Starting a job search is really, really tough. My last semester senior year I applied to 50 jobs for after graduation. I eventually found one, but looking back I had a lot of really big mistakes that I could’ve easily avoided. For example, one time I applied to a job with a cover letter that named a different business – copy & paste isn’t always your friend!
The actual process of looking for a job is chaotic and stressful and nerve wracking, but there’s a lot that you can do ahead of time to make it easier on you. If you go into the search prepared, organized, with a focused head on your shoulders, the next part will be like a piece of cake with a pretty job-offer-cherry on top.
Here’s a few things that I would highly recommend doing before you start to look for your first job or your fourth. Even if you’ve already started applying, I think this list is still a great way to make sure that you’re on the right path and checking off all the needed boxes to make sure you get the job you’re passionate about as painlessly as possible.
Ask yourself why?
For some people this might be easy, but it’s still important to figure out your why. Why are you looking for a job? Why are you looking for a new job? Is it simply because you graduated, or are you ready for a new challenge, to be treated better, to change your surroundings? If you don’t have a clear picture of the driving factor behind your job search, how will you know when you find your dream job?
Ask yourself what you want & make a plan
What’s important to you? Growth opportunities? Freedom from a desk? Somewhere nearby? Write down your top 5 things that you truly want and keep them next to you when searching the job boards. This will help you not get strayed away by the shiny object of an employee discount that isn’t as important to as 401K matching. Here was my top 5 things when I was looking for my first job out of college:
1- A company where I could continue learning
2- A role where I had responsibility
3- A role where I could use my degree
4- I didn’t want to feel thrown in to something I wasn’t ready for
5- Near loved ones
Also, I would take a moment to set up a plan for yourself. Set daily goals to look at job boards and apply to jobs. I used to try and spend 15 minutes each day on job boards saving jobs that looked interesting and applying to one new job a day. It seems small, but those little actions did add up.
Update your LinkedIn & social media
Before you start inviting people to digitally creep on you (let’s be honest, HR would be crazy not to peek), make sure that everything is up to date and shows that you’re a normal human. LinkedIn can be such a great asset to you, check out this post on LinkedIn if you need some help making sure yours is presentable and will work for you.
Have someone else look over your resume
There’s no worse feeling in the world than sending off your resume only to realize you misspelled the word university or some other ridiculous error. Have someone who you trust and look up to (preferably in your field) review your resume for any small errors and to make sure that you’re presenting yourself as best as you can.
Here are my five-second tips on writing resumes if you’re feeling stuck:
- Simplify your text as much as possible
- Quantify your actions – don’t just say you increased sales, say you increased sales 20%
- Keep the same tense!!
- Don’t add simply to fill up space
- Make your resume a PDF so that any formatting (minimal, please oh please) will stay how you want it
It’s really easy to lose track of what you’re applying, when you applied, who called you, your mind. Create a job tracking spreadsheet to help keep you from applying to the same job twice (guilty), or forgetting what job you did apply for when a company calls you back. Here’s some of the things that I would track in order to stay on top of the game
- What company and job you applied for and when – add the hyperlink for the job description
- When you emailed/called businesses
- List of potential jobs to apply for
I would also set up calendar reminders for any appointments, interviews, or personal deadlines you’ve set!
If these tips help you out please let me know in the comments below, and also let me know if you have any that I should add to this list!