|What's in your job search toolbox?|
When starting any project, it’s helpful to gather the tools you’ll need ahead of time to avoid delays, frustrations, and interruptions. By creating a toolbox for your job search, you will be able to focus on the job hunt and minimize the time you spend searching for work. This is important, because the longer your job search goes on, the more likely it is you will become frustrated, tired, want to quit, or settle for a bad job.
So what should be in your job search toolbox? Here are some suggestions:
- Self-knowledge. When you look for a job, you need to know what you are good at, enjoy, want to do, and don’t want to do. You should consider your background, experience, skills, strengths, and training. Ask yourself what type of work environment you like, what parts of town you are willing to work, the hours you can work, and other similar questions. Knowing yourself and what you want will help you apply for jobs that are the best fit. You will avoid applying for jobs you don’t want. If you need to learn about jobs and their requirements, visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook. You may discover that you need more education and training.
- Adaptable resume. When you complete your resume, you are not done with it. To be most effective, your resume should match each job you are seeking. If you do not tailor your resume to the job, it may get screened out by automated applicant tracking systems or make it difficult for employers to discern your fit for the job. So create your resume. And then be willing to change it, modify it, and add words, descriptions, and details that match your experience to the job opening. Learn how to customize your resume in 15 minutes.
- Employer knowledge. Learn all you can about employers in your field of interest via their websites and elsewhere online, in company publications, through industry news, and through customer reviews. Are the organizations big or small? Are they growing? What do they do, create, or sell? Do they hire people like you? Do you use their products or services? Why are you interested in the organization? Do you know anyone who works there? By studying potential employers, you can begin to identify where you may want to work. Consider applying to organizations even if no jobs are advertised. They may need someone with your skills. When you apply for a job, you can talk specifically about the company’s needs and situation. When you interview for a job, you can ask detailed questions about the organization’s plans, which will help you will stand out from other candidates.
- People who can help you. People help people, and people hire people. So talk to your family, friends, past colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances, and let them know you are looking for a job. Seek their support and encouragement. Ask if they know of any jobs or people who are hiring. Ask them to serve as references, if appropriate. Ask if they know of workers you can contact at potential employers. Reach out to people in your industry and to employees at your target companies. People want to help people.
- A job search activity tracking system. It’s important to keep track of your job search activities so you know where you’ve applied, what you’ve sent, when to follow up, and where things stand in the hiring process. You can use a simple log or calendar to handle this task, but create a system that works for you. See tips for organizing your job search.
- Job interview skills. The job interview is where you’ll get hired. So long before you have an interview, make sure you have business clothes, a professional demeanor, and good answers to common job interview questions like “Why do you want to work here?” and “Why should we hire you?” You will come across as prepared and professional.
So what is in your job search toolbox?