For most of us, job searching is that overwhelming feeling of scrambling in the dark for something you’re not quite sure of. Each application is something that gets set off into the aether with absolutely no clue what’s going to happen, whether you’re barking up the wrong tree or you’ve hit the target in one swoop.
So how can you stay focused, organised, on top of your job search and barking up the right tree?
We have everything you need in a few easy steps:
1. Identify your job role & where to find opportunities
Before you even start your job hunt, you need to know what you want to get out of the process - what position and industry do you want to be in, and what other factors are important to you, such as location, pay, type of company or working hours.
You’ll need to do a bit of research to hone in on what position will suit you at the current stage in your career, and what skills and knowledge are needed for that role.
You’ll also need to consider where you’ll find the vacancies - for most jobs, this will be through general job boards (industry-specific and general), recruiters (industry-specific and general), companies, industry publications, personal contacts and the companies themselves.
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2. Prepare everything you need to apply for jobs
Once you’ve decided on the role that you are interested in, you need to create the documents to apply for these. This will include your CV and cover letter, and we suggest creating a running master CV which you can then tailor for each application. If you are applying through application forms rather than sending off your CV and cover letter, you may want to have a list of your transferable skills and examples of where you gained them that you can use.
3. Alert your network
Now that you have everything you need to apply for a new position, let others know that you are looking for work and what it is you are looking for. This includes friends, family, former colleagues, and those on social media sites, especially LinkedIn. You never know, there might just be the perfect position for you within your network, taking out the stress of having to even look for work!
This will also be the time to get in contact with recruiters if this was part of your plan.
4. Update your social media
In today’s society, everyone looks at your social media profile before they interview you, and employers use LinkedIn to find candidates, so it’s a good idea to get your social media up-to-date with your latest responsibilities, as well as showing employers that you are open to work.
You might also want to get rid of certain posts and images that you don’t want potential employers to see - or make sure that you are not visible to people outside your friendship group.
You can also start to follow the companies you are interested in. That way, you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse and gain a better understanding of what’s happening in your industry - knowledge that you can use in cover letters and at interviews.
5. Set up alerts
Make sure you are the first to know about openings with the companies you are interested in by setting up Google Alerts with these companies - that way you’ll be the first to hear about positions and can get in on the action quicker than the rest. You can also set up alerts from job boards, so once again you can apply for positions as soon as they enter your inbox.
6. Create an organisation system
Create an organisation system so that you can track your applications. This could be in a spreadsheet system such as MS Excel or Google Sheets or you may want to use a more up-to-date programme such as Trello or Asana. It’s up to you and depends on how you like to view your information.
Here’s what you need to include on your spreadsheet:
- Company name
- Contact name - your point of contact at the company, such as an HR manager
- Contact details - e.g. their email address or phone number
- Date of application
- Where you found the vacancy - through a friend, LinkedIn, job board (which one?) etc.
- Link to the job description
- Link to website
- Application summary - what did you submit e.g. cover letter, CV, application and/or portfolio.
- Decision (interview/no interview)
If you’ve made it through to the interview stage, you can then add more columns to your spreadsheet:
- Interview date/time
- Interview notes - if you are in the process of a number of interviews, it’s helpful to keep a note of what was said during the interview.
- Follow up - have you sent a thank you email and if so, when?
- Date to follow up
- Decision (hired/not hired/the second interview)
You can also add a number of notes to help you along the way including:
- Application deadline
- Potential start date
- Company information, such as its mission & values, size, future plans, recent developments, etc. to help you in the interview and when writing your cover letter
Your system should be able to help you track your applications. If you’ve been job hunting for a while, it can start to help you hone in on where you get the most suitable job vacancies from, why some applications have been more successful (What’s the match between you and the role? What size is the company? What’s the vibe of the company? etc.) and what information on your cover letters do the best? It also gives you the chance to try out new ways of applying (e.g. by focusing on different jobs or tailoring your CV and cover letter even more) if you are not having much luck.
7. Plan your week before you start
Instead of diving into your week willy-nilly, think about what you want to achieve for the week. If you are just starting out, it might be a matter of applying for as many jobs as possible (within reason - you do want to make sure that you are applying for those both that are right for you and that you offer a tailored response to the advert.) However, if you are a bit further down the line, you might also be researching new potential companies, targeting specific companies with mailshots, or evaluating your current job hunt process.
Good luck in finding that next career opportunity!