or opportunities in the future.
10. Network regularly.
Interact with people and develop professional contacts both online and in person. Start conversations with people at seminars, social events or appointments. Let them know you’re looking for a job or want to work in a certain industry. They might have connections or advice that can help you in your job search. You might also discover unlisted job openings or people might recommend you for future opportunities.
11. Identify examples of your skills.
People tend to remember engaging stories and examples over lists of facts. Plan ahead by identifying personal experiences or accomplishments that highlight the skills needed for a certain job. Add these to your cover letter and use them during networking opportunities or job interviews. Use the STAR method—situation, task, action and result—to tell your story effectively.
12. Prepare for interviews.
Research common interview questions, create responses for them and practice those responses before you get invited to an interview. Ask a friend or professional contact to do a practice interview with you. If you are well-prepared, you will be more confident and comfortable when you go into your next interview.
13. Follow up.
Immediately after a job interview, send the hiring manager a thank-you note. If you have not heard back from them after a week, follow up with a phone call or an email. When doing so, show your excitement and interest in the job. While you wait for a response, continue searching for and applying to jobs that interest you.
14. Expand your skills.
If you are just entering the workforce or starting a new career, you might need more training or experience to get a job. Consider getting an internship or volunteering with an organization in your desired industry while applying for jobs. Use these opportunities to expand your network of contacts or advance to a full-time position. You might also take online courses or attend workshops to build certain skills or learn technologies and processes relevant to your industry. Update your resume as you gain more experience or accomplishments.