Looking for work takes a long time: On average, it takes American job seekers close to 27 weeks to find a new job. Another estimate suggests that job seekers spend one month of searching for every $10,000 of your desired salary. No one enjoys a long, exhausting job search, so we’ve got some ideas on how to help you shorten it. The best way to speed things up is with a plan for your job search.
Being organized unlocks the door to success, but a good plan is how you get ahold of the keys. We have 6 fresh tips to help you put together a solid job hunting plan so that you can land your next job.
1. Set the Stage
First things first: Create a clean, comfortable space to work that is free from distractions. Job hunting isn’t widely regarded as a fun way to spend your time, so your brain will try to sidetrack you whenever possible.
Next, you’ve got to prepare yourself to start your job hunt! To start, take the time to determine what you want in your future employer.
Figure out what’s important to you. Is it a healthy company culture? An excellent benefits package? Working on innovative projects? Whatever your dream company might look like, jot down these ideas. Then, start researching. For example, if company culture is something you value highly, check out Glassdoor to get the inside scoop. You can also look at lists of the “best companies to work for” from Fortune, Inc or your local business journal. Once you’ve finished playing matchmaker and have a running list of places you’d like to work, take a peek at the current openings at those companies.
This is also a good time to tidy up your social media presence. 54% of hiring managers have decided against hiring someone because of the content posted on their social media. Make sure yours is either super-private or squeaky-clean (or both, just in case!). The unfortunate reality of living in the age of social media is that companies can research you just as easily as you can research them. Remove or hide the Facebook photos of debaucherous parties. Sweep any dubious tweets under the rug. Make sure your Instagram is set to private (unless it’s only pictures of tasty food and your adorable pet, then you’re in the clear). If you wouldn’t want your grandma or your favorite grade school teacher scrolling through your social media, it’s time to clean your feed.
You can also try downloading the JobFlare app. It’s a fun way to flex your brainpower and you’ll get targeted job openings sent to you!
Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time to whip out your calendar!
Make a Schedule
The next step is to make your schedule.
First, carve out a small block of time in your schedule to dedicate to job hunting. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but just setting aside 30 minutes to an hour at the same time each day will make the whole process less of a headache. Spread your search out during the week. You save’ll yourself from burning out after spending your entire weekend looking for a new job.
A recent study shows that submitting your resume between 6 and 10 in the morning will increase your chances of landing an interview 5 times over. This is a tough window to hit if you’re currently employed (or if you like to sleep in). To cash in on this golden time slot, prep your resume, cover letter, and application the night before during your designated job hunt time. Then, submit your application in the morning during this key time window.
Next, you need to set up an approximate timeline for each week. How many jobs are you going to apply to every day? What weekly goals will you set for yourself? The beginning of your job search is also a great time to meet with your alumni employment center or attend a job fair.
While the allure of a new job is definitely going to be your main motivator, don’t forget to pencil in a reward for your efforts at certain milestones. Congratulate yourself on meeting your application quota for the week with a sweet treat at your favorite bake shop. Celebrate a scheduled interview with a crisp, new button down. Keeping yourself encouraged during your job search is important to maintain momentum!
Freshen Up Your Resume & LinkedIn
Start by breathing new life into your resume! If it’s feeling a bit stale, don’t be afraid to restructure it. Put the focus where it’s going to matter most: your previous job titles, the companies you’ve worked for, how long you worked there, and your educational background. With this information front and center, hiring managers will know right away if they’d consider you a contender.
Build a basic resume that you’ll be able to easily adapt to each role you apply to. Your resume should be a flexible document that you can easily tailor for each job you apply to, based on the role requirements.
Once your basic resume is ready to go (and you’re sure you’ve dodged the major resume mistakes people make), it’s time to get working on your LinkedIn profile.
First, make sure that you’ve got a great headshot. Aim for a simple background, business casual clothes, good lighting, and a genuine smile. Consider adding a cover photo too!
Make sure your work experience is up-to-date and focuses on the impact you’ve had on past companies – use the basic version of your resume as a starting point. Feel free to expand on your role and responsibilities on LinkedIn (compared to your resume). There’s no page limit!
Finally, round out your profile by including your volunteering experience. 41% of LinkedIn members view volunteer work as equally important as paid employment experience.
Mine Your Social Network
If you’re new to networking, the idea of it can seem very daunting. But making connections can drum up a lot of opportunities! 85% of people find their job through someone they know. You should reach out to your immediate friends and family first. People enjoy helping those they care about and they want to see you succeed. By reaching out, you’re not only expanding your network, but tapping into the networks of your relatives and friends. Your network becomes exponentially larger!
It’s also a great idea to check in with your alumni association (it can be for you high school or college, or a fraternity you were a part of) and attend a social event. If there aren’t any events happening soon, check to see if they have a Facebook page. Make a brief post saying that you’re looking for a job; Be sure to include the industry and type of positions you’re looking for.
If you’re currently unemployed, feel free to post on social media that you’re looking for work. This way, the people in your network know that you’re interested in new opportunities and can keep an eye out for you.
If you’re still employed, you’ll have to be a little more stealthy with your job search. Talk to trusted friends and family (both to network and for emotional support, because job hunting can be really demoralizing) about the work you’re looking for. Be sure to flip your “Open to Recruiting” switch on in your LinkedIn preferences! This is will privately signal to recruiters that you’re actively interested in new opportunities.
Focus Your Efforts
These days, it’s easier than ever to apply to jobs. Because of this, the “Spray and Pray” tactic has become very popular among job seekers – sending out dozens of applications a day to any company that’s hiring. But here’s the thing: Spray and Pray doesn’t work. Your resume is so vague that it doesn’t catch the eye of any recruiters or hiring managers. When there are hundreds of applicants for each public job opening, you have to stand out from the crowd.
Remember when you crafted your basic resume? Now it’s time to tailor it to each job you apply for. Focus on the keywords and abilities requested in each job description. Keep your overall structure the same, as well as the jobs you’ve worked. You’ll be changing up your role description for each job so that only your most relevant experience is included.
For example, if you worked a customer service job but you’re applying for a sales position, focus on the actions you performed that increased sales and retained customers. While it is more work to adapt your resume to each job you apply for, this effort is likely to pay off in a big way. By customizing your resume, you’re far more likely to make an impression and score an interview!
Keep Track of your Applications
Job hunting is a lot of work! When you’re sending out applications every day, you can easily lose track of where you applied and whether you’ve heard back. It’s important to keep track of the details of each of your applications.
- the position you applied for
- the date you applied
- the contact you have at the company and their email (if you have it)
- interview details (either date and time of upcoming interview, if it was a phone interview or onsite, and anything else important)
- details on following up (when you sent your thank you email)
- the status of your application (rejected, accepted, pending, etc).
You can use any way you’d like to keep track of all this information. You can go the traditional route and make a spreadsheet on Excel or Word, or you can try out a job tracking app like JibberJobber. No matter how you choose to organize your information, just make sure that it’s easy to use and you keep it up to date.
Combining these six tips together will create plan for your job search, and help take stress out of your hunt. It’s also likely to reduce the amount of time you spend looking for a job!