Job searching can be a difficult process — especially if you’ve been in your current position for a long time or you’ve just graduated from college. There are so many things to consider, from your overall career goals to salary expectations to job role titles.
So, where should you start?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this in-depth job search guide, we will walk you through all the steps you need to take to be successful in your job hunt.
Don’t have time to read the entire article? Check out our infographic on all the important tips and strategies you need to know to hack the job search:
First things first, before you can begin your job search you must define your goals. Are you looking for a full-time position or a part-time role? Do you want a more challenging role or a better title? Do you want to work remotely from home, or are you happy to commute? All of these are factors you need to consider.
Here are a few other things to think about to identify your job search goals:
- Are you looking for opportunities for professional growth?
- Is company culture important to you?
- What are your ideal working hours?
- Do you have any job deal-breakers?
- What do you want your responsibilities to be?
A good way to go about this is to look at different job descriptions and see which ones align with your goals. This will help you narrow down what you are looking for from a job. Looking at potential jobs will also help you understand how your current skillset aligns with your goals and allow you to focus on areas you might need to develop on further.
It’s important to set some long- and short-term goals for yourself. For example, a long-term career goal could be to land a managerial position. To achieve this, you will need to compile a list of short-term goals that will allow you to get there. These could include completing a leadership course or taking on more responsibilities in group projects in your current job. It’s important to be realistic when setting your goals. If you are currently a junior office assistant, you’re probably not going to land a CEO position next, but you could still strive for a role with more managerial responsibilities.
The main thing to remember is to be flexible when defining your goals; having them benefits your job search, but they won’t make or break it. You’ll need to measure your successes and failures so you can adapt them moving forward.
If you need some help understanding your career goals, then it’s worth taking a career assessment test like CareerHunter. Our test will analyze your existing skillset, your personality and interests, as well as your abstract, numerical and verbal reasoning skills. You then receive a detailed report that contains job recommendations and course suggestions that will be perfectly suited to you.
The next step in your job search is to research the market: available jobs, companies and the salary you can expect to earn across different roles and industries.
1. Look at potential job roles
To begin, look at the available jobs in the industry you’re interested in. Read through a few of the descriptions for relevant jobs so you get an idea of the required skills, qualifications and traits that are required for the role. This will help you understand if you have the necessary skills. It’ll also be useful when you are updating your résumé.
Another option to consider is reaching out to professionals working in your desired field. You can ask them questions to determine if the role you’re considering will be a good fit for you and offer insight into a specific job.
2. Read up on the company
When you find a job ad that sparks your interest, look into the company that’s advertising the opportunity. Information about the company’s history, the services or products they offer, and their latest project will give you a better idea if this is a role worth pursuing.
Some other things to consider include:
- Customer and employee reviews of the company
- The company’s mission statement
- Company culture
- Remuneration package and benefits
- Opportunities for career advancement
Most of this information can be found online through the company’s website and social media accounts as well as sites such as Glassdoor.
Make a note of recent company news during your research. That way, if you are offered an interview, can refer to them and show the hiring manager you’ve gone above and beyond to find out about their brand.
3. Learn about salaries and compensation
Some companies will try and lowball you when it comes to salaries, so it’s vital to do your research beforehand and be prepared when the time comes to negotiate. If a company ends up offering you a sub-standard salary, you can counter them with a higher figure that better aligns with the role — all because you did your research.
Checking out the average salary means you’re more likely to go into a role being paid what you’re worth. Some salary websites to consider are Glassdoor, PayScale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Now that you have an idea of what you desire from a job, and you’ve done your research, it’s time to think about how you’re going to find your dream job. Today, finding suitable work opportunities is much easier than it used to be.
So, put the highlighter and the newspaper down (for now), and consider these job search methods:
For most of us, the first place to search for a job is online. There are many great job search websites for you to peruse, as well as company websites.
If you’re not sure where to start, popular job boards include Indeed and Monster.com, or you could have a look at the CareerAddict Jobs, while you’re here.
2. Job search apps
We’re all glued to our phones these days, so why not use them in your job search, too?
Most job boards have their own job search apps that let you use different filters so you can tailor search results based on your requirements. You’ll be able to search for jobs by location, salary range, role and more specific keywords, which can be really helpful in narrowing down the search results.
3. Social media
While social media is great for uploading candid photos and chatting with friends, you can also utilize them for your job search.
LinkedIn, for example, is renowned for its job opportunities. In fact, 6 people are hired every minute through the networking platform while 49 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week.
PRO TIP – When connecting with employees from a company you’re interested in on LinkedIn, add a note to your connection request. That way, they know why you want to connect them and might be able to help you get your foot in the door.
If you’re an avid Twitter user, then you could use the platform find a job by searching for hashtags specific to the field you’re interested in. For example: #marketingjobs #environmentaljobs #techjobs. You can also follow relevant hashtags like #entrylevel or #graduatejobs. You can do the same via Instagram and Facebook!
If you’re aiming to get a job at a specific company, you could also follow their social media channels to keep an eye on job openings and stay tuned with company updates!
There are many benefits to networking, and sometimes networking with the right people can land you a job!
You can network online, using websites like LinkedIn or Meetup, or you can attend a networking event locally. It’s estimated that around 85% of jobs are filled through networking, so it’s definitely an avenue worth pursuing.
By networking online, you’ll have access to organizations all over the world. Our advice is to build meaningful relationships with staff members; don’t just dive in with “Hey, can I have a job, please?” Instead, introduce yourself and explain your interest in connecting with them.
Once you’ve built rapport, see if you can offer your services to the person you are networking with and demonstrate your knowledge. By showcasing your skills, they’re more likely to refer you to employment opportunities.
Check out our video below for further networking advice:
5. Job fairs
While not as common as they used to be, job fairs are still useful — especially if you’re a graduate looking for an entry-level position. At a job fair, you could connect with up to 200 employers from a variety of fields, which is helpful if you’re interested in more than one area.
The National Career Fairs website has a calendar with a list of locations where job fairs take place. There’re also opportunities to take part in virtual job fairs, too.
PRO TIP – If you’re heading to a job fair in person, make sure to print copies of your résumé and hand them out to any employers that catch your attention. Job fairs aren’t just for potential employees, they’re a great opportunity for employers to scope out potential new hires.
6. Recruitment agencies
If you need a helping hand with your job search, it might be worth reaching out to a recruitment agency. They match candidates to job vacancies and are the middleman between you and the company that’s hiring.
Some recruitment agencies also headhunt specific high-caliber candidates for companies by searching for specific keywords in uploaded résumés, so make sure to upload yours to different agencies’ websites.
Okay, so I know I said put the newspaper and highlighter down, but there are still occasions where browsing your local newspaper can be useful.
If you need a job close to where you live, then looking at the job section of your local newspaper is still worthwhile as it will likely advertise job opportunities in your area. So, make sure to have a quick flick through with your morning coffee.
So, now you know what role you want, you know about the company, how much you’re looking to earn, and where to look for the available jobs. What’s next?
Updating your documents, that’s what!
Please, for the love of all things, don’t send in an old résumé that hasn’t been updated in years.
Here’s how you can update your résumé and tailor your cover letter to make the best first impression!
1. Prepare your résumé
If you’re a first-time job searcher, then you’ll need to write your résumé from scratch. But if this isn’t your first rodeo, then you need to make sure your résumé is updated with the most recent information relating to your experience, skills, references and qualifications.
PRO TIP – If you want to give your résumé a new look, download a résumé template that you simply input your information into. It’s a quick and easy way to capture the hiring manager’s attention.
Start by bringing up a job ad you’re interested in and looking at the keywords within it. For example, if it mentions “great communication skills”, then it’s worth adding this to your résumé — as long as it’s true because you should never lie on your résumé.
You may be thinking, “But why does my résumé have to say the same as the ad?” Many companies utilize applicant tracking systems, which scan through résumés and applications for keywords mentioned in the company’s job ad. It then compiles the best matches for a recruiter to look over. So, if your résumé doesn’t include some of the keywords mentioned in the job post, it’s unlikely it will reach the hiring manager. Not only that, but by tailoring your résumé to the role you’re applying for, you’re showing the recruiter you’ve done your research and you’re demonstrating your suitability for the role.
Writing a résumé can feel a little overwhelming. There are so many things to consider, and you have such a small amount of space to explain why you’re the best person for the job. This is why it’s sometimes worth hiring a résumé writer to help you.
Once your résumé is ready, don’t forget to proofread it! You only have a few seconds to impress hiring managers, and errors will undoubtedly lower your success rate.
2. Create tailored cover letters
A cover letter usually accompanies your résumé or application. Its purpose is to introduce yourself and highlight your skills and experience, as well as show your interest in the position you’re applying for.
One thing many jobseekers forget to do is to tailor their cover letter to the specific role they’re applying for. This is crucial as the document offers you an opportunity to connect with the hiring manager, and it’s an opportunity that’s often missed.
When writing your cover letter, it’s important to include:
- Your name and contact information
- The job title you are applying for and company’s name
- Your reasons for applying
- Your skills and qualifications that match the job
- A call-to-action requesting an interview
Reiterate what you can bring to the company, be enthusiastic and, most importantly, be yourself. This could be your first point of contact with the recruiter, so don’t neglect your cover letter!
Hiring managers are definitely with the times and won’t hesitate to check your social media to make sure you align with their company’s culture and values. Therefore, make sure to optimize your social media profiles so that they are professional and up to date.
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, add a concise summary of your skills and experience, update your profile URL so you can be easily found by recruiters and update your profile picture with a professional headshot. LinkedIn also allows you to set a headline, so if you’re open to new opportunities and are looking for a new job, make it known! You can also share industry-related articles, network and share other people’s content, too. Having an online presence is a great tool that shows recruiters what drives you.
In certain cases, you can include additional elements to your résumé. If you’re looking to get a job in a creative field, like photography, for instance, you’ll need to update and organize your portfolio, too. That way, if your application is successful and you’re invited to an interview, you’ll have everything ready to go.
You can also create an online portfolio or a résumé website, which you can link to on your application. This makes it easier for recruiters to see the caliber of your work and can make your application more memorable.
You’re finally ready to start applying for jobs. But what if you need more information to boost your chances of success? Simply contact the company and ask for more details about the job. Many applicants will take the job description at face value, so asking for more information could give you a competitive advantage.
Before you begin the application process, make sure you read all the instructions listed in the advert. For instance, prospective applicants may need to submit their résumé as a PDF, or send their application directly to a specific email address. Make sure you follow these instructions, as failing to do so could show that you lack attention to detail, which is not a great first impression.
If you need to send your résumé by email, make sure to make your email subject line clear. For example: ‘’John Smith – Application for Administrative Role at ABC Inc. [Ref: 123456]’’
By including your name and job title you are making the recruiter’s life just a little bit easier. Adding the reference number of the job post is also important if the company has multiple job openings.
If you need to submit an application instead of your résumé, then make sure to refer to your résumé while filling it in. That way, you’re less likely to forget important facts and numbers that might help you land the job. Don’t forget to add some keywords within the application form too.
According to research, the best day to apply for jobs is a Monday. So, make sure to get your application in on a Monday morning to grab hiring managers’ attention.
If you want to be successful during your job search, you need to be consistent. Creating a schedule that you can follow will help.
It’s best to separate things into daily, weekly and monthly tasks so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Set yourself a daily task, like applying for one job per day, a weekly task, such as posting on LinkedIn and a monthly task, like following up on pending applications. By doing this, you’re not only being proactive, but you’ll also feel much more organized and prepared when it comes to finally getting an interview.
You’ve sent out 10+ applications this month. Why haven’t you heard anything?! It can be frustrating, but don’t let it stress you out.
As mentioned above, if you really want a job, there’s no harm in following up on your application to see how things are progressing. But first, do a bit of research and check the job advert or company website to see if there are any updates.
If it’s been a couple of weeks since you sent in your application, then consider sending a polite email asking for updates on your application. Keep it succinct and reiterate your interest in the position. If they get back to you, winner. If they don’t, then you’ll just have to hold your horses and wait for the company to get back to you when they’re ready (as frustrating as this can be!)
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but there are plenty of things you can do to prepare in advance and feel more confident.
1. Practice common interview questions
Before you set foot into the interview room, it’s important to practice answering some common interview questions. This will help you feel more confident and prepared. Start by thinking logically about the questions you could be asked. Some of the most common interview questions include things like: “Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?”, “What is your greatest strength?” and “What are you most proud of?” Beyond these commonly asked questions, you should also look into industry-related ones, too.
By practicing your answers, you’ll be able to make a much better impression and help the hiring manager remember you over someone who answers with lots of “ums” and “ahs”.
2. Mind your body language
While practicing your interview answers, think about your body language. Are you constantly fidgeting or are you calm and collected? Are you sitting up straight? Are you making strong eye contact? These are things that can tip the balance in your favor. Practice answering your questions with someone else, so they can give your feedback on your overall composure.
3. Practice remaining calm
The last thing you want to do is become flustered during your interview. The best way to avoid this is to work on some breathing techniques that will help you stay calm when the interview comes around.
Preparing for an interview isn’t just about sharpening your interview skills, there are lots of things to consider before stepping into the meeting room with a prospective employer.
1. Plan your outfit
Do you wake up each day and rifle through your wardrobe trying to find something that’s creaseless and stylish? You don’t want to be doing that on the day of your interview, so make sure you prepare your interview outfit in advance. Make sure to pick an ensemble that matches the company’s dress code - first impressions matter!
2. Print and prepare your documents
Although you probably sent in your résumé when you applied, it’s always worth taking an extra couple of copies to your interview. The hiring manager might be interviewing a lot of people in a short time span, so it’s worth handing them your résumé to refresh their memory of why they invited you to interview!
If you have a portfolio, take this along as well, so the interviewers can browse your work while you talk them through it.
3. Prepare for different kinds of interviews
Did the interviewer invite you for a coffee and a chat? Or a virtual interview taking place on a video conferencing platform? The interview’s format matters as each setting may require a different etiquette.
For a coffee interview, for example, you can dress in business casual, and you’ll have to consider what you’re going to order (so that you can actually speak without muffling out your answers with a mouthful of muffin).
For a virtual interview, you’ll need to make sure your internet speed is good, and that the video conferencing software is updated and working on your device. You’ll also need to ensure your workspace is tidy and free from distractions.
Prepare for each interview accordingly, and make sure that you are aware of the format in advance to ensure that the interview goes well when the day comes. Don’t expect each interview to be the same.
4. Do some more company research
If you’ve been proactive, you will have done your research before applying for the role. Right? Well, if you didn’t (tut tut), this is the time to research the company before your interview. It’s imperative to do this as you will likely be asked what you know about the company, and it’s really obvious when candidates haven’t done their homework.
Phew. You’re through the other side and can breathe a sigh of relief.
But, what now?
After an interview, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of landing the job.
1. Write a thank you note
Once the interview is over, take the time to thank the interviewer by sending them a thank you letter. Make sure you add a catchy subject line and keep it short and sweet. You can use this as an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and explain how you specifically can contribute to the company.
Finish it off with a call-to-action or question, like “Do you have any further questions for me?” as this will give the interviewer a chance to respond.
2. Send a follow up email
After about a week, send a follow-up email to the company with a brief reminder of who you are, any details you forgot to mention in the interview, and an offer of additional information if they require it. Oh, and don’t forget to thank them again!
That said, don’t go overboard as this could make you seem desperate. This could end up in you getting ghosted after your interview, which would suck.
3. Respond to a job offer
If you’re offered a job, congratulations! All your hard work has paid off.
But that’s not where it ends.
You’ll need to evaluate the job offer to make sure it’s right for you and ensure that your contract has the correct details. This isn’t something to rush into, so ask for some time before you give an asnwer. It’s worth making notes on things to query with the company, too. You’ll need to confirm in writing if you’re going to accept the job or reject the offer.
If you choose to accept, then you’ll need to negotiate your starting salary before signing the employment contract. Remember those goals you set at the beginning? This is where the research and planning you did come to play. Employers expect successful applicants to negotiate, so there’s no harm in discussing a rate that is suitable and fitting to your goals.
Read your employment contract carefully. It sounds obvious, but this is the time to bring up anything that you’d like to negotiate.
4. Ask for feedback
If you weren’t successful, then commiserations — it just wasn’t meant to be. If you’re unsure why you weren’t successful, it’s always worth asking for feedback, so you know which areas you should improve on moving forward.
The main thing is to not let it get you down, and to keep trying until you land your dream job. Nothing comes easy, but with hard work and determination you will reach your goals.
So, there you have it! Job searching can be a challenging endeavor, but if you put in the work and persevere, you will succeed.
Here’s a quick summary:
- Define your overall goals - what job you want, the hours you want to work, the things that are important to you in your job search.
- Research your socks off and look into all aspects of your desired field. Information is power.
- Utilize several job search methods — don’t just look in one place for job advertisements.
- Update your résumé with relevant skills, qualifications and experience to show recruiters why you’re a great candidate.
- Create a tailored cover letter for each application to tick all of the recruiter’s boxes.
- Screen your social media — make it professional and stand out for the right reasons.
- Create a clear job search schedule and set yourself up for success by following it.
- Do the necessary prep work before your interview and follow up afterwards.
- Negotiate your salary and other terms if you’re successful.
- Don’t be disheartened if you don’t succeed at first — see it as a learning opportunity.
Whether you’re just starting out in your career, or you’re looking for a change, we wish you the best of luck in your job search!
Have you got any questions about the job search process? Share them with us in the comments section below!