Today’s climate can be confusing if you’re looking for a job. Available jobs outnumber the unemployed by almost 2:11, making it seem like finding a job is relatively easy.
And while the numbers suggest that jobs may be easy to come by, that isn’t exactly the case. Many currently-employed individuals are also looking to find new jobs2, in addition to individuals experiencing unemployment. And while jobs in some sectors may be easier to secure3, that isn’t true for jobs universally. In addition, now that many companies have gone remote, the pool of potential applicants for some jobs can be more extensive than ever before.
So, what do you do?
Before you begin searching for a new job, take the time to consider exactly what you’re looking for in a position. It can be easy when you’re unemployed to apply for every job you can find. This strategy, while an effective way to canvas available options, can often lead to conversations with companies for positions you may not want. If you aren’t clear on what you’re looking for, it’s much more likely you’ll find yourself considering an offer for a job that doesn’t suit your needs.
Plan time to sit down and write out your goals and requirements for a position. The salary may need to be a certain amount. Or the position may need to be part-time or remote. Knowing what you’re looking for will help you narrow down your search and find a job that suits your needs.
Websites like Indeed.com or Monster.com, along with LinkedIn, have long been a great way of finding work locally by having a robust system of filters and search tools available to narrow down your search. If nothing is of interest immediately, refine what you’re looking for, or look on a different board altogether. Some companies will utilize one job board instead of another, so looking through a few of them can give you a rounded picture of what’s available.
After you’ve identified what you want from a new job and have begun searching around, it’s time to update your resume to reflect the position you want. Depending on when you were job searching last, it’s possible your resume hasn’t been updated recently, so take time to highlight relevant work history and skills you feel would make you an asset to the position you’re applying for.
Today’s job search process is often automated, which means it might not be a person reviewing your initial application but a system that scores your resume based on a set of relevant keywords. Of course, this isn’t 100% foolproof and depends on what industry or job you’re applying for, but with a larger pool of potential applicants, many employers have switched to this type of process to filter out unqualified applicants. Unfortunately, because of this, automated software can flag your resume as irrelevant even if it isn’t.
Take care when you’re applying for a position to look over the job description thoroughly and customize your resume to suit it. See what skills the job is looking for and utilize appropriate keywords that will allow your resume to make it into the hands of a hiring manager. Making it past the first step in an application is often the most challenging part, so make sure you take the time to craft a compelling resume to give yourself a chance.
As you’re applying for positions and customizing your resume, plan to also research employers. This will help you get a sense of whether or not the company or job is a great fit for you, and it will also set you up well when you begin the interviewing process. Knowing about a company’s history, what they’re looking for, and how you can be an asset to them will show a potential hiring manager that you care about the position, increasing the chances of receiving an offer further down the line.
People often feel that small, confident social cues draw them closer to other people. Things like eye contact, smiling, and intentional, confident tones go a long way in making a good first impression4. Speaking positively, with a clear and assured tone, can present a sense of confidence in the person you’re talking to. And eye contact, while sometimes awkward, will show that you’re engaged. Interviewers are looking for employees that display qualities of friendliness and high self-esteem, so practicing the way you speak and other non-verbal cues may go a long way in helping you land the job you’re applying for.
Research standard interview questions ahead of time. While questions may vary based on the position and the field, many initial interviewers use templated questions to get a baseline for what kind of experience an applicant brings to the table. Spending time reviewing these questions may give you a leg up by allowing you to practice your answers.
Additionally, prepare your own questions for the interviewer. Many hiring managers will leave space at the end of an interview for the applicant to ask any questions they may have. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the role. Here are some examples to get you started:
Can you describe a typical day in the life of someone in this role?
What challenges does the team currently face?
On the day of the interview, dress to impress. Make sure your clothes are clean, ironed, and appropriate. Strike a balance and be sure that whatever you’re wearing isn’t too tight or uncomfortable, which may prove distracting to you during the interview.
It’s important to understand that the job search process can take time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics5, the average time it takes to find a new job is around 20 weeks. And, even if you’re actively applying for jobs, you may have to send out dozens of applications before you even get an interview. But remember that rejection isn’t necessarily a reflection of your qualifications or abilities since many factors come into play during the hiring process that are out of your control.
Stay proactive and keep an open mind to new opportunities. Take advantage of any available resources and focus on improving areas where you can. With persistence and dedication, you’ll eventually find a fulfilling job that suits your skills and interests.
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