When it comes to figuring out the best way to find a job, there are nearly as many opinions as there are job seekers and headhunters. However, there are a few best practices that will benefit all job seekers, from the ones who’ve been out of work for half a year to those who are still employed but are putting out feelers. Here, then, are Ten Commandments (or at least strong suggestions) for job seekers to help with finding a job:
1. Build up your confidence
The best way to find a job begins with yourself. Before you can sell yourself to others, you have to convince yourself of your worth. If you’ve been fired or laid off from a previous job, take time to figure out what went wrong and how you can avoid such a situation in the future.
Even if your previous employer let you go, get over it and realize you’re a hot commodity. 2018 unemployment levels are at a seventeen-year low. With the number of new jobs on the rise, the talent pool is contracting.
2. Get specific about the kind of job you want
Once you’ve built up your confidence, the best way to find a job is to build up your ideas about your ideal job. Be specific. After all, if you don’t have a target, you have nothing to aim at.
Although it’s tempting to rush this step, especially if you’ve been out of work for a while and the bills are mounting, take your time. Advises Debra Benton, executive coach and author of the recently published book, The Leadership Mind Switch: Rethinking How We Lead in the New World of Work, “Write up a list of what you ideally want in a job: title, money, promotion, the work, the company culture, geographic location, etc., so you have a template to go for.” That template will help you evaluate job offers. If the offer deviates too much from the template, let it go—don’t grab a job out of desperation. You’re a valuable commodity for the right-fit company, remember?
3. Update Everything
Now that you know what you want, the next best way to find a job is to present yourself in the best possible light. Update your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and elevator pitch. Of course, you’ll want to personalize a resume and cover letter for each prospective employer, but if you have a basic template in place the task will be less daunting.
Shooting out random resumes is not the best way to find a job, but resumes are still an essential part of the job search. Make sure to attach a resume to all job-related communication. Avoid making your contact do any extra work, such as trying to locate a resume you sent previously.
4. Craft an Attention-Grabbing Resume
Most job-seekers pay an inordinate amount of attention to their resumes, but is that the best way to find a job? Spend time on the intro to the resume, since hiring managers spend an average of seven seconds per resume to decide whether to continue reading. Ensure your resume makes the cut by highlighting the employer’s WIFM (What’s In It for Me)—in other words, let the employer know why you’re the best candidate.
- Michelle Aikman, NCRW, co-founder and Director of Adventure Learning of Cerno, asserts that the best way to find a job through a resume is to transform job duties into quantified accomplishments. How? For example, say you’re a social media strategist. Don’t just say you ran the company’s social media accounts. Instead, showcase your accomplishments through numbers, like this: “When I took over Company X’s social media accounts, we had X numbers of followers and X engagement, and I grew that to X in X months—an X% increase.”
- Scott Albert, a talent acquisition manager for a digital information firm, agrees that “[t]he best job candidates are the ones who show me how they will be problem solvers. Contact me about a specific position and then show me how you can fulfill my company’s needs based on your experience.”
- Also, think outside the box. Advises Laura MacLeod, creator of From the Inside Out Project, “Take what you have done (consider life experience as well as professional) and spin it to fit your new desires. For example, volunteer work, projects at your child’s school, events you’ve planned — these can all be used to demonstrate planning, project management, hospitality, etc.”
5. Network, connect, or whatever you want to call it.
There’s more than a grain of truth in the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Even in the digital age, flesh-and-blood people guard company portals. Experts agree that at least 70% of people ended up in the job they have now thanks to networking. However, others would bump that figure up to as high as 85%.
One reason networking is one of the best ways to find a job is that it allows you to tap into off-the-market jobs. Since it’s a major hassle for hiring managers to sift through candidates, conduct interviews, and do due diligence on those who make it onto the short list, up to 80% of managers circumvent the process and hire internally or through networking.
What are some effective ways to network?
- For starters, talk to people and let them know you’re in the market for a job. Ask someone you know who’s working with a company where you want to work if he or she will refer you for a job opening. Although only 7% of job applicants track down such referrals, these types of referrals make up 40% of new hires.
- Also, using the professional networking site LinkedIn is one of the best ways to find a new job. When you find someone you want to message on Linkedin, consider sending an InMail. You’ll need to be a Premium member ($29.99/month for job seekers) and shell out $10 per InMail, but InMail messages are much more effective than free LinkedIn messages.
- Be prepared, especially if you consider yourself an introvert. Coming up with questions and topics to discuss will help you feel more relaxed.
- Talk about people’s favorite subject: themselves. Getting people to talk about themselves is one of the best openings to finding a new job. Yes, you’re the one looking for a job, but start off with the spotlight on them. Once they’ve talked about what’s on their minds—themselves—they can free themselves up to talk about you.
Once you know what you want, you’ve cleaned up your resume, etc., and you’ve reached out to people, the next best way to find a new job is to take time to do some research on companies you’re interested in. Checking out a company’s Glassdoor profile will help you a feel for company culture, a preview of the company’s preferred interview questions, and an idea of what salary to expect.
When you’ve found a handful of companies that seem like a good fit, apply! It may seem like a lot of up-front work, but this will help your chances to get interviewed and ultimately selected for a job.
7. Treat Job-Hunting Like a Job
Job-hunting takes more than just leisure time. Job search expert Alison Doyle recommends, “If you’re unemployed, consider your job search as your job and dedicate your ‘working’ hours to it. If you’re employed, but need to move on, spend as much time as you can job hunting without jeopardizing your current position.”
Executive coach Debra Benton takes Doyle’s advice a step further for those who are feeling the between-jobs pinch. “[S]tart working on your job hunt at 7 a.m., take a 30-minute lunch, and work until 7 p.m. every day — including weekends,” Benton recommends. “If you on average send 10 resumes a day, send 100. If you normally try for an interview once a week, try for one every morning and one every afternoon, five days a week — for a solid month. If you want quick results you have to put six months of effort into six days,” she adds.
8. Consider a Temporary Gig
Although the best way to find a new job is to spend a lot of time searching for your best fit, sometimes life gets in the way and demands you pay the bills. In that case, there’s no shame in temporarily taking on a job you’re overqualified for.
“[It’s] important to determine what you’re willing to sacrifice to get a job quickly,” explains The Inside-Out Project creator MacLeod. “For example, if your reasons are financial, and you need to make money right away, sacrifice the type of work (challenging, interesting) for quick cash. Consider waiter, bartender, cashier, [or] receptionist.”
However, you can also work with a staffing agency to find temporary work within your current or anticipated field. “Temping is a great way to make money rather quickly and see what different industries are like — especially if you are looking to try something new. [It a]lso gets you out in the work world every day — not sitting home in a vacuum, wondering how to proceed and get a job,” MacLeod remarks. Freelancing or taking on short-term gigs are also options to be considered.
Short-term work also exposes you to new people and opportunities. For instance, consider former Cosby Show alum Geoffrey Owens, a working actor who was recently photographed working as a Trader Joe’s cashier. After an interview about the job-shaming photograph, filmmaker Tyler Perry was one of several people who offered Owens an acting job.
9. Don’t act desperate.
Even if that’s the way you feel (re-read Item 1, though), don’t communicate that to a prospective employer. Employers who sense desperation may lowball you on salary or eliminate you from consideration entirely. MacLeod says, “[Desperation] is a red flag to employers — they wonder what the rush is. Why were you unhappy at the previous job? Maybe you’re difficult, hard to work with, never satisfied. Desperation is never attractive — don’t show it.”
Act calm and confident, even if you feel the exact opposite. “Fake it ‘til you make it” may sound hypocritical, but it works. If you think and act as if something will come true, your belief helps translate this into reality. Psychologists call this a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it can work for both positive and negative predictions.
10. Consider working with Recruiterly.
Recruiterly, which kicked off in 2018, bills itself as “a better way to connect employers, candidates, and recruiters.” It was born out of the frustrations of two recruitment veterans who were fed up with the inefficiencies and bad reputation the $500B industry suffered from.
Recruiterly helps recruiters set themselves apart and build and market their personal brand. In turn, this helps clients and candidates find and connect with an expert, relevant recruiter, thereby ensuring greater success matching candidates and employers.
So, folks, there you have it: the Ten Commandments of finding a job. Follow those, and thou shalt sooner or later (hopefully sooner) find the job of thy dreams!