You may have heard the familiar saying that looking for a new job can be a full-time job in itself. It is true that a job search can (and should!) take up a decent chunk of time. But, it doesn’t mean that if you’re currently employed you need to quit your job before looking for a new one.
Just like a project for work, school, or your personal life, it will help you immensely to get organized and put together a plan before you start your job search. Here are my favorite tips:
What kind of job are you looking for?
It’s important to know that different companies will use different terminology – for example, a Web Designer and a Graphic Designer could be the same or very different things depending on the company. Be prepared to read the job description; don’t discount whether you are qualified for a job based on the posted title alone.
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Make a list of your target companies
Jot down the top 5 or 6 companies where you are most interested in working, and make it a point to check their careers page every day. Your search doesn’t have to be limited to only these companies, but it will definitely help to keep you on track when you are feeling stuck.
If you don’t already have an idea of where you’d like to work, keep up with industry news to see which company names are popping up. Your dream organization might have just opened a new office in your hometown, or you’ll find out that another organization is doing a major expansion.
Still stuck? Look around – what products or services do you love? Check out their career sites! Fun fact: many Treehouse employees were students before they came to work for us.
I know, I know. The thought of networking makes a lot of us want to throw up a little. But, networking doesn’t have to mean you put on a suit and shake hands with strangers at awkward business-themed happy hours.
It can be as easy as telling a few friends you’re in the job market. They may just know about a great place that’s hiring. Plenty of jobs never even get posted publicly, and they are filled through word-of-mouth only.
Join a local meet-up group. Sign up for an industry specific conference. Take your dog for a walk in a new park – you never know where you will make your next professional connection!
You don’t have to announce to the entire world that you’re job searching (especially if you don’t want your current employer to find out!). Networking is about forming long-term relationships. The person you have coffee with today may be able to help you out in a week, a month, or a year from now. Keep the conversations going.
Plenty of jobs never even get posted publicly, and they are filled through word-of-mouth only.
Use job boards
Indeed.com is one of the most well-known job boards, as almost every job on the internet eventually ends up on the site. This is a great place to start your search.
But you should also look into niche job boards. Want to work remotely? Try weworkremotely.com. Looking for a non-profit gig? Try Nonprofit Talent. How about a job board catering to women in tech? Check out Women Who Code.
Prepare a resume and cover letter
YES, you should have a cover letter. Not every application process will require one (for example, at Treehouse, we have applicants answer a list of questions about themselves instead of submitting a resume or cover letter). But you’ll want to be prepared.
Keep an eye out for a future post on how to craft an easy-to-understand, attention-grabbing resume. For now, have a friend look over your resume to see if it makes sense. Also, it is a great idea to tailor your resume slightly for each specific job when you’re applying.
Once you’ve identified a job and you are ready to apply – this is going to sound silly – but do everything the application asks.
For example, if they ask for a portfolio or a sample of work, don’t skip this section! Doing so would be a great way to get your application sent immediately to the bottom of the pile.
Track where you’ve applied
Create a list of where you’ve applied, when, and for which job. If you are hitting the job search scene hard, this is a great way to remember where you have already applied.
It can also motivate you to have a personal rule of applying for say, two jobs a week. You can also keep track of networking opportunities here, like “Had lunch with Sara from Widget Co. – follow up with her in a week.”
Carve out whatever amount of time makes sense for your life each day. Make it a routine.
Make time every day
You don’t have to spend 8 hours a day hitting refresh on your favorite job board. But, you should carve out whatever amount of time makes sense for your life each day. Make it a routine. It should be important as brushing your teeth!
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Once you’ve landed an initial interview, check out my post on preparing for phone interviews!
Last, but not least, keep at it. Try not to get discouraged. Know that the average time to get a job is anywhere from 4-8 weeks, depending on your industry (or even longer if you are looking for a higher level job). Putting in the proper time and effort will help you narrow down your search and land your dream job.
Let us know about any other job search strategies you’ve used in the comments below!
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