I remember sitting in one of my career classes in college listening to my professor tell the class how long it can take to find a job.
“Sometimes you’re completely qualified for the positions in which you’re applying for, yet it can take several months to find the right position,” he said.
My professor wasn’t kidding. I started applying for my first job six months prior to graduation, and it took me all six months to find one I was excited about accepting. Then, when I began the search for my second job, it took me closer to nine months from the moment I decided it was time to start searching for new roles to the call I received with the job offer I accepted.
Long story short — searching for a new job isn’t always an easy process. It has the potential to become stressful, time-consuming, and frustrating. But no fear! We’ve created this guide to help you through the process and make it a bit less intimidating. We’ll review the first 10 things you should do when you begin your search, where you can find job listings of interest, how to prepare for an interview, and the ways in which you can accept a job offer.
Let’s dive right in.
How to Begin Your Job Search in 10 Steps
- Consider your personality
- Think about your skill set
- Reflect on your background
- Brainstorm your career goals
- Create a list of companies you’d love to work for
- Consider companies that are similar to your ideal companies
- Network professionally
- Clean up your social media accounts
- Update your LinkedIn profile
- Prepare your resume
Depending on your specific situation, you may not need to walk through each of the following steps. This list is here to simply guide you through the beginning stages of your job hunt, so feel free to modify it as needed.
1. Consider your personality.
Your personality tells you a lot about yourself — what you enjoy doing, what makes you happy, how you like to communicate, and even the types of jobs you’d likely be really great at. There are a number of ways to incorporate your personality traits and characteristics in your job search. You can take one of the many online personality tests to learn more about your specific traits and discover various types of work and tasks you’d be a good fit for. This information is also helpful when thinking about the type of work environment you’d be most productive in.
Your personality will help you narrow your search in other ways too — for example, if your results come back with details about you being more shy, introspective, and reserved, you can research ideal jobs for introverts.
2. Think about your skill set.
Your skill set is a list of your abilities — such as communication, decision making, and ability to work under pressure. These are often listed on your resume, so they’re important to consider for that reason as well as to help you determine the type of role you’d be successful in. You can learn more about your skill set and how it plays a part in the type of career you’d be an ideal fit for by taking a career aptitude test.
3. Reflect on your background.
Your previous work experience and education, or your background, are also great ways to determine a career path you’d be suited for.
For example, I studied journalism in college and worked at a news station after graduation, yet wanted to leave the TV industry. My background, which was tailored towards writing jobs and content-heavy positions, made me an ideal candidate for a blog writer position at HubSpot.
If your background doesn’t align with your newfound career interests that’s alright too! This may require a little more research on your end about whether or not you’ll need to go back to school for a masters degree, get a certification of some kind, or work in an entry-level position in your new field of interest.
4. Brainstorm your career goals.
Brainstorm your personal and career goals to help you determine the right job for you. Think about things like work-life balance, salary, and what you can envision yourself doing in 5-10 years. This will help you narrow down your search as different industries and positions have a range of standards when it comes to factors such as career flexibility and growth.
5. Create a list of your dream companies.
Whether or not you’re sure about the actual position you’re looking to get into, you should create a list of your dream companies to work for. This is a great way to keep track of the companies you’re most interested in, remain goal-oriented, and remember to continually check their job listings to ensure you’re not missing the perfect opening. You can then tailor your cover letter and skill set on your resume to fit these target companies’ candidate requirements and expectations.
6. Consider companies similar to your dream companies.
Be sure to consider companies comparable to your ideal companies as well. For example, if you’re hoping to work for a major company like Nike, you might also consider a smaller but quickly growing company in the same industry such as NOBULL. By being open-minded and realistic about how you’re going to reach your end-goal, you avoid locking yourself into one, narrow career path option.
7. Network professionally.
Whether you’re looking to stay in your current industry or pave a completely new path in another, professional networking is critical. These days, over 70% of job offers at companies, or at least get interviews, as a result of networking. Networking can help you get your foot in the door at a company of interest, gain a new and valuable reference, and determine whether or not you really want to move into a specific type of role.
8. Clean up your social media accounts.
These days, recruiting managers, hiring teams, and other people at the companies you’re applying to will often look you up on social media as part of their candidate search and screening processes. This means you should either make sure all of your social media accounts are not public, or remove every picture, video, or comment that may lead a potential company to believe you’re not mature or professional enough to join the team. The last thing you want a hiring manager at your dream company to do is take you off their list of potential candidates because of something on your Instagram or Facebook profile.
9. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Did you know there are over 6.1 million users on LinkedIn? That includes people like yourself looking for new jobs, people who are content in their current jobs, and people who are looking to recruit for and fill various openings at their companies.
That’s why ensuring your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date when you begin your job search is critical. Be sure to describe in detail all of your relevant, past work experience including promotions and notable mentions, as well as your education, awards, certifications, and anything else you feel is worth sharing. Make your profile look even more professional by accepting and initiating connections with people you know so you’re more likely to receive endorsements for your skills, experiences, and traits.
Recruiters, hiring managers, and employers who find you on LinkedIn will see you as a competent, impressive, and qualified candidate who’s taking the hiring process seriously.
10. Prepare your resume.
You must prepare your resume at the beginning of your job search for the same reason you need to update your LinkedIn profile — to ensure all of your latest and most relevant experience is available to recruiters and hiring managers so they can determine whether or not you’d be a good fit for the role you’re applying for.
Without a strong and updated resume, the companies you apply to won’t have any reason to take you seriously. Pay attention to the small details, such as your resume font and the skill set you choose to share. After all, this is how you’re going to make an impactful first impression.
(When in doubt, you can always update your resume using a template to ensure a professional look and feel that will blow hiring managers away.)
How to Find and Apply For Your New Job
Now that we’ve reviewed which steps to take in the first stages of your job search, you might be wondering how to find a job you want to apply for and make yourself stand out as a candidate. We’ve created this collection of tips and tricks involving job search sites, cover letters, and interview prep to help you do just that.
Job Search Sites
Today, job search sites — also known as job search engines —are one of the most common ways to find a new job. These sites provide you with valuable information on companies, location, industry, salary, qualifications, company reviews, and more.
Other benefits to using a job search site are the ability to upload your resume and cover letter for quick and easy application submission and the option to be alerted when a new job listing is posted based on criteria you provide.
There are a number of popular job search sites that are used by millions of people around the world — so which ones should you use? Below we list six of the most common options.
- Indeed provides you with access to new job listings, company reviews, and accurate salary information. The site also allows you to post your resume so recruiters and employers can easily reach out you.
- CareerBuilder gives you the opportunity to search for a new job based on specific criteria, including your experience, location, or skill set. You upload your resume so employers can recruit you and the site will also review your profile and recommend jobs to help you find the right match.
- Monster allows you to upload your resume for a free assessment to ensure everything looks perfect. The site has a variety of other resources like opportunities to receive professional advice and interview tips, as well as to access to the latest (and most popular) job listings, salary information, and company reviews.
- LinkedIn isn’t just a networking site — it’s also a job search site. The site will take you through a series of steps to help you begin your job hunt. You can then view position openings and employers can read your resume (as well as easily view your LinkedIn profile). LinkedIn also allows you to search for jobs according to your specific career interests to narrow down your options.
- Craigslist is a very straightforward and simplistic job search site. Employers post their latest job listings and you can search through them by location and/or one of the site’s 20+ industry types.
- Glassdoor gives you access to the latest job listings, employee reviews, interview tips, and salary information. You can post your resume for hiring managers to contact you and the site also has a feature to view the types of interview questions specific companies tend to ask so you can prepare to the best of your ability.
Once you’ve determined which job search sites you want to use, it’s time to begin preparing your cover letters to send along with your resume to your prospective employers.
Unique Cover Letters
In a job application, your cover letter accompanies your resume and persuades an employer to interview you. It should describe the reasons why you’d be a great fit for the position you’re applying for — and when paired with your resume, the employer should clearly understand what makes you qualified for the opening.
Save time and use templates to create the perfect cover letter.
Not all companies require cover letters. Some make cover letters optional and some choose not to accept them at all. If cover letters are optional for the positions you’re applying for, sending one in is really up to your discretion as there are a range of opinions about their importance. However, if you’re required or choose to include a cover letter, you’ll want to make sure it’s concise, well-written, and stands out against those of your competition.
Needless to say, nailing your interview is critical if you want to receive a job offer. Although interviews are often high-pressure experiences for job-seekers, thoroughly preparing for them is a great way to relieve some of the stress.
Here are some commonly asked interview questions you can review and think about in preparation for your next interview. You can click the links to learn how to answer these common questions.
You can also use other resources for prep like Glassdoor’s past-interview-question feature, blogs about the job search process in your industry of interest — like this guide about marketing jobs — or ask the people you network with about their past interview experiences.
Accept A Job Offer
The last aspect of the job search process is the most exciting — accepting an offer!
Once you receive a job offer, be sure to get all of the important position details regarding salary, benefits, expected start date, and anything else you’re looking for clarity on. Remember, it’s normal — and expected — to ask for some time to think about the offer so you can review it before officially accepting. The hiring manager may give you a day, two days, or even a full work week to do this if you ask.
Don’t be afraid to decline the offer if the job isn’t the right fit for you. Other offers will come around — be patient and wait for the one that makes you excited. Also, you may choose to negotiate the salary upon receiving your offer. There are professional and realistic ways to negotiate a salary you’ll want to follow to ensure this process goes smoothly.
Lastly, you’ll need to give your current employer your two weeks’ notice to let them know you’ll be leaving the company so they can begin preparing to find a replacement or make any other necessary adjustments to your team and/ or department.
Start Your Search
Beginning the job search process can be an overwhelming one. But following this guide and thoughtfully determining the exact type of role and company you’re looking for is a great way to make it less daunting. Remember to use job search sites to your advantage and prepare for your interviews so you’re ready to impress anyone you meet — get started searching for your next position today.
Originally published Feb 27, 2019 7:30:00 AM, updated February 27 2019