Job Search Overview
The job search can be one of the most stressful parts of your career. It's a process fraught with uncertainty, during which you need to somehow pay your bills and manage the rest of your life. There are things you can do that make the hunt easier, such as networking, pursuing higher education, and earning certifications, but you still need to expend the necessary effort to find a job, interview, and start your new career. This toolkit is designed to simplify the process and help you find the path you were destined for.
Resources for Before and After College
The Job Search
Know Where You Want to Work
The physical location of a job can make or break any job-hunter's decision. Thus, you should narrow down the places that work the best for you. If you need to drop kids off at daycare, or school, factor that into this decision. You should also weigh how you prioritize salary, job description, and perceived career potential of a job. That is, will you move or put up with a longer commute if the job exceeds your expectations on one, or all three factors?
You might also decide if you are interested in remote working, since that is more of a reality in today's job market. In fact, some workers insist on remote work, as it eliminates commute times, facilitates familial obligations, and has zero impact on one's wardrobe choices.
Salary is a major deciding factor for job seekers. When you are job-hunting, have a salary range in mind. You can base this on your experience level, education, salary history, and market standards. You might seek out colleagues to see what they are earning or discuss the issue with a recruiter to determine what to ask for when you are finally offered a job. Remember that there are other factors at play in compensation than mere salary.
Compensation is not solely determined by base salary. Determine what sort of benefits package you need for yourself and your family. For instance, an employer might offer comprehensive medical benefits, tuition reimbursement, or even daycare assistance if you have young children. You can also weigh a job's bonus structure into your calculations. That is, some jobs pay relatively low salaries, but their year-end bonuses may double, or triple, the base salary.
CV and Resume
When you start planning your job search, make sure your CV or resume is current with all of your work history, educational achievements, and any other relevant experiences, including volunteer positions. In the past, resumes always included a statement of your career objective. These days, that is considered passé . Thus, you should not need to revise your resume too much from application to application.
However, if your job search spans different job descriptions or even industries, you should craft a resume for each of these. You should also be prepared to write unique cover letters for each job, as each one will have its own unique set of requirements and expectations.
Where to Look for Work
- Community Job Boards:
These are great resources, especially since the jobs will likely be local to your area and may be with companies with which you are already familiar.
- Networking Events:
In many cities, there are networking events that are created especially for your profession. While there is no guarantee that the people you meet will be looking for a new worker, they may know of opportunities, or otherwise have helpful information.
- Professional Associations:
If you are a member of a professional organization, their website likely has a job board for members only. If there is a discussion board, you might join in a discussion and mention that you are seeking a new opportunity.
- Job Fairs:
These are very useful because you will have a chance to meet your future employers, or co-workers. Job fairs also are tailored around specific industries or professions. Make sure you are prepared with a sheaf of resumes, your calling card, and a talkative attitude. You may end up making new and useful contacts among your fellow job-seekers.
- Job Search Sites:
There are plenty of websites that cater to the job search. You can search according to your job description, industry, salary range, and location, among other possible variables. You will need to upload your resume to the system and create an account to make the experience fruitful, but once you're in the system, you can apply to jobs in a far easier fashion than the old days.
- Classified Ads:
There are still help-wanted advertisements in some publications. There is no need to overlook this resource, especially since you may have less competition for positions you find this way.
- Social Media:
People go on social media to share cat memes, rant about politics, and seek companionship, but they also use it for professional networking. If you post that you are seeking work, you just might find the lead of a lifetime. The upside here is that you will have some connection with the job, which can make the difference between landing an interview and having your resume end up in the shredder.
Go Ahead and Apply
Very often, job postings will state iron-clad requirements for applicants. However, you might not have that specific experience or skill set. You should go ahead and apply anyway but be thoughtful about it. That is, review your experience and skills and determine if your resume reflects similar items. For instance, a job listing might state that the employer expects experience with Photoshop, but if you are knowledgeable about similar graphics software, you might go ahead and toss your virtual hat in the ring.
You can also weigh their expectations against your experience. If, for instance, you know you meet 70% of their requirements and are reasonably familiar with the remaining 30, your resume might be considered. Be sure that you don't misrepresent yourself, but you shouldn't worry about emphasizing relevant skills that you feel will be useful to a potential employer.
Make sure that you keep close records of your job-seeking activities. For optimal efficiency, record every resume you send on a spreadsheet that includes the employer's name, the date you sent your information, any relevant notes, hyperlinks to the employers' websites, and all phone numbers or email addresses that you find. You can also copy and paste the job posting ad into a document so that you can refer to it later.
This will be helpful when they call you for an interview. Keep the spreadsheet handy on your desktop or upload it to a cloud so you can access it from a mobile device. If possible, include as many notes or helpful details about the resume you sent, special skills you highlighted, etc.
This information will be helpful as you can make a self-assessment regarding your job search skills. It will be informative to know which job types respond the most, and which versions of your resume seem more attractive. Furthermore, if you are receiving unemployment insurance, you will probably need to report your job-seeking activities prior to each week's claim.
Should You Consider an “In-Between” Job?
Bridge jobs are often a necessity. If your finances are tight, you will certainly need to find a low-impact job that you can do, and which will not interfere too much with your job search. You might consider working in the gig economy as a rideshare driver, dog walker, or handyperson. This sort of activity will also keep your mind fresh and active while you await the perfect job interview.
If you don't have any interest in the gig jobs you find, you can always seek temporary office assignments. When you sign up for such work, you might just find that the agency fills long-term jobs as well. If you perform well in their temporary assignments, they might help you land a permanent job in your field.
When you land an interview, you should first congratulate yourself. Then, you need to get to work finding out everything about the potential employer. Scour their website for every possible bit of relevant information. Perform news searches to see if they have made any significant announcements or if they are otherwise in the news media.
You might investigate them using tools such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. These should be able to provide information regarding salaries and workplace morale. Ideally, you can find comments from past or current employees, and you can also ask around your network to see if anyone has any juicy bits of information. You can also take this time to review typical interview questions, spruce up your wardrobe, and perhaps get a fresh haircut.
What Should You Take?
Before you leave for your interview, make sure you are well prepared. Print out more resumes than you think you'll need, have your business cards handy, and determine how to dress for the occasion. While it may seem redundant to bring hard copies of your resume, it's always a good idea to have copies handy. You can also make sure that you have an electronic version saved on your phone so that you can quickly email it if they prefer a paperless transaction.
If relevant, you should bring either a hard copy or a virtual version of your portfolio. This might even be a list of hyperlinks to websites you've worked on, or a series of photos from construction work you've done. Any relevant, graphic representation of your work experience can be great for keeping a conversation lively and moving forward.
How Should you Dress?
It's incredibly important to dress appropriately for each interview. These days, however, appropriate means different things for every employer. Some maintain a formal business-suit dress code, while others implement any variety of casual dress codes. Just as you don't want to under-dress, it's also important to not overdress for an interview.
For that reason, you should ask your contact person as to the most appropriate attire for the interview. If the code is casual, you won't go wrong by dressing a bit more on the formal or conservative side. For instance, if they say that "khakis and a shirt" are the typical dress code, you might have your shirt and pants pressed prior to the interview and wear a button-up instead of a polo.
Other Things to Know
What to Bring After You Get the Job
Congratulations on your new job!
For the first day of any job, you will probably spend a good deal of time filling out paperwork. You'll certainly need your identification, birth certificate, and social security card. If you have additional identification, such as a passport, you won't go wrong by bringing that, too. If your new employer has special paperwork, they will surely indicate what they need upon hiring.
If you are adding your dependents or significant other to your health benefits, HR may require their social security numbers or other documents as well. To save everyone time, make sure to ask about this prior to your first day.