Finding great employment opportunities and making it through the screening process in today’s competitive job market is tough, to say the least. But whether you’re a recent graduate or in a dead-end job and want out, looking for a new career can be made easier.
In order to help you increase your chances and focus on your search, we’ve narrowed down the best and most effective jobseeker tips to help you bag that dream job of yours (or at least get a foot in the door).
For the ultimate job search success, follow the advice listed below.
1. Get a referral
One of the most effective ways to get a new gig is through a referral. Some vacancies aren’t posted on job boards and are usually circulated internally, so if you know someone who works at a company you’d like to work at, reach out and let them know you’re available! It’s a safe bet that your résumé will get the attention it deserves if you decide to take this route.
2. Connect with employers online
When you’re job seeking, it’s important to connect with your potential employers online by “liking” their Facebook page and following them on Twitter, Instagram and, especially, LinkedIn. Companies tend to post new openings on their social pages, so you’ll have a better chance at getting a foot in the door first.
3. Attend networking events
Networking events are a great way to get to make vital contacts within your industry and get a better understanding of what certain positions entail. Although events like these may seem nerve-wracking, attending can play a crucial part in securing your ideal job. Set yourself a goal to make at least one new contact at each event!
4. Post your résumé online
Uploading your résumé to online job boards like Monster, CV-Library, Indeed and our very own CareerAddict Jobs can increase your chances of getting hired. Hiring managers scan résumé databases for related keywords; provided yours is a good match, they’ll stumble upon it. This effectively increases your chances of securing a new job.
5. Do your research
Rob VanDorin, the associate director of career services and employer relations at Central Michigan University offers the following advice: “Do your research. You should know the ins and outs of every company that you apply to before you even submit an application… If you don't know them, then you don't know how to make yourself fit.”
You might also discover that you have a contact in the company that can put in a good word and increase your chances of getting hired.
6. Invest in your communication skills
Your communication skills can make or break your chances of getting employed. When you can communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, then you have the ability to make a positive impression on the hiring manager. If you lack skills in this department, it’s important to invest in courses that will boost your ability and improve the way you interact with prospective employers.
7. Take social networking seriously
Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to your job search, so by following and liking companies online, you’ll be able to stay up to date with industry news and any suitable job vacancies as soon as they become available. Remember, though, that it’s good to have a strong social presence before you start connecting and interacting with companies online.
8. Treat everyone you meet as a potential employer
Director of career and advising services at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho, Debra Lybyer, has some great advice on networking in your job search. She says that you should “treat everyone you meet as a potential employer, every task you complete as part of your interview and keep every door open”. You simply never know where the next opportunity might come from, so this will help you maximize your chances of making a good impression, whether that’s at a career fair or through online networking.
9. Market yourself properly
Developing a strong personal brand is essential for jobseekers. Ultimately, you’re trying to sell your skill set along with your personality to potential employers, and show that you’re a good culture fit. It’s important to remain true to yourself here and not create a fabricated version of who you really are — if you do the latter, you’ll soon be labelled a “phony” if you’re hired.
10. Always be prepared
Preparation is key when trying to find a new gig. A good hack is to already have an elevator pitch prepared, ready for action at any given time. You never know when you’ll meet a good connection; it could be at the supermarket or the gas station. You should also carry business cards in your wallet for this reason!
11. Be confident
Try to maintain your confidence throughout your job search. Keep applying for positions you’re passionate about, even after you’ve received a rejection. And go for the positions you’re hesitant about, too; after all, what’s the worst that could happen? You might just not get a positive response back. Plus, you can’t really expect someone else to believe in you if you yourself seem to have a shaky sense of self-worth.
12. Be persistent
Be persistent but not pushy — there’s a fine line between taking initiative and harassing the hiring manager (and killing any chance you had at bagging the job). Ryan Brechbill, director of the center for career and professional development at Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, says that it’s appropriate to follow up on a job application with an email or phone call about 7–10 days later. “[It’s] an opportunity for the candidate to reiterate interest in the role, align experiences and skills with the employer's need, and display genuine interest in the position.”
13. Volunteer or intern
You can add credibility to your résumé by interning or volunteering, as you’ll gain transferable skills that will be useful in any role you apply for. Moreover, it’s a great way to fill any employment gaps if you have been unemployed for a long period of time.
14. Go to job fairs
Job fairs are a great way to connect with employers. Remember, though, that it’s important to devise a plan before the big day and to make sure you research the employers attending — especially those you want to talk to. Manny Contomanolis, associate vice president and director of the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services at Rochester Institute of Technology advises: “Show up with an ample supply of [résumés], enthusiasm, energy and a snack to keep you going.”
15. Use LinkedIn
Using LinkedIn to find a job is a must, as 72% of hiring managers turn to LinkedIn when hunting for candidates, according to statistics released by The Social Shepherd in 2023. LinkedIn also has some great features to help you out, including a job board which alerts you of suitable positions, InMail messaging, LinkedIn groups, and the more recent “Open to Work” feature.
16. Find what makes you happy
It’s important to find what makes you happy rather than chasing a high salary — the money will be appealing at first, but the fad will wear off over time and you’ll be left miserable and unsatisfied. Some self-reflection, conversations with loved ones, and online tests — such as career and personality quizzes, like CareerHunter — can point you in the right direction if you’re feeling undecided.
17. Remain optimistic
Sadly, you’re going to be faced with rejections and setbacks in your job search process, but it’s imperative to not let this get you down. I’m a strong believer of “Everything happens for a reason”, so pick yourself up and use any rejected application or failed interview as a learning curve for when you do secure your ideal role. Your attitude will come across when you’re called in for an interview, and the hiring manager is bound to view your positivity as a desirable quality.
18. Focus your search
With such a huge variety of jobs out there, narrowing down your options can be confusing. If you’re easily side-tracked, you might find yourself checking out positions that sound interesting but aren’t a good fit, and left wondering what it is you want to do. An easy solution to this? Before starting out, make a list of all the jobs that are truly a right fit for you and note down the top companies you would like to work for.
19. Be consistent
Being consistent is key throughout your job search — you need to be on the ball at all times; otherwise, you may miss a few opportunities. Any information you provide needs to be reliable, too; it’s completely unprofessional to list one date on your résumé’s employment history section and another on your LinkedIn profile, for example.
20. Ask good questions
If you’ve luckily secured an interview, it’s essential to ask good questions at the end. Don’t fall into the trap of asking routine questions that will make the hiring manager want to roll their eyes. Do your research and ask on-the-point questions like “I saw from your financial reports that in 2021 you had a high turnover rate of 50%. Can you let me know what the cause of this result was?”
21. Tailor your résumé to each position
Many jobseekers make the mistake of sending the same generic résumé to all different kinds of jobs. This fundamental error will ruin your chances of securing an interview, so it’s vital to tailor your résumé to the position you’re applying for. You can achieve this by selecting keywords from the job listing and ensuring they’re visible throughout your résumé.
22. Use job boards
By using job search engines, you’ll be able to find postings that are of interest to you in a short amount of time. Advanced search options can help you sift through the results to find the closest match to your specifications: whether that’s a particular job title, location or salary range, and so on.
23. Look at company websites
Although job boards are great, you need to expand your search by looking at company websites, too. If, as mentioned earlier, you’ve created a list of all the companies you’d love to work for, you can easily spend 10 minutes each day searching their career pages to see if the vacancy you’ve been waiting for has become available.
24. Use alumni associate websites
As a graduate, you’ll have access to your university’s alumni directory and be able to connect with alumni in your region to grow your network. This can be ideal, especially if old friends have secured a position in a company that you’re interested in and are willing to put in a good word for you.
25. Dress the part
Whether you’re attending a networking event or a job interview, it’s important to follow the correct dress code and make sure you look the part. Michael L Slepian, an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia Business School, told the Wall Street Journal that: “People who wear [smart] kind of clothing feel more powerful… When you feel more powerful, you don’t have to focus on the details.”
Just make sure that the outfit you pick is also comfortable. The last thing you want is to sit through an event looking pained to be wearing high heels or a blazer that’s a little too tight.
26. Read the news
By reading the news, you’ll be up to speed with business ventures, new launches and other industry-related information, and all this can come in handy during an interview. It will show a genuine interest in your field, and you’ll become more familiar with business terms, which can help you make a good impression. This can also come in handy when you’re putting your cover letter together.
To get business-related news directly to your inbox, set up Google Alerts for your desired topics.
27. Stay motivated
It’s easy to lose motivation while job searching. Have you ever sent out dozens of applications and not even received a single “thank you but no thank you” courtesy email back? It can get frustrating, I get it! However, it’s important to keep at it and not lose hope and enthusiasm — and to remember that, in the vast majority of cases, it’s got nothing to do with you.
Time to hire has increased significantly in almost all industries, with an average of 44 days to fill any role. Pair this information with the fact that each job listing receives dozens or hundreds of applications, and you can see why things take time for most people.
28. Create your own website
By creating a personal blog or an online portfolio, you can showcase your best work and expertise and attract more potential employers. If you do this, bear in mind that it should be in line with the tone and appearance of your personal brand. What I mean is that your résumé, business cards, professional social media accounts and website should share common elements, from the fonts and colors you pick to the language you use.
29. Utilize job alerts
Fully utilize the services that job boards offer by signing up for email notifications when new positions become available. The more details you provide as to what you’re looking for, the more relevant the alerts will be. This will hopefully speed up the time it takes to find a new, great role and ensure you don’t miss any openings that could be relevant to you.
30. Have your references ready
Writing up a reference letter for someone takes time! It’s useful, therefore, to reach out to your referees ahead of time (as early as when you’re starting your job search) and have a list of references ready for when a good opportunity comes by. Your list should include contact names, telephone numbers, email addresses, job titles and company names!
31. Keep track of your applications
Applying to a lot of jobs at the same time can be overwhelming, and there’s a good chance you’ll forget which application was for what position or company. Make a list of these applications (using a spreadsheet can be useful) so there’s no panic when you get a response for an interview. Fill in the job titles, company names, salary ranges and dates of application, as well as the names of the hiring managers if you’ve got them.
32. Send “thank you” letters
When you do get invited to attend an interview, it’s important to follow up afterwards and thank the hiring manager for their time. “Thank you” letters are a great way of reiterating your interest for the position and showing your appreciation for the opportunity.
33. Develop responses to common interview questions
If you’ve been job hunting for a long time, you may have discovered what the most common interview questions are and how to best respond to them. If not, then it’s time to do your research and perfect your answers so you don’t cave under the pressure when the time comes.
It’s a good idea to also practice answering some common interview questions with a friend. Speaking the words out loud can help you memorize what you’d like to say — or, at least, the gist of it, as parroting your answers in the interview will only be met with raised eyebrows.
34. Don’t just focus on the job title
It’s a good idea to sort through postings based on the skills that employers are looking for in a candidate, rather than simply focusing on job titles. If you do the latter, you’ll only limit yourself to a specific type of job when you could be increasing your chances of finding work by also considering positions that are related to your transferable skills.
35. Avoid restating your résumé in your cover letter
Many candidates make the mistake of just repeating the information from their résumé in their cover letter. What you should be doing instead is using previous examples from the workplace that relate to the job you’re applying for, which back up the information you have provided in your résumé. That is: besides introducing yourself in a little more detail, conveying your enthusiasm for that particular company and explaining why you consider yourself a good fit.
36. Clarify your career goals
Identifying what your career goals are is indispensable during the job search process. Take the time to figure out what it is that you want: do you want a job with a good work-life balance or to work for a company that provides you with opportunities of advancing up the career ladder? Asking yourself questions such as these will help you narrow down your options and find what will truly make you happy.
37. Brush up on your skills
Brushing up on your hard and soft skills is never a bad thing. If you’ve been out of work for a while, for example, the software you were once used to will have likely advanced by now, with new features in place. Take a few online courses and refresh your skills to give yourself that extra edge, and engage in activities — whether that’s hobbies or volunteering — that can hone your transferable skills.
38. Eat and drink well
I know you’re probably thinking “What does food and drink have to do with getting a job?”, but by reaching for healthy snacks instead of processed sugar-loaded ones, you’ll be more alert and full of energy. Dr Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, says that when you eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat, you end up reducing your risk for things like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, all of which are believed to contribute to memory loss.
39. Always show appreciation
In today’s day and age, you’re networking at all hours of the day without even realizing it. Someone you meet in the queue at the cinema might know someone that’s in the same line of work as you. Or perhaps your nosey, no-good neighbor could actually be of help in your job search. Whatever the case, it’s important to always show appreciation to everyone you interact with.
40. Evaluate job offers
After a tiresome search, you may have finally received a job offer and, out of desperation or excitement, want to accept it straight away without first going over the details. Resist the temptation to immediately accept and instead carefully evaluate the pros and cons that come with this position.
You’ll regret it later on if you don’t negotiate the proposed salary, for example, and find yourself spending more than expected on your commute… Or, worse, start the new job just to discover that the responsibilities don’t actually align with what you want to be doing.
41. Sign up for a career newsletter
Reading business news or seeking job search advice on the daily might not be a priority when you’re panicking over your financial security. Not to mention it’s good to limit how much energy you spend on researching career-related matters so your mind can catch a break.
Signing up for a career newsletter, such as The Muse, Morning Brew, Career Contessa or our very own newsletter The Dose, can save you some trouble. You won’t have to go searching endlessly for the latest job openings, news and advice: it will all be curated by career experts and delivered straight to your inbox.
42. Have realistic expectations
Go to school, go to university, get a job, retire, live happily ever after. We’ve all heard this narrative before. However, the reality of it is that everyone moves at their own pace, and just because someone else has accomplished a particular thing by a particular age, it doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.
If you’re a recent graduate, accept that landing your first job might be a challenge, regardless what your peers are doing. If you’re looking to change careers at 50, keep in mind that it can’t happen overnight. If you’re looking to earn double what you were making before, it may be best to lower your expectations a little. Aiming for a target that’s entirely out of reach can translate into setting yourself up for failure.
43. Use a résumé template or builder
Certain layouts, fonts and color combinations can seem outdated or unprofessional. The last thing you want as a jobseeker is to come across as out of touch with current practices or not serious enough about your profession. That’s why using a résumé template or builder is ideal: it can help you ensure that your document isn’t missing any vital sections and that it also looks polished and clean.
44. Invest in your relationships
At the end of the day, landing a job will never be a one-person feat. Even if you one day decide to go solo and be your own boss, you’ll still need friends to help you get the word out and customers to place their trust in you. That’s why investing in your people skills, forming new friendships in the workplace and treating people respectfully will always come back to reward you.
45. Develop public speaking skills
You can’t “sell yourself” to prospective employers unless you’re able to speak clearly and confidently. However, not many people are naturally persuasive, charismatic speakers. If you’re anything like the next person, chances are that you dread situations that force you to speak in front of others. Instead of becoming a nervous wreck prior to each job interview, you may want to consider taking a public speaking course. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone can pay back greatly.
46. Avoid the use of buzzwords
Whether it’s in your cover letter, résumé or LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to cross some words out of your vocabulary. Examples include “hard-working”, “talented” and “highly experienced”. The reason for this is that these words have been used so widely (and inappropriately) that they’ve lost their impact. Instead of telling the hiring manager that you’re “goal-driven”, show them using quantifiable achievements and examples. This will boost your credibility.
47. Be honest
Lying in your cover letter, résumé or during the interview will be seen as a massive red flag. So, when called to describe your current or past situation, honesty is the only way forward — whether that’s discussing how long you’ve been out of work for, what you were earning before or how your previous manager rated your performance. After all, your last employer is only a phone call away.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a technical interview question. Mumbling awkwardly or making up an answer won’t really work in your favor.
48. Ask for feedback
Out of the dozens or hundreds of people who apply for a job, 6–10 will be invited for an interview and only 2–3 will make it to the final round. If you find yourself among those few candidates who receive an interview invitation, make sure you utilize it to your advantage. How? By requesting feedback.
The first step to doing this is to wait until at least a day has gone by after your interview. Then, email the interviewer to thank them for their time and ask if, in their opinion, there are any aspects you could improve on. This can come in handy if you end up receiving a rejection, helping you do even better in the next one.
49. Use an ATS-optimized résumé
In 2021, the global market for applicant tracking systems was a whopping $2.3 billion. By 2026, it’s expected to surpass $3.2 billion.
As you have probably heard of, ATSs are being used by employers across the world to swiftly sort through hundreds or thousands of résumés and identify the candidates that are most suitable for any given job opening. Laying out your résumé in a way that it can easily be “read” by a piece of software is, therefore, essential these days. Choose clear headings, bullet points and a conventional structure.
50. Learn to negotiate
Negotiation skills are a must-have for all workers, regardless your industry. Anyone looking to advance their career, achieve a healthy work–life balance or be rewarded better needs to know how to claim what they’ve got their eye on.
The art of successful negotiation lies in being able to see things from the other party’s perspective. If you can listen actively, show willingness to compromise and make your requests sound like win-win situations, then you might be able to turn unimpressive job offers into ones you can thrive from.
Here’s a short clip with the most important tips we mentioned above:
Looking for work can feel like a draining, endless process. Sometimes, it can get so frustrating that you’re left wondering if things are only this bad for you. The numbers suggest otherwise, however!
Statistics shared by LinkedIn reveal that 117 job applications are submitted on their platform every second. There are also some 20 million people using the “Open to Work” feature currently. So, as slow as the job search can get sometimes, millions of professionals are on the same boat.
Hopefully, though, this list of job searching tricks and strategies can help you get noticed by a company whose culture and mission align with your preferences! To summarize, when searching for a job:
- Make use of the internet. From signing up for career newsletters to being active on social networking sites, utilizing résumé builders and researching common (or unexpected) interview questions.
- Invest in your relationships. Whether that’s with your friends, coworkers or professionals you meet online or at job fairs, forming a solid network can speed things up when looking for the next great opportunity.
- Give yourself pep talks. Confidence is among the top qualities that hiring managers want to see in candidates.
- Have realistic expectations. Finding a job, let alone landing your dream role, in today’s competitive market can take a while — especially if you’re a recent graduate with limited or no experience!
Can you think of any other job searching tips we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published on February 12, 2018. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.