We all know that finding a job is a job itself. And often a thankless one. Glassdoor estimates that there are 250 applicants for every posted job opening, with only four to six of them scoring an interview. With our current COVID-19 crisis and the unemployment rate at a whopping 14.7%, that figure just went way up. That’s why we bundled seven of the best job search tips to help you snag that shiny new role.
1. Be Picky, Not Desperate
Think quality, not quantity. Concentrate on the companies you’d be really excited to work for, and whose roles actually line up with your experience and skills. Be particularly wary of throwing everything at one company’s wall to see what sticks. Allison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog, says, “The danger in applying for multiple jobs at the same organization is that you can come across as unfocused or naive about what you’re well suited for.”
2. Get In The Application Weeds
Did you know almost half of all job applicants don’t follow directions? Andrea Clement, a Communications Director of a national healthcare recruiting firm, says, “Most of the time, if the directions aren’t followed, you won’t be considered for the job,” she says. Ouch. So, make sure to read carefully (e.g., if they ask for your best sample, don’t send five), include necessary documentation (like a cover letter or references), and hit up spell check. Here’s a helpful list of things typically needed on a job application so you’re prepared.
3. In Case The Cover Letter Is Not Dead
The validity of a cover letter is often debated, with more than a third of recruiters saying they’re no longer relevant. Yet, whether you believe in them or not, many employers still do. So make them count. Check out these 5 Steps to Crafting a Killer Cover Letter, which is full of gems like telling the company what you can do for them (not what they can do for you) and structuring it around your skills instead of the places you’ve worked.
4. Brand Yourself
Let’s be honest. Finding a job is about selling yourself, so you need to know how to flaunt your goods. Many recruiters are partial to LinkedIn because everything is laid out in the same way, so they can quickly skim through to hone in on their perfect candidates—which means your profile needs to be legit. You can easily see if you’re making the most of LinkedIn here. Think about your profile picture and background, headline, and even what content you post. (And don’t forget to see if you’re connected to anyone at the company who could put in a good word for you!)
Of course for you creatives out there in UX, design, or copywriting, your portfolio is your virtual sandwich board. Spend time curating your samples, ensuring your personality shines through, and ordering and formatting everything in a thoughtful way. Run through these 10 tips to gut check your site.
5. How Your Résumé Is Key
In order to avoid the sludge pile when hundreds of people apply for the same job, do some “résumé SEO” by choosing words that align with the job description. Due to time constraints and the sheer volume of applicants, most recruiters have eagle eyes for those target words. In addition, many places now use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This is pretty much a digital butler that uses an algorithm to politely toss aside candidates deemed unqualified based on keywords. Be sure you know how to score well with the ATS.
6. Keep Everything Straight
When you’re applying for several jobs, especially for similar roles, it’s easy to get confused. But you need to stay organized. Like in the dating world, companies want to think they are special and they are the perfect match for you (not that you’re open to a relationship with anyone kinda similar). If someone reaches out to screen you, make that first impression count: know what the organization is about and what initially attracted you to the job. Show them why you’d love to work there and why you’d be a good fit. Keeping track can be as simple as a spreadsheet with all the relevant details.
7. Be Interview Ready
You’ve done all this great work along the way so don’t stop at the 25th mile. Prepare for your wow moment once you land a coveted interview spot. That means thinking about how to frame your past experiences, determining your strengths and weaknesses, and understanding the kind of work environment you thrive in. (If you’re a designer, don’t miss these interview questions that will likely come your way from the hiring manager.)
Additionally, with the world the way it is right now, be sure you’re prepared to ace the video interview in particular since it can be trickier than an in-person interview. Our recruiting experts gave some behind-the-scenes tips to hiring managers. If you want to know what to expect, be sure to give it a read.
Whether you’re looking for UX or CX, design, marketing, writing, account management, or something altogether different, we hope these seven tips help you feel more prepared, and ideally, more confident in your job search. Oh, and snag an interview!