Job searching is no longer a do-it-yourself project — you cannot send out one résumé and expect to get hired. The job search now involves working through hundreds of online postings, navigating numerous applicant tracking systems, and knowledge of artificial intelligence-scanned résumés. The job search process also requires a daunting command of virtual interviewing skills.
These days, mounting a successful job search can seem overwhelming to newly graduated college students transitioning into professional positions.
Put simply, you are at a disadvantage if you are not equipped with the right tools, networking connections, and current knowledge of hiring trends. (Just check out the evidence in the Trustpilot review below.) It is likely that you will change jobs multiple times in your career, so learning how to job search effectively will boost your long-term career success and your income.
Before you fire off your first résumé, let’s dive into the nineteen tips you need to take to launch the job searching process, starting with a few tips of what you might expect.
1. Be confident with your job searching process.
The job searching process can feel insurmountable if you are not confident in how to navigate and successfully put in motion the steps involved. Not displaying confidence in your abilities can show up quickly when speaking to recruiters, hiring officials, and your networking connections. It is okay to ask for help!
2. Persistence is key.
Submitting applications through applicant tracking systems can be draining. Scheduling networking or coffee meetings generally requires more than one attempt. Following up with recruiters takes a concerted effort. Job searching requires persistence, so be ready!
3. Expect rejection.
You will likely get more noes than yeses in any job searching process. Not every résumé will universally resonate with every employer. You will likely apply and never hear back from some employers and even go on multiple job interviews without even hearing back about the final hiring decision. Never take rejection personally. As the old sales adage goes, the more “noes” you get, the closer you are to a “yes!”
4. Urgency matters.
Knowing what motivates you to take the first or next step in your job search is critical. We find those clients who set timelines and have motivating personal reasons are more successful in the job searching process. Maintaining a sense of urgency about the job search over weeks and months is key. A casual, inconsistent, undefined timeline will likely lead to a prolonged job search process.
5. Dedicate time to the search.
Job searching is hard work and takes longer than expected. Interviews do not always lead to job offers. Networking meetings can be uneventful. Job offers get delayed when managers go on vacation. Hone in on focused job searching tasks or the weeks can slip by quickly. Check out our setting goal section below.
7. Know your strengths.
One of the biggest missteps of job seekers is they do not know their strengths and how they will benefit a potential employer or specific positions. Hiring officials are busy, so you need to concisely communicate your strengths. Identify and market your capabilities in your personal branding, résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile, and don’t forget to succinctly summarize those strengths!
Looking for some help to discover your strengths? A high-quality career assessment can be a great tool to provide you objective feedback about your strengths and appropriate job opportunities. Career assessments have numerous benefits and are at the foundation of working with all clients at Campus to Career Crossroads.
8. Define your job targets for job searching success.
Applying to hundreds of jobs online is not a job search strategy! Online job boards are a shot in the dark. You need to target the exact job you want, otherwise a job search turns into a job search that lacks focus.
My Next Move provides excellent information about the knowledge, skills, and personality traits needed to perform a specific job. You can even review job outlook information, which gives you job demand and salary ranges by states.
Look for targeted jobs that match your skill sets, experiences, and interests. Give yourself freedom to make job search pivots — you may go on a few interviews and realize a certain position may not match your interests. Doing so is actually a positive thing because you can focus on jobs that fit you better.
9. Create a targeted employer portfolio of hiring companies.
Once you know the right career for you, define the companies that have hiring needs that match up with your skill set. Researching companies and their available opportunities will allow you to get a grasp of possible salary ranges as well. Companies that connect with your interests and passions will likely lead to greater job satisfaction in the long run.
You will likely need to spread your target over various industry sectors, such as government, healthcare, and higher education, to give yourself the best job prospects. Many companies have hiring needs at all levels of their organization and not all openings are posted on job boards. Once you target companies, dig into the job openings located on the career page on their website.
10. Prepare your professional documents.
Once you have a handle on your strengths and target companies, craft your professional documents (résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn). Through these documents, show your achievements and the value you will bring to a prospective employer. Talking about job description duties in your professional documents will not impress an employer.
11. Interview preparation is essential.
Do not overestimate your interviewing abilities! Many professionals may have not interviewed in years. College students have not interviewed for full-time positions with top employers that provide 401(k) matches, paid health insurance, and the highest entry-level salaries. It is a completely different experience than interviewing for a part-time job.
Interviewing is a skill honed through practice, practice, and more practice. The job searching process requires exceptional in-person and virtual interviewing skills. Many companies are continuing to utilize virtual interviewing to save time and money, especially for first interviews.
Make sure you practice going over interview questions and you are ready to impress. If not, check out our ten interview secrets!
12. Boost your LinkedIn profile.
Welcome to the professional party! LinkedIn contains over 700 million members and over 50 million companies throughout the world. Solidify your purpose every time you log into LinkedIn. If your job search has defined target jobs and employers, you can clearly link with smart professionals on the platform and dive into troves of industry information.
If you are not harnessing the power of LinkedIn to assist your job search, you are missing a huge opportunity. LinkedIn has dozens of possibilities to support your job searching efforts, including adding specific keywords to your LinkedIn profile. Check out some ways to maximize your LinkedIn efforts:
- Search and apply for jobs.
- LinkedIn Learning offers modules to improve your job search skills.
- Connect with a recruiter or a hiring manager to start a dialogue.
- Search for alumni from your college and give them your contact information to accelerate your networking efforts.
- Follow company pages to get their latest news and success stories.
- Discover additional companies in a desired industry.
- Create a professional post once a week to stay top-of-mind with your connections.
- Like, engage, and comment on others’ posts.
13. Define a job search radius.
It is extremely difficult to conduct a multi-city or multi-state job search, especially for recent college grads. Defining a city (or a maximum of two) is much more manageable. It takes a lot of effort to identify, track, apply, follow up, and network with a multitude of cities.
You also need to objectively determine if the positions require you to work in a physical office setting or if you can do them remotely in another city. For example, recruiters may favor local applicants for positions, especially for entry-level positions. This way, companies do not have to consider paying relocation fees and can usually get an applicant to start sooner.
14. Activate your network when job searching.
Do you want to expedite your job searching process? Networking gives you one of the fastest ways to shave months off the job hunt. Talk to your professors, fellow alumni, friends, and family members. If they do not know you are job searching or looking for specific opportunities, they cannot help you. Make an outreach plan to speak with networking connections and share the types of positions you are seeking.
We assist clients to get past the nerve-wracking part of networking by providing questions you can ask in networking settings. We also help clients define potential networking connections — we bet you have at least twenty-five networking allies!
Here’s how. Simply name:
- Five people who want to see you succeed.
- Five family members who are professionals.
- Five friends, particularly those who have landed jobs at companies that meet your interests and goals.
- Five professional contacts from college (such as professors, administrative staff, and alumni).
- Five connections from your current job (customers, vendors, etc.).
Right there, you have twenty-five instant networking connections that could easily help you as long as you ask the right questions.
15. Join a professional association.
Looking for a way to ramp up your networking efforts and gain industry knowledge? Getting involved with just one professional association can be a game-changer! The opportunity to network with professionals in targeted companies can help you uncover unposted job opportunities and contacts that can get your résumé around applicant tracking systems — always a huge win!
Many professional associations offer discount member rates for students. Professional associations usually have job boards to help you connect to career opportunities. What more could you ask for than being able to network with industry professionals, gaining knowledge, and uncovering job opportunities?
16. Set weekly goals for job searching success.
The weeks can fly by and months can add up quickly if you do not have defined job searching goals. Set small weekly goals and adjust them as your job search takes shape. To give you an example, here are some weekly job searching goals:
- Submit applications.
- Follow-up on applications.
- Schedule networking meetings or informational interviews.
- Identify new job opportunities.
- Mail handwritten thank-you cards to networking connections, interviewers, etc.
- Research companies and industry information.
- Add five new LinkedIn connections.
- Follow up on five existing LinkedIn connections.
- Attend a job fair.
17. Use the 80/20 application rule.
If you initially planned to apply for jobs 100% online, you’ll likely need to adjust your strategy. Online postings usually result in hundreds of applicants trying to fight through applicant tracking systems. (You will not achieve great odds, trust us.)
In the beginning of your job search, you will likely be applying to more online job postings but that percentage should change. The ideal ratio will be 80% of applications from networking opportunities and 20% from online job postings. This 80/20 ratio should result in more calls and interviews from recruiters, which gets you closer to landing your dream job.
Pro tip: Most client career success at Campus to Career Crossroads comes from networking job opportunities and tapping into the hidden job market.
18. Create a career advisory board.
Looking for some extra motivation, feedback, and accountability partners during your job search efforts? We all need some support and encouragement. Certain professional networking connections can provide guidance, support, and even job leads. Some of your core networking contacts could be a prime candidate for this role. Perhaps a professional reference could be a career advisory board member. Try undergoing a mock interview with one of your trusted advisors.
This trusted board may help you understand your strengths and double (or triple!) your ability to find a new job — all it takes is simply enlisting the help of others!
19. Tap into your college and career resources.
If you are a recent college grad, definitely contact your college’s career center. The more allies in your job search, the better! The college and career center may provide you with job leads or alumni to contact. Keep up with your Handshake account as well!
Colleges want to engage with past grads who need job search assistance. No matter how long ago you graduated, you may want to inquire at your college’s career center about the services available.
Colleges want to see you succeed, partially because they want you to donate to campus initiatives in the future!
Need a Little Help with the Job Search?
Do all of these steps feel intimidating? Many clients do not want to take on formulating their career goals and the job searching process alone.
Put job search expertise on your side with Campus to Career Crossroads. It can save you months of job search frustration and stress. We lead you through clear, concise steps to guide you and through advice from our recruiting, human resources, and hiring experts.
Contact Campus to Career Crossroads to get your job searching efforts on the right track today!
Should I take time off before job searching?
No! The job search process takes longer than most people anticipate. Taking a few months off, combined with months of job searching can lead to a work experience gap on your résumé. It is easier to secure a job and then request an extra week or two to get settled in before officially starting a new job.
Is there an average length for the job search process?
Not necessarily. It depends on many factors, ranging from your motivation to your career level. An entry-level position may take two to three months when the job search is executed effectively. If you are an executive, it may take you longer to identify and successfully secure the best opportunities for your next job.
Do I still need a cover letter for my job search?
Yes! We recommend that clients always send a cover letter. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to present new and additional information not covered in your résumé. A cover letter can bring forth specific information such as achievements, transferable skills, and why you want to work for a particular company — make sure it is not a regurgitation of your résumé.
What are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?
ATS is a type of software commonly used by companies of all sizes to hold résumés and streamline the candidate hiring process for company officials. An ATS such as Oracle Taleo is commonly used by large corporations. However, companies use over 200 ATS modules. It is nearly impossible to determine the ATS and how it is configured by a company when applying to a posting. It is always a good idea to work around ATS by leveraging networking connections to get your résumé into the hands of a hiring manager.