Kicking off a job search for your ideal position can be both exciting and terrifying. Initially you’ll be pumped to start searching, saving job ads online or circling them in the local and national newspapers. You’ll start dreaming of what career path you might be headed for, and how your life could take shape in the short, medium and long term.
However, there’s also a downside to searching for a new job. If you don’t get your tactics right, you could find yourself on the end of rejection letter after rejection letter, if the employer or recruitment agency bother getting back to you at all. When this happens you can start to feel depressed and frustrated, which inevitably results in losing the desire to pursue the kind of job you’re after.
That’s why you need to be prepared for what’s involved in a successful job search. It takes time, energy, and knowledge to take you from where you are to where you want to be. To help you with your plan of attack, here are our top 18 great job search tips to land the position you want:
1. Get specific
Before you even get started, try and be as clear as possible about what type of role you’re searching for. If you have no idea what you want, you’ll waste hours searching through thousands of job ads online and in newspapers. To help narrow your focus, write down lists of what skills you have, what interests you have, what you definitely don’t want, and try and focus in on positions that you’re qualified to do and that you’ll enjoy. By knowing what you’re looking for, you can target specific job ads and tailor your applications accordingly.
2. Get qualified
If you don’t have the relevant skills for the job you want, get qualified. Courses can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years, and can be tailored to suit your lifestyle. Often there are opportunities to study part- or full-time, online or in-class. The more qualified you are, the better chances you’ll have of job search success.
3. Research is vital
Research the positions you think you would like to pursue. What is the job outlook like? Are there many vacancies or is it a dying profession? What salary can you expect and will it suffice? What are the work conditions, and can you handle them? There’s no point going through the process of getting qualified and applying for jobs, if the reality of those jobs doesn’t match your expectations.
4. Expand your search
Don’t limit your search to advertised positions online and in newspapers. There are more ways to find job vacancies such as Centrelink, LinkedIn and other social media platforms, trade magazines, networking events and recruitment companies among others, not to mention approaching companies you want to work for directly. Showing initiative can get you a long way.
5. Email alerts
Set up alerts at online job advertising websites so you get new positions vacant sent straight to your inbox. That way you won’t miss out on new opportunities. However, you should still check these sites regularly just in case attractive opportunities have somehow slipped through the cracks and not been sent to you.
Talk to friends, family and work colleagues about what your plans are. They may know someone in the industry that you can talk to. Or better yet, may know of positions available that you can apply for. Networking and seeking out opportunities is often better than applying for advertised positions that many people will want.
7. Know how to market yourself
This includes getting your cover letter and CV right, being confident in job interviews, knowing what to say and what not to say, dressing appropriately when meeting potential employers and getting your social media accounts up to scratch (yes they will probably check them). Be professional, knowledgeable and well presented, and your chances of success will skyrocket.
8. Be methodical
Treat your job search as your job. There is a lot of work that goes into landing the job you want, including writing and submitting resumes and cover letters, searching for positions vacant, networking and attending interviews. Rarely does a great job just land in your lap, you need to go out and get it.. To do that you have to commit to the time it will take, so get into a routine as quickly as possible.
9. Understand the job ad
Read it carefully, what are the key attributes, skills and experiences the employer is looking for. Use those to construct your cover letter and CV, using specific examples of where you’ve demonstrated these qualities. Employers have written the job ads for a reason, and you’ll find exactly what they are looking for right there.
10. You don’t need to be perfect
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have 100% of the skills outlined in the job ad. Often employers simply wont be able to find somebody who is a perfect match, however if you can demonstrate that you have most of the skills, a competency for picking up skills easily, and a desire to learn, you’re chances of success are greatly increased.
Don’t just highlight qualities the employer is specifically asking for, bring to their attention skills you have that can be transferrable from your current position. For example, if you’ve worked as a primary school teacher in the past, there are clear parallels to roles in corporate training or public speaking.
12. Stand out
Be specific, and tailor your cover letter and CV for each job application. You need to stand out from the pack, otherwise your CV will end up where those annoying generic letters that arrive in your mailbox go. This will only add to your sense of rejection and make you more dejected.
13. Scatter gun approach does not work
Targeted approaches are much more beneficial to you. Make sure you’re applying for jobs that are suited to your skill set. You don’t want to be sending hundreds of CV’s out into the market place hoping something sticks. You’re better off using your time to target specific jobs your qualified to do, and make sure you get your applications for those right.
14. Ask for help
Get people to read the job ad, and then proofread your cover letter and CV. We all make mistakes with spelling and grammar, even with built in spellcheckers, so it’s vital you get someone to check these before submitting. Everything you do needs to be done right, that way you’ll make a great impression from start to finish.
15. Interview preparation is key
Do your research so you know exactly what the company stands for, and what the position specifically entails. Pre-empt what questions you may get asked in the interview and have responses ready to go. You could be asked about difficult situations you’ve experienced in similar past positions and how you coped, what your strengths and weaknesses are, why there are gaps in your resume, and your future goals. Be prepared!
16. Be prepared for the long haul
As has already been mentioned, successfully finding your ideal job can take a long time. A lot of people give up and take the easy option of settling for a position they know they won’t enjoy. Don’t get demoralised if it doesn’t happen for you straight away. Just keep telling yourself that it will be all worth the effort when the call eventually does come telling you your application has been successful.
17. Be proactive
It actually costs a lot of money for companies to find and hire new staff, such as advertising costs and recruitment agency fees. Often it can be a case of being in the right place at the right time, which is why you should contact companies you wish to work for even if they aren’t advertising any positions. If you make a good impression, when opportunities do arise they may call you before advertising. Many companies fill positions without ever advertising.
18. You’re also interviewing them
Job interviews are not just about prospective employers interviewing you, it’s also an opportunity for you to interview them. Ask questions so that you are confident you’re making the right decision if you get offered the job. Do they offer opportunities for advancement? Is there internal or off-site training? How do they keep their staff morale high? Is the salary on offer fair? What are the company’s values and do yours match?
Searching for the job you want can be a stressful time, which is why you need to keep looking after your health. Eat healthily and exercising can relieve some of the stress you may be feeling, and keep you energised and maintain focus. Stay positive during your job search, and make sure you devote some down time as well. It’s important to step away from the job search and spend time with family and friends doing things you enjoy. No matter how bad you want to find your dream job, you’re not doing yourself any favours by devoting every waking hour to the search.