The job search is such a dreadful chore that you might think it best to bite the bullet. Indeed, the sooner you start your job search, the sooner it is over; according to a 2015 survey, it usually takes about six weeks for most workers to secure employment. Still, if you dive headfirst into your job search without preparation, you could be hunting for the right position for much longer.
A successful job search should begin way before you submit your first application. The following six pre–job search steps don’t take much time, but they dramatically improve your hire ability and reduce the length of your hunt.
1. Know What You Do Best
It doesn’t matter whether you are graduating from college or leaving a dead-end job, you need to know your strengths before you start your new career. Undoubtedly, you have at least one area of expertise, be it graphic design, marketing, lawn care, or skydiving. You should evaluate how your excellence in that field makes you an advantageous candidate in your dream career.
For example, if you are a skilled skydiver interested in pursuing a career in finance, you might highlight your willingness to take calculated risks; meanwhile a recent grad with a graphic design degree might emphasize their knowledge of classic and emerging styles as well as their familiarity with typical design programs.
2. Perform Industry Research
Not every employer is right for your career. Ideally, you will work not only for an employer that treats you well but also one that provides a prestigious credential to your employment history. You can use websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBliss, not only do they post available jobs but typically allow users to rate and explain their experience with various employers. You can use these tools to find the best possible jobs for your career. Additionally, you can try to connect with current employees at employers you are interested in.
3. Clean Up Social Media
The life you want to live isn’t necessarily the same life your employers want you to live. These days, employees are not far from brand ambassadors; they uphold the values of their employers through their online profiles. Thus, before you begin the application process, you should make your social media pages into blank slates.
First, you should clear out any potentially objectionable material: pictures of you drinking or partying, posts with swear words, political or religious media, etc. Then, if you have identified your top employer choice, you should try to modify your profiles to fit their brand by adding appropriate images or following certain pages. Alternatively, you can hide or delete your social media entirely — but this is a rash choice that might concern employers more than mollify them.
4. Tailor Your Application Docs
Writing a resume and a cover letter is hard, so many job hunters only do it once. Unfortunately, employers don’t like boilerplate application documents; most hiring managers can spot a spammed resume from a mile away. Instead, you should draft a resume that can be easily molded to fit different positions at different employers, and you should create a new cover letter for each application. If you aren’t certain whether your application documents will suffice, you can take advantage of a free resume review from employment service professionals.
5. Reaffirm Your Connections
According to LinkedIn, more than 85 percent of jobs are secured through networking. Your professional contacts are incredibly valuable, so you should put effort into maintaining your connections. Typically, your network can be broken down into two tiers: the support and the critical few.
The support consists of professionals of your station or lower — or in positions in unrelated fields. These contacts demand interaction only annually. Meanwhile, the critical few, which should number less than 50, can add serious value to your career. You should always make time when they request it, and you should seek communication with them at least three times per year. Furthermore, if your network is small, you should always be looking for ways to expand, such as through networking events and career-related seminars and conferences.
6. Consider Your Career
Finally, before you apply for any position, you must ask yourself the following questions to ensure the role is right for you and your career:
- Does this position fit into my long-term plans? If you don’t have a career roadmap yet, it is high time to develop one.
- Do I meet the requirements? Over-qualification is much worse than under-qualification.
- Is the commute reasonable? Alternatively: Are you willing to relocate for a job?
If the answers to these questions are “yes!” then you should feel free to apply today.