Job searching isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming, either. There are many factors to consider when you’re looking for your next position, but you can break them down into three basic stages: assess, research, and apply.
By working through these stages, you can significantly decrease stress and find your next job quickly. Let’s get started!
Stage 1: Assess
Before you update your LinkedIn account or start searching job boards, begin by deciding what qualities you’re looking for in a job.
Get out a journal and your colored pens, and work through the following brainstorming questions to set a solid foundation for yourself. You’ll use these notes to filter possible jobs later on in the research stage.
- Check Your Hours
Job hours vary widely. Consider the difference between a regular 9-to-5 and a job waiting tables or working retail. Ask yourself the following questions to decide what kind of job would work best for you:
- How many hours a week do you want to work? Remember to consider other responsibilities, and don’t overload yourself if you can help it.
- What kind of job hours have you worked before, and what did you like/dislike about them?
- Do you prefer a regular, dependable schedule or schedules that vary week to week?
- Are you okay with overtime?
- Consider Pay
Next, think about compensation. Don’t shortchange yourself, but do be realistic about what companies offer, especially if this is your first job. To get a better sense of your paycheck goals, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my living expenses month-to-month?
- What are my savings goals?
- What percentage of my paycheck will go to taxes (local, state, and federal)?
- Do I have a buffer in case of emergencies?
While you’re thinking about pay, also consider company benefits:
- Do you want a pension, 401(k), or a company savings plan?
- What kind of health care package do you need?
- How many days of paid time off would you like?
- Integrate Personal Goals
Think about how you’d like your job to connect with the rest of your life. Do you have personal goals that you can combine with work?
- Do you want the option of a raise in the near future?
- Do you want to go back to school eventually?
- What personal growth goals do you have for yourself?
- What positive benefits do you hope to receive from your job, other than financial pay?
- Determine Your Working Style
Learning about yourself and how you work best is a life-long process. Start with what you already know and consider what kind of job environment would best suit you. Below are some questions to help you get started:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Do you enjoy working with others or by yourself?
- Do you operate better in quiet or crowded settings?
- How much oversight do you need to feel motivated?
- How do you communicate with others best?
- Decide on Location
Location is another essential factor to consider during the assessment stage. Many people move when they get a new job. However, in the last few years, remote work options have increased. Answer these questions next:
- Does working remotely sound amazing to you?
- Are you excited to work in an office?
- Would you be willing to move for a job?
- If so, where would you be excited to move?
Stage 2: Research
Great work! Now that you’ve considered your side of the working relationship, it’s time to look at your potential employers. Take a break, grab a coffee, and get started!
- Keep a Record
Before you start searching, make a spreadsheet to keep track of what you find. Add categories for company names, job roles, pay, benefits, hours, notes, and your current application status.
Filling out this spreadsheet as you go will save you a lot of time and confusion later.
- Search Job Boards
Now that your spreadsheet is all set up, you’re ready to start searching! Here’s where your notes from earlier come in handy. Use the filters offered on the job sites below to streamline your searches based on personal preferences. This list of job sites is by no means exhaustive, but it’s an excellent place to start:
- Monster Jobs
- Talk to People
Don’t conduct all of your research over a computer screen. Talk to people you know and let them know you’re job searching. Many work opportunities come through word of mouth. Consider taking these additional steps to round out your research:
- Message an employee over LinkedIn and ask for a phone call.
- Schedule an in-person peer interview.
- Talk to people you know who work for the company or work similar jobs.
- Go to networking events and career fairs.
One thing that sometimes goes unsaid is to ask for help if your mental health is affecting your search. Finding gainful employment is essential, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your well-being.
- Dig Deeper
To get a better picture of the companies you’re considering, check their websites. Google them and read employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor. Just remember that for every angry review you read, there may be 10 happy employees.
Stage 3: Apply
Now that your research is complete, you should have new connections and a spreadsheet filled with multiple job opportunities. Time for stage three: applying. Here’s how to move through the application process and get hired.
- Update Your LinkedIn Account
Four people are hired every minute through LinkedIn. Updating your LinkedIn profile makes it easy for recruiters to find you and gives them easy access to more information about you. Get professional headshots and update your LinkedIn profile before you start sending out applications.
- Revamp Your Resume
If you are applying to high-competition positions with many applicants, your resume may be read by a machine rather than a person. So, while it may be tempting to make your resume look stylish and artsy, it’s better for you to make it scannable. Use clear sections, a simple font, and dark headlines.
Avoid images and incorporate your LinkedIn account into your contact information instead. Tailor each resume you send out to fit the company role you hope to fill.
- Write Cover Letters
Personalize your application further by also including a cover letter. There you can share what you can bring to each company and why you’re excited to work with them.
Make it clear that you’ve researched their company and that you align with their values. Be clear and personable, and end with a thank you.
- Apply In-Person
If you can, deliver your resume and cover letter in-person. Making personal contact with your future employer makes it far more likely that they’ll hire you.
Hiring is a time-consuming and challenging process – it’s not fun for companies, either! Give relief to the hiring manager by making yourself an easy choice for the position.
- Pass the Interview
Interviews don’t have to be stressful. Remember: an interview is your chance to get to know a company just as much as it’s their chance to talk to you. Ask questions, listen, and be genuine.
Working with a company is a partnership, and an interview helps both parties know if it will be a long-lasting and successful one. Do your research and connect genuinely with your interviewers.
- Follow Up
After applications and interviews, send follow-up emails. This extra bit of human contact shows companies you care and reminds them of your name. You know that you’d be a fantastic employee – show them that by using your excellent people skills.
Be creative and take every opportunity to show companies that you’re personable, motivated, and genuine. Hopefully, you’ll hear back from several potential employers soon.
At this point, you’ve done everything you can. Take a breather, and rest. Remember that it can take a long time for hiring agents to get back to you, so be patient.
It’s a good idea to repeat the cycle of assessing, researching, and applying at least once while you wait for responses. More experience with the process may have changed your priorities or opened up new questions. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something you didn’t initially think would work for you.
Happy job searching!