Job search tips are useful, becasue – let’s face it – job searching can be hard work.
And like all things that are hard work, you will need dedication to succeed. Getting organised for a job search will help make the whole process run much smoother, and will yield better results.
Read through these job search tips to increase your chances of success…
Your job search is your job
Let’s say you’re in the position where you don’t currently have a job, or perhaps you have a job but you know that it has a limited lifespan.
You may be working your notice period, or you may have been made redundant.
So when you don’t have a job, your job search is your job. This means you need to treat it like such.
When you’re working a job you have regular hours, you start work at set times, you use repeatable techniques, you follow processes and procedures, you keep records, etc. And so you should do the same when trying to find a new job.
In this article we cover a range of techniques and tools that you should be using to organise your job search so that it is as effective and efficient as possible.
When you have an existing job, discipline is key
Even if you already have a job that you’re currently working, but you want a new job for whatever reason, you need to be organised.
On one hand, you have the security of your existing job and a regular salary to rely on. This gives you great peace of mind and means that you’re not under any pressure to find a new job, other than the pressure you put on yourself.
The downside to this position, however, is that the job security you have removes a sense of urgency from your job search.
Without having a need to find a new job quickly it is all too easy to fall into the trap of not actually searching with real purpose, which massively reduces your job search effectiveness.
So in this instance, when you have an existing job, it’s all down to you to be disciplined enough to make sure that you take action.
All the tips in this article still will help, but it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated and focussed enough to keep making progress.
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Make an office
It’s likely that you will be conducting your job search from home. If you already have a home office, then great.
If not, it’s time to create one.
Even if you don’t have a spare room, you need to find a space that you can use as a functional work space, even if it means setting up and clearing down every day because you need the space for other things too.
Obviously you need the right equipment. A decent internet connection with a laptop or computer is necessary as is a ‘phone. Ideally you would have a printer too, as this can be useful when reviewing documents (e.g. your resume / CV).
Have basic things such as pen and paper close by so that you can scribble notes at a moment’s notice.
But do keep your office space from clutter such as newspapers, magazines, mail, etc. Just as at work, having a neat and tidy office space will help you stay organised in your job search.
If you really cannot create this type of environment at home then you can look at using a public library or a careers centre. The environment there will usually be conducive to job searching, and there is often a range of equipment that you can use.
Having a regular space that you use to carry out your job search will help create a routine, and you will associate that space with work, which will further help you concentrate.
You need to create an environment in which you can concentrate and dedicate yourself to job searching, without getting distracted every few minutes.
This probably means no TV, Facebook, Twittter, or anything else that may distract you. You wouldn’t normally be distracted by any of these things at work, so create the same kind of atmosphere for your job search.
Getting distracted whilst performing any task breaks your concentration and rhythm, normally resulting in a lower quality output and longer time to complete the task at hand.
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Identify your end goal
So what kind of job do you want? Setting out with a goal of getting any old job is setting out to fail. You need a much more specific goal to work towards in order to stay organised and effective.
If you don’t focus your job search in this way you will be wasting your time. Think about:
- What type of work you want to do;
- What industry you want to work in;
- What companies you would like to work for;
- What skills and qualifications you have;
- What existing commitments you have that will influence the work you can do (e.g. family commitments prevent you from working away from home for long periods).
If you don’t think about these things you will cast your job search net too wide, which is inefficient.
Having an end goal in mind will help you focus your job search on specific activities, help you target specific industries and employers, and use specific resources.
Plan the actions that will achieve your goal
Now you have your end goal in mind, you need to plan the individual actions that will help you achieve that end goal.
These actions might look something like:
- Write your resume / CV (see our 10 resume / CV tips and how to avoid making the one mistake that gets noticed immediately by employers)
- Write your cover letter template (see our 8 tips for writing a winning cover letter)
- Identify the companies that you would like to work for
- Contact 20 people from your personal network who work in your target companies, or can introduce you to someone in those companies (see how to make LinkedIn connections like a networking expert)
- Make contact with 20 new recruiters each week and send them your resume / CV
- Submit a tailored resume / CV and cover letter to 20 targeted jobs each week
Having a plan like this will help you stay focused and disciplined during your job search. And perhaps even more beneficial is the sense of progress you will feel whenever you achieve any of your actions.
Create a daily routine
Your job search will be more organised and fruitful if you can create a routine that you stick to everyday.
When you don’t have to wake up early for work it’s all too easy for you to get into bad habits and start sleeping in much later than you normally would.
This is fine on occasion, but it can be dangerous.
It’s much more effective for your job search to wake up early – as you would if you were working – and make an early start on your job search activities so you have the full day to make progress.
And just as you would in a job, you need to dedicate time to your job search activities throughout the day. This means more than a cursory glance at your emails, or job search sites.
It means dedicating serious time (hours) to the activities outlined below. Without doing this you will make little progress and any success will be more down to good fortune then your efforts.
So for example, you may want to have a routine along the lines of:
- In the morning, check your emails to see what new vacancies you have received via job alerts, and apply for the ones that are a good fit (after tailoring your resume / CV and cover letter of course).
- Follow up on applications that you have made in the last few days to get a status update.
- Search for new opportunities using the resources available to you, such as LinkedIn, and job search sites.
- In the afternoon focus on networking, by reaching out to your personal contacts or calling recruiters.
- At the end of the day update all your tracking tools to keep a good record of your progress.
This is just an example, but you get the idea. You need to have a routine that you can follow to help maintain your discipline and continue to make progress.
The amount of time that you can dedicate to your job search obviously depends on whether you currently have a job or not.
There are lots of things to do, lots of jobs to apply for, lots of people to speak to. So you will need to prioritise in order to remain efficient, and focus your efforts on high value tasks.
This means you should focus on the companies that you want to work for, and spend most of your time speaking to people from that company, getting introduced to hiring managers at the company, speaking with recruiters who work for that company.
It doesn’t mean you should spend forever searching online job boards and submitting dozens or even hundreds of generic applications. This is not an efficient use of your time and does not align with the end goal you have set.
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Tracking leads and contacts
There is a high probability that you will be interested in and applying to a high number of jobs. This means you need a tool to track and monitor your applications, and their ongoing status.
This means setting yourself up with mechanisms to record who you want to approach, how you approached them and when, and what the last contact was.
As you approach and speak to more people and companies, you will need this tool to keep track of all your conversations so that you can keep on top of everything.
You will need to log contact details such as email addresses, telephone numbers and links to LinkedIn profiles. This will save you time when you need to contact people or follow up on a previous conversation.
It is also very useful to maintain a log of links to job adverts that you have applied for.
If you receive an unscheduled call from a recruiter or a company about a certain position, it is very useful to be able to refer to your log and click on the link to the job advert they are talking about so that you can instantly have information about the role to hand.
This is especially useful if you are applying to many positions.
And every time you send your resume / CV to a recruiter or a company, you should log the date you sent it, which version of your resume / CV you sent, and which role it was for (save a link to the job if you have one). You should also have a file with every version of your resume / CV that you have created and sent.
After a couple of days, if you haven’t heard anything from your applications, you can follow up with a call or email. Again, you should log this so that you can monitor your follow ups effectively.
The most straightforward method of tracking is probably with a simple Excel spreadsheet. Suggested columns include:
- Name of recipient
- Email address
- Telephone number
- Role applied for
- Link to role (if available)
- Resume / CV version sent (so you can make sure you have access to the same version as the person you sent it to)
- Date sent
- Notes / commentary
- Follow up 1
- Follow up 2
- Interview date
- Thank you note
- Status (live / closed)
Sytemising your work is one of the best job search tips to save you time, reduce effort, and increase output.
One the most important things you can do when applying for jobs is tailor your application to the specific role. This cannot be underestimated.
That said, obviously a lot of your applications and the information you put on your resume / CV and in your cover letters will be quite similar.
So make things easy for yourself and save yourself a lot of time and effort by saving templates of your resume / CV and you cover letters.
For each role you apply for, start with your template resume / CV and cover letter and simply make the necessary changes to match the job description for the role.
When starting with templates it can be easy to miss something that doesn’t apply in this situation. We’ve all copied and pasted an email that we’ve sent to multiple people, and only realised after it has been sent that we forgot to change the name of the recipient!
Don’t make this mistake with your job applications.
You should also save answers that you have used for application forms as there is a strong likelihood that you will need to use a similar answer on another application form. Quite often you will be asked to write about your greatest achievement, or a deliverable you were proud of, or a time when you overcame a challenge.
Being able to re-use material will save you lots of time.
Having this type of information saved will also come in very handy for telephone interviews. When you get asked to talk about an example of your work, you will have your answers already written down and ready to reel off.
Yes, this is obvious stuff. But not everyone starts out there job search like this and can find themselves re-writing the same information over and over.
You will find that the same, or similar, questions pop up time and again in interviews. For example, common interview questions include:
“What is your greatest weakness?”
“Why do you want this job?”
“How would your former employers describe you?”
And there are many, many others. You should have good answers prepared for common interview questions that you can reel off whenever you’re asked.
With practice, your answers will become more and more polished and impressive.
Similarly, you should be able to talk about each of your previous roles in a fluent manner, and be able to talk easily about your achievements.
If you have pre-prepared material about your previous work experiences, you can easily apply this to a whole range of interview questions.
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Rinse and repeat
Just as you have a daily routine, you should develop a routine for each job application.
This will be a linear process that you monitor using your tracking tool. And because it is a repeatable process, you can learn what works well and what doesn’t, and make continuous improvements.
When you achieve your interim goals, or when you find something that works well, let that mini-success spur you on to further action.
Job Search Tips: Summary
Getting organised for a job search will yield greater dividends than an unorganised approach, and avoid wasting time on un-productive actions that you could be spending on achieving your goal.
Remember these key job search tips:
- Make an office
- Avoid distractions
- Identify your end goal
- Plan the actions that will achieve your end goal, and give you a sense of progress
- Create a daily routine
- Track your leads and contacts
- Systemise, by re-using templates and making use of canned answers
- Repeat the process, learning with each application to make improvements