Career Resources

Smart Job Hunting

While every job search situation is different, there are a few things that apply across the board, especially to people with a few jobs on their resume. Much of this advice is common sense but also easy to forget in the rush of looking for a job.

1. Show the Hiring Manager that You Can Do the Job

Say you’ve been writing for the school magazine for two years and want to work in journalism. What a perfect match for your skills and experience!

You know very well that you can do the job but the hiring manager, who may be interviewing hundreds of other people, doesn’t. It’s your responsibility to show this. One way is to write a compelling cover letter explaining your passion for journalism, your relevant skills, and the unique things about you that make you the best candidate. You can add a “Journalism Experience” section at the top of your resume to bring your relevant experience to the fore. Even better, you can find a contact in the company who could recommend you, for an extra advantage in the selection process.

The thing you most definitely should NOT do here is to send a generic resume and cover letter that you’d send everywhere else.

2. Take Your Search Offline

You may have the most punchy and perfectly tailored resume – and that is supremely important in your job search. However, after a certain point it doesn’t matter how many times you tweak a single bullet point. You have to take this resume out and show it to people. Up to 80% of positions are filled through referrals, rather than job applications. Use this to your advantage and spend most of your time and energy connecting with people who work at your dream companies. Use Meetups, LinkedIn, professional organizations or networking sessions to connect to the people who can help you. Sometimes, those people could be closer than you think.

3. Use Your Immediate Network

Along with growing your network during a job search, reach out to your existing network too. But do it in a way that’s helpful to both sides. If you send an email along the lines of “I’m looking for a new job. Let me know if you hear of any leads!” nobody will spend time wondering what kind of job you have in mind.

Instead, prepare an email for the people in your network listing the position titles you’re most interested in, the companies you’re targeting, your preferred locations, and how exactly your contacts can help. Do you want people to refer you to job openings they see? Or to introduce you to professionals in the field? Or suggest more companies you can look into? Add details to help people understand how they can be most helpful to you.

4. Don’t Get Desperate

If your job search is taking longer than you expected, you may begin bargain with yourself about the types of jobs you’d be willing to take. Little by little, that job with the 2-hr commute or that other one offering 2/3 of your desired salary, may seem more appealing than they did two months ago. Even worse, you could start telling yourself and everyone around, “I just need a paycheck. I’ll take anything!”

Don’t do this. You want to be happy in your new job, not start a new search six months in.
Even if you’re not sure what you’d like to do, narrow down your search to a few specific fields or types of positions. This will not only help you find a job that you actually like in the long run, but will also make your search less overwhelming and more focused. Hiring managers are also more likely to hire someone really passionate about the job, rather than someone willing to take anything. Your chances actually improve if you stick to your requirements.

5. Stay Positive

Any friend will tell you this if you are going through a hard time, but it actually will help you get a job. Grumbling and complaining about your job search may be justified, but it won’t give a good impression to the people you are networking and interviewing with. On the other hand, going through each day with optimism and excitement for the future will create positive energy that will keep your spirits up and impact everyone around you.

Adapted from The Muse