If you’re wondering why you don’t often hear people talking about how much fun job hunting is, there’s a good reason for that: job searching, it turns out, isn’t all that much fun. Sure, it’s exciting to know you’re doing the work to take the next step in your career, but the process is also time-consuming, nerve-wracking and, sometimes, just plain confusing.
Now, there are certainly those occasions where a job search goes just right – you apply, they invite you for an interview, you hit it off, you sign the offer letter and voila! As much as we wish that were the case every time, it’s often not so easy. It’s very common to encounter obstacles during your job hunt, but, with a little help, you can overcome them and land the job you’ve been dreaming of.
Getting your resume ready to go
Maybe you’ve never drafted a professional resume before, or maybe it’s been years since you’ve even thought about it – either way, giving your resume a refresh can be super daunting. Should I use the first person or third when describing my experience? Is it a faux pas to have a resume longer than one or two pages? Let’s start with the basics:
- Keep your formatting simple, include the right keywords and double check for spelling mistakes.
- Make it easy to see why you’re the right fit for the job! Demonstrate you have the specific set of skills, experience and accomplishments necessary for the role.
Check out this handy one-pager for everything you need to know about drafting a top-tier resume.
Non-traditional work history, job gaps
The number one concern people have about non-traditional career paths is how it’s going to look on their resume: are lateral moves taboo? Am I going to be seen as a ‘job-hopper’? Will my experience make employers wary of hiring me?
Before you start running through worst-case scenarios in your mind, let us stop you right there, because there’s good news: a progressive employer won’t mind your unconventional job history – in fact, they’ll probably be eager to learn more about it.
The key is to make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about your experience, highlight your transferable skills and explain why this particular opportunity is the right move for you and your career.
Got the experience, but not the education
Don’t get hung up if your education isn’t exactly what’s listed on the job posting – oftentimes, this isn’t a deal breaker, so don’t take yourself out of the running yet!
The truth is, more and more employers are relaxing their educational requirements, realizing the value-add individuals with experience and fine-tuned soft skills bring to the table.
With a solid background, good people skills and a resume that a) accurately reflects the on-the-job “education” you’ve had throughout your career and b) demonstrates how you can use that knowledge and skillset to succeed in the role, there’s no reason not to hit that apply button!
When you’re not working, you’re not NOT working – sometimes, you’re actually busier! In addition to researching companies, applying and interviewing, you may be working a side job (or two) while you look for the right full-time position. So, how can you prioritize your job hunt when it feels like there’s never enough hours in the day?
- Right off the bat, get organized and stay organized. This will end up saving you loads of time at the end of the day and, frankly, help the whole process to feel a lot more manageable.
- Next, time block! This is a very simple trick loads of people use to keep themselves accountable. Consider your schedule and then book a time every day or every other day that you’ll dedicate to your job search. Think about it like you would an appointment with your RMT, or a yoga class you prepaid for – it’s a commitment you’ve made and you’re doing it, like it or not.
Nervous about networking
Your parents probably told you that who you know matters and, as a plucky twenty-something, you may have rolled your eyes. Now you’re here, hoping to land a job in the corporate world and you’re realizing that everybody does seem to have connections that you’re lacking – so, where to start?
- First things first, make sure you’ve optimized your LinkedIn profile! It’s an essential tool for connecting and collaborating with professionals in your industry and, added bonus, if you’re shy, you may find it easier to strike up conversation with new people on an online platform before you try it in person.
- Once you get a bit more confident, try looking up professional organizations in your area. These groups often offer those in the industry a chance to connect in person at events, luncheons, seminars and, if you’re still a little nervous, many do have some virtual networking options available as well!
No one’s biting
Your resume’s fine-tuned, you’ve mastered the art of the (outdated but still for some reason expected?) cover letter, and yet your inbox remains a dusty tundra, not a potential job offer in sight.
- Don’t beat yourself up – this isn’t an exact science. You could be met with radio silence for two weeks and then, out of the blue, be fielding calls from multiple companies who’re eager to learn more about you.
- Take another look at your resume: is it tailored to the jobs you’re applying for? Does it fully emphasize your skills and accomplishments?
- Consider applying for some jobs that might not be exactly what you’re after, but offer other interesting benefits – like excellent training and development opportunities and room for growth within the organization. You should never feel like you have to settle, of course, but it doesn’t to sit down for a conversation – that not-quite-right role might turn out to be an unexpected match!
Interviewing, weirdly, is kind of like dating. When you’re out of practice, it can feel super daunting – you’re out of practice! You feel uncomfortable! Should you take off your jacket? Did you pick the right outfit? Are they interested in what you’re saying or just nodding along, waiting for your time together to come to a conclusion?
Okay – let’s take a deep breath. Remember, while interviews can be nerve-wracking, at the end of the day, hiring managers want to work with people who are positive and enthusiastic about the opportunity they’re offering. They’re looking for someone they feel matches their culture and work environment, and if that’s you – let them see it! Be sure you let them know you’re excited about the role and the company and that you truly appreciate them taking the time to meet with you.
Interviewing but no offer
You showed up, you had a conversation, you thought, hey – maybe this is it! And then, nothing. No word. Were you just… ghosted? By an employer?
- Don’t be afraid to follow up! Send a thank you email after the meeting, keep it short and sweet, express your appreciation that they took the time to sit down with you and reemphasize your enthusiasm about the role and the company.
- Practice makes perfect! The more you do something, the more comfortable you’ll be. The more comfortable you are, the more confident you’ll appear to the hiring manager. So, go on now – look up some common interview questions and practice your answers, either by yourself or with a friend or family member. Remember, you don’t need to memorize your answers word-for-word. The goal isn’t to sound rehearsed, just prepared.
Imposter syndrome’s getting in the way
You’re great, you’re talented, you’re experienced – you’d be an asset to any organization! Part of you believes this, but, at the same time, you can’t shake this nagging feeling that maybe you’re not, in fact, that great, or that talented, and that maybe your experience isn’t quite right – what if you’re underqualified? What if you can’t do the job?
Enter: imposter syndrome.
If you’ve had thoughts like this, you’re not alone. Most of us have felt this way at some point in our career. Imposter syndrome is incredibly common and it happens at all levels – your intern is just as likely to experience imposter syndrome as your COO is.
While there’s no cure, unfortunately, here are a couple tricks to keep your imposter syndrome in check:
- Keep track of your achievements, you’d be surprised how helpful this can be to look back on when you’re feeling low.
- Set your sights on progress, not perfection! Nobody – no matter how educated or experienced – is perfect. Give yourself credit for a job well done and don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments with friends or family – it’s okay to celebrate yourself once in a while!
- Level up your skillset. If there’s something in particular you find yourself feeling self-conscious about, there are loads of free, online courses available if you feel like you need a little refresher or want to broaden your knowledge in a specific area.
Still got questions?
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