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Your Go-To Job Search Guide

Finding that ideal job is hard. It’s harder still when a pandemic has wreaked havoc across world economies. It’s important, thus, to have the right approach and strategy.

Here are some steps to help you strategise and help you find the right fit

First – zero in on the right opportunity

Think deeply about what you want to do – what is it that makes you happy and what you’re good at. Truth is, you’ll be good at what you want to do, as opposed to what you think you should be doing (for any external reasons). So, zero in on what you want, and then work towards that dream job. It’s ok to aim high, even if you don’t get there right away.

Once you have identified the opportunity, you need to do in-depth research. Find out all you can about the field – read, read and read. Also, know the keywords that you will require to search for the opportunity. Carefully go through the job descriptions as job titles can vary from one company to another.

Remember, your skills and the attributes that make you unique will be the key here. This is why, even if you don’t have a lot of work experience, you can think of any volunteering event or school and college activities where you can develop the skills required for the position of your choice.

If you are interested in the optimum remuneration  for a particular position, look at platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor.

Do your research

Once you know what you want to do, then make a list of the organizations you feel you should target – do this after going through their culture reviews, videos and vacancies.

Use job search platforms like, Indeed, LinkedIn Monster and Naukri (for India). It’s a great idea to set up job alerts to stay updated with any new openings. Also, make sure you don’t fall into a trap. If an organization asks for money, or asks you to perform a financial transaction on their behalf, or pays you for work that you haven’t done, you should report the posting at the earliest.

Now, get to that resume

Your resume is your first impression – and you never get a second chance at making a first impression. Also, HR managers spend some 8-10 seconds on a resume before deciding to take it forward or not – so that’s what you have – 8 seconds to convince someone why they should consider you for the position.

Say the most important thing first – why you are the best for the position. This means that the most relevant information should be most visible. Communicate what your skills and, achievements are. Moreover, you should be able to link how your experience makes you the right choice for this role.

Don’t go for a one-size-fits-all approach. Make the effort to curate your resume for every job that you apply for. Though a solid draft will make things easy for you, ensure that you mention your experience according to the requirements of the organization.

The best idea would be to go for a precise resume that features your top skills and work experiences in an easy-to-digest format. It is important to include keywords to hack the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Sites like JobScan can help you in checking whether your resume is well suited to a specific job posting. You can also use ResumeterPro to check the compatibility of your resume with the major ATS.

Ideally, your resume should include the following

  • It should be well-tailored for the role you are applying for and should have updated contact information.
  • Though it should include a professional email address, there is no need to write your full address, and just the city and the state would suffice.
  • It should highlight your career accomplishments with four-to-eight bullet points for each job.
  • It should be effortless to follow through and keyword optimized at the same time.
  • Mention your most relevant experience in the top third of the first page and keep the resume only one page long. You can go for two pages if you are applying for a higher-level position.
  • The resume should use engaging action words and should have impeccable grammar.

Once it is ready, you can ask a trusted friend or professional to proofread it for you.

Clean up your social media. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile

Nowadays, organizations look at the social media profiles of the candidates to spot any red flags. It is advisable to keep your profiles as private as possible during this period, LinkedIn being the only exception.

Here are some tips to impress with a fantastic LinkedIn profile

  • Your profile photo should be a professional headshot with a simple background.
  • The headline should not beat around the bush, but should not be dull and boring either.
  • Your LinkedIn profile should have a customized URL.
  • The profile should adequately highlight all of your career accomplishments.
  • If you have educational or professional certifications, make sure that you mention them.
  • Spend some time on filling in your skills.
  • If you have any volunteering experience, use the space to mention it. It will speak volumes about your work ethic.
  • Round it off with recommendations from current and former supervisors and colleagues.

Besides, your profile should be keyword optimized and free from any grammatical errors or inaccuracies. You can ask a trusted person to proofread it for you too.

The killer cover letter

Cover letters have always been an intrinsic part of job applications. However, these days they are not always necessary.

You should carefully go through every job posting and determine whether it needs a cover letter or not. A cover letter done right can make all the difference. Though a good one should be customized according to every job, saving a template will make things easier for you.

Here are some helpful tips

  • As discussed above, use a customized cover letter.
  • Ideally, you should address it either to the Human Resources Manager, Recruiter or Hiring Manager of the company.
  • It should be precise and shouldn’t extend beyond a single page.
  • Most importantly, it should be honest and candid, and make a human connection.
  • It should be written in three to four small paragraphs, or two paragraphs separated by bullet points in the middle.
  • In the opening paragraph, you should reflect that you know which position you have applied for and have spent extensive energy researching on the company. One way to do so can be by sharing a recent accomplishment of the company or an exciting news article about it.
  • Like the resumé, you should include a brief description of your relevant career accomplishments in the cover letter as well.

Finally, get it proofread by someone you trust and it should be free of any grammatical inconsistencies.

Reach out to your references

Go for quality over quantity. It is not essential to include a long list of references in your resume or cover letter, but you should be ready with one if required. Most companies will only confirm your job title, employment dates and salary information from your past employers. So, you can save the ones who will speak from personal experience for later.

Identify three to five people who can either be your professors, colleagues or past supervisors. Inform the process and get their approval. Also, make sure that you confirm their preferred communication method to avoid difficulties in contacting them.

Use your sixth sense and only keep those people on the list who are genuinely excited in talking about you with your prospective employer. If anybody refuses to do so, or if you feel that they aren’t the ideal person, take them off the list.

Explore and expand your network

If done correctly, networking can be a great way of landing a job. You are more likely to be hired if you already know someone within the organization. This network can include anyone like your friends, colleagues, college professors, alumni from your alma mater, friends of friends or your past managers.

Though looking for real-life connections is the best idea, you can also go through your Facebook friends list and LinkedIn connections to check if you have anybody in them who can help you out. If you have exhausted your network, you should invest energy in expanding it because doing so can be more helpful than applying on random job postings.

When you are beginning a new search, you should shed all your hesitancy and reach out to your connections in a confident manner. Let your personality shine through the message and send it to selective people only.

Here’s what your message should include

  • An expression of interest in looking for a new job and the position that you wish to apply for.
  • It should also be catered towards the specific industries you want to apply for. You can also share a list of sample companies that you would like to work for with your network.
  • Communicate how they can help you.
  • Ensure that you connect with them on LinkedIn and share a copy of your resume.
Applying for jobs

By this stage, you must have outlined the job position that you are aiming for, cleared your online presence and have your references lined up. Your resume is ready, and so is your cover letter.

Platfroms like Monster, Indeed, and Naukri are some of the most frequented for job searches. Besides, you can also use LinkedIn. Your connections can be of great help here.

You can also check out certain online platforms which have jobs for your specific industry. A simple Google research is likely to give you incredible options to score through. If you have researched about the companies in your industry and have a certain number of them on your mind, you can also open their websites and check out if they have any openings at the moment.

Since a large part of job searches has now shifted online, you would need a digital copy of your resume and cover letter. Moreover, you would also require a professional email address for communication.

Be organized

Making a schedule can make the work easy for you. You can set up job alerts, schedule a time to browse through job postings, and reach out to your prospective employers throughout the week.

Applying for jobs is a number game. The more number of relevant job postings that you apply for; more are the chances of you landing an interview. So, consistency is the key here. Timing is crucial too. Mondays work best while Fridays don’t. It is because by Friday managers are preparing for the weekend ahead. Thus, they are likely to see your application by Monday.

Get on the radar of recruiters

With recruiters receiving a ton of applications every day, it can be a daunting task to get yourself noticed. While it is essential to find the right job posting, customize your resume and cover letter and apply at the right time, it doesn’t end there.

The next step is to look into your LinkedIn account. Go through your connections and see if you know anyone in the company, the recruiter or the hiring manager. Send a message to them stating why you are the right fit for the organization, and express genuine interest by demonstrating how you can devise most innovative solutions for addressing their pain points.

Brush up your phone and email etiquette

Even if your resume, cover letter and stellar networking skills get you in the radar of your recruiters, you could lose it all with an inadequate voice mail or unprofessional email. Keep these tips in mind for the best experience

Phone etiquette
  • Unsubscribe from the ring back tone and record a clear voice mail.
  • Return all calls within a day.
  • Talk slowly and clearly.
  • Make sure that you are in a quiet surrounding to avoid any disturbance.
Email etiquette
  • Use a professional email address and email signature.
  • Proofread every message to avoid any grammatical inaccuracies.
  • Reply to each email within a day.
Ace the interview

In some companies, you might not have any contact with a person before the in-person interview round. However, in others, you might face several rounds which include a phone interview.

Here’s a checklist to prepare you for the process

  • Have a crystal clear understanding of the job description and the work of the company.
  • Update yourself with the latest news relevant to the industry and have an idea of how you will elaborate on your experience in a nutshell.
  • Besides, you should also be well aware of how your experience can aid the company. In a recent survey conducted by Indeed amongst 1000 Hiring Managers, problem-solving, communication, self-direction, drive, and adaptability were the top five factors that they said make the candidate the best choice.
  • Research your interviewers and prepare a list of engaging questions that you can ask them.

Yet, every round of an interview requires a specific mindset and strategy to perform well. Go through these tips for the same.

For a phone interview

Set aside at least 45 minutes of quiet time and have your cover letter and resume before you. Ensure that your place has excellent cell service. Think deeply about what you’re going to say and rehearse it with a friend, over a phone call,  if possible.

For an in-person interview

Arrive at least 15 minutes early and dress professionally. Make sure that you carry printed copies of your resume and cover letter with you. Your demeanour should reflect genuine excitement about the company and the position.

Hold out your hand for a firm handshake (except right now, in pandemic times!). Make eye contact and smile. It makes a big difference.

Remember the thank you note

Ensure that you ask every person you meet for their contact information and craft a well thought out thank you note for the interview. You should send a follow-up message by the earliest.

Evaluate your job offers

Following these enlisted tips will make sure that you land more than just one job offer. To evaluate the one that will suit you the best, you need to think of your priorities. Make a list of pros and cons, and trust your gut feeling.

Negotiate the offer

Even if you like the offer initially, it is never a good idea to say yes to the initial offer as there is always some scope for growth. Never go in a negotiation discussion unarmed. Here are the vital components of a job offer that you should look into before going onboard

The remuneration

You can use sites like Glassdoor to update yourself about the latest industry trends and the salary that you deserve with your level of experience and skill set.

Negotiation is a fine balance – you don’t want to settle lesser than what you deserve, but being too aggressive and asking for more may not always go your way. So you need to weigh in the worth of the opportunity and what you’re getting paid for it. If the job is of great value, you may want to think about that before pushing too hard. This call is yours to make.

Paid time off

Ideally, you should get two to three weeks of PTOs. Ask the organization if they roll in the vacation time and sick days together or count them separately. You can research the company’s competitors to know more about the industry standards for the same.

Benefits

Benefits are more or less fixed for every company, and while there isn’t usually a scope for negotiation, you should have a full picture of what these are. If you’re looking at a couple of offers, then comparing benefits may be a good idea (all else being the same)

Start date

Do you want to start right away or do you have a couple of projects to finish before coming on board? If you need some time off between jobs, it is okay to ask for a delayed start date. Three to four weeks is the ideal duration. Whatever the time frame is, you should keep the person in the loop about this.

Finally, it is not essential to accept an offer right off the bat. It is completely fine to take some to think about it.

And now, a little about the transition journey – in case you’re thinking about a change

Going in for the transition

Over 91% of employed adults look for a job change a few times in a year. Whatever your reasons are – whether you have just graduated, are aiming for a better opportunity or a career change, or for personal reasons – the tips to ace your next search will remain the same.

You need to ensure that you think of all the possible hurdles that can come in your way and have devised the right strategy to tackle every single one of them. One also needs to be well aware of their goals for the job hunt to be successful.

Moreover, ask yourself some vital questions like

  • Are you looking for a job with possibilities of a shorter commutation route?
  • Do you need a relaxed work environment where you can take your pet along?

Be it the smaller goals like the ones listed here or the bigger ones, taking time in identifying these will ultimately make your search a lot easier. For instance, if you are looking for stability, a start-up might not be the best choice. On the other hand, if possibilities for growth sound attractive to you, a well-established corporate office might not be the right fit.

The resignation

Since you have listed down the goals and have made up your mind to call it quits, you should also think about your resignation. Unless you have a explanation for resigning from your present office and the financial freedom to do so, don’t write that a resignation letter. Ensure that you coordinate the date of your resignation with the beginning of your job hunt for things to go smoothly.

If, unfortunately, you’ve been asked to let go, you should avoid connecting your potential employers with your last company. Yet, be ready to answer the difficult question in an interview because it is bound to arise. However, if you believe that your current organization will give a good reference, then go ahead and connect the two.

In any case, you must know your story by heart. Your background should be compelling enough for someone to want to hire you. Link your reasons for leaving your current position with an explanation for the present hunt.

Being open and honest is the best way to go. People understand if you feel you’re telling the truth and if they see value in hiring you. Don’t avoid the uncomfortable questions – prepare for them.

Big fish. Small fish

Getting the right opportunity may take a while. The thing to ensure is that you’re on yhe right path. As long as you are doing what you want and you see growth, you should take the opportunity. Also, think about the big-fish-in-a-small-pond or small-fish-in-a-big-pond idea.

Sometimes the former is a better idea, if you’re looking to learn and grow – and this is where aiming at start-ups might be a good strategy. So don’t cross them out of your searh list. Also, there’s immense value in joining a place at the ground level, and then growing with it.

It’s hard to be looking for a job right now, but with the above points in mind, your search should get easier.

Date added
02.02.2021

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