Looking for a new job can be a frustrating and, dare I say, heartbreaking process – so here’s a list of 5 job hunting tips that will hopefully breathe some new life into your search.
Make yourself the most obvious fit
When you’re looking for a job, I get that it can be tempting to mass-apply to everything you can find that’s remotely related to your skill set. It can also be tempting to be lazy and send the exact same résumé to said jobs.
This is one of those things where you really can’t be lazy. I know a bunch of people are going to stay job searching is just a “numbers game,” but you’re not doing yourself any favors by applying to everything under the sun. Considering many large companies use applicant tracking systems, you want to cater your CV to their specific posting. Study the job description and rewrite your résumé to include as many relevant keywords as possible. Showcase your skills. Showcase your strengths. Don’t lie and overinflate your qualifications, obviously – but do type in all relevant skills and mirror the language from their posting into your résumé.
We review stacks and stacks of résumés every day, and it’s super easy to tell when someone mass-applied, as opposed to clearly taking their time and crafting a personalized résumé. It may be a “numbers game” to you, but to the people who might hire you, it’s not. By not personalizing your résumé to make yourself as relevant as possible, you’re just wasting their time, and you’re more likely to end up in their wastebasket. Take the extra 5-10 minutes and revise your wording. It can make a huge difference.
Schedule informational interviews
Make a list of companies you really want to work for, then do a search for people with your job title (or the job title you want) at those companies. For example, if you’re a DevOps Engineer, look for DevOps Engineers or the DevOps Manager at the companies you’re interested in.
Once you’ve found these key organization members, connect with them on LinkedIn – or, if their email address is public, email them. Since this is a cold email/LinkedIn message, make sure you’re very clear about what you’re asking for, and don’t be pushy – you’re asking someone to take time out of their day for you, after all.
Here’s an example of a good message to send:
I hope you’re able to help me out. I’ve been doing some research into [company], and I’d love to have coffee with you to pick your brain about your experience there and in the industry. Your work at [company] has been incredible, especially [project the person worked on].
I’d really appreciate if we could speak for 15 minutes – do you have any open times this week for us to sit down for coffee?
Thank you so much,
If the person agrees, nail down a date and time, and make sure you’re prepared. Dress well. Have a list of questions you want to ask. Really listen to their answers. And, absolutely do not ask for a job! This is an informational interview. Your aim here is to get an insider’s perspective, and to make a valuable connection at the company. To go back to my DevOps example, let’s say you end up having a really great coffee with a DevOps Engineer, you send him a really nice thank you card/message, and you occasionally keep in touch. A few weeks later, a DevOps job opens up on this person’s team. Do you think you’ll have an easier time getting a job there now that you have an ‘in’ and said DevOps Engineer can forward your résumé to the manager? Proooobably.
My point is, as always, building relationships wins all. Forge those connections, keep in touch, and make yourself memorable.
When you do land an interview, it’s imperative to be prepared.
Show up looking polished (no jeans and t-shirt). Suits are preferable, but if you know the dress code of the company is casual, something a bit more relaxed like nice pants and a sports jacket can be appropriate – just do your research first.
And speaking of doing your research, look into the company. Read up on their products and services, and have some questions prepared on those topics. Read up on the team and their values, and have some questions ready about the company’s culture. Make sure you have a good 3-5 questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview. You want to seem interested in the company, and asking questions is the best way to convey that. At the end of the interview, do ask about next steps. If you want the job, make it known. It’s totally acceptable to say “I’m really interested in the position; can we talk about next steps?”
Say thank you after an interview
As soon as you can after the interview, make sure you send your interviewer a thank you note. If you had multiple interviewers, send them all an individual thank you. Personalize your notes to each interviewer. Make it known that you’re very appreciative of their time.
Way too many candidates bypass this step, and while in some cases it may not hurt, it could cost you the job in others. Let’s assume it’s between you and someone else. You send a lovely note referencing something brilliant your interviewer said in the interview, and thank them for their time. The other candidate sends nothing. Who is the company more likely to go for? The person who actually cared enough to say thank you, right? Don’t underestimate the power of those words.
Don’t go it alone
I like Beck, but he got it wrong with the whole Go It Alone thing.
If you’re having some trouble finding suitable positions, don’t be afraid to enlist your connections. Reach out to your network and ask for help; does anyone know an HR manager that they can put you in touch with?
Do you need to vent? Join the community at /r/jobs and commiserate with job seekers in similar situations.
Also, get a recruiter. We don’t cost you a dime, and we can help you find a job you’re well-suited for. Obviously this is going to be dependent on what jobs we have open, but you never know – you might make another one of those long-lasting relationships that ends up being quite important. Even if we can’t find you a job right this second, we might have something awesome in the future – so don’t discount recruiters. We can be a very powerful ally.