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Career Corner: How To Start A Job Search
When you’re ready to go job hunting it can be hard to know where to start. There’s so much information and resources out there that it can give someone choice paralysis. There are so many different outlets to investigate, so many potential employers to contact, so many resumes and emails to send out and applications to complete. It can be a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be a hard one.
For our latest Career Corner we’re taking a close look at how to start a job search. Keep these pointers in mind and you’ll be well on your way to finding a position that suits your professional needs.
Know What You’re Looking For
A job offering the compensation that you’re looking for and requiring the skills you have to offer is the sweet spot, but there are other important aspects to look out for in a job search. What kind of environment and culture does the future employer have? Is it in-person, remote, or hybrid? Do they offer the kind of benefits you’re looking for? Is there room for advancement in this position, or does it offer training and skill development that will help you progress to another level in your career? Knowing what you want in a job will help refine your searches and increase your chances of landing a position that works best for your ambitions.
Keep A Record
The odds are good that you could be applying to dozens of prospective employers before finding your next job. That’s a lot of information to keep track of, which is why putting together a spreadsheet of the companies you’re applying to can come in handy. As you research different companies, put the ones that pique your interest into an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet. You can put contact info and job listing URLs on the sheets so you don’t have to hunt down those details later.
“You may want to download a copy of the original job posting since it may no longer be posted by the time interviews are scheduled,” said Gina Pinch, Rio Salado College Faculty Chair of Business, Management, and Public Administration. “It is very helpful to review the original posting prior to an interview.” As you apply to places and get interviews, you also can track those milestones on the spreadsheet.
Here are some fields you’ll want to include on your tracking spreadsheet:
- Name of the company
- Position you applied to
- Link to job application/description
- Date applied/date you heard back from job
- How you applied: did you apply in-person? Online? Were you referred by someone at the company?
- Name of the person who referred you
- Interviewer/hiring manager: who have you interacted with at the company?
- Status: Did you get the job? Is your application in-progress? Or were you rejected? Make sure to include the dates for rejections so you have an idea about how long it takes for that company to make a hiring decision.
One of the advantages of taking this approach is that, in the event you end up going on a new job search a few years down the road, you’ll already have some leads for jobs in your field to circle back on thanks to this spreadsheet.
Update All Your Assets
Before you hit the ground running on your job search you’ll want to make sure all your assets are up-to-date. By assets we mean:
- Portfolio (when relevant)
- Social media
- Personal/work references
- Business cards (if you use them)
You’ll want to make sure your resume is specifically tailored toward each company and the industry you’re applying to. If you have no prior experience in that field, make sure that you can speak to how your past work experience can still be relevant. Lots of jobs like retail and hospitality teach crucial soft skills that can, with the right framing, spotlight your ability to collaborate with a team. If you have gaps in your employment history, be prepared to address them; interviewers will often ask about these fallow periods, so it’s important to be able to explain how these were still periods of growth for you.
“Don’t forget volunteer jobs when creating your resume, especially if you do not have a lot of paid work experience,” Pinch said. “Work you completed as a volunteer can demonstrate specific skills and abilities on your resume.”
Where To Look For A Job
There are four reliable avenues for job searching:
- Referrals/Networking: “It’s who you know” is an old saying for a reason. Knowing people in the industry you want to work in can often be the make-or-break factor when it comes to getting a job. This is where networking can really come in handy. Find relevant industry mixers, happy hours, and conferences. If your field has a professional association, the price of admission can pay off in the long run with the contacts you’ll make there. Workshops and seminars can also be a good way to get yourself out there and in front of people who could one day be your peers and colleagues.
The trick with turning a networking contact into a referral is to be the kind of person that people want to help. That means being a proactive part of your networking, always willing to lend your own assistance and expertise to those who need it. The person you help today could be the person who lands you a job a few months down the line.
- Job Boards: There are many sites where employers post job listings. Many of these boards offer user reviews: former and current employees rate the business and provide feedback on what it’s like to work there. Reading enough of these reviews can give you some idea as to whether or not this business aligns with what you’re looking for in a job.
A few job sites worth checking out include:
The Maricopa Community Colleges also provides a free online career management tool that can help connect you with prospective employers
- Apply Directly: Instead of a job board, you can go directly to an employer’s website and use their online application (if they have one). You can also try applying in-person, though you’ll want to call in advance and find out when the hiring manager is in before doing so. The benefit to applying in-person and meeting the hiring manager is that they can attach a face and a first impression to your resume. That can help you stand out from the pile of resumes in their inbox.
- Recruiters: Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed have recruiters actively looking for qualified candidates to connect to businesses. There are also recruiting services that you can sign up for that will send you job opportunities; many of these services are available at no cost to the job seeker. Job recruiting can be pretty hit-or-miss, though; it should be used as an additional avenue to find a job, but probably should not be the basket you put all your eggs in.
Article by Austin Brietta