“You should treat job hunting like a full time job.”
At face value, this common piece of job search advice makes a good point while at the same time seeming totally unrealistic. Are you really going to commit 40 hours a week to trawling job boards and crafting cover letters? We hope not!
However, having a professional attitude towards your job search and taking a structured and systematic approach is definitely something we can get behind.
It won’t take 8 hours a day, but you should definitely commit a couple of hours each day to your job search. But this doesn’t mean spamming your resume to every job posting you see. In fact, it involves more time spent away from your computer than you might think!
Here’s how we recommend you add some structure to your job search:
Map Your Dream Job
Before you even open up a job site, the first step to having a structured job search is knowing what you want. So, design a dream job. The crème de la crème of job opportunities. Think about all the things you’ve enjoyed doing in the past, all your strengths, all the things you never want to do again, and all the things you’d like to try doing in the future. Take all these aspects and craft your ideal job description. Write about what industry it’s in, the company size, what the culture is like. Are you managing anyone, who will you report to? Put it all to paper and always keep it visible. This is your Dream Job.
You probably won’t tick all the boxes for finding this Dream Job, but it gives you focus for the next step, which is…
Prioritize Your Dream Job ‘Hitlist’
Instead of just applying for every open job you see, create a ‘hitlist’ and prioritize it based on how closely it matches your Dream Job. Job hunting isn’t a numbers game. It’s about finding a match with a role and company that fulfills your career goals. As you screen through job boards, put any promising ones on a hitlist. Once you’ve finished looking through open opportunities, go to that hitlist and prioritize them. This prioritization process will help you decide if this is a job you’re really interested in.
Research, Customize, Apply, Repeat
Starting from #1 on your hitlist, complete the Research, Customize, Apply cycle and then Repeat it for every company down the list.
- Research the company, including the company website, latest news releases and social media profiles. Also research who you might address your application to. If you can’t find it online – PICK UP THE PHONE! Call the company and ask. It’s that easy.
- Customize your resume and cover letter based on the job ad given. Address any ‘must-have’ job requirements, and show genuine interest in why you want to work for this company, not just any company.
- As you send each application off, remember to personalize every email (no, “To the Hiring Manager”). It may seem obvious but make sure you use a professional email and rename your attachments to something logical for the recipient.
Follow Up (Once) on Sent Applications
After you’ve finished off sending new applications, follow up on your applications from the previous week. It’s important that you only follow up once. Don’t be a pest. And leave your follow up till a week after your application. For more tips on following up, click here.
Set Networking Goals
If you shy away from networking, you’re losing out. Possibly on your Dream Job. Take a systematic approach to networking by setting small goals. E.g. I will join one new networking group a week, I will attend at least two events this week, I will talk to at least three people I don’t know at this event. And networking doesn’t mean just business events. Why not try some of these great sports for networking, or try setting up informational interviews.
Keep Your Skillset Current
If you’re out of work and job hunting, it’s important to still keep your skillset fresh. You can do this by volunteering, taking on contract work, or investing in additional training. You want to be able to demonstrate you’ve remained active during your job search and been involved in the community. Like networking, set yourself small goals. E.g. reach out to one organization per day about volunteering opportunities, read one professional development book per month. Keeping your head in the game is one of the toughest aspects of job hunting. Actively building your personal brand will help you stay engaged both professional and mentally.
By tackling your job search with focus and professionalism, we guarantee you’ll find success faster and a better long-lasting fit. Happy hunting job seekers!