Whether you are a recent college graduate or a seasoned employee, looking for a new job can be stressful. While there are hundreds of online job postings that you can apply to, it's difficult to find the right position that fits your lifestyle and needs. Relying on advice from experts on everything from how to look for a job to landing an interview and following-up with hiring managers, here are some suggested top tips that job seekers should follow to secure their dream position.
- Identify your skill sets
Many people start their job search by looking at the job titles that sound most fitting to their career goals. While this method may prove to be successful for some, job seekers should look at the required skills of a position instead. By doing this, employees will be able to identify the skill sets they already possess and the jobs that best match their experience.
Also, since job titles are constantly changing, focusing on the required skills of a position can open your search up to job titles that you may not have known matched your expertise.
- Utilize online resources and company websites
Thanks to the internet, looking for a job today goes far beyond asking a friend and searching for an opening in the newspaper. Now, companies use their website to advertise job openings, and job search platforms can also help you identify opportunities. Use these sites to not only search for a specific position, but to also look for "similar jobs" or "suggested jobs" that may interest you.
- Narrow your search to the best options
Rather than apply to any and every opening you see, it's best to narrow down your search and only apply to the positions that sound most fitting to your skill sets and career goals. To go a step further in ensuring that a job is right for you, do a little bit of background research on the company to get a sense of its values and why employees do or don't like working there. Also, dig into your own network to see if you're connected to someone who has experience at the company and who can share their perspective on working there.
Connecting with someone at the company can be an extra way for you to get your foot in the door. Companies often give preferential treatment to employee referrals. If you don't know someone at the company, volunteering at a company's local charity event can be a great way to meet people.
- Save the best job listings for future reference
Even after you've submitted your application for a job, you should still copy and paste or print the job listing for future reference. With many employers removing a position once they've received enough applicants, saving a job description can help you prepare for an interview when you want to look back on the qualifications needed.
- Customize your resume to match each position you apply to
Even if you are looking at jobs that are all within the same industry, it's still important to tailor your resume so that it matches each specific job you apply to. By doing so, you give yourself a competitive edge over the resumes that hiring managers know are used for any and every job.
- Don't restate your resume in your cover letter
Your cover letter should not read like an extra copy of your resume. Instead, it should provide hiring managers with more background information about who you are and why you are a right fit for the position and the company. It should also include a call to action like, "If I don’t hear from you, I will reach out within a week to discuss next steps," so the employer knows just how interested you are in moving forward with the position.
If a job application doesn't specifically ask for a cover letter, it never hurts to send one anyway. It can be the determining factor that sets you apart from the rest of the competition.
- Prepare for your interview
Before going on an interview, do the following things:
- research the company you are interviewing with and the work they do,
- practice answering tough and common interview questions beforehand, and
- look up background information about the individual you are interviewing with.
The preparation you do for an interview can be the key to you landing a job. A favorite question to ask a candidate in an interview is about their preparation process. Be prepared and know how you will answer this question!
- Always ask questions
In addition to preparing yourself for how to properly answer interview questions, you should also prep yourself on what information you want to know from the interviewer. If you don't ask questions in an interview, you can easily run the risk of unintentionally appearing disengaged or uninterested.
To show your interest, ask questions about the growth opportunities at the company or inquire about the biggest challenges people face working there.
- Send a thank you note
To really stand out and show your appreciation for the interview, you should always send a follow-up note thanking the hiring manager(s) for taking time out of their schedule to meet with you. This note can be sent via email or snail mail. Before sending, triple check to make sure there are no grammatical errors and that all names are spelled correctly.
- Don't accept the job on the spot
If offered the position at the interview, thank the employer for the opportunity and confirm when you will need to accept the job. Rather than giving an answer right away, you should use the time you have to carefully consider if the offer is right for you and to assess whether you need to negotiate your salary. Tools like Glassdoor's “Know Your Worth” can help you measure the market pay of a job based on where you live, your job title, and your relevant work experience.