Looking for a job can be a full-time gig. From perfecting your CV to preparing for those all-important interviews, you need to be equipped and ready for the hunt. We’ve put together eight things you should keep in mind when you get started.
1. Do your research and know the market
Compare what other people with your same level of experience and degree are doing, and seek out similar opportunities. Check out their LinkedIn profiles and search for them on Twitter. Research the industry as well, and know its key players inside-out. This information will help you focus on your dream industry and dream role, and will help you once you reach the interview stage.
2. Search, search and then search some more
Use mainstream job searching engines such as Careerbuilder and Monster to look for opportunities, but also your local ones. Newspaper ads and company websites might ‘feel’ old-school, but can be a great resource as well. And remember: Many opportunities don’t make it onto job boards, and only about 20 percent of job openings are ever listed.
3. Build a network and USE IT
This is precisely why your network is so essential! At this stage – when jobs aren’t even making it onto Monster and other similar sites, and when your experience is limited – it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Talk to friends, family, neighbors, etc., to see if they know – even (in)directly – about open positions in the industry you’re trying to get into. Hiring managers are more inclined to hire someone who comes with a personal recommendation. Fact.
4. Build your digital profile
There is no point in showing off Facebook pictures from the party you went to last weekend to your future employer. They’re not likely to be impressed. Make sure you set any social media profiles you consider private to private. Same goes for Twitter and Instagram, unless you use them for professional networking or information-sharing, in which case highlighting them can actually be valuable.
Remember: employers WILL google you, so make sure what they find when they do represents you well. And although it might seem stuffy and boring (something your mom, dad, aunt and super successful cousin are on), LinkedIn is your best friend when hunting for a job. Keep your LinkedIn profile, clean, clear and professional (a professional head shot showcasing your wonderful smile will do wonders to your credibility.) No selfies here.
BONUS TIP: If you’re hoping to work in the digital industry (journalism, marketing, PR or anything along those lines), consider building a killer online profile by setting up your own website and buying a domain name (your own internet home, if you will). Check out sites like flavors.me and about.me that can guide you through the whole process. WordPress also works.
5. Pimp up that resume
Only add experiences that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Although you can mention your summer job selling Ben & Jerry’s if the skills you gained from it are transferable (customer service or sales, for example), highlighting relevant extracurricular activities or volunteering will add much more value to your profile even if you have little work experience. Also make sure your resume is easy to read, well organized, max. 2 pages and free of any typos or silly mistakes. And if your email address is something like [email protected], you should probably change it. Right now.
6. Write a killer cover letter
This is your time to add what you couldn’t in your resume. Think of it as a love letter to your future employer. Don’t write just about “me, me, me” but “you and I.” Highlight the great things you bring to the role, and focus on how you two will grow and be happy together. Woo them in a way that would give Romeo the chills. And keep it short. No one will read a 10-paragraph, 2-page letter.
7. Follow up (and keep it classy)
You should hear back within two to four weeks after sending in your application. If you don’t hear back, call or email to show you’re still interested. But don’t kill it by constantly calling and coming across as desperate. No one likes that.
8. Rejoice – you have a new job! (Or bounce back from rejection)
Rejection is hard. And in the job hunting scene, all too common. But just because one company doesn’t want you (or several others), it doesn’t mean they all don’t. You just haven’t found the one yet, but you will. So keep your spirits up, learn from the experience and keep going. The job hunt rewards those that don’t give up.