How to Win the Job Hunt
by Hillary Back
The job search can be an intimidating process, to say the least. With all the interviews, resumes, and cover letters to consider, it can be tough to know where to start. But your approach to the job search can make or break the process, and it’s vital you know how to make the most of it. So, in the interest of you landing your next dream job, we’ve compiled a simple set of tips to make your job search a success.
Understanding Your Career Goals
The first step in finding the right job is to understand your career goals. Ask yourself some career questions, such as:
- Are you looking for a short-term job to gain experience or a longer-term role to pursue a career?
- Are you looking for a full-time or contract role? If you’re considering both, what are the benefits and drawbacks to you for each?
- How important to you is the industry or product you’ll be working on?
- What company culture appeals to you, and how do your expectations (company size, benefits, etc.) stack up against what you’ve experienced in past roles?
- Are you most interested in a highly corporate setting or a more relaxed atmosphere?
Your answers to questions like these will help you identify the companies and roles that fit your long- and short-term goals. If you’re working with a recruiter, make sure you convey your answers to them, too—you don’t want to waste your time (or theirs!) with opportunities that don’t align with your goals.
Researching Your Target Industries
As part of your job search, you should always research your target industries, or where you’d ideally want to work. Learn about all the industry trends, look up current opportunities and scout for potential employers on LinkedIn and company websites. Understanding the landscape and what’s currently hiring (at least, publicly) can help you better prepare for the rest of your job search.
You can also research your target industries by reading industry publications, attending industry events, and networking with professionals in the field. Stay informed on the industries you love, and you’ll gain the valuable insights to help you stand out from other job seekers.
Crafting the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter
A well-crafted resume and cover letter can make a huge difference in your job search success. Your resume should clearly demonstrate your qualifications and demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate for the job. Your cover letter should explain your fit for the role and how you can help the company succeed.
When crafting your resume and cover letter, aim to tailor them to the specific job you are applying for (another good reason not to get carried away spamming your resume all over the place). Highlight the skills and experiences that are most relevant to each job or industry. Additionally, always remember to proofread your documents for any typos or errors to ensure an interview-ready resume. A well-written, well-proofread resume and cover letter can make a great first impression, helping you stand out from the competition.
Networking and Making Connections
Often, the best jobs aren’t found on job boards – they’re found through networking. Make connections with recruiters, professionals in your field, and other sources of potential employment opportunities. They may be able to offer invaluable advice, like how to make yourself more attractive to employers, or provide you with job leads that aren’t publicly available.
Remember: You never know when you might need a reference or a connection to a job opportunity, so staying in touch with your personal and professional networks is extremely important. Plus, networking can help you stay up to date on industry trends and news, keeping you extra-competitive in the job market.
Understanding the Job Market
The current job market is constantly evolving. Staying abreast of changes in the job market can help you tailor your job search strategy and ensure that you’re applying for roles that meet your qualifications and fit your career goals.
It’s crucial to research the job market in your area and industry to understand the types of roles that are available and the qualifications and experience that employers are looking for. You want to ensure that you’re well-positioned to take advantage of available opportunities, and that you’re actively working to fill in any gaps in skills you might need to impress those hiring managers.
Preparing for the Interview Process
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but proper preparation can go a long way. Brush up on commonly asked questions and practice answering them out loud (seriously, it helps). Research the company and its mission statement, as well as its products and services. Knowing this information can help you answer specific questions about the company during the interview.
It is also important to prepare questions to ask the interviewer. This shows that you are engaged and interested in the position. Additionally, make sure to dress professionally and arrive on time. This will demonstrate that you are serious about the job and that you respect the interviewer’s time.
Negotiating Salary and Benefits
Negotiating salary and benefits can be tricky. Both parties need to come away with a satisfactory agreement, and money can be a touchy subject. So, gather all the data you can early in your job search about salary and benefit packages from similar positions in the industry to get an idea of what to expect. Prepare talking points that showcase your qualifications and value before entering salary negotiations.
It can also help to be aware of your target companies’ budgets and financial situations (check their news, quarterly reports and stock updates). Knowing the company’s financial standing can help you to negotiate a salary and benefits package that is fair and reasonable for both parties. Be sure to clarify any questions you have about the benefits package and any other perks that may be included in your offer, so you can confidently make an informed decision about the opportunity.
Developing an Effective Job Search Strategy
Establishing a plan of attack is key to any successful job search. Set solid, realistic goals for yourself, such as:
- I’m going to apply to X amount of jobs a week
- I’ll attend X number of networking events
- I will spend X hours researching industries
- I’ll reach out to X amount of recruiters
Knowing what works best for you will help you create an effective job search strategy, so tailor your goals to your unique processes.
While you’re creating your goals and strategy, include a timeline. Set deadlines for when you want to have certain tasks completed, such as submitting applications or attending interviews. This will help you stay organized and motivated throughout your job search, as well as help you avoid over-scheduling and burning yourself out.
Staying Motivated Throughout the Hunt
Job searching can be a long, arduous process. You may feel like there’s no end in sight. It can feel like the NeverEnding Story, except significantly less fun. No dragons whatsoever. So, yes: It’s easy to become discouraged during the job search.
Try to stay focused on your end goal – aka, getting the job – and stay motivated by celebrating small successes along the way. A positive attitude can go a long way towards helping you reach that goal, so maybe take a nice little break after you book that next interview.