Job Hunting Done Right
Hunting for a new job is painful. If I had my choice of applying for jobs or going to the dentist, I would take the dentist’s chair every time. What exactly makes this search process so painful though? My issue was that I couldn’t find my groove. I didn’t have a strategy that made sense to me. It seemed like endless amounts of effort for maybe a chance to receive an automated email telling me I might hear back. Quite honestly, I could not take this rejection pattern anymore. I created my own way to get around this pattern and sure enough, I found a new position relatively quickly. I then decided to look for a new opportunity a year and a half later using the same tactics and it shockingly worked again. Here’s what I learned:
Know Your Worth
Let’s say you make 50K a year. Do you think you are worth 50K or do you think you are worth more? Well, there’s a way to find out! Glassdoor has an analysis tool that I absolutely love. The tool displays the competitive based salary for employees in the area matched up with the same educational background and years of experience. This was critical because it provided me a range of salary of how much I should be asking when applying to companies. You need to know this information before going into an interview because you could either low ball or high ball yourself when mentioning how much you are looking to make. Find out the correct salary range first before applying around. Check out a sample of the Know Your Worth tool below:
Know Your Area
You could make 45K a year where you are now or make 65K if you work an hour away. Would you do it? This is literally the decision I had to make (New Hampshire vs Boston). I came to the conclusion that New Hampshire’s market was saturated for my field of work. There were literally hundreds of people doing the same job who were all amazing. How was I going to stand out and continue up the ladder? Instead, I took the more sensible approach and found another institution that needed my help. It may not be possible to move or do a drastic change of scenery like I did, but I would highly recommend looking to surrounding areas and researching their job markets.
Update Your Resume
I have been a part of the hiring process before and as much as I hate it, your resume makes or breaks your chances. Knowing this, I decided to submit my resume for review over at topresume.com. I was expecting a reviewer to reach out to me saying that my resume was fine. Not incredible or amazing, but at least okay. I was floored seeing that she thought my resume was trash, however, she was spot on! I used passive words and didn’t describe my actions clearly enough, which is so strange since being passive and vague is not like me at all. For instance, I used some wordage like “built online courses.” What the heck does that say to anyone? Nothing. It says nothing. I replaced that sentence with more specific action items and came up with, “developed custom courses specifically tailored using scenario based learning, interactive components, and simulations.” Okay, now we are getting somewhere! It has specific wording, it talks about theory, and describes elements of developing a course. I also eliminated common words like oversees and manages. Despite the fact that someone may have told you that your resume can’t be the issue for not finding a job, it very well may be. Use a professional service and get it checked out.
Befriend Recruiters/Hiring Managers
In what world do recruiters/hiring managers reach out to you before you even consider applying to a job? It can be your world if you want it to be! After you have updated your resume, it’s time to get to work. Create accounts on these websites: Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Zip Recruiter. Why these in particular? You can create full profiles on these sites and then opt in to have recruiters contact you. I could not believe how quickly I was receiving messages from real people looking to fill positions! I was receiving about three messages a week that had legitimate jobs I was interested in. Here's my actual inbox from Indeed after letting recruiters know I was open to jobs:
I lined up my calendar with phone interviews and they were productive conversations that allowed me to practice my interviewing skills beforehand. Once again, I firmly believe that because my resume was so detailed, I heard from these recruiters. Several reached out about specific skill sets or past experiences using types of platforms that I didn’t name before I updated my resume. Even if you aren’t the right candidate after speaking with the recruiter, if you recommend another person for the job, they will be incredibly grateful and will keep you in mind for future openings. They can become amazing connections for you in the future.
Apply to Jobs with LinkedIn
Once you have spoken with the recruiters/hiring managers, ask if you can add them on LinkedIn. Recruiters will typically post new jobs on their LinkedIn pages and will provide more visibility into these positions. Now this next tip may or may not be possible depending upon how the employer has the job page set up, but if it’s possible to apply to a job using your LinkedIn profile, do it! This allows an employer to see you and not just read a resume about your accomplishments. I paid the $30 bucks a month fee to upgrade my profile to LinkedIn Premium to see if employers actually bothered to look me up after I applied. Guess what? Most of them checked out my profile after I applied. The other amazing benefit besides visibility when applying with LinkedIn is that you will see your connections who work for that company! Apply to the job, see who works there that you know, immediately connect with that person and mentioned that you applied. Simple as 1, 2, 3. I’m sure you know that connections are everything and this is the easiest way to get your resume to the desk of the hiring manager.
Don’t Be Afraid of Preferences/Responsibilities
An amazing piece of advice came from my mom several years ago. We were reviewing positions online and I became frustrated with how few requirements I met with many jobs that I felt qualified for. She put her arm around me and told me that I was overthinking. “Yes, they would love all of these qualifications,” she said, “but they it doesn’t mean that you must have everything.” I still hear this same hesitation and frustration from colleagues. Just because you don’t hit every check box the hiring manager is looking for, doesn’t mean you don’t have a shot for getting the job! Give it a try and stop selling yourself short!
The other point of this is that your skills may demonstrate the outcomes they are seeking, but were used in a different way. Let me give you an example. I have a friend who taught dance classes for years and somehow found her way into instructional design. I thought that was so interesting given that those fields are completely different! However, as she began to tell me about what she previously did for work, it was clear as day that she understood all of the important aspects of how students learn. And with this information, she perfected teaching her dance classes by using instructional design principles, while never stating the words “instructional design.” Your skills may not have the right terminology the hiring manager wrote on the job description, but the details in your writing will provide support that you could perform the same task.
Demonstrate Your Knowledge
I heard this last week from a buddy of mine, “Do you think your education got you to where you are today?” It’s a tricky question to answer, but here is what I know from speaking with hiring managers. Do they want to see a degree in the field for the position? They absolutely do. The higher the degree, the more you have learned and the better your resume appears. Can you still get the job without the degree? You absolutely can. To do this though, you need to learn a particular skill set and then perfect this craft. This way when you go to an interview and they ask you a question, you can fully explain every detail the interviewers want to hear. How do you do this?
Once again LinkedIn is a valuable tool and has courses on every subject you can think of. Take the courses and take them seriously like your new job depends on it. Study the material even though you aren’t going to be graded on it. The ones who can critically think and debate and illustrate their points are the ones who will demonstrate their knowledge in an interview. Think about this like Ted Talks. Those presenters have mastered the content. They are the experts sharing their wisdom. That’s why they are so fascinating to watch is because you are seeing someone in their true element talking about meaningful actions. The degree says that you have learned about the content. Your actions and preparations will say that you have mastered the content. Speaking of which…
Practice for Your Interview
Hiring managers are busy people. When you go into your interview, all you are thinking about is you. But what about the hiring manager? If you interview is scheduled for later on in the day, I’ll bet money there were interviews scheduled before you and maybe even after you. Are they going to remember you when you leave? You need to make a lasting impression. You need to do something right out of the gate that sets the tone for the interview to keep the hiring mangers engaged. The best interviews are when the barrage of questions stop coming and actual conversations naturally happen.
How do you make this happen? Practice, practice, practice! You should be practicing what you are going to answer during the interview. You can make an educated guess on some of the questions the employer may ask and you can probably find generic questions for the industry online (Glassdoor has a list of questions from many employers from former applicants). With your newly created list, practice answering these questions using whiteboards, handouts, visuals, etc. This shows effort. It shows that you put in the time to understand the company and did your homework.
Follow these steps above and you’ll be in a great spot to succeed. There are no guarantees in life, but these tips will steer you in the right direction.