10 pieces of advice to help you on your job search

Whether you’re fresh out of school, newly unemployed or looking to make a jump from your current role, you might want help finding a new job. Job hunting can take time, and narrowing your search might feel like a job in itself. 

Fortunately, there’s job search advice to help you figure out which jobs to apply for, where to look for leads and how to show hiring managers you’re the best fit for the role. 

Key takeaways

  • It’s a good idea to start your job search by identifying your career goals. Creating a target for where you want to be in a few years can help you find positions that are relevant to your goals.
  • Set aside time each week to research jobs and apply for them. Job search engines, job fairs, company websites and people in your network can provide leads. 
  • It’s helpful to customize your resume and cover letter for specific jobs and companies, remembering to highlight your relevant experience, achievements and soft skills.

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1. Clarify your career goals

Your career goals are clear targets that you can work toward throughout your career journey. They may include both short-term and long-term goals, and it’s helpful to make them realistic enough so you can work to achieve them. Some of your goals can be companies you want to work for or types of jobs you want to have. Once you’ve identified your goals, you can use them to research relevant positions. 

2. Commit time to job searching

Job searches could last on average about five months, so finding the right job can take patience and commitment. You might spend about 20 hours a week researching job openings, networking, writing personalized cover letters and resumes, submitting job applications, and following up on your efforts. To avoid burnout, you could start a job search routine, budget a certain number of hours for job searching and set weekly goals.

3. Review your resume and make any updates

Your resume tells the employer about your work history, so ideally it will convey that you’re qualified for the roles you’re applying for. It may help to first write a basic resume and then customize it for specific companies and job descriptions. In addition to your professional history, your resume typically includes an overview of accomplishments, a breakdown of your qualifications and information about how to contact you. It often also has other relevant details, such as your education, hard skills, soft skills, volunteer experience and any awards or honors that you have. 

4. Customize your cover letter to the company and the job

While a resume includes facts about your work history, a customized cover letter can allow you to describe why you’re the best candidate for the particular job. When you’re writing your cover letter, it’s helpful to explain why you’re interested in working for that company—and emphasize how your skills and experience align with the duties associated with the role. You could describe how you solved a specific problem in a previous role and how you plan to contribute to the new company.

5. Focus on highlighting your achievements

Your job responsibilities are tasks you’re expected to do, while achievements are the results of successfully doing that job. It’s a good idea to highlight achievements in your resume and cover letter—and be prepared to discuss them during the interview. For instance, maybe you developed a new sales strategy in a previous job and it’s helped the company increase revenue by a certain percentage. Explain the skills that contributed to your achievement so employers will know that you can repeat the methods or use the competencies again when working for them.

6. Optimize your LinkedIn profile

Recruiters often use LinkedIn to find job candidates, so having a well-crafted profile may help you get spotted so you can land an interview. You can optimize your profile by including a professional photo, writing a clear headline and summary, and using keywords that are relevant to your career. You could also ask former or current managers or respected colleagues to write a letter of recommendation that highlights your skills. You can share your LinkedIn page or ask your reference to send the letter to you directly.

7. Network, network, network

About 85% of jobs are discovered or filled through networking, which involves meeting others in your industry. Forming these professional relationships can be valuable because some managers may hire candidates within their shared networks. In addition to referring you for open roles, your connections could also provide helpful guidance on finding a new job or mentorship throughout your career. To get started, you can attend conferences and networking events, develop relationships with your colleagues, set up informational interviews and sign up for webinars.

8. Expand your search

There are dozens of places to find job openings, so expanding your search can diversify your results and help you find the right fit. You can check out multiple job search engines, ask people in your network about opportunities, attend job fairs or even look through the careers or jobs page on company websites. If you currently have an internship or another temporary role, you may be able to turn it into a full-time position. Show your manager how you contribute value and how hiring you full time could benefit the company.

9. Research the company before the interview

You may have researched the company while writing your cover letter, but you can go more in depth when you reach the interview stage. You can check out the company’s website, find them on social media or read about them in the news. Knowing the company’s history, culture and business objectives could help you position yourself as a good fit for the company and the role during the interview. You can use this knowledge to prepare for interview questions and decide what to wear for the interview, whether it’s virtual or in person.

10. Demonstrate your soft skills

Technical skills are what you need to perform a job, while soft skills are personal attributes that can help you excel at that job. They include skills like critical thinking, adaptability and collaboration. You may have learned soft skills in a previous role, at school, in a volunteer position or just in everyday life. Pinpoint a few of these in your cover letter and resume and explain them in the job interview. For instance, how did your leadership abilities help in a difficult situation? How did you use communication and time management in your previous role?

Job hunting FAQ

Job search experts at Indeed.com recommend submitting 10 to 15 applications per week—or on average about two to three per day. 

Some popular job search engines include LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and Monster, but you don’t have to stick to just one or two. You can sign up for job alerts with multiple search engines and include ones that are relevant to your field or job type. For instance, FlexJobs lists remote jobs, while Mediabistro offers career resources for media professionals. Job fairs, company websites and people in your network can also provide help finding a job.

If you’re laid off from your job unexpectedly, first check to see if you qualify for financial assistance such as unemployment benefits, severance pay or special health insurance coverage. These options may help you pay the bills while you figure out your next moves. Next, evaluate your finances. Check your emergency fundcut nonessential spending from your budget and reach out to your lenders if you’re having trouble making payments. Then start your job search so you can get back on track as soon as possible. 

Job search advice in a nutshell

When you’re looking for a new job, it’s a good idea to define your goals and apply for relevant jobs. Job search engines and company websites can help you find job listings, but networking is one of the most effective ways to job search. Reach out to the people in your network—such as colleagues and professionals in your field—to see if they know of any openings. 

Writing a solid resume and cover letter can boost your chances of scoring an interview, where you can show why you’re a good fit for the role and highlight your accomplishments. As you continue your search, you can read more tips on how to get a job.

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