How to Get Started on Your Job Search
So, you want to find a job, but you don’t know where to start or have no previous work experience? Looking for a job can feel impossibly difficult, but you’re not alone in this process. There are tons of resources out there to help you land a great job. The best move you can make is to hire a career coach to guide you and cheer you on.
Searching for a job can be simplified if you follow these helpful guidelines.
Where to start looking
It’s important to start in the right place, or you may find yourself having to backtrack, thus wasting precious time and effort. So, where should you begin?
- Start with job sites. There are many job boards full of listings that are updated daily. Sites such as Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and Monster are great places to start looking for jobs. You’ll find, however, that these portals often feature the same vacancies, so don’t accidentally apply for the same job on multiple sites. Keep note of all your applications to avoid this embarrassing mistake.
- Move on to company websites. Even if you find an opening on a job site, don’t apply there, if possible. Instead, go to the company’s website and do some research before submitting your application. Not only is it a good idea to learn more about the organization to better judge whether it’s a good fit for you, but you can also enhance your chances by applying directly from its website. This shows the employer that you cared enough to spend time on their site. Believe it or not, this goes a long way when a hiring manager is considering your resume.
- Work on building professional connections. You’ll quickly find that the most effective way to land a job is to have a connection to the company you’re interested in. Whether that's through a family member, a friend, or a fellow professional, your chances automatically increase if someone at the company vouches for you. Build professional relationships with people working there. The best way to do it is through LinkedIn, a social media platform where professionals showcase their skills and make connections with other professionals. Create an account if you don’t already have one, and reach out to people that could advance your career—just think carefully about what you can offer in return.
How to start applying
Now that you know where to start looking for jobs, how do you start applying for them? This requires a lot of time and effort on your part, but it’s the most important step, and your time and effort are a worthwhile investment on the path to your dream job. Here’s how you can start applying for jobs:
- Tailor your resume. It’s essential to make sure that your resume is tailored to each job. You can’t settle for submitting a generic resume and hoping that you get the job. Hiring managers are looking for the best, most qualified applicant, and you’ll never be that with a generic resume. Read the job description carefully and include any applicable keywords and requirements listed in it—they’ll usually appear in bold, italics, or all caps. The hiring manager looks for these keywords, and if you don’t include them, you won’t be considered for the job. Obviously, you should never lie on your resume, but you want to tailor it with the keywords in the job description in mind.
- Build your personal brand. Depending on the career you’re pursuing, it may be beneficial to build your own brand, for example, by creating a blog or an online art portfolio. This allows employers to see your experience firsthand and gives you an edge over your competitors. You can also include a bio on your site to discreetly provide more useful information to any prospective employers.
- Attach a cover letter. Your cover letter shouldn’t simply repeat information from your resume. Instead, it should showcase your passion for the job you’re applying for and demonstrate your most relevant skills and qualifications. Your cover letter is a preview of your resume, focusing on your passion, your top qualifications, and the ways you can contribute to the company achieving its goals. It’s also an excellent opportunity to explain anything unfavorable in your resume, such as an employment gap.
- Be ready for an interview. Always be ready to interview for any job you apply for. Research the company and its mission so you can be comfortable discussing them during your interview. Also, be ready to explain anything on your resume, especially aspects that aren’t favorable, such as an extended period of unemployment or a quick termination. You shouldn’t necessarily expect an interview—when you’re competing against hundreds of other candidates, rejection is the norm—but you should always be prepared for one.
- Be consistent. The longer your job hunt drags on, the more tired and frustrated you may become. You may need to adjust your goals—if, for example, you’re getting desperate for money, you may have to accept a temporary low-level position to make ends meet while you continue looking, or you may find that your expectations are too high and you need to be more realistic. However, don’t give up looking for the best job, even if you need to learn new skills or take another job in the meantime.
How to apply with no job experience
It’s a whole different story when you’re trying to apply for jobs and have no experience. It can make the process more difficult and definitely more frustrating. Regardless of what job you’re applying for, here are some things to keep in mind when you're trying to land your first job.
- Include transferable skills. These are skills you can transfer from one job to another. They are not specific to any one type of job and could include good communication, organization, customer service, computer, and language skills. They can be beneficial in any position, so this is a great place to start when applying for an entry-level job.
- Highlight your professional development. Obviously, you should include your education, but also consider including any professional development, such as courses relevant to your field, job training classes, or certifications proving that you’re a good candidate for the job. In addition to your education, think through your work experience. You may not have any paid experience that matters, but if you’ve done any internships, freelance work, or volunteer work, list that in your experience section. If anything, this shows your passion for your career because you’ve done things for little to no pay.
- Learn from professionals. If this is your first time getting a job, you probably have a lot to learn. Find a professional in your field to help you along the way. If you don’t already have someone in mind, consider our career coaches.
When it comes to finding a job, sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Be patient and trust that the right opportunity will come up. Know where to start and how to apply for jobs so you can eventually find the one that works best for you. You may hit some bumps along the way, and that’s when you need to call for backup. Contact our career coaches and resume experts to help you stay on the right path to finding your perfect job!